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Targheeb and Tarheeb
  Ibn al-Qayyim on How to Rectify Oneself
Author: Shaikh Abdul-Malik al-Jazaa'iree
Source: Madaarik un-Nadhar Fis-Siyaasah (Trans. Abu Iyaad)
Article ID : TZK050010  

Abdul-Malik Ibn Ahmad al-Mubaarak said [1]: "Ibn al-Qayyim - rahimahullaah - said, in al-Fawaa'id (Chapter: How you rectify your condition)":

"Get up (and hurry) in entering upon Allaah and accompanying Him in the Home of Peace, without any tiredness, hardship or fatigue - but in fact by the nearest of paths and the most easiest (of them). And this is (by realising) that you are in a time between two times which is (what constitutes) your life, and this is the present time which is between what has passed and what is yet to come. Then that which has passed, you can correct by repentance, remorse and seeking forgiveness. This is something in which there will be no tiredness, fatigue, or any straining efforts (required on your behalf). It is (nothing but) the action of the heart."

"I say: Whatever of your time has passed in disobedience to Allaah, it is possible for you bring it back (and amend it). And it has been said: 'Time is like a sword, if you don't cut it, it will cut you'. And this is correct wisdom save that Allaah has excepted the repenters from this. For whatever time they have wasted in committing zinaa, even murder, in fact, even shirk - then whoever repents from them will find his scroll (of deeds) not just white and plain (free of those evils) but good deeds will have been written on it in replacement of those evil deeds, as if his time had been adorned with them. And nothing is impossible for Allaah, He is the One who said: " And those who invoke not any other ilâh (god) along with Allâh, nor kill such life as Allâh has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse and whoever does this shall receive the punishment. The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace; Except those who repent and believe (in Islâmic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allâh will change their sins into good deeds, and Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." [Furqaan 68-70]."

And Ibn al-Qayyim said:

"And your restraining yourself from sins in what has yet to come (in the future). (This) restraint of yours is but mere abandonment and relaxation and does not involve (any) actions from the limbs or the efforts which cause you difficulties and hardship. It is but (firm) resolution and a strong and firm intention (which allows your) body, heart and your inner-self to rest. So whatever has passed you by, you amend by repentance and you correct what has yet to come with restraint, resolution (of one's will) and (firm) intention."

"I say: From this you will learn about the secret of the connection between repentance and seeking forgiveness, as occurs in the like of Allaah's saying: "Will they not repent to Allâh and ask His Forgiveness? For Allâh is Oft­Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Maai'dah 74]" Seeking forgiveness (here) has the meaning of 'abandoning what has preceded (from your actions)' and repentance (here) is with the meaning 'not persisting (in those actions) in the future' and Allaah has combined both of these in a single verse when He said: "And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse etc.) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allâh and ask forgiveness for their sins; - and none can forgive sins but Allâh - And do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know. [Aali Imraan 135]".

And Ibn al-Qayyim said:

"And in both of these there is no hardship or tiredness for the limbs, however the concern is for your life - and that is the time, (at present), which is between two times. If you waste it, you will have wasted your happiness and your (means of) safety and if you safeguard it, along with correcting the (other) two times which are before it and after it with what has been mentioned, you will be saved and you will succeed with ease, pleasure and bliss."

I say: And this will show you the secret of Allaah's making the amending of one's conduct (Islaah) a condition for (true) repentance, which if it (i.e. repentance) is performed (freely and properly), will also include the seeking of forgiveness, as occurrs in the saying of Allaah: "Your Lord has written Mercy for Himself, so that, if any of you does evil in ignorance, and thereafter repents and does righteous good deeds (by obeying Allâh), then surely, He is Oft­Forgiving, Most Merciful. [An'aam 6:54]" and in His saying: "Except for those who repent after that and do righteous deeds. Verily, Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.[Aali Imraan 89]" Therefore, amending one's conduct (here) is with the meaning of amending the present time (in which you are in), and it has been said:

What has passed is a dream
And what is hoped for (in the future) is unseen.
Yet you have (at your disposal)
The hour in which you are (at present)

And Ibn al-Qayyim said:

"And safeguarding it involves greater hardship than the rectification of what has passed before it and what it is to come after it. Safeguarding the present time requires that you make your soul cling to that which befits it, is of greater benefit to it and is greatest in obtaining its happiness. In this affair, people vary greatly one from another. Verily, these are your days gone past[2], in which you gather your provision for your place of return, either to Paradise or to Hellfire..."

I say: Whoever contemplates over the Qur'aan will find that its call does not leave any of these three times. Allaah the Exalted said: "Aleef, Laam, Raa. (This is) a Book, the Verses whereof are perfected (in every sphere of knowledge, etc.), and then explained in detail from One (Allaah), Who is All-Wise and Well-Acquainted (with all things). (Saying) worship none but Allaah. Verily, I (Muhammad SAW) am unto you from Him a warner and a bringer of glad tidings. And (commanding you): 'Seek the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance...'" [Hud 1-3]. Meaning, that Allaah has perfected His Book and has explained it in detail that you may worship Him in these three times with what He has commanded. So His saying: "(Saying) worship none but Allaah..." is for worship at the present time (in which you are in), for Tawheed is the most- beneficial and foremost of the acts of obedience. And His saying: "And (commanding you): 'Seek the forgiveness of your Lord..." is for what has passed, and His saying: "And turn to Him in repentance..." is for what is to come[3]. The reason for concentrating upon Tawheed here, for the rectification and correction of one's current time is two matters:

The first: That it is not permissible for there to be any time in which there is no concern with Tawheed and it is that which comprises Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah, Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah and Tawheed ul-Asmaa was-Sifaat.

The second: That it is the foundation of every righteous action. Do you not see that righteous actions constitute its perfection, the obligatory amongst them or the recommended? For this reason it was the first thing that the Prophets, upon them be prayers and peace, called to, because the one in whose heart Tawheed has been ingrained and deeply rooted, its liveliness will appear in all of his limbs and its tree will give rise to the best of fruits as Allaah the Exalted has said: See you not how Allâh sets forth a parable? - A goodly word as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky (i.e. very high). Giving its fruit at all times, by the Leave of its Lord and Allâh sets forth parables for mankind in order that they may remember [Ibraaheem 14:24-25].

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

"And there is due from the servant to Allaah, in every moment from his time, servitude which will advance him or bring him nearer to Allaah. So if he spends his time in servitude to Allaah, he will advance to his Lord and if he busies himself with desires, or relaxation or inactivity, he will lag behind. And the servant never ceases to be either moving forward or falling behind, and there is no stopping whilst on the path, ever. Allaah the Exalted said: "To any of you that chooses to go forward (by working righteous deeds), or to remain behind (by commiting sins)" [Muddatthir 74:37]"[4]

And he (rh) said:

"And if he is not moving forward then he is remaining behind, by necessity. Therefore, the servant is always moving and does never stop (in one place). So either he moves higher or he falls lower, either he moves to the front or he goes to the back... it is but the steps or phases of a journey which lead, in the most rapid manner, to Paradise or to Hellfire. Therefore (there is one who is) fast and slow, one who moves forward and one who remains behind and there is no one on the path who stands still, ever. They only differ with each other as to how quickly or slowly they move."[5]

I say: The saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) gives evidence to this: "Every single person awakes and sells his soul, so (one) either delivers it or he destroys it", reported by Muslim, and in a version: "O Ka'b bin Ujrah! All of mankind awake..."[6] so all of them awake (each morning) and whoever does not sell his soul to Allaah, the One who said: "Verily, Allâh has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise [Tawbah 9:111]", then he has sold it to Shaytaan, the (schemer) who waits in ambush[7]. This is because Allaah has created time for a person and has ordered him with acts of worship which are suitable for the time he has been granted, for it is not so that "the acts of worship are greater than the moments of time"[8] as Hasan al-Bannaa has (falsely) claimed, and whoever does not spend his time in what Allaah has commanded, Shaytaan will assault (and ravish) him without respite. Allaah the Exalted said: "And recite (O Muhammad sas) to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), but he threw them away, so Shaytaan took control of him, and he became of those who went astray. [A'raaf 7:175]." Ibn al-Qayyim said: "(Meaning) that Shaytaan will seize him and keep hold of him in such a manner that he will overcome and attack him, and for this reason He said: "So Shaytaan took control of him (atba'ahu)" and He did not say "followed him (taba'ahu)", for the meaning of "took control of him" is 'seized and kept hold of him' and this greater than 'followed him' in both wording and meaning."[9]


[1] From Abdul-Malik Ibn Ahmad al-Mubaarak ar-Ramadaanee al-Jazaa'iree's 'Madaarik un-Nadhar fis-Siyaasah' p. 390-393.

[2] Allaah, the Exalted said:Then as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand will say: "Take, read my Record! Surely, I did believe that I shall meet my Account!" So he shall be in a life, well-pleasing. In a lofty Paradise, the fruits in bunches whereof will be low and near at hand. Eat and drink at ease for that which you have sent on before you in days past! [Haaqqah 69:19-24]

[3] This is one of the sayings by which 'Istighfaar' and 'Tawbah' have been explained, which have been mentioned in this verse, as ash-Shawkaanee has quoted in 'Fathul-Qadeer' (2/481). And this explanation which Ibn al-Qayyim has mentioned about the division of the three times is not the result of mere thinking, rather he has taken it - may Allaah have mercy upon him - from the guidance of the Salaf. Refer to the narrations in this regard in 'Kitaab uz-Zuhud al-Kabeer' of al-Bayhaqee (p.196).

[4] Al-Fawaa'id (pp.187-188)

[5] Madaarij us-Saalikeen (1/267)

[6] Reported by Abdur-Razzaaq (20719), Ahmad (3/321), Ibn Hibbaan (7498) and Ibn Hajr declared it saheeh in al-Amaalee al-Mutlaqah (p.214)

[7] Ibn Taymiyyah has indicated this meaning as occurs in Majmoo ul-Fataawaa (7/51) and Ibn al-Qayyim in al-Jawaab al-Kaafee (p.133 of ar-Riyaan).

[8] In Majmoo'ah Rasaa'il Hasan al-Bannaa, at the end of 'Risaalatut-Ta'aaleem (p.30). And this phrase - the meaning of which is suspecting and accusing Allaah of oppression - has been made one of the legacies (of advice) of this imaam, as you can see and is often distributed in the gatherings of the general-folk. (This is what it is) even though we may be aware that they desire by this to arouse and stimulate the peoples thoughts and concerns for establishing the obligatory aims of the movement! And we are not aware of obligations save those of the Sharee'ah, which are facile and easy, and all praise is due to Allaah, Who is alone in legislating. And if this was not so and if control of the affair was to given to (these such people), they would have burdened us with obligations for which Allaah has sent down no authority!

[9] Al-Fawaa'id (p.100). And refer to the book 'Madaarik un-Nadhar fis-Siyaasah' (pp. 390-405) for the completion of this discourse.

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