عَنْ أَبِي الْعَبَّاسِ سَهْلِ بْنِ سَعْدٍ السَّاعِدِيّ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه و سلم فَقَالَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ! دُلَّنِي عَلَى عَمَلٍ إذَا عَمِلْتُهُ أَحَبَّنِي اللهُ وَأَحَبَّنِي النَّاسُ؛ فَقَالَ: ازْهَدْ فِي الدُّنْيَا يُحِبَّك اللهُ، وَازْهَدْ فِيمَا عِنْدَ النَّاسِ يُحِبَّك النَّاسُ.
حديث حسن، رَوَاهُ ابْنُ مَاجَهْ [رقم:٤١٠٢]، وَغَيْرُهُ بِأَسَانِيدَ حَسَنَةٍ.
On the authority of Abu al-ʿAbbās Sahl bin Sʿad al-Sāʿidī who said: A man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “O’ Messenger of Allāh, direct me to an act which if I do, Allāh and the people will love me.” So he ﷺ said, “Renounce the world and Allāh will love you, and renounce what the people possess and the people will love you.”
This is a great ḥadīth and the scholars have mentioned that this is from the Islamic principles that a Muslim traverses upon. This man had come to the Prophet ﷺ asking about a deed which if he performed; it will cause Allāh ﷻ and the people to love him. This is a great act, since if Allāh ﷻ and the people were to love you then this is happiness and great good, as nobody would wish for anyone to hate them, so what is that deed which will incur the pleasure of Allāh ﷻ and the people?
Similarly this ḥadīth is evidence that the pleasure of the people is sought-after and there is no blame or sin with regards to doing so. The Prophet then ﷺ replied “Renounce the world and Allāh will love you, and renounce what the people possess and the people will love you.”
Asceticism [الزهد] is to abandon – meaning to abandon the worldly [commodities]. However the intent doesn’t mean that you abandon that which you are in need of, or that you abandon that which will enrich you such as seeking a substance or lawful trading, this is exempted from [the meaning of] asceticism. However renounce what you are not in need of. Asceticism isn’t that you abandon that which you or your children are in need of, rather asceticism is that you abandon the worldly [commodities] that you don’t need.
The Muslim is balanced in seeking his sustenance, he does not strive greatly for worldly [commodities] while he is stable. Therefore this is a principle: “Renounce the world and Allāh will love you..” [Meaning] if you renounce the world, then Allāh ﷻ will love you and this is praise for the abandonment of things a person is not in need of.
This ḥadīth also contains proof that Allāh ﷻ loves his believing servant and it also describes Allāh [with the attribute of] Love just as he Hates and Dislikes. The Love of Allāh ﷻ isn’t similar to the love of the creation, and His Hate and Dislike isn’t the similar to the hate of the creation. Rather, this is specific to Him just like any other of his attributes.
It also contains [the evidence] that the affairs of the religion are asked from the people of knowledge. This man had asked the Prophet ﷺ [about the matter unknown to him] and he did not introduce anything from himself, since whoever introduces anything into the religion from himself becomes an innovator. This is because you are trying to seek closeness to Allāh with something that the Prophet ﷺ did not do, whilst thinking it is good, and this is considered an innovation and it is rejected.
The affairs of the religion were asked about from the Messenger ﷺ and then from those who came after him from the Scholars who are the inheritors of the Prophets. So do not embark upon anything, intending to seek nearness to Allāh, whilst you do not know if it from the religion or not.
And his statement, “…And renounce what the people possess and the people will love you.” So do not yearn for that which is in the hands of the people, since if you were to yearn for what the people possess and asked them for it, they would dislike you. This is since the people would not like nor would they want let go of what they possess, so do not embarrass them. If you want their love then do not ask them, rather ask Allāh ﷻ as much as you can. However, if you are in need of asking then this is permissible due to a necessity, nevertheless for you to do it so much so to be enriched by the people, and until you become a burden upon them – then they will hate you.
When you ask the people, they will hate you, yet if you were to ask Allāh ﷻ He will love you since he is the All-Rich and the Most-Generous. This is a principle: so if you desire an act which will incur the Love of Allāh and the love of the people, then “Renounce the world and Allāh will love you, and renounce what the people possess and the people will love you.”