Ibn al-Qayyim [rahimahullah] said,

When a person spends his entire day with no other concern but Allaah alone, 

  • Allaah [subhaa nahu wa ta’ala] will take care of all his needs and take care of all that is worrying him. 
  • He will empty his heart so that it will be filled only with love for Him, free his tongue so that it will speak only in remembrance of Him [dhikr], and cause all his faculties to work only in obedience to Him.

But when a person spends his entire day with no other concern but this world, 

  • Allaah will make him bear its distress, anxiety and pain. 
  • He will leave him to sort himself out, and cause his heart to be distracted from the love of Allaah towards the love of some created being.  
  • He will cause his tongue to speak only in remembering people instead of remembering Allaah.
  • He will cause him to use his talents and energy in obeying and serving the people.
  • This person will strive hard, laboring like some work-animal, to serve something other than Allaah.

Everyone who turns away from being a true slave of Allaah by obeying and loving Him, will be burdened with servitude to some created being. Allaah says in the Qur’an [interpretation of the meaning]:

And whosoever turns away [blinds himself] from the remembrance of the Most Beneficent, We appoint for him a shaytaan to be his Qareen [intimate companion]. (Sura al-Zukhruf, Ayah 36).

It was narrated that Anas [radi Allaahu anhu] said that the Prophet [sallal laahu alaihi wa sallam] said: 

Whoever is mainly concerned about the Hereafter, Allaah will make him feel independent of others and will make him focused and content, and his worldly affairs will fall into place.  But whoever is mainly concerned with this world, Allaah will make him feel in constant need of others and will make him distracted and unfocused, and he will get nothing of this world except what is decreed for him.  (narrated by al-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 2389 and classed as Saheeh by Shaykh Muhammad Naasiruddin al-Albaani [rahimahullah])

(Source: al-Fawaa’ id, page 159)

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Excerpts taken from Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah’s book Ighaathah al-Luhfaan min Masayid al-Shaytaan.
 
Signs of an impure, diseased, and a dead heart: 

  • The person does not feel any hurt or pain when he commits evil deeds and sins.
  • The person finds both pleasure in committing acts of disobedience to Allah and a take it easy attitude after performing them.
  • The person looks after the less important matters and does not care about the more important ones.
  • The person dislikes the Truth and has difficulty accepting or submitting to it.
  • The person does not find comfort in being among the righteous people but finds a great deal of peace while among the evil and sinful.
  • The person is susceptible to be affected by misconceptions and doubts. He is attracted to discussions, debates and arguments that surround such misconceptions rather than trying to understand the Qur’an, follow the Sunnah and other such beneficial acts. [This aspect can truly be seen nowadays among Muslims, especially over the Internet. Today, a Muslim may spend hours discussing, for example whether or not Hijaab is part of Islam or if Riba [Usury, Interest] is forbidden and so forth. Many times, such discussions begin by quoting non-Muslim authors, hours are wasted and no one learns any aspect of the Deen].
  • The person may not be affected by any kind of admonition whatsoever. [Some people, for example, have the capacity of listening to many Khutbahs [Islamic lectures], but still it does not bring any change in them. Or when someone is given repeated advices and warnings from those who are knowledgeable in Deen, it doesn’t affect them. They arrogantly insist upon sticking with the falsehood].

Imam Hasan al-Basree [rahimahullah] once said to a man, “Cure your heart for Allah desires that His slaves should purify their hearts.  You should know that you never truly love Allah until you love obeying Him.” (Jaami’ al-‘Uloom v.1 by Ibn Rajab)
 
The heart cannot become purified until a person knows Allah, loves Him, fears Him, has hope in Him and trusts Him. This is the true realization of the statement Laa ilaaha ill-Allah.  The heart will never be pure until it loves, deifies [worships, exalts], fears, and submits to no one except Allah, eventually ending up of the limbs by following and making the actions pure.

Sufyaan ath-Thawree [rahimahullah] said:

  • Improve your secret and private life, and Allah will improve your public and social life. 
  • Make matters well between you and Allah, and Allah will make matters well between you and people. 
  • Work for the Hereafter, and Allah will be enough for you in your worldly concerns.
  • Purchase the Hereafter, and use this worldly life as a method of payment for your purchase, and as a result you will gain profit both in this world and in the hereafter. But do not purchase this world at the cost of the Hereafter, for if you do so you will lose out on both the worlds.

You ever get hungry while fasting?  Consider the following hadith:

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet said: “Perhaps a fasting person will get nothing from his fast save hunger, and perhaps the one who stands to pray at night will get nothing from his standing except sleeplessness.” This is related by an-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and al-Hakim.  Even though the hadith is mentioned in Ibn Majah’s book of hadith, there may be some question as to the authenticity of this specific hadith though its meaning is correct.

Anyways, next time you feel even the slightest bit of hunger coming from your stomach in the middle of the day, tell your stomach to “Bring it!”  That’s because you are fasting for the sake of Allah (SWT) alone and nothing can beat that.  Once your stomach realizes your intentions are pure, your hunger quickly submerges.  It’s food for the soul!

The Prophet (SAW) sometimes used to continuously fast to which he stated, “I am not like anyone of you. During the night, my Lord provides me with food and drink.”  Ibn Qayyim broke down this statement into two possible scenarios.  The first was that the Prophet (SAW) was literally provided with food and the second was that there was spiritually nourishment.  The second opinion seems stronger as Ibn Qayyim goes on to explain it in the following excerpt:

“…and those who have even the slightest bit of experience and longing know how little the body needs much physical nourishment when it is instead provided with the nourishment of the heart and soul, let alone when it comes to the one who is joyous, happy, and victorious because he has reached the One he has sought out, and whose eye is cooled by his Beloved, and feels blessed with His closeness, and is pleased with Him and the bounties and gifts of his Beloved.

And His protection showers him at all times, and his Beloved is constantly tending to his affairs, being as Generous as can be with complete Love towards him – is this not the greatest nourishment for the one who loves his Lord? So, how would it be when love of the Beloved – than Whom nothing is more exalted, and nothing is greater in might, and nothing is greater in beauty, and nothing is more complete, and nothing is greater in kindness – when love of Him fills the heart, and love of him takes over all regions of his heart and limbs, and love of Him is as firmly established as can be?

And this is his condition with the One he loves…

So, is such a person not nourished night and day by his Beloved?”

Subhan’Allah!

Source:  http://forums.islamicawakening.com/showthread.php?t=6990

So also if the father, who is compassionate towards his son, knowing what is good for him, sees that some bad blood has to be removed from his son for his own good, by incurring severe pain by cutting his skin and cutting his veins. If he knows that his cure lies in cutting off one of his limbs, he does so and does all of this out of compassion and mercy to his son. If he sees that the betterment of his son lies in him withholding something from him, he withholds it from him, and is not lavish towards him because he knows that this causes his corruption and destruction and he often withholds from his son what he desires, for his own good and to protect him, not out of miserliness towards him.

So, if the wisest of all judges, the Most Merciful, the Most Knowledgeable, who is more merciful towards His servants than they are to themselves or their parents are to them, sends down upon them that which they dislike, then it is better for them than Him not sending it upon them, rather it is a benevolence and kindness to them. For if they were left to choose for themselves they would be incapable of knowing, intending or doing that which benefits them, but He – how perfect He is – has taken charge of managing their affairs according to His knowledge, wisdom and mercy, whether they like or dislike it. This being known to those who believe with certainty in Allaah’s Names and Attributes, so they do not find fault in any of His laws. This is hidden to those ignorant of Allaah, His Names and Attributes, so they disputed with Him in His regulations and found reproach in His wisdom and did not submit to His decisions, but rather opposed them with their corrupt intelligence, false opinions and unjust behaviour. So they did not know their Lord nor did they achieve that which benefits them. And Allaah is the One who bestows.

Hence when the servant succeeds, by way of this knowledge, he lives in a Paradise in this world before the Hereafter, whose comforts can only be compared to the comforts of Paradise in the Hereafter. Verily he does not cease to remain pleased with his Lord and this pleasure is the Paradise of this world and a comfort to those who have knowledge. Indeed his soul is content with all that it encounters from the decree which Allaah has chosen for him, and his soul is at peace with His religious laws and this is pleasure with Allaah being the Lord, with Islaam as the way of life and Muhammad as being the Messenger, and whoever has not achieved this has not tasted eemaan.”

(Ref. Quoted from Three Forgotten Prayers by `Adnaan Aali `Uroor © Call to Islam Da`wah Center, UK 1997)
www.islaam.com

Shaykh Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah [rahimahullah] relates,

The pillars of Kufr [i.e. disbelief and disobedience] are Four:

1. Kibr [arrogance], which prevents him from submission, [to the command of Allah]

2. Hasad [jealousy], which prevents him from accepting advice and giving it.

3. Ghadab [anger], which prevents him from being just.

4. Sha`wah [lowly desires], which prevents him from devoting himself totally to worship.

Hence,

·If the pillar of arrogance is removed then it becomes easy to submit,

·If the pillar of jealousy is removed then it becomes easy for him to accept Naseehah [advice] and to give advice.

·If the pillar of anger is removed then it becomes easy for him to be just and humble himself.

·If the pillar of lowly desires is removed then it becomes easy for him to be patient, chaste and devote himself to worship.

Every imprudent characteristic derives from these four. And when these characteristics settle in his heart they will cause him to see falsehood as truth and to see truth as falsehood. To see Ma`roof [i.e. good] as Munkar [i.e. evil] and evil as good, and it brings him closer to the life of this world and pushes the hereafter further from him.

Uprooting strong and power mountains from their places is easier than removing these four characteristics from the heart of an individual who is tested with them. This proves especially true when these characteristics become firmly rooted and embedded in an individual to the point they become second nature, for when an individual reaches this point it is almost impossible for him to do any good deeds, nor would he purify himself with them if he were to perform any acts of good. The more he strives diligently to perform acts of good the more his actions are corrupted by these four characteristics.

These characteristics [i.e. the Pillars of Kufr which are Kibr, Hasad, Ghadab, and Sha’wah] emerge due to the slave`s ignorance of his Lord, and his ignorance of his own self-worth or value. If he truly knew his Lord with all of His lofty characteristics and was truly aware of his own short-comings and deficiencies, he would not have a reason to be arrogant nor seek retribution for himself, nor would he be jealous of anyone because of what Allah has given them, because in reality, jealousy is a type of enmity or hostility towards Allah, primarily because the slave hates the fact that Allah has bestowed upon one of his servants a particular blessing and he ardently desires that this blessing be taken away from him. So he actually oppose and contests the decree of Allah and he deems the blessing of Allah to this slave to be unjust and dislikes for him what Allah loves for him. And it was because of this characteristic that Iblees [Shaytaan] became the enemy of Allah.

Hence, to replace these two hideous and evil characteristics with sound knowledge of Allah and His uniqueness and being pleased with Him as your Lord and turning towards Him for assistance in all of his affairs, and replacing anger with true knowledge of himself and his value, and the fact that he does not have the right to get angry and seek retribution for himself, because in this is giving precedence to himself over the pleasure of his Lord and expressing anger towards his Lord, who originated him.

And the greatest thing which would assist him in ridding [removing] himself of this characteristic is to condition himself to get angry for the pleasure of Allah and to be pleased for the pleasure of Allah. And every time he gets angry or is pleased for the pleasure of Allah then anger and pleasure for other than Him will be obliterated [wiped out], and the opposite is the same.

However, the cure for his lowly desires is sound knowledge and understanding that his obedience to his lowly desires is the greatest reason or hindrance for him attaining satisfaction, and his abstaining from these lowly desires is the greatest reason and means by which he can attain satisfaction. So every time he sets out to attain satisfaction by following his lowly desires he actually pushes himself further away from achieving this satisfaction, and the more he avoids his lowly desires, the closer he is to attaining the satisfaction he is looking for in the most complete manner.

·So Ghadab [anger] is like a predator, the minute you turn your attention away from it, it will eat you alive.

·And Shah`wah [lowly desires] is like fire, the moment he ignites it, it will begin to burn you alive.

·And Kibr [arrogance] is like arguing with a king about his possession, either he will kill you because of this, or just deprive you of it.

·And Hasad [jealousy] is like showing enmity and hatred towards someone who is more powerful than you.

The one who can control his lowly desires and his anger will remove the Shaytaan from his midst. And the one whose lowly desires and anger overtakes him deprives himself from the shade and protection of Allah.
Source: http://www.madeenah.com (see website for full article)

Related: The Levels of Prayer (https://mustaqeem.wordpress.com/2008/01/01/the-levels-of-prayer-by-ibn-qayyim) and The Levels of Jihad (https://mustaqeem.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/the-levels-of-self-jihad-by-ibn-qayyim)

One of my favorite quotes on my own blog is that of, “The Levels of Prayer by Ibn Qayyim”  (https://mustaqeem.wordpress.com/2008/01/01/the-levels-of-prayer-by-ibn-qayyim).  I was fortunate enough to come across a similar quote by Ibn Qayyim in terms of the levels of personal, self-jihad:

Jihad [striving] against the soul has four stages. They are:

  • Firstly, to strive in learning guidance and the religion of truth, without which there will be no success.  Indeed, there can be no true happiness, nor any delight in this world and in the Hereafter, except through it.
  • Secondly, striving to act upon what has been learnt, since knowledge without action will not benefit, rather it will cause harm.
  • Thirdly, striving to invite others towards it and to teach those who do not know, otherwise he may be considered from those who hide what Allah has revealed of guidance and clear explanation.  Such knowledge will neither benefit, nor save a person from the punishment of Allah.
  • Fourthly, striving to be patient and persevering against those who oppose this da’wah to Allah and those who seek to cause harm; patiently bearing all these hardships for the sake of Allah.

When all these four stages are completed, then such a person is considered to be amongst the Rabbaaniyyoon.  Our pious predecessors agreed that a scholar does not deserve the title of Rabbaanee until he recognizes and knows the truth, acts upon it, and teaches it to others. So whosoever has knowledge, acts upon it, and teaches this knowledge to others, is considered from the Rabbaaniyyoon.

(Source: Miscellaneous Points of Benefits by Ibnul Qayyim al-Jawziyyah [rahimahullah], taken from Zaad ul-Ma’aad fi Hadee Khayril-‘Ibaad, pages 9 – 11)