“I killed her hope for me… my hope for her…”

Ahmad ibn Sa’id al-Abid related that his father had told him the following:
‘There was once with us at Kufa a young man much given to devotional practices, who used to stay in the Friday mosque and hardly ever leave it.  Since he had a fine face and bearing, and a pleasant manner, he was noticed by a beautiful and intelligent woman, who fell deeply in love with him.  After having passed a long while in this condition, she stood in the road one day when he was going to the mosque.
“Young man!” she said.  “Hear a few words which I would say to you, and then do whatever you will.” He walked on without speaking to her.  Then she stood on the road when he was returning home, and said, ‘Young man! Hear a few words which I would say to you!’ He lowered his head for some time, and told her, “This is a situation that invites suspicion, and I do not like to be suspected.”  “By God,” she told him, “I am not standing here because of ignorance of your disposition; God forbid that people should see me to this thing, yet I have been impelled to meet you myself; only a little of such things is considered by people to be too much, and you constant worshippers are like glass bottles which are damaged by the slightest thing.  In sum, what I would say is that all my limbs are intent upon you: God, God help me with you!”
The young man when home.  He wanted to pray, but he could not concentrate, so he took out a piece of paper instead and wrote a message.  He then went out-doors, where the woman was standing in the same place:  he threw the message towards her, and went back in.
The message ran: “In the name of God, Most Compassionate and Merciful.  You should know, O woman, that when one of God’s servants sins against Him, He deals with him leniently.  Should he sin again, He conceals for him.  But should he don its garments, then God conceives against him such a wrath as the very heavens and the earth could not compass, ‘neither the mountains, the trees and the animals’: what man could then withstand such wrath?  If what you said was spoken in deceit, then I would remind you of a ‘Day when the sky will become as molten copper, and the mountains as carded wool’, when all nations shall crouch down before the onslaught of the Almighty.  I am too weak to reform myself; how, then, may I reform others?  However, if what you say was spoken truly, I would direct you to a physician of guidance, who cures festering wounds and burning pains; to wit, God, Who is ‘Lord of the Worlds’.  So address yourself to Him with sincere entreaties, for I am distracted from you by His words (Exalted is He!): ‘And warn them of a Day of Destruction, when hearts shall choke throats, when there will be no friend for the evildoers, neither any intercessor who will be heard.  He knows the traitor of the eyes and that which the hearts conceal.  God judges with verity!’&sup4  How may one escape this verse?”
‘A few days later, she came and stood in front of him again in the street.  When he saw her from afar he wanted to return to his house so as not to see her.  But she said, “Yound man!  Do not go back, for we shall never meet after today save in the presence of God (Exalted is He!).”  She broke into bitter tears, and said, “I ask God, in Whose hand lie the keys of your heart, to ease all your hardships.”  She then followed him, saying, “Grant me the kindness of an admonition, which I may take from you, and give me counsel by which I may act.”
“I counsel you,” he said, “to protect your soul from your soul, and would remind you of His statement (Exalted is He!): ‘He it is who slays you at night, and knows what you commit by day’.  At this she lowered her head, and cried even more bitterly.  When she recovered, she went home and remained there, and occupied herself with continual worship until at last she died in grief.
After her death, the young man would week when he recalled her.  “Why do you weep?” he was asked, “when you kept her away from you?”  And he would reply, “I killed her hope for me at the outset, and through that rejection stored up a treasure with God (Exalted is He!).  And then I was ashamed to take back a treasure of this kind.”‘
[End of Kitab kasr al-shahwatayn (Breaking the Two Desires), Book XXIII of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din]

Imam Ghazali chooses the following story as the last words of his Kitab kasr al-shahwatayn (Breaking the Two Desires, Book XXIII of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din) – perhaps for a certain wisdom relating to balance. Read on…

heartbreak[www.last.fm/music/Gretchen+Wilson/+journal]

“Ahmad ibn Sa’id al-Abid related that his father had told him the following:

‘There was once with us at Kufa a young man much given to devotional practices, who used to stay in the Friday mosque and hardly ever leave it.  Since he had a fine face and bearing, and a pleasant manner, he was noticed by a beautiful and intelligent woman, who fell deeply in love with him.  After having passed a long while in this condition, she stood in the road one day when he was going to the mosque.

“Young man!” she said.  “Hear a few words which I would say to you, and then do whatever you will.”  He walked on without speaking to her.  Then she stood on the road when he was returning home, and said, ‘Young man! Hear a few words which I would say to you!’ He lowered his head for some time, and told her, “This is a situation that invites suspicion, and I do not like to be suspected.”  “By God,” she told him, “I am not standing here because of ignorance of your disposition; God forbid that people should see me to this thing, yet I have been impelled to meet you myself; only a little of such things is considered by people to be too much, and you constant worshippers are like glass bottles which are damaged by the slightest thing.  In sum, what I would say is that all my limbs are intent upon you: God, God help me with you!”

The young man when home.  He wanted to pray, but he could not concentrate, so he took out a piece of paper instead and wrote a message.  He then went out-doors, where the woman was standing in the same place:  he threw the message towards her, and went back in.

The message ran: “In the name of God, Most Compassionate and Merciful.  You should know, O woman, that when one of God’s servants sins against Him, He deals with him leniently.  Should he sin again, He conceals for him.  But should he don its garments1, then God conceives against him such a wrath as the very heavens and the earth could not compass, neither the mountains, the trees and the animals2: what man could then withstand such wrath?  If what you said was spoken in deceit, then I would remind you of a Day when the sky will become as molten copper, and the mountains as carded wool3, when all nations shall crouch down before the onslaught of the Almighty.  I am too weak to reform myself; how, then, may I reform others?  However, if what you say was spoken truly, I would direct you to a physician of guidance, who cures festering wounds and burning pains; to wit, God, Who is Lord of the Worlds.  So address yourself to Him with sincere entreaties, for I am distracted from you by His words (Exalted is He!): And warn them of a Day of Destruction, when hearts shall choke throats, when there will be no friend for the evildoers, neither any intercessor who will be heard. He knows the traitor of the eyes and that which the hearts conceal. God judges with verity!4 How may one escape this verse?”

A few days later, she came and stood in front of him again in the street. When he saw her from afar he wanted to return to his house so as not to see her.  But she said, “Young man!  Do not go back, for we shall never meet after today save in the presence of God (Exalted is He!)5“.

She broke into bitter tears, and said, “I ask God, in Whose hand lie the keys of your heart, to ease all your hardships.”  She then followed him, saying, “Grant me the kindness of an admonition, which I may take from you, and give me counsel by which I may act.”

“I counsel you,” he said, “to protect your soul from your soul, and would remind you of His statement (Exalted is He!): He it is who slays7 you at night, and knows what you commit by day8.  At this she lowered her head, and cried even more bitterly.  When she recovered, she went home and remained there, and occupied herself with continual worship until at last she died in grief.

After her death, the young man would weep when he recalled her. “Why do you weep?” he was asked, “when you kept her away from you?”  And he would reply, “I killed her hope for me9 at the outset, and through that rejection stored up a treasure with God (Exalted is He!).  And then I was ashamed to take back a treasure of this kind.”‘10

[End of Kitab kasr al-shahwatayn (Breaking the Two Desires, Book XXIII of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din)]

1 That is, should he become a recidivist.
2 Qur’an XXII:18
3 Qur’an LXX:8,9
4 Qur’an XL:18-20
5 On the Day of Judgement.
6 ‘The former “soul,” Zabidi explains (VII. 444), ‘refers to the essence [dhat], and the latter to the lower soul’.
7 The ‘slaying’ here refers of course to sleep.
8 Qur’an VI:60
9 ie: “my hope for her”.
10 The intended meaning is that he had felt an unlawful desire for her, and gained such grace in wrestling with it that when he too fell in love with her, he denied himself a legitimate marriage so as not to vitiate his original virtue.

Disciplining the Soul & on Breaking the Two Desires Books XXII and XXIII of the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din)
by: Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (Ra.)
Translated by: T. J. Winter (Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad)

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One Response

  1. Assalamu ‘alaykum,

    Great one. Jzkk for sharing !

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