Allah Ta’ala says:
“The worldly life is nothing but substance of deception.”
Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said: “The world is the prison of the Mu’min and the paradise of the Kaafir.”
All things which give pleasure here to the nafs without being of any merit in the Aakhirah is termed dunya. We are afflicted with a number of spiritual ailments all having their origin in the love of the world. About this disease, hubb-e-dunya, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said:
“Love of the world is the root of all evil.”
If this root ailment is treated and cured, all other maladies flowing from it will also disappear. A man overwhelmed by hubb-e-dunya has no concern and time for the Aakhirah. Such a person having no care for the Aakhirah will not be bothered about righteous deeds nor will he abstain from evil. The one in whom there is hubb-e-dunya has very little fikr for the Deen. Increase in the degree of hubb-e-dunya brings about a corresponding decrease in fikr (concern) for the Deen. Total hubb-e-dunya entails total lack of fikr for the Deen. This is manifest in the kuffaar.
Dunya does not mean wealth and family.
Dunya is the intentional and voluntary adoption of anything evil which causes one to become forgetful of Allah Ta’ala irrespective of what that thing may be. Thus, acquisition of wealth and other material means is not evil, but hubb-e-dunya (love for such material objects) is evil. Wealth is like the water in the ocean and the heart of man is like the ship sailing in the ocean. Water, while it facilitates the movement of the ship can also bring about its sinking. As long as the water remains outside the ship, it aids its sailing. But entry of the water into the ship causes it to sink. Similar is the case of wealth. Wealth aids man as long as it remains outside his heart. However, if its love enters the heart it will bring about his destruction.
The Hadith Shareef states: “Halaal wealth is a benefit to a pious man.”
He benefits because he (a pious man) spends his wealth in meritorious ways. On the contrary, if love of wealth captures the heart of man, he suppresses the rights of others. When the treasures of the Persian Empire were ushered into the presence of Hadhrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu), he recited the Qur’aanic aayat:
“The love of pleasures has been adorned for mankind.”
He then commented: “O Allah! It is evident that the desire for pleasure is inherent in us. Its total elimination is not the aim. But, we supplicate that wealth aids us in the attainment of Your Love.”
The dunya (or the world) which has been criticized is like a serpent whose skin is colourful and most beautiful. But its poison is fatal. Intelligent people maintain a distance from such danger and are not lured by the externally adorned skin. But a little child unaware of the danger of a snake is attracted by the external beauty and is prepared to grab hold of the snake. We are comparable to the little child. We are attracted to the world by its external beauty and adornment without being aware of its dangers. Men of intelligence and experience do not incline towards the world.
People are generally deceived and overwhelmed by the glitter of the world because they are not aware of its reality. Should the reality of the world be revealed, they would become utterly disillusioned and detest it. The Hadith Shareef states:
“If the value of the world was equal to that of the wing of a mosquito by Allah, He would not have allowed any kaafir even a drink of water from it.”
In the Eyes of Allah Ta’ala the world has no value. It is a detestable object. He therefore prefers it for His enemies. A man aware of the realities if fearful of an object detested by Allah Ta’ala. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam described the world in the following similitude:
“What relationship with the world have I? My similitude is like a traveller on a mount, halting in the shade of a tree (for a short while only to leave it again, and proceed along the sojourn).”
The traveller rests a while in the shade and then moves on again.
Remember maut (death) in abundance and do not involve yourself in distant and remote hopes. The pursuit of distant schemes and material enterprises should be shunned. In this way the love of the world will be eliminated from the heart.
This elimination is in fact the stage at the end of Sulook (the Path along which the Mureed travels in his spiritual journey). One has, in fact, to become imbued with the spirit and quality spoken of in the following Hadith:
“Die before your death.”
This Hadith means that one has to inculcate the attribute of the dead in one even before death, and that attribute is the lack of worldly love. There are three ways by which one can attain proximity with Allah Ta’ala, These are explained in detail as follows.
1. Atwal (the longest way).
2. Ausat (the middle way).
3. Aqal wa Aqrab (the shortest and nearest way).
THE ATWAL WAY
This consists of observing in abundance Saum, Salaat, Qiraa’t, Hajj, Jihaad’ etc. This is the way of a class of Auliyaa known as the Akhyaar.
THE AUSAT WAY
In addition to the above acts of Ibaadat is engagement in Mujaahadah, Riyaadhat, elimination of Akhlaaq-e-Zameemah and the acquisition of Akhlaaq-e-Hameedah, The majority of men travelling along the Path of Sulook become Waasil (attain the goal of Divine Proximity) via this second way.
THE AQAL WA AQRAB WAY
This is the way of Ishq (Love). Riyaadhat (spiritual exercises) and mingling with people are suffocating to the Saalik (spiritual traveller) along this path. Thikr, Fikr, Shukr and Shauq are the intellectual occupations of the traveller plodding along the Path of Ishq. The traveller along this Road become Waasil by this method. Purification of the nafs and adornment of the heart and soul are realized by the method of Love. They have no interest in kashf (inspirational revelation of the Auliyaa) and karaamat (miracles of the Auliyaa). They are totally immersed in:
“Die before your death.”
This third way is the way of the class of Auliyaa known as the Shataariyah.
DYING BEFORE DEATH
At the time of death, the dying man possesses certain attributes, the inculcation of which is exhorted by the Hadith: “Die before your death.” These attributes which are in the perfect state in the dying man are:
Taubah (repentance), zuhd, (abstention), qanaa’at (contentment), tawakkul (trust in Allah), azlat (solitude), tawajjuh ilal-laah (attention directed to Allah Ta’ala), sabr (patience), ridhaa (pleased with Allah), thikr (remembrance of Allah) and muraaqabah (meditation).
Among the Shataariyah the salient feature is Muraaqabah.
One has to inculcate the above qualities which overtake a dying person to a high degree. Taubah, i.e. repentance to emerge from all evil as is the position at the time of maut; Zuhd, i.e. to shun the world and everything in it as is the case at maut; Tawakkul, i.e. to shun all abnormal worldly agencies as is the case at maut; Azlat, i.e. to sever all ties with creation as is the case at maut; Qanaa’at, i.e. abstention from lowly desires–to be contented–as is the case at maut; Tawajjuh ilal-laah, i.e. to rivet one’s attention towards only Allah Ta’ala as is the case at maut; Sabr, i.e. to shun pleasures as is the case at maut; Ridhaa, i.e. to abstain from pleasing the nafs, and to be pleased with Allah and to submit in entirety to Allah Ta’ala as is the case at maut. This is the conception of “Die before your death.”
One has to transform one’s condition so as to be imbued with the conception of “death before death”. In this earthly life, the body is on earth, but the rooh should be directed to the Aakhirah, and be in communion with Allah Ta’ala. Possession of even the kingdom of the earth should not affect one’s heart. The heart at all times should be empty of the world. The sign of this lofty state having settled over one is total abstention from everything branded as evil by the Shariah. The mind, tongue and the whole body have to be sealed from evil. The heart is to be emptied of all things other than Allah Ta’ala. It has to be adorned with Akhlaaq-e-Hameedah.
A man dwelling in this lofty state of purity and communion with Allah Ta’ala is always aloof from gatherings of futility. Whatever diverts the mind of the Seeker of Allah from the remembrance of Allah is futility and nonsensical. The Seeker refrains from association with men of baatil (falsehood and corruption). One who does not pursue the Path in quest of Allah, is in fact a man of baatil.
O beloved one! This then is the meaning of “die before your death” stated by Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. This is the way of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. This is the life which Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam desired for his Ummah.