General / Ibn al-Qayyim / Motivational

Ibn al-Qayyim: 10 Useless Matters

 KITAB AL-FAWA’ID

IMAM IBN AL-QAYYIM AL-JAWZIYYAH:

ON 10 USELESS MATTERS

10 Useless Matters

 The Hafiz of Damascus Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah says in his wonderful book on wisdom and exhortation Kitab al-Fawa’id:[1]

عشرة لا ينتفع بها

عشرة أشياء ضائعة لا ينتفع بها‏:

1.  علم لا يعمل به،

2. وعمل لا إخلاص فيه ولا اقتداء،

3.  ومال لا ينفق منه فلا يستمتع به جامعه في الدنيا ولا يقدمه أمامه إلى الآخرة،

4.  وقلب فارغ من محبة الله والشوق إليه والأنس به،

5.  وبدن معطل من طاعته وخدمته،

6.  ومحبة لا تتقيد برضاء المحبوب وامتثال أوامره،

7.  ووقت معطل عن استدراك فارط أو اغتنام بر وقربة،

8.  وفكر يجول فيما لا ينفع،

  9.  وخدمة من لا تقربك خدمته إلى الله ولا تعود عليك بصلاح دنياك

10.  وخوفك ورجاؤك لمن ناصيته بيد الله وهو أسير في قبضته ولا يملك لنفسه ضرا ولا نفعا ولا موتا ولا حياة ولا نشوراً‏.‏

وأعظم هذه الإضاعات إضاعتان هما أصل كل إضاعة‏:‏ إضاعة القلب وإضاعة الوقت، فإضاعة القلب من إيثار الدنيا على الآخرة، وإضاعة الوقت من طول الأمل، فاجتمع الفساد كله في اتباع الهوى وطول الأمل، والصلاح كله في اتباع الهدى والاستعداد للقاء‏‏ الله‏ ، والله المستعان‏.‏ 

العجب ممن تعرض له حاجة فيصرف رغبته وهمته فيها إلى الله ليقضيها له ولا يتصدى للسؤال لحياة قلبه من موت الجهل والإعراض وشفائه من داء الشهوات والشبهات ، ولكن إذا مات القلب لم يشعر بمعصيته‏.

 English:

 There are ten useless matters that benefits no-one:

  1. Knowledge that is not acted on.
  2. The deed that has neither sincerity nor is it based on following the righteous examples of others.
  3. Money that is hoarded, as the owner neither enjoys it during this life nor obtains any reward for it in the Hereafter.
  4. The heart that is empty of love and longing for Allah, and of seeking closeness to Him.
  5. A body that does not obey and serve Allah.
  6. Loving Allah without following His orders or seeking His pleasure.
  7. Time that is not spent in expiating sins or seizing opportunities to do good.
  8. A mind that thinks about useless matters.
  9. Serving those who do not bring you close to Allah, nor benefit you in your life.
  10. Hoping and fearing whoever is under the authority of Allah and in His hand; while he cannot bring any benefit or harm to himself, nor death, nor life; nor can he resurrect himself.

However two matters are the severest and they both are the source of all things useless: [1] wasting the heart and [2] wasting time.

Wasting the heart is when one prefers this worldly life over the Hereafter, and wasting time is done by having incessant hope. Destruction occurs by following one’s desires and having incessant hope, while all goodness is found in following the right path and preparing oneself to meet Allah.

How strange it is that when a servant of Allah has a [worldly] problem, he seeks help of Allah, but he never asks Allah to cure his heart before it dies of ignorance, neglect, fulfilling one’s desires and being involved in innovations. Indeed, when the heart dies, he will never feel the significance or impact of his sins.

Notes:

  1. 1.      Knowledge with which one does not act:

1. The da`wah carrier of all people must be far from failing to act on what he/she knows. How can we know the obligation of re-establishing the khilafah but not move our limbs to work for it? 

2. How can there be incongruence between our knowledge and actions? This is weakness in faith (iman).[2]

3. How can we have general knowledge of our individual and collective duties yet see no reason to fulfill them?

4. What worth is knowledge if they merely reside in the mind as information or hoarded in our computers, books and libraries?

5. We of all people must strive and hasten to implement the shari`ah rulings that we know and learn.[3]

2. Actions that have no sincerity in them nor are they modelled on righteous conduct:

1. Sincerity (ikhlas) is a duty (wajib) on all Muslims – and must be the staple attribute especially of the da`wah carrier.[4]

2. This means abandoning any form of ostentatious worship (riya’), i.e. to avoid impressing other people.[5]

3. Ikhlas is an interior action of the heart (a`mal al-qulub) that only Allah and the servant know.[6]

4. One’s insincerity can be obscure (khafy) until it is brought into sharp focus through scrutinizing and accounting/introspection of the ego-self (muhasabat al-nafs).[7]

5. The motive of the da`wah carrier in acts of worship (`ibadat) must be Allah and His pleasure and nothing else.

6. Position in the community, status, public perception and profile are not the primary or secondary objectives of the da`wah carrier. They must not underpin the reason why he/she does an action.[8]

7. How can we as da`wah carriers demonstrate and follow the best model of conduct and behavior if we do not understand or know the best example for mankind – our beloved Prophet (saw)?

8. How can we influence and change others if we ourselves exhibit no qualities that will transform hearts and minds?

9. How can we be people who fail and neglect to read the lives of the best generation, e.g. that of the companions (may Allah be pleased with them all), and then the tabi`i, the atibba` al-tabi`in as well as the lives of the salihin, awliya’ and `ulama’?  

3. Hoarding wealth that helps no-one in either the dunya or the akhirah:

1. The da`wah carrier must remember that he/she is not the real or true owner of wealth but is merely a trustee of it.

2. Allah alone is Owner.

3. In the service of the struggle for the din, we may – no we will have to – sacrifice dear and cherished things (objects, items, possessions, etc) and will have to spend it in the way of this service[9] knowing that Allah will multiply it manifold.

4. The da`wah carrier is never a hoarder of wealth and this should not be one of his/her attributes.

4. & 6. A heart that is separated from the love, desire and intimacy with Allah:

1. How is it possible for the da`wah carrier to be empty of love for Allah (swt)?

2. How can a sign (`alamah) of love of Allah be to avoid following his commands? A sign of love is obedience.[10]

3. He/she must be constantly infused and invigorated by the love of Allah – prepared to offer his/her life for Him.[11]

4. His/her heart must be developed and nourished by remembering[12] and contemplating on the attributes and extreme love, mercy and benevolence[13] Allah has for His creatures and how He helps and intervenes in protecting those struggling in His path.

5. Allah desires a reciprocal intimacy with His servants and a da`wah carrier must burn with desire for this.

6. Should our hearts be buried in the love of things (cars, clothes, gadgets…), objects, wealth, the benefits of the dunya, etc. or should it be enveloped in the love and longing of Allah and His Messenger (saw)?

7. Should love of the dunya eclipse our love for Allah?

5. A body that does not worship Allah (swt):

1. The da`wah carrier must remember that our limbs are one of the greatest blessings Allah has bestowed.[14]

2. They are a trust from the Creator to fulfil the duties of worshipping Him properly.[15]

3. How is it that the da`wah carrier uses it for other than the service of his/her Lord?

4. How is that through it we neglect the halal and perform the haram? Engage in the shubhat and avoid any pietistic restraint (wara`)?

5. The da`wah carrier hastens to the good, however little and avoids the bad, however little and thanks Allah for enabling him to fulfill his/her duties.

7. & 8. Wasting time in actions and thoughts:

1. A da`wah carrier must be using his/her every moment to plan, prepare and aid the da`wah due to the urgency of the re-establishment of the khilafah.

2. How can it be that his/her thoughts are filled with the contents of useless things like unlawful music, television programmes and other matters?

3. Should not the desire and yearning for Allah and Jannah alone loom large in the focus of the da`wah carrier?

4. Should not time be spent expiating the many sins as well as performing the good deeds?[16]

9. & 10. Wasting time in serving others and being afraid of creation:

1. The work of the da`wah carrier is perilous but the noblest. He/she must remember that tawakkul,[17] sabr,[18] rida[19] and steadfastness – as essentials – will be always be required.

2. Fear of any creation over Allah is inverted belief and is irrational.

3. The da`wah carrier must remind him/her self that only Allah alone can bring about harm and benefit; no ruler, king, president, MP, etc. has any might or power over Allah.

4. The dunya is not permanent but the abode of jannah is permanent. For the da`wah carrier the choice ought to be easy.

Allah knows best.

s.z.c


[1] Arabic text of Kitab al-Fawa’id (Dar al-Turath, 2004), p.145 and the English translation entitled The Benefits: A Collection of Wise Sayings(Umm al-Qura, 2004), pp.179-180.

[2] See the great mujaddid and Sufi of his time Imam `Abd `Allah b. `Alawi al-Haddad al-Hadrami al-Shafi`i, Risalat al-Mudhakarah, pp.30-32.

[3] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, pp.7-14 (English) and pp.11-16 (Arabic).

[4] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, p.90 (English) and p.70 (Arabic). Cf. also the account by the great wali of Baghdad Imam `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani al-Hanbali (ra) in his masterpiece al-Ghunya li-Talibi, 3:330-336 (= Muhtar Holland trans.) and al-Haddad, Risalat al-Mudhakarah, pp.37-38 and his al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, pp.403-406

[5] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, p.90 (English) and p.70 (Arabic); al-Jilani, al-Ghunya li-Talibi, 3:337-350 and al-

Haddad, Risalat al-Mudhakirah, pp.38-40 and al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, pp.365-367.

[6] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, p.90 (English) and p.70 (Arabic).

[7] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, p.90 (English) and p.70 (Arabic).

[8] See al-Haddad, al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, pp.370-382.

[9] For the fadl of jihad, see al-Haddad, al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, pp.259-272.

[10] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, p.21 (English) and p.22 (Arabic).

[11] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, p.29 (English) and pp.22-27 (Arabic).

[12] On “remembrance” (dhikr), see al-Haddad, al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, pp.223-234 and cf. Kitab al- Nafsiyyah, pp.58-63 (English) and pp.46-48 (Arabic). 

[13] See al-Jilani, al-Ghunya li-Talibi, 2:72-85 and 90-93 and 101-102.

[14] See al-Haddad, al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, pp.343-346.

[15] See al-Haddad, al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, pp.343-346.

[16] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, pp.118-148 (English) and pp.99-116 (Arabic).

[17] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, pp.87-93 (English) and pp.67-71 (Arabic); al-Haddad, al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, pp.398-401 and Risalat al-Mudhakirah, pp.177-181.

[18] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, pp.68-79 (English) and pp.53-60 (Arabic); al-Haddad, al-Nasa’ih al-Diniyyah, pp.391-393 and Risalat al-Mudhakirah, pp.163-169.

[19] See Kitab al-Nafsiyyah, pp.93-107 (English) and pp.72-90 (Arabic).

3 thoughts on “Ibn al-Qayyim: 10 Useless Matters

  1. Pingback: al-Nawawi: A Lesson in Time and Devotion to Knowledge | دار نيـقـوسـيــا

  2. Pingback: Ibn al-Qayyim: 10 Useless Matters | Siyasah Press

  3. Pingback: Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah: On 10 Useless Matters | justanotherblogbyMuaaz

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