The poster ”Khadim” posted the following comment. I think that this is an excellent line of discussion and so I am opening it up in a post. If anyone has good resources on this subject (articles, lectures, etc.) then please let me know and I will post them on this page.
Jazak Allah Khayr al-Jazaa’
[Comment by Khadim] In a recent sermon, Hadhrat Khalifat-ul-Masih V (atba) commented – if memory serves correctly; link not found – in favour of integration within society (employment etc) and admonished against living in seclusion (as in the case of monks). The gist I picked up was that we are meant to live in this world as tangible, useful individuals, whilst obviously never neglecting our main aim of attaining nearness to Allah.
The author of The Ashab al-Suffah (linked above) mentions those who “… sacrificed all of the temptations of this world in search of a far greater reward in the Hereafter. – Of the companions who chose a life of asceticism were Abu Hurairah, Ka’ab ibn Malik al-Ansari, Hanzala ibn Amir al-Ansari, Harithah ibn al-Nu’man al-Ansari (most of these companions had houses in Medina but chose to live in the Suffah).”
In his conclusion the author writes, “The ways and examples of the As’hab us-Suffah are as important today, if not more so, than during the days of the Holy Prophet (saw). Many living in today’s world may feel that the example set by the Holy Prophet (saw) and his As’hab us-Suffaa is beyond them, however, never has it been more necessary for us to inculcate the spirit of their example into our lives than today.”
I wanted to invite discussion in to ways a Momin today can aspire to attain nearness to Allah. Some of the great Momins in the era of the Holy Prophet (saw) left their houses and endured great hunger in order to immerse themselves in a life of supplication. The Promised Messiah (as) has set a similar example. Where does that leave the ordinary man of today who wants to get close (closest!) to his Creator?