The Prophet used to fast voluntarily, and sometimes he would not end his fast at sunset, as it is the norm in Islamic fasting. Some of his companions tried to do likewise, but he stopped them from doing so, saying: âI am unlike you; I stay the night with my Lord who gives me food and drink.â His long hours of prayer and address to God produced a great change in his human constitution. He was thus able to take very little food and drink, because his soul lived in a different world.
Yet despite being spiritually so far removed from people, he lived with them, knowing their nature, feeling their worries and understanding their problems. He gave judgment in their cases without departing for a moment from the path of justice.
Can we emulate the Prophet and adopt the same attitude to the life of this world? Certainly not, and we are not required to. Some mystics and ascetics have tried to discard worldly pleasures, living on the margin of life, and hoping to emulate prophets in their sublime standards. That is an impossible task they set for themselves. A blush of shyness cannot be produced by some makeup products. Artificial flowers may look similar to natural ones, and can retain their shape for much longer, but they lack luster, fine smell and texture; they lack life.
Anyone can recline on a straw mat and it could leave its mark on his body. Does this give him any similarity to Prophet Muhammad who gave this world an uninterested glance because his heart was attached to his Lord, alert in His presence? No one becomes qualified as a military commander because he wears the suit of the commander.
There is a certain attitude people should have toward the life of this world. It has been explained by the Prophet and we would like them to know it. Should they maintain it, they rise in honor. Korah (or Qarun, as he is called in the Qurâan) was extremely wealthy. People admired his riches and dearly wished to be similarly rich. God did not require him to abandon his life, but simply outlined a few things for him to do. He was required to reflect on how he acquired his wealth. It is granted by God. Hence, he was told to look at his wealth and say: âWhatever God wills will take place. No power works without Godâs will.â
In his arrogance, Korah said that he acquired his wealth through his genius. If we assume, for argumentâs sake that this was true, who gave him his intelligence? It is undoubtedly God, but he chooses to be oblivious of the fact. When God bestows His favors on someone, He wants that person to acknowledge those favors. Is this difficult? He wants the recipient to be kind, just, seeking what is right and good. He said to Korah: âSeek, by means of what God has granted you, the good of the life to come, without forgetting your rightful share in this world; and do good just as God has done good to you, and do not seek to spread corruption on earth.â (28: 77)
Unfortunately, many people receive Godâs great bounty, but they are mindful only of their own desires, careless about others. They immerse themselves in pleasures at the expense of the hungry. In their arrogance, they look with disdain at others. God has warned believers against such stupidity: âBelievers! Do not let your riches or your children make you oblivious of the remembrance of God. Those who do so will surely be the losers. Give, then, out of what We have provided for you, before death comes to any of you, and then he says, âMy Lord, if You would grant me a delay for a short while, I would give in charity and be one of the righteous.ââ (63: 9-10) ¬