Translation from Ibn Al-Jawzi’s Sayd Al-Khatir (Quarry of the Mind) | Judging with Deliberation

THE MOST IDIOTIC of people is the one who acts according to the present situation and neither envisions change nor anticipates possible scenarios. Take, for example, one who is deluded by political power. He acts according to his desires relying on his power. Yet when things change, he is destroyed.

Now, such a person will most probably have made many enemies while deluded by his sense of control over them, or by his sense that he is a person of power. Yet should his situation change, he would “bite his own hands” out of remorse for the lost opportunity to save himself.

The one who wastes his wealth is similar to the one deluded by his power. He takes comfort in the presence of his wealth, forgetting what shall be his condition when his wealth is no more.

He who seeks to gratify his senses with excessive food, drink, and intercourse is comparable, as well. He puts so much confidence in his good health that he forgets the diseases and problems that will ensue from his indulgences.

One of the most comical situations is that of a man who so loves his concubine that he lavishes her [with gifts]; or a man so infatuated with a woman as to constantly repose in her, to the extent that he hands over much of his wealth to her—until she takes control of it. Then, after a short time, he loses interest in her or seeks out someone else, but can find no way to extricate his affairs from the previous woman. And even if he succeeds in freeing himself from her, she would, nonetheless, already have taken all that she gained from him. Thus his rage at losing his wealth to her would far outweigh the delights another woman might bring him.

So let no man place his trust in a relationship with such a woman, nor even with a loving friend. For though he may feel he loves her and think he will never tire of her, and so give to her freely, it is well possible that thereafter he will lose interest in her, or come to love another and forget his previous love, but not easily be able to free himself of her.

Hence, the rational man does not enter into something without first preparing an exit because the reality is that things do not stay the same, that such infatuations never last, and that change is inevitable in every situation.

By the same token, one might give his wealth to his son, but then become dependent on him, to the point that the son might wish for the death of his father. Or, perhaps, the son will turn stingy about his financial support of the father.

Similarly, one might spill all his secrets to a dear friend. Yet that friendship might change. Then the former friend might expose those secrets, perhaps it will be the kind of information that could lead to a person’s destruction.

Likewise, a person might trust to his own health and safety, forgetting that death will surely find its way to him, and that death might overtake him suddenly by surprise. Thus the chance to make up for mistakes will have passed and nothing will remain except for remorse.

So the rational one is he whose eye is watchful of the end of all affairs, in anticipation of the possible scenarios. He takes caution in all situations. He is protective of his wealth and private matters. And he is completely trustful of neither wife, nor child, nor friend. Rather, he keeps himself ever ready for the final journey, always prepared for the last transition.

And such is the description of the men of resolve.

The Dowry of Paradise

TAKE A THOUGHTFUL look with the eye of the mind at the everlasting life of Paradise—a life of pureness without any blemish; of delights that never end; of attaining every want of the soul; of infinite increase in what no eye has ever seen, nor ear ever heard, nor have ever occurred to a human mind—and all of this never changing, nor leaving.

For it is not said that life in Paradise is a million years, nor one hundred million years, nor even whatever number a person would reach if he counted without stopping for thousands and thousands of years. Rather, the Afterlife goes on and on and will never come to an end.

Consider this.

Now consider also that the Afterlife can only be purchased with the currency of this life. And what is the actual length of a life that will perhaps reach at most a hundred years—the first fifteen of which are spent in childhood and ignorance, and the last thirty of which, if one were to live a full hundred years, being spent in infirmity and disability.

As to the middle years, half of it is spent in sleep, and a portion of the other half goes to eating, drinking, and earning. Yet what is set aside for worship from the remaining time is precious little.

But should one not purchase that eternal life with this brief one? To turn away from entering into such a transaction is clearly the outcome of an atrociously deceived faculty of reason, and it reflects a profound problem in one’s faith in the promise of Allah.

Yet most certainly the one who knows how to execute this transaction based on sound knowledge is the one who should show others the way and teach them how to do it. Moreover, he should caution them against what should be avoided.

Hence, one must seek out this knowledge.

We ask Allah, Transcendent and Resplendent, for beneficial knowledge that will prevent our enemy, Satan, the Accursed, from harming us—and, most surely, Allah is all-able to grant this.

Written By

Omar Abdl-Haleem is a fourth generation Muslim in America. He has a BA from Al-Azhar University in Usul Al-Din, specializing in Hadith, and was about to finish his Master’s Degree from Al-Azhar in Hadith, when he had to leave Egypt for safety reasons in the fall of 2013. He has translated most of Ibn Al-Jawzi’s book: Sayd Al-Khatir into English, which he intends to complete (some episodes of Omar’s translation of this book have appeared in Aljumuah Website). He is also working on a Hadith book for English speakers that explains and teaches Mustalah Al-Hadith (Hadith Terminology) in common terms. His Arabic is native, having studied in Egypt since he was 14, and then full time after completion of High School in the US. He is invaluable for AlJumuah in accessing scholarly texts. He intends to complete his graduate studies in Hadith.

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