Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Islam emphasizes balance in everything and celebrates every right of a person that is an obligation for him. Among the rights of a person are towards his Creator, himself, and others. Islam does not separate the worldly life and the hereafter for each complements the other.
Hence, in this series of Bayan Linnas, we will discuss this issue titled Balance Between Materialistic and Spirituality. Hopefully, this discussion will benefit us all in our daily lives. Amin.
We will start with the definition of the title presented for this discussion as the following:
According to Kamus Dewan balance means in balance, in proportion, equal or in correct proportions.
According to Kamus Dewan Bahasa, materialistic is related to possessions, tangible things, prioritizing or giving importance for possessions.
Spirituality according to Kamus Dewan, is related to spiritualism, religiousness and immateriality.
Balance Between Materialistic and Spirituality
Dr Abdullah Nasih Ulwan in his book Syariah Islam: Ciri-Ciri dan Keunggulan (Islamic Syariah: Its Attributes and Excellence) states: Among the excellence of Islamic sanctions is its attribute of not separating between the material and spiritual need in this world and the hereafter. Islam sees them as elements that complement and complete one another, fulfilling the rights of a person towards his Creator, himself and others. Hence, a person is able to live his everyday life depending on his capability and preference according to the basis of Islam in line with the nature and reality of life.
The rulings in Islam never sanctioned absolute prohibitions such as living like a monk in a monastery who isolates himself from society. At the same time, Islam does not let humans drown themselves in materialistic lives and forget their God and life in the hereafter. In fact, a person must balance everything in his life, fulfilling the rights of Allah SWT, himself and others at the same time never neglecting one obligation in order to fulfil the other.
Al-Quran emphasizes the balance between material and spiritual matter in verses that touch about feelings and the human heart before discussing the minds of humans.
In the reminders on the obligations of fulfilling the rights of Allah SWT to be worshipped when one is drowned in worldly issues and business dealings, Allah SWT state:
رِجَالٌ لَّا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلَا بَيْعٌ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ ۙ يَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا تَتَقَلَّبُ فِيهِ الْقُلُوبُ وَالْأَبْصَارُ
“[Are] men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allah and performance of prayer and giving of zakah. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will [fearfully] turn about.”
Surah al-Nur (37)
Ibn Kathir said: Allah SWT state those who are not distracted with the world, its glitz and glitter, adornments, trade and profit from remembering Allah who has created and provided for them. They are well aware of what is prepared by His side which is eternal.
Ibn Abbas RA said, “لَّا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلَا بَيْعٌ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ” (whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allah), which means from performing obligatory prayer. Muqatil bin Hayyan and al-Rabi’ bin Anas also hold the same opinion. While al-Suddi state: “Which means from performing congregational prayer.” Muqatil bin Hayyan said: “They are not distracted from these from attending the prayer and upholding what has been commanded by Allah SWT, maintaining the times that Allah SWT has commanded to be maintained.” (See Tafsir al-Quran al-'Azim, 6/55)
Sayyid Qutb: Trade and business transactions are activities that result in income and wealth. However busy a person is when involved in this activity, they are not distracted from fulfilling the rights of Allah SWT in the worship of prayer and the rights of others in the worship of zakat. The heart will always sway and turn, never staying still and calm for the immense disaster, misery and woes. For their fear of the day of Judgement, their hearts are never distracted from remembering Allah SWT even when they are involved in business and trade. (See Fi Zilal al-Quran, 5/284)
Whereas, in His reminders regarding the necessity to fulfil the rights of the soul of people to work and secure sustenance when one is drowned with the sweetness of worshipping and remembering God and tranquillity of the place of worship, Allah SWT state:
فَإِذَا قُضِيَتِ الصَّلَاةُ فَانتَشِرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَابْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِ اللَّـهِ
“And when the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allah,”
Surah al-Jumuah (10)
Imam al-Qurtubi said: The verse “And when the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land,” this is a commandment that brings about the permissibility ruling of it. (See al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Quran, 18/108)
Sayyid Qutb said: This is the balance which is a characteristic of the lifestyle system in Islam, where it protects the balance between the necessity of life such as work and labour, getting involve and putting in the effort with the necessities of the souls which need uzlah or moments of solitude from the hustle and bustle of life and focus on Allah SWT. Zikrullah or remembering Allah is necessary in search of life, for the feeling of consciousness of Allah SWT during these times is what change searching for life to worship. (See Fi Zilal al-Quran, 5/284)
Al-Sobuni said: The meaning of O believers, believe in Allah and His Messenger. If you hear the call of the adhan for prayer, then leave all your affairs and work, and leave your business and trade and immediately go and remember to worship Allah SWT, especially for Friday prayer, together with other Muslims, for this is far better from what you are selling, if you have the right understanding and good knowledge. Afterwards, find the sustenance of Allah SWT all over the world for sustenance are His. He is the true Giver without neglecting any ambition for those who supplicate and worship Him for His blessings. Hence, you should remember Allah SWT as much as you can. Hopefully, we will be among those who are successful. (See Sofwah al-Tafasir, 3/73)
Among the basis set in the Quran regarding balance are:
- Searching and working for the hereafter at the same time never neglecting the portion of this world.
Allah SWT state:
وَابْتَغِ فِيمَا آتَاكَ اللَّـهُ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ ۖ وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا
“But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world.”
Surah al-Qasas (77)
Ibnu Kathir said: The verse means use anything that has been given by Allah SWT to you in terms of abundance in property and continuous blessings in performing obedience to your Rabb and getting close to Him with various worships to get rewarded in this world and the hereafter. We should not forget our part in this world, which are from what is made permissible by Allah SWT in the form of food, drink, clothing, residence and marriage. Indeed, God have rights, you have rights, your family have rights and the person who visits you have rights. Then fulfil each their own rights. (See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 6/228)
Syeikh al-Maraghi in Tafsir al-Maraghi (10/5185) said: “Use the abundance of the blessings given to you in the form of property as a means of obedience and getting closer to Him to attain the rewards in the hereafter. This is affirmed through a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma, where the prophet PBUH said:
اغْتَنِمْ خَمْسًا قَبْلَ خَمْسٍ: شَبَابَكَ قَبْلَ هِرَمِكَ، وَصِحَّتَكَ قَبْلَ سَقَمِكَ، وَغِنَاءَكَ قَبْلَ فَقْرِكَ، وَفَرَاغَكَ قَبْلَ شُغْلِكَ، وَحَيَاتَكَ قَبْلَ مَوْتِكَ
“Make use of the five good things before the coming of the other five (other five contrary matters): Your youth before your old age, your health before sickness, your wealth before your deficit, your free time before you are busy and your life before your death.”
Narrated by al-Baihaqi in Syu’ab al-Iman (7/3319) and al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak, 4/306 (7846). Ibn al-Athir in his book Jami’ al-Ushul fi Ahadith al-Rasul (1/392) state: “This hadith is narrated by Imam Hakim and he states that the hadith is authentic (sahih) following the conditions set by Imam Bukhari and Muslim. Imam al-Zahabi’s evaluation of the hadith is the same as Imam Hakim. Ibnu Hajar al-Asqalani in his book Fath al-Bari said: “The sanad of the hadith is hasan (good)”. This hadith is also narrated by Ibn al-Mubarak in his book, al-Zuhd.
If Allah SWT state that He dislikes people who harm and damages the earth, then surely the punishment of said people will come to them, where it can either be swift or slow. And if the punishments of God came, not a single person is able to resist it.
- Reproach on those who refuse to use beautiful adornments and things.
Allah SWT state:
قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ ۚ قُلْ هِيَ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا خَالِصَةً يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ
Say, "Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?" Say, "They are for those who believe during the worldly life [but] exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection."
Surah al-A’araf (32)
Ibnu Kathir said: This verse shows how Allah SWT repudiates the opinion of those who prohibit something from food or drink or clothing according to their own desires and not according to the commandments from Allah SWT. It is something that is created by Allah SWT for those who believe in Him and His Messengers in this life, although it is also of benefit for the disbelievers in this material world. (See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim, 3/367)
Imam Fakr al-Din al-RAzi said: “The word ziinah (adornments) includes all adornments such as in cleansing one’s body and also the adornments for women. And this includes Thayyibaat (good things from sustenance) for everything that is delicious and whet one’s appetite for food and drink. In fact, the Prophet PBUH rejects the understanding of Uthman bin Mah’un who intends to cut off his penis and live as a monk.” (See Mafatih al-Ghaib, 14/230)
Hence, Islam commanded its followers to be balanced between religion and material, this worldly life as well as the hereafter. If we analyse the character of the Prophet PBUH when he is faced with balancing his life, he solves the concept of isolating oneself from the worldly matters altogether, we are certain that this attitude is in accordance with the nature of humans and does not contradict human desires. (See Syariah Islam: Ciri-Ciri dan Keunggulan (Islamic Jurisprudence: Its Attributes and Excellence) (trans.) by Abdullah Nasih Ulwan, pg. 25)
Among the examples from this stand is quoted through the following hadiths:
- Hadith Narrated by Anas RA
From Anas RA, he said, A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) asking how the Prophet (ﷺ) worshipped (Allah), and when they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, "Where are we from the Prophet (ﷺ) as his past and future sins have been forgiven." Then one of them said, "I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever." The other said, "I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast." The third said, "I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.” Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) came to them and said:
أَنْتُمُ الَّذِينَ قُلْتُمْ كَذَا وَكَذَا، أَمَا وَاللَّهِ إِنِّي لَأَخْشَاكُمْ لِلَّهِ وَأَتْقَاكُمْ لَهُ، لَكِنِّي أَصُومُ وَأُفْطِرُ، وَأُصَلِّي وَأَرْقُدُ، وَأَتَزَوَّجُ النِّسَاءَ، فَمَنْ رَغِبَ عَنْ سُنَّتِي فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي
"Are you the same people who said, so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you; yet I fast and break my fast, I do sleep and I also marry women. So, he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me (not one of my followers).”
Sahih al-Bukhari (6063) and Sahih Muslim (1401)
What is meant by the Prophet PBUH by him saying this is even when all his sins are forgiven, however, his fear towards Allah encourage him to always do his own ijtihad and to always perform his worship. However, the road to worship must be in accordance with what is practised by the Prophet PBUH. Whoever dislikes this road, then he does not follow the sunnah of the Prophet PBUH, which is a condition for the blessing of Allah SWT. (See al-Mufhim li ma Ashkala min Talkhis Muslim by al-Qurtubi, 4/86)
- Hadith of Abdullah bin Amr RA
From Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘As R.Anhuma, he said, the prophet PBUH said: “O Abdullah! Have I not been formed that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night?" I said, "Yes, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)!" He said,
فَلَا تَفْعَلْ صُمْ وَأَفْطِرْ وَقُمْ وَنَمْ فَإِنَّ لِجَسَدِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَإِنَّ لِعَيْنِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَإِنَّ لِزَوْجِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا
"Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you."”
Sahih al-Bukhari (5199) and Sahih Muslim (1159)
Al-Hafiz Ibnu Hajar cited from Ibn Battal, he said:
وَأَنَّهُ لَا يَنْبَغِي لَهُ أَنْ يُجْهِد بِنَفْسِهِ فِي الْعِبَادَة حَتَّى يَضْعُف عَنْ الْقِيَام بِحَقِّهَا مِنْ جِمَاع وَاكْتِسَاب
A husband should not burden himself with worship until he is weak in fulfilling the rights of his wife which are the conjugal right and his responsibility to work for his family. (See Fath al-Bari, 9/299)
The Prophet PBUH’s stand is the most concrete proof that substantiates Islam as a religion that caters to human nature, balance, moderate and modest. Islam places several firm bases that exist to build a complete and thorough human character so that they could rise together with the message of revelation and responsibilities in living our lives according to the perfect method of living.
Islamic Commandments Which Are Balanced
We would like to state the opinions of scholars regarding Islamic commandments which are balanced. Among them are:
- Syeikh Muhammad Rashid in Tafsir al-Manar said: Indeed, wasat is what is fair and best. The reason is, exceeding what is commanded is being excessive. While anything less than what is commanded is negligence. Everything that is excessive or negligence from the truth will surely lead to harm and disgrace. Thus, the best is a balance between two matters so that you will be the witness with the truth on all mankind physically of which they neglected the rights of Allah and spiritually with what they transgress until they become among the deviants. (See Tafsir al-Manar, 2/4)
- Syeikh Muhammad Tahir Ibn ‘Asyur in his book al-Tahrir wa al-Tanwir said: Verse 143 from surah al-Baqarah proves the praise of Allah SWT for the Muslims for Allah SWT bless them with benefits, making them among the balanced which enable them to explain the purpose of Syariah. Afterwards, protecting the minds of its followers from the confusion of deviant teachings that has assimilated in other ummah. (See al-Tahrir wa al-Tanwir, 3/123)
- Syeikh Muhammad Abduh commented on the words Tasawwut Islami saying, indeed, it is clear that Islam is not exclusively about ruhi (spiritual side) but also includes jasadi (physical) body that is stationary but a balanced human that takes in consideration of every aspect in accordance with the natural desires of human which does not exist in other religions.
How true are the words of Ibn Qayyim: Syariah is fairness to all, a blessing to all and benefit for all. Thus, every issue that is outside of fairness to tyranny, from blessing to its consequence, from maslahah to mafsadah and from wisdom to meaningless, then it is not from the syariat even if it is included in its definition. (See I’lam al-Muwaqqi’in ‘an Rabb al-‘Alamin, 3/149)
In truth, Islam is clearly exceptional and this is proven through its sanctions and basis. The reason is, the basis set by Allah SWT is balanced between material and spiritual, the same with how it celebrates the maslahah (benefit) of both for an individual and the ummah.
Al-Syahid Imam Hasan al-Banna said: This dakwah other than its attributes of godliness which means rejecting, denying and preventing all understandings of materialistic in addition to surrendering, believe, dependence and consciousness in the presence of Allah SWT in doing anything, it also includes human attributes which mean building human relations and making peace for all mankind as its aim for it is the traits of Islam. Islam is for all mankind, not just for a certain race or nation. (See Risalah Da’watuna fi Taur Jadid, pg. 10)
May Allah SWT give us knowledge and understanding in practising everything that He commanded. Amin.