The believers are upon the purity of Tahwid from the moment Allah said, “Am I not your Lord? They said, Yes, we have testified [that you are our Lord]” (Surah al-Araf 7:712) but when mankind debase themselves with the dirt of their desires, the garment of their deeds became stained. To get the stains off there is only one way; and that is to clean the garment with the water of knowledge in the house of solitude.
Solitude is the best diet for the one seeking to renounce wordily pleasures. When you blind the eyes of the eagle of your serious self, it will no longer be used to flying. The example of solitude is like an arid desert far from every inhabited land, in which doom is sighted in every direction by those who see it with their hearts. Indeed, the plants of solitude produce fruits of affability in the company of Allah.
O novice, consign yourself to seclusion, for it is the basis of good deeds; with it you will collect the scattered parts of your heart, and preserve your perspicacity. Your analogy is like that of an old, torn garment; if you as much as move while wearing it, it will fall down. When it has been decreed that your intellect and conviction be gathered inside the house of contemplation, blame falls on your desirous self that is prone to committing sins. When the period of spiritual illness ends, the ensuing self-reproach provokes determined and radical revolt, whereupon your inner self writes down its divorce from its desires with the hand of abandonment, wears the robe of asceticism and becomes a recluse in the monastery of austerity, and so it becomes aloof from the inhabitants of this world in favour of seeking the company of Him who said, “I am the companion of the one who remembers me.” (Shu’ab al-Iman 680)
O you, whose heart mourns the loss as distressing as Yaqub’s loss of his son Yusuf, peace be upon them both, roam the tents of the pious so that you might find the scent of Yusuf, stand up praying in the nights, on the feet of humility, and invoke your Lord by saying, “O ruler! Adversity has touched us and our family.” (Surah Yusuf 12:88)
O you whose indifferent attitude has failed him, yet he holds on to hollow hopes to live long, the ship of you life has sunk in the sea of indolence. Woe to you, he who is apt to sleeping excessively will only see dreams! When will the time come when you finally open the eyes of strong will and endeavour? How much longer will you waste you life in dreams? Do you not long to breathe the late night breeze [the best time to pray]? Do you not feel the coolness of Fajr? Do you not mark the light reflecting off your grey hair? Are you not hurt by time reproaching you for wasting your life in vain?
The beloved devotees mounted the backs of their firm determination and pressed onwards in their journey; they have arrived at the house where they bond with their Lord through firm ties, and here you are, still asleep! O you, whose strong will ought to be like Umar’s, how much more will you tarry before you make your way to the house of al-Khayzaran? O you whose love for his Lord should be as deep as al-Fudayl’s was, when will you break the sword of extravagance [i.e. having more than you need]? O you whose endeavours ought to be as ardent as Ibn Adam’s, the time for pilgrimage has commenced, so what are you doing sitting home in Balakh [a city in Iraq]?
Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn Jawzi Pages 201-203