You are more eloquent in your rhetoric than Sabhan [an eloquent Arab speaker who embraced islam during the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him] when the conversation revolves around the worldly life, whereas the mention of the hereafter is brought up to you become more incoherent that Baqil [another Arab speaker]. You march forward to seek possession of the transitory and mortal with more courage than Ibn Mady Karib [a brave knight], but as for seeking the immortal and everlasting, you show more cowardice than the cowardice of Hasan [ibn Thabit, the poet of the Prophet who lacked the courage for physical fights]. Woe to you, this worldly life only impresses those with no intellect, similar to how vain dreams please the sleeper; imaginary games are perceived as reality by a child, whereas a sensible person cannot be deceived by such a delusion.
How often has this worldly life brought to ruins one’s love for it, then disposed it in the expanse of the efforts to acquire it, and how often has this worldly life halted people from reaching the land of comfort int he hereafter. How many have made endeavours that were as determined and strong as the strength of the rook, but despite that, worldly life repelled them and reduced them to a humiliated state. O seekers of this worldly life; know that it is dispraised in all revealed divine laws. It is known that the child belongs to the mother, as the Islamic jurists state; therefore whenever your body grows and nourishes from unlawful means, then what it earns will be like oil fuelling a fire.
Umar Ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, despite his ideality, used to say, O Hudayfah, am I one of the hypocrites?, so how is it that you feel safe despite your sins?! If even Benjamin, Yusuf’s brother was accused of theft, what redemption is to be expected for someone like you? Umar was seen in a dream twelve years after his death, saying “It is just now that I have finished being questioned and judged; I am amazed bow my judgement lasted more years that I ruled!” Is this not enough of a wakeup call for those as heedless as the asleep person in their desire?
O you whose wrongdoings have stained him with its dirt, hasten to wash it off with the spring of good health before it dries up. Do not be fooled by a life as sweet as honey, for indeed being judged on Judgement day will be more bitter than the taste of gall. O you antagonists, you shall then know the true might and status of your opponent [i.e. Allah] as then the indebted will meet his creditor, after the respite he got from paying his debt.
The destruction of a building is caused by installing in it a misappropriated block of stone; so if the lawful is hardly free of doubt so what do you expect regarding the unlawful? There was a milkman who used to sell the milk of his sheep, but he used to cheat his customers by mixing the milk with water, until one day a torrent came and swept away all the sheep; he said, weeping at his loss, “all these drops of water that I used to mix with milk have accumulated until it became an unstoppable torrent”, while the punishment of his sin called out to him: “It is your hands that lit the fire and your mouth the bellows that made the blazing inferno”.
How many tears did the eye of the wronged widow shed, and how cruelly was the heart of the orphan torn, while their oppressor basked in comfort? but “you will surely know [the truth of] its information after a time” (Sad 38:88) I truly wonder at these oppressors, how they forget the manner in which the tyrants before them were folded up with the pages of history, though they had not even reached one-tenths of what these have reached! Have they not noticed how they perished and to what end they reached? “So each We seized for his sin” (al-Ankabut 29:40) Have they not departed from the orbits of regret? “And the heaven and earth wept not for them!” (al-Dukhan 44:29) Was not the warning call launched? “How much they left behind of gardens and springs.” (al-Dukhan 44:25) Indeed I wonder at the befooled [i.e. those who still overlook all these signs and are misled by the transient charms of this world] “while there has already occurred before them similar punishments [to what they demand]” (ar-Rad 13:6) Did not the admonishment of “and it has become clear to you how We dealt with them” (Ibrahim 14:45) suffice [so they return to the right path?] Who will ever help them if they then wanted to return to life? “And prevention will be placed between them and what they desire” (Saba 34:54) Plenty are those who indulged in luxury, until their comforts were overturned and changed to calamities! “and We make it as a harvest” (Yunus 10:24) O oppressors, the punishment is in the prison of “So be not impatient over them” (Maryam 19:84) and hope is upheld “so that mankind will have no argument against Allah” (al-Nisa 4:165) If the scorching wind of punishment had been removed from the blowing gale of “And if as much as a whiff of the punishment of your Lord should touch them” (al-Anbiya 21:46) the blocks of insobriety caused by “We only extended it for them so that they may increase in sin, and for them is a humiliating punishment.” (Al-Imran 3:178) would have been pulled out, and so “they will not be able to give any instruction” (Yasin 36:50) Be cautious and beware of being in the state of “Lest a soul should say, ‘Oh how great is my regret over what I neglected in regard to Allah” (al-Zumar 39:56) “and then they called out; but it was not a time for escape” (Sad 38:3) Are there any unspent arrows in the quiver of warnings and admonishments! “Then should We run the message away, disregarding you, because you are a transgressing people?” (al-Zukhruf 43:5)
The ship of piety must be fully sealed and secured for the sea may enter through tiny nails in the ship; therefore seal these areas with the sealant of piety. But a far cry is that from your state, who have cracked it with your major sins! And you shall not come to this realisation until you descend to the same state as the people of Nuh, peace be upon him, when he regretfully shouted “There is no protector today” (Hud 11:43) O sinners, the grass of justice shall not thrive, as long as the throne of injustice have not been removed, for it is not guaranteed that its effects shall not extend to the heart. Beware of drowning in the intoxicant of power because the head of authority [Allah] is ever vigilant over you.
Woe to you, do not scorn and underestimate the invocation of the oppressed against you, for the sparks of his heart’s fire is carried by the wind of his invocation to the ceiling of the oppressor’s house; his darts hit their mark, his arrows are indifferent, his arch is blazing, his strings are strong, and his shooting target is a clear aim. Allah promised the oppressed, “I shall make you victorious even after a while” (Reported in Tirmidhi 2526) and that is an arrow undoubtedly meant to hit its target with our mistake. All the while, you have seen examples [of the downfall of oppressors] and the days shall bring forth more experiences.
Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn Jawzi Pages 60-67