Love of the world is not absolutely unlawful

Our reply is that Islam has not completely prohibited loving the world. Rather it has made unlawful preferring the love of the world to the Hereafter. That is, if one loves the world more than the Hereafter, it is unlawful. But if on the contrary the love of the world is not overwhelming the love for the Hereafter it is not unlawful. However, if there is no love for Allah, the Prophet, his Progeny and the Hereafter or if love for them is very slight, it would be unlawful.

[Piety means that the heart becomes devoid of the love of the world]

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, “Attachment to the world has been opposed so that the hearts of the people are prepared to gain the Hereafter and that they become devoid of the love of the world.”

Again we remind the readers, that the unlawful thing is to love the world for its own sake and to love it fully. However if the love is temporary and for the pleasure of Allah, as we have already discussed, then it is worthy of praise and this much is sufficient for the affairs of life, continuation of generations and to guarantee the running of the worldly systems. In simple words it can be said that forgoing the love of the world does not mean giving up its pleasures and forsaking worldly responsibilities. It rather means that the love of Allah and the Hereafter should be cultivated in such a way that we perform all the worldly affairs for the sake of Allah and the Hereafter. It is obvious that whatever is done for the pleasure of Allah and with the intention of obeying Allah’s commands would be firm and fruitful and beget more favors in the life of the world.

[Deeds performed for Allah are more beneficial]

For example, if marriage and family life is for the pleasure of Allah, then indeed it would be firm, free of all difficulties and full of comforts and happiness. But if the same deeds were for the fulfillment of selfish desires and sensuality, nothing would be gained except difficulties and troubles. Or say for example, a building that is constructed on the foundation of the intention of Allah’s obedience would be steady, profitable and useful. But if the intention itself were for satanic aims, it would be shaky at the foundation and prove harmful. If a building were constructed to sell it for profit, the builder would mostly take care to beautify its exterior, but neglect its stability and firmness. But if in its construction there are noble intentions, that is, if selfish motives are absent and the builder aims to benefit the humanity with it, it is clear that Allah loves such a person who intends to benefit the people.

According to traditions: The best of the people are those from whom people benefit. In another tradition it is said that Allah loves such a person. Thus if the builder has an intention that the pleasure of Allah is to be kept in mind in making the building, he would try his utmost to make it firm and strong. So much so, if such a person even constructs graves for the dead, he makes them strong and sturdy. When Saad bin Maaz died, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) himself descended into the grave and lowered his dead body in it. Then he made the grave strong and said, “I know that a dead body decays, and his body would also decay, but Allah likes that whatever work is performed, it should be done perfectly.”[334]

It can be said in brief that following the teachings of the prophets, if man had not become attached to the world, and had only paid attention to Allah and the Hereafter, in such a condition, whatever he would have done in the world, had been devoid of selfish and material motives. He would have only considered the obedience of Allah and the welfare of the people in all his activities. In this way he would have been happy and successful in both this world and the Hereafter. Here we shall mention a brief incident related to the topic of our discussion. One day, Nausherwan, the King of Iran, was passing by. He saw an old man planting an olive tree. He said, “O, old man! Now the time has passed for planting this tree for yourself because you have become aged and weak, while the olive tree bears fruits after a long time.” The old man replied, “People preceding us had planted trees the fruits of which we ate. Now we are planting the trees so that those who come after us may get their fruits.”

Nausherwan praised him, and gave him 4000 dirhams. The old man said, “Every tree bears fruits once a year, while I got fruits from my tree twice.” Nausherwan praised him again and gave him another 4000 dirhams. Then he moved away quickly saying, “If I remain here further, my whole treasure would be insufficient before his magical words.”[335]

The fact is that performing some work for Allah can be compared to a farmer who sows the seeds to obtain heaps of wheat. When the crop is ready, along with the wheat he also gets chaff and stalks. Now inspite of his protests his warehouses are filled with stalks. In the same way a person who does something for the Almighty is indeed rewarded in the Hereafter, but in addition to this he also gets worldly happiness. In the same way consider the example of a kingdom. If rulership were for the sake of the Almighty Allah it would be like the rule of Amirul Momineen (a.s.), which was full of justice, equity and help for the poor. Where every oppressor was made to account for his oppression and everyone was restored their rights. 

But if rulership is under the control of selfish and satanic desires, it would be like the rule of Muawiyah. Where, there was only the rule of injustice; trampling upon the rights of the oppressed and the oppressors were left free and the rightful people were deprived of their rights.

[Love of the world is the source of all evil]

If you consider all the evils in the world, all corruption and turmoil in history and all the battles, wars and mischief, you will definitely conclude that their main cause lies in the pure love of the world, and nothing else. On the contrary, the reality of all words and actions, every good deed, no matter through whom it is performed and the resulting comfort and peace are rooted in the belief on Allah and the Hereafter. While there is only temporary love for the world in such a case. How nice it had been if Muslims had made firm their belief in Allah and the Hereafter and had performed all their affairs for the pleasure of Allah. They would indeed have obtained the real comfort and peace and they would have received pleasure from this world also.

One, who being attached to the world strengthens his relationship with Allah, has a pure life. That is, his life is a model of happiness, success, honor and respect. Such a person never extends his hand to ask something from anyone except Allah and except for Allah he does not fear anyone. [Love of the world begets evil] The wise and understanding man, spending a life free of confusion and doubts well knows the aim of this life, which is nothing but servitude to God. And day and night he is struggling to achieve it. The Almighty Allah is pointing out towards this aspect when He says in Surah Nahl: Whoever does good whether male or female and he is a believer, We will most certainly make him live a happy life, and We will most certainly give them their reward for the best of what they did.[336]

We have already replied to the objection that if there is no love for the world, the worldly life would go disarray and we have proved that it is not so. The fact is just the opposite. In the sense, that it is the love of the world that causes turmoil and disruption in the world. However, temporary and limited love for the world, which is necessary in religion, endows man with prosperity and peace.

[Conclusion of the above discussion]

Whatever has been stated in the preceding paragraphs has made absolutely clear that it is necessary to love obedience and hate disobedience, while having temporal and slight love for the world is a part of faith. On the other hand there are three levels of worldly love: 

1. The heart being full of worldly love and devoid of love for Allah and the Hereafter. This is absolutely forbidden and even comes under the ambit of disbelief.

2. Loving the world intensely while having lesser love for Allah and the Hereafter. Islam has also prohibited this type of faith.

3. The third level is the opposite of the second level. That is, though there is some love for the world, there is also intense love for Allah and the Hereafter on the other hand. This level is also detestable in the view of Islam. The unlawfulness of the first and the second kind, and the detestability of the third kind are proved from Quran and traditions. Since quoting all the verses and traditions in this regard would prolong the discussion, we present only a few below.

[Promise of Chastisement for the world-worshippers]

The Almighty Allah says: 

Surely those who do not hope in Our meeting and are pleased with this world's life and are content with it, and those who are heedless of Our communications: (As for) those, their abode is the fire because of what they earned.[337] That is: those who do not have hope in Our reward and punishment and are satisfied with the life of the world (They have weakened their resolve to obtain the pleasures of Paradise while succumbing to the temporal pleasures of the world). As if they never have to depart from this world. (They do not know that the hand of death is gradually approaching them). These are the people who are oblivious of Our Signs (proving the factuality of the Return and Resurrection). These are the people whose abode is Hell, that they earn for themselves. (That is, they persist in sins like disbelief, polytheism, hypocrisy and other evils).

[Four noteworthy points in this verse]

There are four keywords in this verse that are complimentary to each other and necessary for each other. Also they clarify the cause for burning in the world and in Hell.

1. ‘They will not return’ – The Arabic word for ‘return’ is ‘raja-a’ which denotes hope or expectation in obtaining something good. That is, if man is aware about the merits of a particular thing and he intends to obtain it, then his knowledge about the goodness of that thing spurs and encourages him to continue his efforts for obtaining that thing. Then even if he has to wait for it, this condition of awaiting is called ‘raja-a’. However, if there is no interest and eager expectation, it is called despair and hopelessness.

But if there is interest, but not enough that it makes him strive for it, in such a condition it is called pride. That is why, ‘they would never return’ denotes those who in the view of Allah are undeserving of an everlasting life after death. They do not even have faith that righteous people are recompensed for their good deeds. That is why they never performed any good deeds. In this way, neither they had any desire for a good recompense nor did they do any good works, that they could be hopeful of being rewarded for them.