Spiritual Purification With the Divine

Gems from Imam ibn al-Qayyim

Imam ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (died 1350 CE), may Allah have mercy on him, is one of the scholars that nearly every Muslim knows or has heard of. His quotes and sayings on the heart, the nature of desires, and worshiping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (Glorified is He) are posted everywhere. He is known as the “heart doctor” for specializing in the diseases of the hearts and their cures.

It is agreed upon by the scholars that when a scholar is accepted by the people and beloved to them that, insha’Allah (God willingly), he was sincere in his work and Allah (swt) accepted it from him. The Prophet ﷺ (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “A man will do something only for the sake of Allah and, for that he will be beloved to the people.” [Muslim] We hope that ibn al-Qayyim is from these Muslims, and that our love for him is a sign of Allah’s love and acceptance of him.

The scholar of Qur’anic tafseer (commentary on the Qur’an), Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him), described him by saying, “He was attached to occupying himself with knowledge, day and night. He would pray and recite the Qur’an much and was of excellent character, and showed great affection and friendship.”

He has a great compilation of books; however only a few are translated into English. For those who speak or know Arabic, you can testify to the fact that his writings are very eloquent, deep, and poetry-like. Although his translated books and quotes are still moving in English, nothing can come close to the original Arabic.

Without further ado, here is a short compilation of a few of my favorite gems taken from various books by this great Imam (may Allah’s mercy be upon him and may He accept his deeds and grant him the highest gardens of Paradise):

He is Allah, Yet you do not Love Him?

From the most amazing of matters is that you know Him, yet you do not love Him.

You hear his caller (the Prophet ﷺ) yet you delay in responding to him.

You know the prestige of working for Him, yet you work for those other than Him.

You know the gravity of His Anger, yet you challenge Him.

You taste the harsh reality of disobeying Him, yet you do not seek and long for the delight of obeying Him.

You feel the tightness in your heart when you engage in conversations about other than Him, yet you do not long for the opening of your chest through His Remembrance and having an intimate discourse with Him.

You taste the bitterness of your heart’s attachment to other than Him, yet you do not flee to Him and to the joy of returning to Him.

And it is even more amazing that you know you will never have anyone other than Him, and that you are the most destitute of things to Him, yet you crave and ache for what will take you far away from Him.

Reasons behind Disobedience

The foundation of sins, the small of them and the great, is three:

  1. Shirk, associating partners with Allah (swt), which is the heart’s attachment to other than Allah (swt).
  2. Dhulm, oppression and injustice, which is from obeying the furious rage in the hearts.
  3. Fawahish, indecency and illicit acts, which is from the strong desires and lusts.

The height of Shirk is to worship others besides Allah (swt). The height of rage is killing. The height of lusts is  fornicating. This is why Allah (swt) has combined these three in one ayah (verse),

25:68“And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty.” (Qur’an, 25:68)

These sins lead to each other. Associating partners with Allah (shirk) leads to oppression and injustice (dhulm) and immorality (fawahish), just as sincerity (ikhlas) and Oneness of Allah (tawheed) wipes them out. Allah (swt) says,


“…And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants.” (Qur’an, 12:24)

‘Evil’ (in this ayah) refers to attachment to other than Allah (swt), and ‘immorality’ refers to fornication.

Likewise, oppression and injustice leads to associating partners with Allah and immorality. Associating partners with Allah is the most unjust of injustices just as worshiping Allah Alone is the most just of justice. So justice accompanies the Oneness of Allah and oppression accompanies associating partners with Allah.

As for justice accompanying tawheed, it is proved in the ayah:


“Allah witnesses that there is no deity except Him, and [so do] the angels and those of knowledge – [that He is] maintaining [creation] in justice.” (Qur’an, 3:18)

And as for oppression accompanying associating partners with Allah, it is proved in the ayah:

31:13“…Indeed, association [with him] is great injustice.” (Qur’an, 31:13)

Likewise, immorality leads to associating partners with Allah (swt) and injustice, because when the intention (to commit immorality) is strong, it will lead to oppression and relying upon magic and Satan.

Allah (swt) has connected fornication and associating partners with Him in the ayah,


“The fornicator does not marry except a [female] fornicator or polytheist, and none marries her except a fornicator or a polytheist, and that has been made unlawful to the believers.” (Qur’an, 24:3)

These three deeds (associating partners with Allah, injustice and immorality) gravitate towards each other, and one necessitates the other. This is why whenever the heart is weakest in tawheed and greater in associating with Allah, it is at its most immoral state and it is attached to committing these deeds and their results.

The analogy of this is contained in the series of ayat,


“So whatever thing you have been given – it is but [for] enjoyment of the worldly life. But what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who have believed and upon their Lord rely.” (Qur’an, 42:36)

Allah (swt) tells us here that He has prepared something better than this worldly life for those who believe and rely upon Him – this is referring to tawheed. Then He says,

42:37“And those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, and when they are angry, they forgive.” (Qur’an, 42:37).

These people avoid immoralities, which means they stay away from strong desires and lusts. Furthermore, they forgive even when they have a furious rage in their hearts. Allah (swt) connects tawheed to chastity and justice, which is the combination of all that is good.

The Deceived Ones

Among those deceived people may be one who thinks that his good deeds are more than his sins, because he does not pay attention to his bad deeds or check on his sins, but if he does a good deed he remembers it and relies on it.

This is like the one who seeks Allah’s forgiveness with his tongue (that is, by words only), and glorifies Allah by saying “subhan Allah” (Glory be to Allah) one hundred times a day, then he backbites about the Muslims and slanders their honor, and speaks all day long about things that are not pleasing to Allah. This person is always thinking about the virtues of his saying “subhan Allah” (Glory be to Allah) and saying “la ilaha ila Allah” (There is no deity worthy of worship except for Allah) but he pays no attention to what has been reported concerning those who backbite, tell lies, and slander others, or commit other sins of the tongue. They are completely deceived.

Alarmed Donkeys

Allah (swt) says in surah Muddaththir:



“Then what is [the matter] with them that they are, from the reminder, turning away, as if they were alarmed donkeys, fleeing from a lion?” (Qur’an, 74:49-51)

Allah (swt) compares them in their turning away from the Qur’an to a donkey that sees a lion and runs away from it out of fright. This is of the most amazing analogies and similitudes – these people in their ignorance to the Messenger that Allah ﷺ has sent are like donkeys – because it does not comprehend anything – when it hears the sound of a lion, it flees with the greatest of fleeing. This is a humiliation for them. They flee from the guidance that holds their happiness and success like the donkey flees from that will destroy and kill it.

Falling into the Forbidden

A slave does not fall into the haram except in two ways:

  1. Lack of knowledge. This leads to having bad thoughts of Allah. He thinks that if he obeys Allah, Allah will not provide him with something permissible that is better than the forbidden.
  2. Lack of perception. The slave is aware of the narration, “whoever leaves something for Allah, He will replace it with something better”, but his desires overpower his patience and his lusts overpower his rationality.

Ways Satan comes to a Servant
Every possessor of intellect is aware that Shaytan comes to him in three ways:

  1. Extravagance. This leads to the slave always wanting more, and indulgence. He thinks it to be a good blessing, while in fact it is the sign that Shaytan has entered his heart.
  2. Lack of caution. This leads to the slave giving into all the desires of his nafs – from eating, to sleeping, to whatever it wants. When the slave is aware that this is one of Shaytan’s tactics, then he will not be able to infiltrate him.
  3. Heedlessness. The one who remembers Allah is safe in the citadel of dhikr (rememberance), but when the gate of the citadel is opened, Shaytan enters and overtakes him causing dhikr to become difficult for him or making it difficult to remove oneself from this state.

Doors of Hell-Fire

The people will enter hell-fire through three doors:

  1. The door of doubt, from having doubts in the Deen (religion) of Allah.
  2. The door of desires, from putting desires ahead of the obedience and pleasure of Allah.
  3. The door of anger, from hatred and enmity to the creation.

There are three foundations to sins:

  1. Arrogance, which led to the end of Satan.
  2. Greediness, which took Adam alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him) out of Jannah (paradise).
  3. Envy, which let to one of the son’s of Adam (as) killing his brother.

So whoever is saved from the evil of these three, then he has been saved from all evil – as disbelieving in Allah (swt) is from arrogance, as sinning is from greediness, and injustice and enmity is from envy.

About the author



Amatullah is a student of the Qur’an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta’leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur’an, Tajweed (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has completed her undergraduate degree in Social Work and will be completing a Masters program in 2014. Her experiences include working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement, and accessibility for people with disabilities.

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  • Love this! Jazakillahu khairan for sharing these amazing gems from one of the Gems of our past, Imam ibn Al-Qayyim rahimahu Allah!

  • Jazakallah sister, very useful stuff and great translation.

    It would be great if you could post the Arabic for these as well. Could you tell me what the ‘Lack of Perception’ is in Arabic. Is it from غفلة or something else?

    • Typing out the Arabic would take me a considerable amount of time, but I can post the sources.

      The books I used were Fawa’idul Fawa’id, Sayd al-Khatir and Bada’i at-Tafasir.

      I believe ‘lack of perception’ was بصيرة

  • Ibn al-Qayyim is simply amazing mashAllah. Wish i was good in arabic 🙁 however his works which i read in english were amazing anyway subhan Allah. Jazaki Allah khair

  • JAK Amatullah for selecting the gems of the Imam and inshaAllah they will demand us to reflect upon our deeds and to rectify them. May Allah SWT help all of us overcome our desires and try to close all of the doors that allow Shaytan to walk in.

  • This is one of the greatest articles I have ever read.May Allah reward ibn Al-Qayyim for his works and admit him to Paradise,amen!

  • jazakAllah khayr for this. alhamdulilahi rabbil alameen, reading this in the moring has cheered me up and i know that the rest of my day will be pleasant inshaAllah.

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