In Islamic terminology, the Arabic word dunya (دُنْيا) means this world — and its earthly concerns and possessions — as opposed to more spiritual realms, or the hereafter.
WHAT DOES AZ-ZUHD MEAN?
Az-Zuhd is, “The opposite of being eager and concerned about the Dunya (the life of this world).”
Az-Zuhd resides in the heart, and it can be achieved by ridding the heart of the slave from the love and the eagerness for this life. This way, the Dunya will be in one’s hand, not in his heart, where the love for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and the Hereafter will and should reside. Az-Zuhd does not entail abandoning the Dunya altogether. The Messenger of Allah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was the leader of all those who practiced Az-Zuhd. Yet, he married nine times. Also, Prophet Dawood (AS) and Sulayman (AS) were kings as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has described them. Yet, they were also among the Zuhhad (those who observe Zuhd). The companions of the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam were also among the Zuhhad. Yet, they all had wives, children and material possessions.
Imam Ahmad divided Az-Zuhd into three parts:
1. Avoiding the prohibitions, and this is the Zuhd of the commoners. Ibn Al-Qayyim stated that this type is an obligation.
2. Abandoning what is not a necessity among the Halal matters. This type is the Zuhd of the distinguished people.
3. Abandoning what will busy one from the remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. This is the Zuhd of those who have knowledge in the religion.
The Messenger of Allah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
“Perform Zuhd in the Dunya.”
There are many Texts in the Quran and the Sunnah that encourage being a Zahid in the Dunya. These Texts demonstrate the little significance that the Dunya has and point out its briefness and quick demise. These Texts also strengthen the eagerness in the Last Life, which joy is eternal. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
“Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever with Allah (of good deeds) will remain.” (An-Nahl 16:96)
“Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children, as the likeness of vegetation after rain, thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw. But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment (for the believers, evildoers), and (there is) Forgiveness of Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the believers, gooddoers), whereas the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Al-Hadid 57:20)
The Dunya, therefore, is brief and is bound to end sometime soon. Therefore, the slave ought not busy himself with its affairs, nor forget the affair of the Last Life which will never end.