Posted by: Dawud Israel | February 13, 2011

A Guide for the 21st Century Zahid

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

I have often complained how much of the Islam in the West is geared for a middle-class demographic. This leads, perhaps unintentionally, to the censoring of the history of poverty and zuhd (or perhaps a better description is “living lightly on the Earth”) in Islam. Many Muslims opt instead for the easy adage that zuhd is in the heart, and not just in the outward, hence I can be a millionaire zahid. While this is entirely possible, I think its more of an exception and this is an easy way of dodging the fact righteous Muslims have always shied away from worldliness.

Some of the Sahabas were of the opinion that any excess wealth one had left over should be given away by the end of each day. Living as if one has nothing, and yet trusting in Allah to provide rizq and opportunities to gain rizq, like the birds alluded to in the hadith, that leave out hungry in the morning and returning home with their bellies full.

Is this lifestyle dead?

So let’s say you wanted to live the lifestyle of a zahid. How would you go about it? That is what I am going to discuss here.

A portable mini-stove worn on a necklace

It seems many live this life in the Muslim world out of necessity but in the West, it is also lived voluntarily. The hippy generation brought with it this spirit and even today many of these people are still alive and kicking.

One option you have is to live in a commune. Communes are still present, so you can learn more about them and perhaps even try living in one. Check Ecovillage out for that. I personally haven’t tried this yet, but hey, I just might. 🙂

Another quick way to get started is to check out Dwelling Portably‘s website. I’ve been reading their Zine on how to live lightly, everything from building a shelter, finding work, free food, protection, safety issues, hazards of nature, living on the road, the best sorts of bikes and boats to use, and how to dodge shady authorities that disapprove of this lifestyle.

So there you have it. This stuff is useful to learn even for general knowledge and to show how one can ‘control’ one’s consumption and learn to live lightly and responsibly.

Gandhi’s total personal possessions at his death (excluding his library)

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


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