In this lesson, visiting scholar, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, gives an overview of Imam Ghazali’s chapters on condemnation of miserliness, love of wealth, status; and the condemnation of ostentation. These chapters fall in the third quarter of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum that focuses on the vices of person.
All these vices are primarily about how one interacts with these things, wealth status, etc. Wealth in and of itself is not wrong, however, it can’t be all consuming such that it distracts you from everything else. One of the principal objectives of zakat to force you to give something you love for the sake of Allah.
Shaykh Walead counsels us to make a regular habit of taking stock of our shortcomings and identifying ways to improve upon them. One is either on a path of increase or decrease in their deen and iman and as such one should always strive to improve because if you stand still you will inevitably be on a downward trajectory. The nature of the world is that one is never satiated of it and thus one has to be content through other means that are not materialistic.
The remedy to this is a combination of knowledge and practice, to be content in your heart with Allah’s decree and to only be in need of Allah and that is the true wealth. Shaykh Walead explains that research has shown that one has a minimal threshold of needs that one needs to be fulfilled but beyond that any additional wealth doesn’t make you happy.
The chapter following that is on the condemnation of status and ostentation. How one is viewed by others is one of the most ingrained inclinations in a human and thus only those of truly high status are those who let go of their love of status and leadership. Seeking fame for the sake of fame has become central to our society today and that is blameworthy. Imam Ghazali comments that one should be famous only if Allah has made them known not through any effort or objective of their own.
Shaykh Walead concludes with a reminder that first and foremost one should seek roots through cultivating ourselves and character. If then Allah decides that we should be known to others and for us to bear fruit and benefit to the community then that should be but one should not seek it out.
In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.
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