Zuhd (Detachment) – A Remedy for Hurting Hearts
Umm Isam – Freelance writer
Any loss of the world rattles us, be it death, illness, loss of job, wealth or a doomed relationship. It’s common to hear about people suffering for many days and sometimes even years in their post loss phase. Online social groups have mushroomed and buzz about personal traumas yearning for support and comfort.
Has Allah (swt) really created humans so weak that they cannot overcome setbacks and wallow in it for years? Or is there something missing from our lives? The power to overcome setbacks lies in the concept of Zuhd, which translates as detachment from the world.
What is attachment?
It is important to first define attachment. Attachment occurs when we are emotionally and physically entangled or absorbed by an idea, a physical object or personal relationship. Losing that idea, possession or person can result in shock, grief or suffering that is hard to handle.
Why does one become attached?
- If one is unaware of Allah’s (swt) True Status and His Plan, one lives in a fool’s paradise unaware that this world and its sorrows are transient. As a result, there is a lack of Tawakkul on Allah, and this creates a void and a mistaken belief that it can only be filled by a certain person or thing.
- When one does not recite the Quran with understanding and reflection but rather as a mechanical daily habit, it does not grant coping skills for life challenges.
- When someone is spiritually weak and unguarded, Shaitan plants negative thoughts and fears. This leads to a low self-esteem or insecurity about personal relationships and possessions.
How can one attain Zuhd?
The advice in the following Hadeeth helps us to develop a detachment from worldly desires: Prophet (sa) said: “Jibreel came to me and said: ‘O Muhammad! Live as you will for you must certainly die; love whom you will since you must certainly leave him; act as you will since you shall certainly be given due reward for it; know that the believer’s eminence is his standing in prayer during the night, and his honour is having sufficiency without dependency upon the people.” (Hakim)
- Know the nature of this world: Our Prophet (sa) advised us to tend to the Dunya rightfully but not attach our hearts to it because Dunya is temporary, unpredictable and imperfect. In comparison, Akhirah is our final, eternal abode perfected for us. The Quran describes it for us: “What is the life of this world but amusement and play? But verily the Home in the Hereafter – that is life indeed, if they but knew.” (Al-Ankabut 29:64)
- Know and seek Allah (swt): Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyah once stated: “The heart will rest and feel relief if it is settled with Allah. And it will worry and feel anxious if it is settled with people.” Allah (swt) is Al-Awwal (The First) and Al-Aakhir (The Last). When all is lost you will still find Allah (swt) by your side. Allah is Al-Qareeb (The One Who is Ever Near) and Al-Mujeeb (The Ever Responsive). Call out to him to fix your heart and submit to Him only.
- Notice your behaviour: Do you feel vulnerable when something goes missing or breaks? Are you desperate when you are ignored? Do you feel anxious about changes in your life? Do you find yourself talking about your losses repeatedly? Do you lose control in difficulties? If so, your attachments control your behaviour.
- Offer timely Salah: Praying regularly helps us focus on the Akhirah and develop the ability to avoid worldly distractions Our prayers are specially designed to be performed throughout the day granting us a great opportunity to learn the law of detachment.
- Fast regularly: Saum (fasting) is Allah’s (swt) way to detach us from our base desires of nourishment and intimacy. When we restraint our physical being, we achieve spiritual purification. Fasting empowers us to control our desires and reliance on worldly resources.
- Give Zakat and Sadqah consistently: Charity, whether mandatory or voluntary, detaches man from the love of wealth. Allah promises us self-sufficiency when we control our desire to hoard or be selfish. Giving charity is a liberating experience because we realize that not only are we able to thrive on the remainder, but others around us grow as well convincing us that dependence on wealth is illusory. Ali (ra) said: “Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you.”
Allah refers to Dunya as a ‘resource for transitory worldly delight’. Hence Dunya is a path to take towards a better place in the afterlife. The best words to utter for any loss are: “Inna lillahi wa inna ilehi rajioon” (To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return). He is the Owner of all we are entrusted with and He has the ability to give us a better replacement, Insha’Allah.