This below is a discourses of Maseehul Ummat Hadhrat Maulana Maseehullah Khan Sahab (Rahimullah Ta’ala) translated into English by Al-Islaah Publications. Hadhrat-ji gives a great insight on what is not against the concept of abstinence from worldly pleasures (Zuhd).
Clothes: Let me just stop a while to point out that owning more than one set of clothes is not against the concept of asceticism (zuhd) – you may possess two, four, eight or ten sets of clothes. If Allah Ta’ala has blessed you with wealth you may sew for yourself ten sets of clothes even and it would not be against the concept of zuhd (asceticism). The proviso being that you do not put yourself in debt. It must also be pointed out that to live in ease and comfort at the cost of causing suffering to your wife and children is definitely against the concept of zuhd and wilayet. There is no question that this latter situation is one of asceticism or saintliness.
Residence: Having a double-storey or even a six-storey mansion is also not against the concept of zuhd and wilayet. Even if a person owns ten houses, it is still not against the concept of zuhd. The proviso again being that you do not have to ask from others but that Allah Ta’ala has blessed you with such wealth. Remember: To ask (beg) is degrading.
Let us take an example: Somebody has four sons. How are all going to stay in one house as the sons grow up and get married? If Allah Ta’ala has blessed you with wealth then provide each one with his own house.
Whenever some mureed wrote to Hadhratwala (r.a.) complaining of friction between wife and in-laws in a situation where everybody was staying together in one house, Hadhratwala (r.a.) used to write back: “As soon as possible go and stay on your own, whether by renting a house or building your own. Do not stay together.”
A Farsi saying goes as follows:
“Khane khudra khane digra mitten” – Do not make your home in other peoples’ homes.
How can several families stay together, using one entrance, one kitchen, one lounge, bumping into one another day and night? No. Each one’s quarters should be separate. If you have four sons, and Allah Ta’ala has blessed you with wealth, provide each son with his own house. You may have only one piece of land. In that case divide the property, making sure that each son has his own quarters – the kitchen and the cooking should be separate, the allowances should be separate, the food-stock should also be kept separate. Do not share from one kitty and one stock-room, but divide out each one’s share on its own.
You may be wondering what all this has to do with islah. Be assured that these are matters very important in one’s islah. An important principle in islah is that one’s mind should be free from unnecessary disputes and worries. The individual should be in a tranquil state. He should not be flustered. His thoughts should not be scattered, but be collected. Taking steps to prevent problems from arising leads to tranquillity. If there is no peace of mind, the person’s tilawat and his namaz are recited with a troubled mind. The person’s sleep is restless. He cannot concentrate on his work. A mind in turmoil is the very antithesis of building up a connection with Allah Ta’ala.
Food: If Allah Ta’ala has blessed you with wealth, eat good nutritious food of high quality. To eat well is also not against the concept of zuhd.
Do we have any proof for making these statements? Yes, we have. What has been said is not against the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam). Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) had more than one set of clothes, more than one topi (cap), and more than one pair of shoes. Where the principle is established that it is not against the sunnah to have more than one of an item, then the quantity beyond one will vary with each individual.
For example: Several people have come to visit you. You place some fruit, e.g. mangoes, in front of them to eat. You possess only one knife. Now each guest must, of necessity, await his turn to cut his mango. Is this not bringing on an artificial difficulty? You should have several knives so that your guests are not put to inconvenience.
Similarly you should possess several spoons, plates, tumblers, etc. to be able to attend to your guests with ease.
What about food? You should be familiar with Shama’il Tirmidhi shareef – a Hadith kitab on the lifestyle of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam). Therein is a description of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) having eaten chicken, confirming that it is not against zuhd to eat well.
The Hadith shareef also describes how Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) once wore a fine quality Yemeni shawl of extreme beauty.
We have established that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) ate well and dressed well, just as he is known to have ate simply and dressed simply. Both ways were adopted with due consideration for the Ummat. In this diversity lies the islah of the Ummat: If the well-to-do adopt a high standard of living the poor should not complain, they should not consider the rich to be arrogant. On the other hand, the rich should not be contemptuous of the simple food and attire of the poor. We can see the great wisdom behind adopting the lifestyles of the poor and the rich.
However, when it came to personal preference Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) chose simplicity for himself. Allah Ta’ala offered to turn Mount Uhud into gold but Rasulullah (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) preferred a life where he had something to eat at one mealtime and nothing the next.
Let us re-iterate: to eat well, to dress welland to possess more than one of an item, is not against the concept of zuhd. Bear in mind:
Deeds and actions are dependant on intentions. (Hadith shareef.)