Tahzeeb: Love of the world and fear of death

Tahzeeb: Love of the world and fear of death


Love is a strong internal force that attracts whoever has it to that which is loved. This force can be powerful enough to make its owner sacrifice anything for it sake without consideration or moderation. When this is applied to the temporary material world, it will have a disastrous effect on the everlasting hereafter. The life of the hereafter is better and superior to the present worldly life, therefore, Islam constantly reminds us of our obligations to attain the pleasure of hereafter and described the world as insignificant.

The Arabic word for world is “dunya” derived from another Arabic word “danaa”, which means lowliness; this indicates how lowly, fragile and transient the world is considered. This topic will is to advice Muslims away from undue attachment to the temporary material world.

The world in the Islamic context

Whenever Allah mentions the world in the Qur’an, He will either dispraise it or praised the afterlife over it in order to warn against any undue attachment to it. This is because attachment to the world will prevent us from the spiritual/religious obligations required to attain the pleasure of hereafter.

The story of Qarun narrated in the Qur’an gives a summary of the consequence of worldly attachment and establishes the correct position on how to manage between the material world and the spiritual hereafter.

إِنَّ قَارُونَ كَانَ مِنْ قَوْمِ مُوسَى فَبَغَى عَلَيْهِمْ وَآتَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْكُنُوزِ مَا إِنَّ مَفَاتِحَهُ لَتَنُوءُ بِالْعُصْبَةِ أُولِي الْقُوَّةِ إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ قَوْمُهُ لا تَفْرَحْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُحِبُّ الْفَرِحِينَ (٧٦) وَابْتَغِ فِيمَا آتَاكَ اللَّهُ الدَّارَ الآخِرَةَ وَلا تَنْسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا وَأَحْسِنْ كَمَا أَحْسَنَ اللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ وَلا تَبْغِ الْفَسَادَ فِي الأرْضِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُحِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِينَ (٧٧) قَالَ إِنَّمَا أُوتِيتُهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ عِنْدِي أَوَلَمْ يَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَهْلَكَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ مِنَ الْقُرُونِ مَنْ هُوَ أَشَدُّ مِنْهُ قُوَّةً وَأَكْثَرُ جَمْعًا وَلا يُسْأَلُ عَنْ ذُنُوبِهِمُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ (٧٨) فَخَرَجَ عَلَى قَوْمِهِ فِي زِينَتِهِ قَالَ الَّذِينَ يُرِيدُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا يَا لَيْتَ لَنَا مِثْلَ مَا أُوتِيَ قَارُونُ إِنَّهُ لَذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ (٧٩) وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ وَيْلَكُمْ ثَوَابُ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ لِمَنْ آمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَلا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلا الصَّابِرُونَ (٨٠) فَخَسَفْنَا بِهِ وَبِدَارِهِ الأرْضَ فَمَا كَانَ لَهُ مِنْ فِئَةٍ يَنْصُرُونَهُ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُنْتَصِرِينَ (٨١) وَأَصْبَحَ الَّذِينَ تَمَنَّوْا مَكَانَهُ بِالأمْسِ يَقُولُونَ وَيْكَأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَوْلا أَنْ مَنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَيْنَا لَخَسَفَ بِنَا وَيْكَأَنَّهُ لا يُفْلِحُ الْكَافِرُونَ (٨٢) تِلْكَ الدَّارُ الآخِرَةُ نَجْعَلُهَا لِلَّذِينَ لا يُرِيدُونَ عُلُوًّا فِي الأرْضِ وَلا فَسَادًا وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ (٨٣)

  1. Verily, Qârûn (Korah) was from the people of Mûsa (Moses), but He behaved arrogantly towards them. And we gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men; when his people said to him: “Do not be glad (with ungratefulness to Allâh’s favours). Verily! Allâh likes not those who are glad (with ungratefulness to His favours).
  2. but seek, with that (wealth) which Allâh has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of legal enjoyment in this world, and do good as Allâh has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allâh does not like corrupters.
  3. He said: “This has been given to me only because of knowledge I possess.” did he not know that Allâh had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than him in might and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected. But the Mujrimûn (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, etc.) will not be questioned of their sins (because Allâh knows them well, so they will be punished without account).
  4. so he came out before his people in his adornment; those who were desirous of the life of the world, said: “Ah, would that we had the like of what Qârûn (Korah) has been given? Verily! He is the owner of a great fortune.”
  5. but those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: “Woe to you! the reward of Allâh (in the Hereafter) is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and none shall attain this except those who are patient (in following the truth).”
  6. so we caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. Then He had no group or party to help him against Allâh, nor was he one of those who could save themselves.
  7. and those who had desired (for a position like) his position the day before, began to say: “Know you not that it is Allâh who enlarges the provision or restricts it to whomsoever He pleases of his slaves; had it not been that Allâh was Gracious to us, He could have caused the earth to swallow us up (also)! know You not that the disbelievers will never be successful.
  8. that home of the Hereafter (i.e. Paradise), we shall assign to those who rebel not against the Truth with pride and oppression in the land nor do mischief by committing crimes; and the good end is for the pious.

Description of the world in the Qur’an

اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الأمْوَالِ وَالأوْلادِ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا وَفِي الآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٌ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ

know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and You see it turning yellow; Then it becomes straw. But In the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the disbelievers and evil-doers), and (there is) forgiveness from Allâh and (His) good pleasure (for the believers and good-doers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.[1]


وَقَالَ الَّذِي آمَنَ يَا قَوْمِ اتَّبِعُونِ أَهْدِكُمْ سَبِيلَ الرَّشَادِ (٣٨) يَا قَوْمِ إِنَّمَا هَذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا مَتَاعٌ وَإِنَّ الآخِرَةَ هِيَ دَارُ الْقَرَارِ (٣٩)

  1. and the man who believed said: “O My people! follow Me, I will Guide You to the Way of Right conduct [i.e. Guide You to Allâh’s Religion of Islâmic Monotheism with which Mûsa (Moses) has been sent].
  2. “O My people! Truly, This life of the world is nothing but a (quick passing) enjoyment, and Verily, the Hereafter that is the home that will remain forever.”


زُيِّنَ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا وَيَسْخَرُونَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا فَوْقَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَاللَّهُ يَرْزُقُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

Beautified is the life of this world for those who disbelieve, and they mock at those who believe; but those who obey Allâh’s orders and keep away from what He has forbidden, will be above them on the Day of Resurrection. And Allâh gives (of his Bounty, blessings, Favours, Honour, etc. on the Day of Resurrection) to whom He wills without limit.[2]


زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ وَالْبَنِينَ وَالْقَنَاطِيرِ الْمُقَنْطَرَةِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَالْخَيْلِ الْمُسَوَّمَةِ وَالأنْعَامِ وَالْحَرْثِ ذَلِكَ مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاللَّهُ عِنْدَهُ حُسْنُ الْمَآبِ

Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world’s life; but Allâh has the excellent return (Paradise with flowing rivers, etc.) with Him.[3]


مَثَلُ مَا يُنْفِقُونَ فِي هَذِهِ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَثَلِ رِيحٍ فِيهَا صِرٌّ أَصَابَتْ حَرْثَ قَوْمٍ ظَلَمُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ فَأَهْلَكَتْهُ وَمَا ظَلَمَهُمُ اللَّهُ وَلَكِنْ أَنْفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

The likeness of what they spend in this world is the likeness of a wind which is extremely cold; it struck the harvest of a people who did wrong against themselves and destroyed it, (i.e. the good deed of a person is Only accepted if He is a monotheist and believes In All the Prophets of Allâh, including Christ and Muhammad). Allâh wronged them not, but they wronged themselves.[4]

فَآتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ ثَوَابَ الدُّنْيَا وَحُسْنَ ثَوَابِ الآخِرَةِ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

So Allâh gave them the reward of this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. And Allâh loves the good­doers.[5]


Love of the world and fear of death is the reason for the present sad situation of the Muslim Ummah

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الدِّمَشْقِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا بِشْرُ بْنُ بَكْرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ جَابِرٍ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو عَبْدِ السَّلَامِ، عَنْ ثَوْبَانَ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «يُوشِكُ الْأُمَمُ أَنْ تَدَاعَى عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا تَدَاعَى الْأَكَلَةُ إِلَى قَصْعَتِهَا»، فَقَالَ قَائِلٌ: وَمِنْ قِلَّةٍ نَحْنُ يَوْمَئِذٍ؟ قَالَ: «بَلْ أَنْتُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ كَثِيرٌ، وَلَكِنَّكُمْ غُثَاءٌ كَغُثَاءِ السَّيْلِ، وَلَيَنْزَعَنَّ اللَّهُ مِنْ صُدُورِ عَدُوِّكُمُ الْمَهَابَةَ مِنْكُمْ، وَلَيَقْذِفَنَّ اللَّهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمُ الْوَهْنَ»، فَقَالَ قَائِلٌ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، وَمَا الْوَهْنُ؟ قَالَ: «حُبُّ الدُّنْيَا، وَكَرَاهِيَةُ الْمَوْتِ»[6]

Thaoban narrated the prophet said: “the nations of the world will gather on you (Muslims; in order to destroy you) just as the ants gather over a sweet. One man said: Will our number be small then? He replied: No! You will be many like the foams on the ocean, Allah will remove your fear from the heart of your enemies and wahn will be placed on your heart. One man said: what is wahn oh Messenger of Allah. He replied: Love of the world and fear of death.

[1] Surat-ul-Hadid 20

[2] Surat-ul-Baqarah 212

[3] Surat-ul-Imran 14

[4] Surat-ul-Imran 117

[5] Surat-ul-Imran 148

[6] سنن أبي داود vol. 4 pg 111. المكتبة العصرية، صيدا – بيروت. المحقق: محمد محيي الدين عبد الحميد

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