A Letter of Admonition From Yahya b. Sayeed to Malik b. Anas

Imam Al-Ghazali

In short, the use of ornamentation in permissible things is not unlawful but it creates fondness for these and to give them up at the end becomes difficult. The Prophet (saws) did not lay stress on renunciation of the world. 

It has been related that Caliph Yahya b. Sayeed once wrote to Imam Malik b. Anas saying: In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate and blessings on Prophet Muhammad (saws).

From Yahya b. Sayeed to Malik b Anas: 

I have been informed that you put on fine cloths, eat delicious foods, sleep on soft couches and keep a doorkeeper at your door. You sit in the assembly of learning and people come to you from distant places. They have taken you as Imam and they are satisfied with your words. 

O Malik, fear God, take to humility. I write to you this letter as an admonition. No one has seen its contents except God. 

Imam Malik wrote back saying:

I have received your letter and it has come to me as an admonition, kindness and a sign to good conduct. May God bless your piety and reward you for your advice. I seek His help. There is no power and might except by His help. 

We do what you have mentioned but beg forgiveness of God from for them. God said: 

{Say: Who has made unlawful the fineries/ ornament of God which He has gifted/ brought forth for/ to his servants and the good things of His providing.} 

Surah 7 - 32

I know certainly that abstinence from these things is better than indulging in them. Don't give up writing to me. Peace be on you.

See then the sense of justice which Imam Malik showed. He did not make the fineries of the word unlawful but admitted that abstinence from luxuries is better.

IHYA, Book of Worship, Chapter on Knowledge. Page 86/ 87

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