“Those for Whom the Best [Reward] has Preceded from Us”

When the determination to return to Allah is firmly planted in the heart of “Indeed, those for whom the best [reward] has preceded from Us.” (Surah al-Anbiya 21:101) The basis of his desires will be uprooted from the garden of hope.

Ibrahim Ibn Adham was preparing himself to attend a hunting expedition but the trap of “Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – their Lord will guide them because of their faith. Beneath them rivers will flow in the Gardens of pleasure.” (Surah Yunus 10:9) had already been laid for him, surrounded by the snare of “people whom He loves and who love Him” (Surah al-Maidah 5:54) Thus he had become the hunted even before he could hunt. The interpreter of his desirous self unravelled the language of “Indeed, those for whom the best [reward] has preceded from us.” (Surah al-Anbiya 21:101)

And he came to the realisation that this idle play was not what he had been created for, nor had he been commanded to engage in it! The Doctor [i.e. Allah] prescribed him a special medicine which cleansed and evacuated the colon of his base self; He shot him with the arrows of exhortation, putting an end to his misery and suffering. Thereupon catching a glimpse of the fire of guidance that had been lit for him, he shouted to the soldiers of his desirous self “Indeed, I have perceived a fire” (Surah al-Qasas 28:29), and he found his heart drawn towards the One who is “the companion of he who remembers Me” and whose manifestation rendered him unconscious. When he awoke from the overwhelming daze of his devoted love which had caused the mountain of his desirous self to crumble to dust, his pertinent tongue shouted rightfully, “I turn to You in repentance” (Surah al-Araf 7:143). Then after he left the lands of the heedless, his newly-found awakening said to his desires: I greet all pleasures, playfulness and recklessness; but this greeting is not to welcome them, but rather a farewell saying goodbye.

O Ibn Adham, why not return to your palace with the intention to use it to worship Allah? his desirous self suggested. However his strong will and determination overturned this suggestion, saying, “Nay, by law [a desirous self] that is divorced thrice is entitled neither accommodation nor compensation.” And from that moment on, he roamed the desert of devotion to his Lord, his mind was relieved of the illness caused by excessive indulgence, so he was able to endure clothes made of coarse wool.

As soon as the beauty of the hereafter revealed itself to him through the words “Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – their Lord will guide them because of their faith.” (Surah Yunus 10:9)

His love for his Lord rooted itself firmly in the depths of his heart, and thus he tirelessly busied himself collecting the mahr of Paradise through the means of his indigence. The wait to meet his Beloved became so long for him that he became as if a guardian of the gardens. His love for his Lord pardoned what he still owed in mahr, and his soul left his body in a strange and remote land! Indeed, this is the price of Paradise, so let the penniless step behind.

Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn Jawzi Pages 204-207