ibn al-Jawzi series

Ibn Al-Jawzi Series

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We have a sizable collection of Islamic books so its not surprising that sometimes certain books are long forgotten about and rot away without every being read till some very bored person decides to look into the bookshelf. Which is what happened last Ramadan. Since I was also fasting from technology, whenever I was tired of sleeping, I would read books. At first we only had ‘disciplining the soul’ and ‘awakening from the sleep of heedlessness’. Of course S had completely forgotten that she had bought them. Initially I started to read ‘disciplining the soul’ as a distraction from hunger pangs. By the end of the second chapter I told S to get the other two books in the collection, ‘disturber if the hearts’ and ‘sincere counsel to the seekers of sacred knowledge’ and since S is a compulsive book buyer, she did.

I hadn’t read any works by earlier scholars before partly because there aren’t many English translations available. But nowadays that’s all I look for and enjoy reading. I particularly liked the tone and style of ibn al-Jawzi’s writing-very concise, direct and sincere. I find that it’s quite different from contemporary ‘self help’ Islamic books which tend to have a patronising tone, lack content and have an overall vague message. Another difference is the greater variety of sources cited. Most of the recently published books usually cite the relevant Quranic ayat and sahih ahadith. While these are indisputably important, it was nice to read the sayings of earlier scholars and stories of pious Muslims who lived after the time of the Prophet (pbuh), back when Islam still ruled the world.

My favourite out of the four books would be ‘disturber of the hearts’ because it made me feel really pathetic and miserable. The book was essentially reiterating the warning of the hereafter and the punishment awaiting those who don’t follow the commands of Allah and His Prophet (pbuh). Here are a few spine-chilling quotes:

  • The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to Angel Jibril: ‘why do I never see the Angel Mkail laugh?’ He said: ‘He never laughed since Hell fire was created.’ [page 28, Ahmad 3/224]
  • I saw Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) picking up a straw from the ground and say ‘I wish I was this straw, I wish I was not created, I wish my mother had never delivered me, I wish I was nothing, I wish I was totally forgotten.’ [page 35, al-Zuhd of ibn al-Mubarak]
  • Abu Muhammad said ‘I fear Allah will say to me: ‘O Khabib, show me one Tasbih you have uttered In the last sixty years that the Satan could no overpower you in even part of it” [page 48]
  • [paraphrased] Utbah al-Ghulam boarded his house before travelling to Sham and ordered the people not to open it till he died. The found in it a dug grave and metal chains near where he would pray. [page 49]
  • A righteous man from Medina was asked ‘do you panic over death despite much righteous deeds you performed?’ he said: ‘why should I not panic!! by Allah, if the ruler of Medina sends me a messenger (one of his servants), I would panic. so how should I feel when I receive the Messenger of the Lord of the worlds (Angel of death)?’
  • Yazid ibn Mathrid said ‘Allah has promised to lock me in Hell if I ever disobey Him and by Allah, if He just threatened to lock me in a toilet, I would never stop crying [page 70]

These books, especially ‘disturber of the hearts’, are uncensored reminders of our purpose in this dunya and the consequences we will face in the hereafter. The author has a clear message to his readers: be steadfast in the deen, pursue knowledge of Islam and always remember Allah.

Please feel free to share your take on these books!

-F

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