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What is zuhd (asceticism)?

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Question:

What is zuhd (asceticism)? Does it mean wearing scruffy clothing, fasting constantly, and keeping away from society, or something else?

Answer:

Zuhd does not mean wearing scruffy clothing, withdrawing from people and keeping away from society, or fasting constantly. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the leader of all zaahids (ascetics) but he would wear new clothes; adorn himself to meet delegations, for Jumu'ah and for Eid; mix with people and call them to do good and teach them about their religion; and he forbade his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) to fast constantly. Rather zuhd means shunning that which is haraam and that which Allah hates; avoiding shows of luxury and overindulging in worldly pleasures; focusing on doing acts of worship; and making the best preparation for the Hereafter. The best explanation of that is the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). 

And Allah is the Source of strength. May Allah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote. 

Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas 

(Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah li'l-Buhooth al-'Ilmiyyah wa'l-Ifta [24/369]).