Avoiding What is of No Concern
Shaikh 'Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani
Source: Purification of the Mind (Jila' Al-Khatir)
* The Prophet SAWS is reported to have said: “One result of the excellence of the person’s practice of Islam is neglecting what does not concern him.” [Related by Imam Ahmad, Malik & Tirmidhi]
Every person who practices Islam and applies it is interested in what is really relevant to him and turns away from what is irrelevant to him. Being busy with what is of no concern to you is the business of those who are idle and in illusion. The person who is deprived of the pleasure of His Master is he who did not act on what he was commanded but instead occupied himself with irrelevant things. This is deprivation itself, resentment itself, and banishment itself. Woe to you! Obey the commandments, refrain from the prohibitions, show acceptance at times of affliction, and then surrender yourself to the hand of destiny without asking “why” or “how.” Allah’s (mighty and glorified is He) care for you combined with His knowledge of you are better than your care for yourself combined with your ignorance of your Lord. Be satisfied with what He gives and occupy yourself with offering thanks for it. Do not ask Him for more, for you do not know where your best interest lies.
* Give up the involvement in much babble and idle gossip and squandering money. Do not spend much time in the company of relatives, neighbors, friends, and acquaintances without good reason, for that is an illusion. Most of the telling of lies takes place between two, and disobedience does not happen but between two. None of you should go out of his home except to pursue essential personal and family interests. Make every effort not to be the first to speak and that your speech is only in answer to a question. When a person asks you about something, answer him only when there are benefits for both of you in doing so, otherwise do not answer him. When you see a Muslim brother do not ask him “where are you going to?” or “where are you coming from?” He may be unwilling to tell you about his personal affairs and thus he would lie, so it would be you who forced him to lie.
Feel a sense of shame from the Honorable Recording Angels (Al‑Kirām Al‑Kātibīn) Do not dictate to them what you should not be saying. Dictate to them what would make you happy on the Day of Resurrection, words of glorification of Allah, recitation of the Qur’an, and words that relate to your and other creatures’ interests. Increase their ink with your tears and strengthen their pens with your belief in the oneness of God, then leave them sitting at the door and enter into the presence of your Lord (mighty and glorified is He).
Curtail hopes. Keep death in front of your eyes. When anyone of you comes across his brother, he should greet him and bid him farewell as if he is about to depart from this world. Similarly, when he leaves his home, he should greet his family with his heart, for the Messenger of Death may summon him and thus prevent him from returning to them. His final moment may be on the road. Therefore, the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be on him) has said: “None of you should sleep the night unless his will is written and placed under his head.” If one of you has a debt and is capable of paying it back, he should repay it and not postpone the repayment, for he does not know whether or not he will have the opportunity to repay later. The person who is capable of repaying the debt but does not do is thus involved in wronging himself, because the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be on him) has said: “The postponement [of repayment] by the affluent person is an act of wrongdoing.”
* O young man, do not occupy yourself with what is irrelevant to you so you miss what concerns you! Thinking of the states of another person and his faults is of no concern to you, whereas reflecting on your states is of concern to you. All of the speech of the person with a lower self, passion, and natural inclination will be against him rather than in his favor. He is like the person who collects firewood by night so he does not know what he is gathering. When the lower self has calmed down and the fire of passion and natural inclination has subsided so that it cannot reach the lower self, the faculty of reason will grow, faith will strengthen, tranquility will arrive, and the differentiation between the truth and falsehood will come, so the person will refrain from falsehood and speak the truth. The Law will then come to him and he will act according to it, so he will become a servant of the Law. He will obey the Messenger (Allah’s blessings and peace be on him) with regard to his commandments and prohibitions because he has heard the True One (mighty and glorified is He) say: “And what the Messenger gives you, take; and what he forbids you, abstain from” (from 59.7). He has come to know that this verse applies to all the commandments and prohibitions brought by the Messenger (Allah’s blessings and peace be on him). He will, thus, perform the works of obedience that he commanded and refrain from committing the sins he (Allah’s blessings and peace be on him) prohibited. At this stage, he will become a pious Muslim. If he continues like this, he will become a knower of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and knowledgeable of Him. He will have tranquility, silence, and ability to listen to what is spoken to him in his heart. He will be continuously spoken to and he will be in permanent happiness. O Allah, grant us the pleasure of Your nearness, the delight of Your private conversation, and feeling happy with You, and “give us good in this world and good in the hereafter and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”
* Be sensible and do not talk about things that do not concern you. Occupy yourselves with what you have been commanded to do and do not waste your time on irrelevant things. Be pious to your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and repent to Him. When someone shows piety to Him, He protects him; and when He protects someone, He elevates him to the door of His nearness. He elevates him to everlasting life. He elevates from the stars to the Seventh Heaven. You will soon see the Resurrection. You will see how Allah (mighty and glorified is He) will gather those who are pious to Him in the shade of His Throne and seat them at tables on which there is white honey, whereas the other people are immersed in heat and sweat. While sitting at those tables, they will see the creatures and their states; some people will be taken to the gardens of Paradise and others will be carried away to the Fire. They will be sitting there and their houses in Paradise are in front of them. Their wives and their youths of Paradise will be visible to them. They will see the things that have been assigned to them before they reach them.
* O you who are forgetful! Take little from what leaves you and take in abundance from what stays with you and does not leave you. Do many righteous works. Fast and be sincere in fasting. Perform prayer and be sincere in your prayer. Make the pilgrimage and be sincere in that. Pay the obligatory alms and be sincere in it. Remember your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) and be sincere in remembering Him. Serve the righteous, draw near to them, and be sincere in your service to them. Occupy yourself with your own faults and do not pay attention to the faults of others. Command the practice of what is right and prohibit what is wrong. Do not expose the private affairs of people and keep them secret. Disapprove any wrongdoing that is apparent but do not concern yourselves with what may be hidden. Focus on yourselves and do not pay attention to others. Do not speak a lot about things that are of no concern to you, for the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be on him) has said: “One result of the excellence of the person’s practice of Islam is neglecting what does not concern him.” Your faults are your business but the faults of others are of no concern to you.
* O young man, talk about things that concern you and give up discussing matters that are irrelevant to you. When you know Allah (mighty and glorified is He), your fear of Him will increase and your speech in His presence will decrease. This is why the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be on him) has said: “When someone comes to know Allah, his tongue becomes exhausted,” meaning that he becomes mute. The tongue of His lower self, passion, natural inclination, habit, telling of lies, slander, and falsehood will become dumb, whereas the tongue of his inward will speak, and the tongue of his heart, innermost being, essences, truthfulness and his purity will speak. The tongue of his falsehood will become dumb, but the tongue of his truth will speak. The tongue of his talking about things that are of no concern to him will become incapable of speech, whereas the tongue of his heart will speak about things that concern him. The tongue of his quest for his lower self will become dumb, whereas the tongue of his quest for the True One will speak. In the early stage of acquiring knowingness, speech will stop and the person’s whole existence will melt away. He will become extinct to himself and to everyone else. Then, if the True One (mighty and glorified is He) wills, He will resurrect him. If He wants him to speak, He will create for him a tongue with which He enables him to speak. He will cause him to speak what He wants of words of wisdom and secrets. His speech will be a remedy within a remedy, a light within a light, a truth within a truth, a rightness within a rightness, and a purity within purity, for he will speak only at the command of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), by means of his heart. If he speaks without being commanded to do so, he will perish. He will not speak unless he is given a command, or as a result of an irresistible thing that overcomes him. If this was the case, the True One (mighty and glorified is He) is far too generous to call someone to task because of an irresistible motive that has no lower self, passion, natural inclination, devil, and willfulness, as He does not call the dead to task for making some utterance, or a dreamer for his wet dreams and for what he sees and does in his sleep. The words of those whose lower selves have died were heard only after the death of their lower selves. As for someone who speaks before reaching this stage, his silence is better than his speech. No one should advance to the first row save the brave. The person who advances to the first row without having bravery and expertise will perish.
The full book is available on quranicstudies.com site.