High Aspirations

O you who wish to stay in a place other than his; O you who appreciates safety after experiencing wreckage and ruin: take advantage of your life, the bricks of which time brings down day after day; for you know that the end of life is death! So admonish yourself by being cognisant that your existence will come to an end.

Woe to you, pursue asceticism in order that it brings you out of this life, stuffed with nothingness, and stations you in the presence of the Divine. Neglect the demands of your vain desires, for if you reach that high position, never again will you experience the loss of a beloved, or have any of your wishes remain unfulfilled.

O you, the best guide to show you the right way is your heart (i.e. intellect), and the most ignorant of guides is your desires. So, walk as per the directions of your heart, and pay no heed to where your desires try to direct you.

O you whose endeavours are high, mount the back of strong will, no matter how long the journey is. It is a propitious sign to tear apart the chains of lassitude, and the sign of failure is to be in the company of wishful thoughts.

Your self-desires urge you to seek immediate gratification, but as soon as the knight of your determination closes in, the devil makes his escape, thwarted. O you in love with this wordily life: your value is only that of what you love; if your endeavours were truly high, you would have taken no notice of this wordily life! O you who claim to have achieved the status of a devoted friend, do not claim what you are not, because yo always favour even the least of your desires over your Lord, and were it not for, “And We will surely test you until We make evident those who strive among you [for the cause of Allah] and the patient, and We will test your affairs.” (Muhammad 47:31)

The coin of your deeds would have been concealed. As one poet said: ‘It is during the times of displeasure, not happiness, that those who love you can be distinguished from those who dislike you.’ Your heart is in a state of oblivion, due to your over-indulgence in the pleasures of this wordily life! There is no longer any use in talking to you; when the target itself has fallen, then the arrows are of no use. You have used the inebriation of your desires to block the gate to your heart; therefore even the torrent of exhortations and sermons can’t reach it! You left the prosperity afforded to you by piety and ended up falling in an impoverished state due to your errors.

How long have you been resolving to repent and do good? Do not you know that to discipline and correct yourself at an old age is nothing but a burden! Why can’t you sight the light of repentance?! You spend the night in devotion as if you were Uwais al-Qarni, but when the day commences you turn into the likes of Qays, undoing the bonds of your strong will, link by link; indeed every person whose death is due to his desires is the companion of Urwah, and you have buried many of those whom you love, but would Kathir ever stop loving his beloved Azza?! [Kathir and Azza is a famous platonic love story like that of Qais and Layla]

Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn Jawzi Pages 153-155