Live in the World or Renounce it

After the Battle of Jamal, Imam Ali (‘a) entered the town of Basra. During his stay, he went to enquire after the health of a friend, Rabi ibn e Ziad Harisi, who was unwell. On reaching his house, he found it was no less than a palace. Commenting on its splendour, he said, ‘Of what use can such a palatial house be in this world, when you long for such a one in the hereafter. However, you can make this house a means of earning one in the hereafter.
For that you must be very hospitable towards guests and visitors; be courteous and affectionate towards people; make sure your duties towards your brethren- in-faith are fulfilled in this house; help people obtain their rights so that people come to equate this house with a place where truth and justice reign. In short, besides personal advantage, use this house for public benefit, too. Thus, you will be saved from egoistic satisfaction.’
Rabi listened intently. He then complained against his brother Asim.
‘What is your complaint?’ asked Ameer-ul Momineen (‘a).
‘He has renounced the world. He has donned rags and alienated himself from the world and all the people in it.’
‘Let me talk to him.’
When Asim came, Imam Ali (‘a) greeted him thus, ‘O enemy of thy own self! It seems Satan has depleted you of all common sense. How could you be insensitive towards the needs of your wife and children? Do you believe that Almighty Allah will be annoyed with you for enjoying the lawful pleasures and blessings He has bestowed on you in this life? You have become more insignificant in the eyes of your Creator.’
‘O Ameer-ul-Momineen (‘a), you are also like me. You also bear trials and difficulties patiently, and live a life of extreme adversity. You never clothe yourself in soft expensive materials, nor eat delicious food. I am trying to emulate you and follow your lifestyle,’ explained Asim.
Imam Ali (‘a) explained, ‘You are treading the wrong path, Asim. There is a difference between us. You are not in my position. I am the leader, ruler and guide of the Ummah.
The duties and responsibilities of rulers and leaders are very different from those of a common citizen. The common citizen does not have the same obligations as the ruler. The Creator of this universe has ordained it compulsory for just rulers to live their lives with an eye on the poorest class of people in their states.
According to His command, a just ruler should experience and observe the adverse conditions borne by the poverty-ridden class under his rule, so that the poor do not suffer from an inferiority complex, which makes them unhappy and affects their performance. Thus, my responsibilities being totally different from yours, there can be nothing common between your conduct and mine.’