The heart drowns in whatever overpowers it, whether from what is loved or feared, just like what happens with love of wealth, status, image and fear of others. A person’s heart and mind remain drowning in it just like the drowning person drowns in water. It is inevitable that what surrounds bodies and hearts will overcome them; whatever is portrayed to it of fears, loves and dislikes will overpower [the self], for what is loved demands it, what is disliked repels it, while hope is attached to what is loved and fear is attached to what is disliked. Only Allah bestows good deeds and removes sins: “And if Allah touches you with harm there is no one who can remove it except Him; and if intends some good for you, then there is no one who can repel His favour. He afflicts whoever He wills from among His slaves, and He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” (Yunus 10:107) and: “And what you have of blessings, then it is from Allah. Then when some harm touches you, to Him you supplicate.” (al-Nahl 27:53)
When the slave calls his Lord to bestow upon him something he seeks and to repel from him something he fears, He gives it to him our of his faith in Allah, his love, knowledge, faith in the Oneness of Allah, hope, and the life in his heart. He illuminates for him with the light of faith what would be the most beneficial for him from that which he seeks, whether it was a vanity of this world or if he asked that he support him with remembering and thanking Him, to make his worship excellent and whatever pertains to that. Thus here, what is sought after can be more beneficial than the manner of seeking, and it is supplication itself for that which is sought after is remembrance, thankfulness, and standing in worship upon the most excellent of intentions, among other things. And this is for elaboration at another point in time.
What is intended is that the heart is engulfed, then what the slave wishes for, loves, fears and is weary of overpowers it, whoever it is, and due to this Allah, exalted is He, said: “Rather their hearts are in distress [literally, a flood] from this [Qur’an]. And they have deeds beside that which they are performing.” (al-Muminun 23:63) What [the self] is covered from is what it is warned by. So that covers it from the remembrance of Allah, the Final Abode and whatever is in it of pleasures and agonising punishment. Allah, exalted is He, said: “So leave them in their misguidance [literally, a flood] for a time” (al-Muminun 23:54) in other words, [leave them] in whatever has drowned their hearts of the love and wealth and children – the obstacle to hastening towards good and righteous deeds. He, exalted is He, said: “May the liars be cursed, who are in doubt [literally, a flood], oblivious” (al-Dhariyat 51: 10-11) in other words, oblivious about the matter of the Afterlife. So they are in ‘a flood’ with regards to [the Afterlife], meaning, their hearts are drowning from love for the wordily life and its wares, oblivious to the matter of the Afterlife and what they were created for. This is similar to what Allah said: “And do they not obey the one whose heart We have made heedless from Our Remembrance, who follows his whims, and whose affair is destroyed” (al-Khaf 18:28) Thus the ‘flood’ is from following whims and ‘obliviousness’ is a type of heedlessness. Due to this, some said ‘obliviousness’ is heedlessness about something and the departing of the heart from it. This is the combination of the evil of heedlessness and desires. So heedlessness from Allah and the Final Abode blocks the gate of good which is remembrance and vigilance.
And desires open the gate of evil, obliviousness and fear, so the heart remains drowning in what it fancies and fears, heedless of Allah, seeking something other than Allah, and oblivious to His remembrance. He has toiled for something other than Allah; his affair has been dissolved; and love for the wordily life has overwhelmed his heart. This is just as was transmitted in Bukhari and other collections on authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,
“May the slave of the dinar be destroyed; may the slave of the dirham be destroyed; may the slave of plush clothing be destroyed; may the slave of the shirt be destroyed; may he be destroyed and fall backwards. If he is afflicted with a thorn, let him not be able to remove it. If given something, he is pleased, and if refused, he becomes resentful.” (Bukhari)
He appointed him as worshipper of that which its existence was pleasing to him and whose loss made him resentful to the point that he was a slave of the dinar and a slave of all that was described in this narration. ‘Plush clothing’ refers to that which is sat upon, thus he is its servant just as some of the predecessors said: ‘Wear garments that serve you and do not wear ones that you serve.’ And they are like a carpet which you sit on. ‘Shirt’ is that which worn out of having very little wealth. The Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, only pointed out what is superior to the person, thus he is a slave to that; in it are disunited lords and quarrelling partners.
Due to this the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: ‘If given something, he is pleased, and if refused, he becomes resentful.’ So that which its occurrence is pleasing to a person and its loss makes him resentful, then he is its slave since the slave is pleased with being connected to them both and is resentful due to losing them both. ‘The one deserving of worship’ is He who there is no god worthy of worship except Him, since the Believer worships and loves Him. Belief, faith in the Oneness of Allah, love remembrance and worship take place for the Believer in his heart through that. So he is pleased with that, and if he is prevented from that, he gets angry.
Similarly, whoever loves something, then it is inevitable that he imagine it in his heart, and he will wish to be connected with it to the extent that he is able.
Al-Junayd said: ‘The slave is not really a slave until he is free from everything except Allah.’ That is in harmony with the aforementioned narration, for indeed one is not pure, sincere slave to Allah whose entire religion is for Allah alone until he is not a slave to anything except Him and does not have him any branch and does not draw near to even a fraction of worship for anything except Allah. Thus, is he is pleased with or resentful about something besides Allah, then he is a slave to that ‘other’, and has in him polytheism in proportion to his love for it and his worship for that ‘other’ is in addition to that.
Al-Fudayl Ibn Iyad said: ‘By Allah, Allah has not approved of divinity for anything in creation.’ And Zayd Ibn Amir Ibn Nufayl said: ‘Is there a single Lord or a thousand, Is it a religion since the affairs are scattered?’ Imam Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Tabarni transmitted a narration from Asma Ibn Umays, may Allah be pleased with her, that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“How evil is the servant who shows off, struts, and forgets the Most Exalted. How evil is the slave who acts tyrannically, transgresses, and forgets the All-Powerful, Most High. How evil is the slave who is oblivious, distracted and forgets the grave and decomposition. How evil is the slave who rebels, transgresses, and forgets the Beginning and the End. How evil is the slave who cheats the worldly life with the religion. How evil is the slave who cheats the religion with doubts. How evil is the slave who is greedy, and it lowers him and makes him slip from the truth. Hoe evil is the slave whose covetousness directs him. How evil is the slave whose whims misguide him.”
Tirmidhi said the narration is ‘unique’ [gharib], however there is a previously mentioned narration which strengthens it, and Allah knows best.
Likewise there are a number of narrations and reports transmitted that have that meaning, just as Allah, exalted is He, said: “And among the people are those who take equals besides Allah, loving them as they should love Allah. And those who believe have a greater love of Allah.” (al-Baqarah 2:165) Speech which has in it aggrandisement, eve if false, pleases those who seeks leadership, even if through falsehood. And speech which has in it dispraise of him, even if true, angers him. While words of truth, whether for or against him please the believer, and words of falsehood, whether for or against him, anger him. This is because Allah, exalted is He, loved the Truth, honesty and justice and He gets angry at lies and oppression.
If it is said: ‘Truth, honesty and justice which Allah loves are more beloved to him even in that is something that opposes his whims’, it is because his whims have become subjected to what the Messenger came with. Therefore it is said: ‘Oppression and lies anger Allah and they anger the Believer even if they agree with his whims.’
Similarly, is the seeker of wealth, even if through falsehood, as Allah exalted is He, said: “And among them are those who find fault with you regarding the voluntary charity – for if given from it, they are pleased; and if not given from it, then they are resentful.” (al-Tawbah 9:58) These are the ones about who it is said: “May the slave of the dinar be destroyed…” in the narration. So how, when what is greater overpowers the heart, in subjugation to the dirham and dinar, to desires, whims and beloved things which draw the heart away from completing his love and worship for Allah, due to what is in it of rivalry and ascribing partners with Allah to created thing – how can the heart repel this while it diverts him from completing his love, worship and fear for his Lord? This is because all beloved things attract the heart of what is beloved to it and divert him away from loving what is not beloved to it. Likewise what is disliked repels him, causes him to slip and distracts him from worshipping Allah, exalted is He.
And because of this, Imam Ahmad transmitted in his Musnad and other collections that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said to his Companions:
“You fear poverty. I do not fear poverty for you. I only fear the wordily life for you so that when any of your hearts deviate, it will not be diverted except by [the world life].” [Recorded in the Musnad with a slightly different wording Vol 6 p21]
Similarly are those who love the slave, like his friends, and those who anger him like his enemies. Those he loves are loving toward him and when their love for him is not for the sake of Allah, that is something that will cut him off from Allah. And those who anger, harm, and are hostile towards him, through their harm they distract him from Allah. Even if his friends, who love him for the sake of something other than Allah, are good towards him, his love for them necessitates their goodness towards him and the gravitation of his heart towards them. Even if he was on a non-righteous path and it necessitated his respiration of their [goodness], they would cut him off from Allah and worshipping Him.
Gardens of Purification by Ibn Taymiyyah Pages 75-83