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Adoration of the World – Love of Dunya

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Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) said, “He who wakes up and goes to bed with the world as his greatest concern, Allah will make poverty prevail in his eyes and scatter his affairs. He will only receive from the world what is allotted to him. But he who wakes up and goes to bed with the hereafter as his greatest concern, Allah will fill his heart with wealth and gather his affairs for him.”[1] In this article on Islam4u, we will discuss the phenomenon of love for the world from the perspective of hadiths from the Imams.

Intro:

The topic of “Adoration of the World” from an Islamic perspective, specifically from the view of the Ahlul Bait, is a complex and nuanced subject that has been discussed and debated by scholars and religious leaders for centuries. In general, the teachings of Islam encourage believers to strive for spiritual growth and connection with Allah rather than becoming overly focused on material wealth and worldly pleasures.

However, the Ahlul Bait specifically has a unique perspective on this topic, as the Imams of the Ahlul Bait, who Muslims consider to be the spiritual leaders and guides of the community, have provided guidance and teachings on how to navigate the complexities of balancing worldly obligations and spiritual pursuits.

Moderation and Balance

One of the key teachings of the Imams on this topic is the importance of moderation and balance in one’s relationship with the world. Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) said, “He who wakes up and goes to bed with the world as his greatest concern, Allah will make poverty prevail in his eyes and scatter his affairs. He will only receive from the world what is allotted to him. But he who wakes up and goes to bed with the hereafter as his greatest concern, Allah will fill his heart with wealth and gather his affairs for him.” This teaching emphasizes the importance of keeping one’s focus on the hereafter but also acknowledges that the world is a necessary part of our existence and that it is possible to have a healthy relationship with it.

Love of the World vs. Love of Allah

It is also important to note that the Imams have emphasized that the love of the world should not be confused with the love of Allah, as the two are mutually exclusive. In other words, one cannot truly love Allah if they are excessively attached to worldly things.

From an Islamic perspective, the ultimate goal of human existence is to attain closeness to Allah and eventually go to paradise in the hereafter. However, it is acknowledged that the world is a necessary part of our existence and that we have obligations and responsibilities in this life. Therefore, the teachings of Islam encourage believers to maintain a balance between fulfilling their worldly obligations and focusing on the hereafter.

For example, Islam encourages believers to engage in good deeds and charitable acts, as these actions will be rewarded in the hereafter. However, it also acknowledges that earning a livelihood and providing for one’s family is a necessary part of life and should not be neglected. Similarly, the Imams have emphasized the importance of education and seeking knowledge, as it is necessary for the betterment of oneself and society. They also encourage us to seek knowledge that will lead to closeness to Allah.

It is important to note that this balance does not mean that one should neglect their spiritual pursuits or become overly focused on material wealth. Rather, it means that one should strive to fulfill their obligations in this life while keeping their ultimate goal of attaining closeness to Allah in mind as well.

What is the Reality of the Condemned World?

Various scholars and experts have delved into the concepts of the world and the hereafter in their respective fields. The focus is not on understanding these concepts through scientific jargon, as the effort put into understanding such terminology can often detract from the overall goal. Rather, the main objective of this topic is to understand the world that is deemed undesirable and how it relates to the pursuit of the afterlife and the ultimate goal of salvation for humanity. The aim is to comprehend how one can strive to distance themselves from this world and the things that may hinder spiritual progress to ultimately achieve salvation.

Expert researcher and renowned thinker Alamah al-Majlisi, may Allah’s mercy be on him, states that the overall message of the verses and hadiths is that the world is filled with things that prevent people from obeying Allah, loving Him, and achieving success in the afterlife. The world and the afterlife are two opposing forces. Everything that pleases Allah and brings us closer to Him is considered a part of the afterlife, even if it appears to be a worldly activity such as trade, industry, agriculture, and so on, as long as it is done for the sake of Allah, to support the family, to help the needy and the poor, to give charity, and so on. These activities are considered acts of the afterlife. On the other hand, activities that are not related to Allah, such as starving oneself and other activities, even if they are done with asceticism and hardship, are considered worldly activities because they do not bring us closer to Allah and resemble the actions of non-believers.[2]

Dunya and the Afterlife

The concept of dunya and the afterlife is often described as two different states of the human heart. The world, which is referred to as the time before death, is often associated with temporary and fleeting experiences, while the afterlife is viewed as a return to the true essence of human existence and a place of permanence and decision-making. It is believed that both of these states are experienced by every individual, and that they serve as a means of personal growth and understanding.

In the perspective of certain belief systems, it is believed that every being has a place of appearance, possession, and testimony. This place is referred to as the worldly, descending stage and is considered temporary and constantly changing. On the other hand, there is also an inner place and hidden possession, referred to as the afterlife, which is considered permanent and unchanging.

While the worldly stage may be lacking in itself and considered to be one of the lower stages of existence, it serves as a means of educating and raising spiritual individuals, as well as a place for attaining higher stages and a farm for the afterlife. Despite its temporary nature, the worldly stage is still considered one of the best views of existence and one of the most valuable stages. It is highly valued by those who focus on the afterlife.

If it were not for the presence of these royal matters, essential changes and movements, both natural and voluntary, and if Allah the Most High did not bestow control over these developments, changes, and actions, individuals with imperfect souls would not have been able to attain the level of perfection that is promised to them, nor would they have been able to establish their decisions and steadfastness. Therefore, the condemnation of this world mentioned in the Quran and Hadiths does not pertain to the world in terms of its nature or quantity, but rather, it refers to the inclination towards it and the attraction of the heart towards it and its love.

Therefore, it becomes clear that before man are two worlds: a world praised and a world condemned. The praised one is the attainment in this existence – which is the house of education, the house of obtaining, and the place of trade – of positions, the acquisition of perfections and preparation for a happy eternal life, which cannot be obtained without entering this world, as stated in a sermon of the Commander of the faithful, Ali (peace be upon him), in response to those who condemned the world, where he said: “Indeed, the world is a house of truth for those who are truthful in it, a house of healing for those who understand it, a house of wealth for those who are provided from it, and a house of admonition for those who are warned by it. A mosque of the loved ones of Allah, a place of worship for the angels of Allah, a station of revelation of Allah, and a marketplace of the friends of Allah, obtain mercy in it, and win the paradise in it…”[3]

And Allah the Most High said: “And the home of the righteous is indeed a good place.” (Qur’an: Surah Yunus, Verse 25)

This refers to the world according to the explanation of Imam al-Baqir, peace be upon him, in Tafsir al-Ayashi.

Consequently, the world, which embodies splendor, grandeur, and the ultimate test of faith, should not be viewed as objectionable in this context. Rather, the objectionable aspect is the human world itself; the act of directing oneself towards it, becoming attached to it, and developing affection for it. This is the source of all moral and ethical shortcomings, both internal and external, as stated by Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) when he said, “The root of every sin is the love of the world.”[4]

And Imam al-Baqir, peace be upon him, said, “Two wolves are harmful in the herd without a shepherd, the first is the love of wealth and the second is the love of fame in the religion of a believer, these two wolves cause destruction more quickly than any other.”[5]

Is the Love of the World a Natural and Innate Inclination?

Given that man is born into this natural world, which is his mother, and he is the offspring of water and earth, the love of the world is ingrained in his heart from the moment of his creation and growth. As he grows older, this love grows stronger and more entrenched in his heart. And with the power and means of pleasure that Allah has bestowed upon him to preserve himself and humanity, his love and attachment to the world increase until he believes that the world is nothing but a source of delight and the fulfillment of desires. He sees death as a termination of these pleasures. Even if he knows through the teachings of the wise or the hadiths of the prophets, peace be upon them that there is another world, his heart remains indifferent to the nature of that other world, its conditions, and its perfection. It does not accept it, let alone reach a state of contentment. Therefore, his love and attachment to this world continue to grow.

Is Death the End?

Since the love of staying alive is innate in humans, and they dislike death, and they think that death is an end, even if he believes with his mind that this world is a transient place and the next world is a world of eternal existence, the foundation of this belief remains in the heart, rather than its perfection, which is assurance. As Ibrahim Khalil Al-Rahman asked Allah, the Most High, for this assurance, and He bestowed it upon him. Therefore, either our hearts do not believe in the afterlife, even if we intellectually acknowledge it, or there is no assurance in it, in which case the love of staying alive in this world and the dislike of death and leaving this world will be present in the heart.

If the hearts realize that this world is the lowest of worlds, that it is a place of passing, change, deterioration, and destruction, a place of deficiency and loss, and that the other worlds after death are eternal and permanent, a place of perfection, stability, life, joy, and happiness, the love of these worlds would come naturally, and they would detach themselves from this world.

According to Human Nature, People Love Unconditional Perfection

Allah created man in this world and created in him a nature to love perfection and search for it. Every person loves perfection according to their nature and first creation and strives to achieve it. In fact, the origin of every movement and behavior of man is to reach the desired perfection. The human nature does not want any perfection, but it seeks the absolute perfection that has no limit or end. And here, people differ, and groups diverge during their pursuit and search, as everyone sees perfection in something.

Therefore, the people of the world assume that what they reach by their nature is a perfection that exists in this world, so they turn to achieve it and repair it. But the wise and discerning person knows well that this world is nothing but a limited and vain perfection. If a person is occupied with it, it will only give him need and poverty, until it disrupts his affairs and disturbs his state. He will be overcome by sorrow and regret, and despair and fear of losing it and hoping to keep it. As for the people of the afterlife, they have directed their hearts and all their existence towards the true and beloved reality, towards the world of the afterlife, the abode of meeting Allah and seeing him because they realized that their goal is more worthy than the vanities of this fleeting world, its limited decorations, and fleeting happiness.

The Ultimate Perfection

When a person is directed towards complete perfection, no matter how much they gather the decorations of life, their heart will become increasingly attached to them. If they believe that the world and its decorations are the ultimate perfection, their desire for it will increase and their attachment to it will grow, and their need for it will become more apparent. On the other hand, people of the afterlife have turned their faces away from the world, and as their orientation towards the afterlife increases, their attachment to this world decreases. Their need for it dissipates, revealing contentment in their hearts and they become detached from the world and its decorations.

It is known that when one directs their heart towards the afterlife, the affairs of the world and its difficulties are seen as insignificant and easy. They find this world to be fleeting and changeable, seeing it as a place of trials and education. They do not concern themselves with the pain and joy it holds, resulting in the decrease of their needs and the reduction of their dependence on the world and its people. They even reach a point where they no longer have any need for it. Thus their affairs are organized and their actions are consistent, and they attain inner and spiritual wealth.

Final Say

Therefore, the more one looks at this world with eyes of love and reverence and attaches their heart to it, the more they will need it, in proportion to the degree of their love for it. As a result, poverty will increase in both one’s inner and outer self, their affairs will be disrupted and tumultuous, their heart will be agitated, fear and worry will take hold of it, and their affairs will not proceed as desired. Their wishes will increase, and their greed and anxiety will grow, and sorrow and despair will dominate their heart, as is mentioned in some of the sacred hadiths. It is narrated that Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) said: ” Whoever is too preoccupied with the world will have the greatest regret when they leave it.”[6]

It is also related from him (peace be upon him) that he said: “Anyone who attaches themselves to the world attaches their heart to three characteristics; it is never satisfied, hope is never fulfilled, and aspirations are never achieved.”[7]

As for the people of the afterlife, whenever they come closer to the house of Allah’s generosity, their hearts increase in joy and tranquility, and their detachment from the world and what it contains increases. And if it weren’t for Allah having appointed a time for them, they would not have stayed in this world for even a moment.

This is as the Commander of the Faithful, Ali bin Abi Talib (peace be upon him), says: “They descended in hardship like they descended in ease, and if it wasn’t for the time that Allah has written for them, their souls would not have settled in their bodies for even a moment, eagerly for the awaiting reward.”[8]


[1] Sheikh Al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 359.

[2] Allama Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, p. 63.

[3] Nahj al-Balagha, Wisdom No. 131.

[4] Sheikh Al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 315

[5] Ibid.

[6] Sheikh Al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi, Part 2, pg. 325.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Nahj al-Balagha, sermon 193.

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