Friday, June 14, 2024 AD / Dhul-Hijjah 7, 1445 AH
Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani
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Question & Answer

Please explain asceticism. Does it mean being poor?

“Asceticism” in Sharia terminology does not mean being poor, but rather it means the lack of inner inclination and dependence on the world, which is manifested in simple living, not having material wishes, and spending wealth in the way of God instead of accumulating it for oneself and one’s close people; as one of our companions informed us, he said:

«قُلْتُ لِلْمَنْصُورِ: مَنْ أَزْهَدُ النَّاسِ فِي الدُّنْيَا؟ فَقَالَ: مَنْ لَا أَمَلَ لَهُ فِيهَا، ثُمَّ قَالَ: لَيْسَ الزَّاهِدُ مَنْ يُحَرِّمُ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّهُ لَهُ، لَكِنَّ الزَّاهِدَ مَنْ كَانَ هَمُّهُ الْآخِرَةَ، وَلَيْسَ شَيْءٌ مِنْ مَتَاعِ الدُّنْيَا يُفْرِحُهُ إِذَا وَجَدَهُ، وَلَا يُحْزِنُهُ إِذَا فَقَدَهُ، إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى يَقُولُ: ﴿لِكَيْلَا تَأْسَوْا عَلَى مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلَا تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آتَاكُمْ[1]»[2]; “I said to Mansoor: Who is the most ascetic of people in the world? So he said: One who has no wish in it. Then he said: An ascetic is not one who forbids what God has made lawful for him, but an ascetic is one whose concern is the Hereafter, and nothing of the enjoyment of the world makes him happy when he achieves it, nor makes him sad when he loses it. Indeed, God Almighty has said: ‘So that you do not grieve over what escapes you or exult over what He gives you.’”

Also, another of our companions informed us, he said:

«قُلْتُ لِلْمَنْصُورِ: أَتَرَانِي أَكُونُ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْمَهْدِيِّ؟ فَقَالَ: إِنَّكَ رَجُلٌ مُؤْمِنٌ، وَلَا يَكُونُ مِنْ أَصْحَابِهِ إِلَّا مَنْ زَهِدَ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَقَدْ زُيِّنَتْ لَهُ كَمَا تُزَيَّنُ الْعَرُوسُ لَيْلَةَ الزِّفَافِ، قُلْتُ: وَمَنْ زَهِدَ فِيهَا؟ فَقَالَ: مَنْ وَقَفَ نَفْسَهُ عَلَى الْآخِرَةِ، قُلْتُ: وَمَا عَلَامَتُهُ؟ فَقَالَ: مَؤُونَتُهُ خَفِيفَةٌ، وَآمَالُهُ قَصِيرَةٌ، وَأَمْوَالُهُ مَبْذُولَةٌ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ، قُلْتُ: وَمَا؟ فَقَالَ: لَا يَطْلُبُ الرِّئَاسَةَ، وَلَا يَكْسِبُ فَوْقَ الْحَاجَةِ، بَدَنُهُ مِنْهُ فِي تَعَبٍ، وَالنَّاسُ مِنْهُ فِي رَاحَةٍ، إِنْ شَهِدَ لَمْ يُعْرَفْ، وَإِنْ غَابَ لَمْ يُفْتَقَدْ، إِذَا خَلَا بِنَفْسِهِ ذَكَرَ اللَّهَ، وَإِذَا خَالَطَ النَّاسَ ذَكَّرَهُمْ بِهِ، قَلِيلٌ ضَحْكُهُ وَطَعَامُهُ وَنَوْمُهُ، وَكَثِيرٌ بُكَاؤُهُ وَتَهَجُّدُهُ وَصَوْمُهُ، لَا يَخَافُ فِي اللَّهِ قَتْلًا وَلَا سِجْنًا وَلَا لَوْمَةَ لَائِمٍ، لَا يَعْمَلُ لِلسُّلْطَانِ وَلَا يَسْأَلُ غَيْرَ الْإِخْوَانِ وَإِنْ مَاتَ جُوعًا، لَوْ قِيلَ لَهُ: اخْرُجِ السَّاعَةَ لَخَرَجَ وَلَا يَنْظُرُ إِلَى مَا خَلْفَهُ، هَذَا مَنْ زَهِدَ فِي الدُّنْيَا، وَإِنْ عَاشَ وَاسْتَقَامَ سَيَكُونُ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْمَهْدِيِّ»[3]; “I said to Mansoor: ‘Do you think that I will be one of the companions of the Mahdi?’ So he said: ‘You are a believing man, but no one will be among his companions except for one who is an ascetic in the world while it has been adorned for him, as a bride is adorned on the wedding night.’ I said: ‘Who is an ascetic in it?’ So he said: ‘One who has dedicated himself to the Hereafter.’ I said: ‘What is his sign?’ So he said: ‘His expenditure is low, his wishes are short, and his wealth is spent in the way of God.’ I said: ‘What else?’ So he said: ‘He does not seek leadership, nor does he earn more than necessary; his body is in pain from him, and people are at ease from him; if he is present, he is not known, and if he is absent, he is not looked for; when he is alone, he remembers God, and when he mixes with people, he reminds them of Him; his laughs, food, and sleep are little, and his cries, tahajjud, and fasting are much; in the way of God, he does not fear death, imprisonment, or the blame of one who blames; he does not work for the government, nor does he ask anyone other than his brothers for anything, even if he dies of hunger; if it is said to him: “Come out (of your house and life) immediately,” he will come out and not look at what is behind him. This is an ascetic in the world, and if he survives and is righteous, he will be one of the companions of the Mahdi.’”

It is hereby understood that asceticism means severing attachments to the world and concentrating on the Hereafter, and this is the key to drawing near to God and His Caliph and reaching the rank of the truthful, martyrs, and the righteous; as it has been said in a narration from Imam ja‘far al-Sadiq, peace be upon him: «جُعِلَ الْخَيْرُ كُلُّهُ فِي بَيْتٍ وَجُعِلَ مِفْتَاحُهُ الزُّهْدَ فِي الدُّنْيَا، حَرَامٌ عَلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ أَنْ تَعْرِفَ حَلَاوَةَ الْإِيمَانِ حَتَّى تَزْهَدَ فِي الدُّنْيَا»[4]; “All the good has been placed in one house, and the key to that house is asceticism in the world. It is forbidden for your hearts to feel the sweetness of faith until they become ascetics in the world,” and this is a rule that applies to all believers, whether they are poor or rich. Therefore, in the topic of “Worldliness” from the book Return to Islam, some letters such as letters 2 and 20, and some sayings such as saying 26, Allamah Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani, may God protect him, has urged them all to be ascetics in the world.

↑[1] . Al-Hadid/ 23
↑[2] . Saying 203, passage 1
↑[3] . Saying 203, passage 2
↑[4] . Al-Kafi by al-Kulayni, vol. 2, p. 128
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