Overcoming Self-Desires

When the pious realised the great value of life, they killed and buried their self-desires and hence they experienced the verity of being truly alive. They rushed to collect what the hands of slackers had dropped, catching it in their palms of hard endeavour. Moreover, as their inner-eye envisioned the Day of Judgement, they belittled the good deeds they had, causing their hearts to become exanamite creatures out of fear of Allah, and consequently, the inanimate creatures longed for them, as the trunk of the tree longed for the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the heavens longed to have Ali Ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him.

How many are those whose yearning to perform pilgrimage gave them the strength to walk all the way! To the degree that the house of deposited vows (the black stone) is about to kiss them first before they try to kiss it. And even as the pilgrim completes the rituals then returns home, the arrow of their longing for it remains lodged in the heart of Mina. Their thoughts abide by the limits set by their Lord, while their hearts are devoted to only love of the Creator. They avoid crowding with the throngs in the market of desires, and their longing for their Lord is too strong to be encompassed in the limits of this worldly life, therefore they forsake it in favour of enjoying the vast stretch of lightness in the desert of piety, where they pitch their tents of glory in the stretches of guidance and the carefully chosen shores on the rivers of truthfulness. And so, they prepare for the voyage of shedding tears in these rivers, secluding themselves with their distress (about the Hereafter) – but the dears of the desert aid them. The bulbuls of their anxious hearts thrummed in the dark; if only you could see how they uneasily change from side to side while lying down on the enter of anxiety.

O you whose conduct had been a far cry from piety, self-imprisoned in the cell of ignorance and wishful hopes, should you emerge from your prison seeking to alleviate your heart from the distress of your hardship, I advise you to pay a visit to them in their valley. They are the ones who as soon as they reflected upon the creation, they understood the purpose of their life, and therefore they packed their belongings prior to their departure and prepared themselves to embark on the journey. While people indulge in the mire of earning wealth, the pious are reposing in the shade of content. While those whose hearts and souls are infected with the sickness of desires seek help in the hospital of trials, the pious enjoy their stay in the castles of safety. While the negligent slackers lay down on the bed of idleness, the pious are active in the race of “they look forward to imperishable gain” (Fatir 35:29) They drag the horses of strong will in the fields of endeavours, whipping their worldly life with the whip of pride so that they do not tarry, and time hardly passes until they have safely crossed the toll bridge without paying the imposed tax. Their wealth lies in their hearts; “Their mark is on their foreheads” (al-Fath 48:29)

Thus what they were deprived from never caused them any harm, and they are well-pleased with what they will be granted afterwards. They easily endured the exhaustion of the long journey for they know the high status of their final destination. They have tasted the bitterness of trials in this life, so their safety is assured in the next life. May glad tidings be for them on the day on which it will be said to them “This is your day which you have been promised.” (Aniya 21:103)

Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn al-Jawzi Pages 104-106

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