O you whose life excursions have been exhausted in his assiduity, will you not restrain your soul with the leash of contentedness? Do you not know that too much of hard work can cause disability, and eating too many mouthfuls can lead to choking, and too much water can result in drowning? Seclude yourself in the house of solitude, overpower your soul with reproach and address t with an admonishing tongue, saying to it, ‘for how long? Until when?’ Is not it high time that you return to Allah? Woe to you, the thief of grey hair [old age] has stolen the capital of your youth.
O soul, the throne of Bilqis has vanished, the beauty of Shirin has perished, the luxury of Buran has disappeared, and only the worship of Rabia has remained.
The days of your youth are like the season of spring, its hours are like the days of Tashriq, and living them is like celebrating Eid. However, as soon as grey hair makes its appearance, it brings with it the promise of death, and informs you of the paucity of your account, thus causing the tight chain holding together your life to loosen, and the pillars of your strength to crumble.
The weakness of old age has swept away youthfulness, its pick-axe starting to work it way into the skin until the comfort of life has become desolate wasteland, and the meadows of joy to become a desert. Doomed is he who is on a journey that is nearing its end, but has lost the way and has gone astray just when he was about to reach his final destination! Is there a dwelling for you other that the grave after the onset of grey hair?! As if you know where you will settle eventually!
Though old age has put you on the brink of your grave, yet you still seek protection in the fortress of your desires! I really wonder at your wishful hope of living a longer life! How is it that you seek the month of March even though the month of November has not yet passed? You should know that gratification is as flavourful as grape juice but it will put you in a distressed mood. Desire cannot see beyond the immediate; whoever forces that its outcome is in fact burning fire will patiently endure abnegating it.
Do you think a person who fully indulges himself in the pleasures of this wordily life will ever get his fill? Never! Only those who detach themselves from it will feel contentment and sufficiency.
Does the one who keeps delaying and postponing his repentance think that his desires will ever abate? No indeed, for what keeps him from repenting today shall accompany him tomorrow and the day after, it is because with the passage of days it only becomes stronger and more deep-rooted within him. This is evident because, “As the Son of Adam becomes old, two of his qualities grow old with him; his love of wealth and his hope of living longer.” (Reported in Bukhari and Muslim)
The only way to find comfort in this life is by regarding it as a means to an end, not by intimately befriending it. When the pious and judicious realised the flaws and shortcomings of this life, they did not waste another moment of their life in idle play. And so their self-discipline let them to spacious gardens and in the end they settled in the paradise of affability with Allah on the shade of seeking the Hereafter.
O you who prefers the cemetery of sleep over the gardens of the pious, the path of joining ties with your Lord does not entail exhaustion; because exhaustion is only felt by those whose hearts still contain desires. Indeed, the night is not dark for Layla as it is for others.
The deviated one is astray from the right path; fly you instead with the wings of hope and fear, leaving the nest of apathy behind you; stand firmly on the Right Path, work hard and don’t become complacent until you are “firmly established in the favour of a Mighty King.” (al-Qamar 54:55)
Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn al-Jawzi pages 178-181