Three Types of Ascetism
Imam Ahmad (رحمه الله) mentioned that there are three levels of ascetism, or zuhd.
1. The first is to leave that which is prohibited. (And this is something that the common Muslim must also do.)
2. The second level is to leave that which is permissible but not necessary. This is piety.
3. Then, the final level is to leave everything and anything that might distract you from the remembrance of Allah. This is what the sahabah had, and this is what we should all strive for as Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) praises them in the Qur’an, in Surah Al-Nur ayah 37:
Men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allāh and performance of prayer and giving of zakāh. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will [fearfully] turn about.
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