The greatest of trials is when your enemies’ rejoice over your downfall; the enmity of the devil is ancient, as it started from the day on which Allah, “And mention when We aid to the angels, ‘Prostrate before Adam’; spot they prostrated, except for Ibis. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.” (al-Baqarah 2:34) And the envy of Shaytan started from the moment it was said, “Will You place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood?” (al-Baqarah 2:30)
On the other hand, the joy of your peers is the greatest joy of all; therefore the envious ones greatest revenge is when you neglect or overlook your religious obligations, so if you wish to avenge your enviers, you must rectify yourself and your affairs. Nevertheless, observe how you have rejected the opportunity yourself, and allowed your enemies to gloat over your mistakes and shortcomings. As one poet said: ‘Enemies cannot do harm to an ignorant, as much as the ignorant does harm to himself.’ Woe to you, succeed in overcoming your desires as you shall praise the consequences of your safety. As one poet said: ‘A person is pleased when tasting the sweet, but the sweet becomes bitter after it causes harm, So taste the bitter if ultimately it shall befall you, and never opt for a sweet that shall fetch you harm’. Beware of sins, for if they did not have any punishment other than feeling the shame of meeting your Lord while you carry these sins upon you, it would have been enough. The best moment of Yaqub, peace be upon him, was when he saw Yusuf after their separation and the most difficult moment to the brothers of Yusuf was when they met him after they had wronged him. If the heart was purest would be in a tumult hen a sin was committed, but if the sin was repeated often then it would pass by the heart, the heart feels a foreign presence that it finds discomfiting. But when the heart is used to the sin, the heart will become accustomed to it, and will accept without a second thought. This is like the example of a person who wears a black garment, since he will not be concerned if he spills black on it.
O you whose sins have wounded him, you know the ointment that shall soothe you. If you could not afford paying a wailer [i.e. if you cannot weep over your own sins] then suffice by lowering you head out of sorrow and regret because the one in calamity does not go unnoticed. If you couldn’t achieve the glory of Muadh, may Allah be pleased with him, then at least be not unable to taste the humility of the three who stayed back.
Take strong will to be your guide, if you did not know the way; the bafflement of the seeker may lead him to the water of Madyan. Walk in the valley of the night [engage in night prayer], dismount in the valley of humility while showing the greatest state of wretched humbleness, and be attentive so that the chants of the arrivers [i.e. the pious] may move your hearts. Those who took the path may facilitate the arrival of the one detached from his Lord for how many are those from the first generation who eventually became leaders of armies?! Do not get bored from standing at the door of Allah’s Forgiveness and Mercy even if you are reprimanded, and do not stop apologising for your sins even if you are rejected. When a gate is opened for the incomers [i.e. attained Allah’s Love and Pleasure] rush to it fervently, lay down the head of humility and stretch out your hands while begging you Lord by saying, “be charitable unto us” (Yusuf 12:88) so that the answer you may hear is “No blame will be upon you today” (Yusuf 12:92)
Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn Jawzi Pages 113-116