The one who committed the sin, constantly thinks about it, which causes him to fear it, regret it, weep over it and feel ashamed in front of his Lord – the Most High – due to it.
Ibn al-Qayyim – raḥimahullāh – said, “There are six stages to knowledge:-
Firstly: Asking questions with good manners.
Secondly: Remaining quiet and listening attentively.
Thirdly: Understanding well.
Sixthly: and it is its fruit: Acting upon the knowledge and keeping to its limits.” 3
Ibn al-Qayyim – raḥimahullāh – said, “One of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) said: “Indeed a servant commits a sin by which he enters Paradise, and another does a good deed by which he enters the Fire.” It was asked: How is that? So he replied: The one who committed the sin, constantly thinks about it, which causes him to fear it, regret it, weep over it and feel ashamed in front of his Lord – the Most High – due to it. He stands before Allāh, broken-hearted and with his head lowered in humility. So this sin is more beneficial to him than doing many acts of obedience since it caused him to have humility and humbleness – which leads to the servant’s happiness and success – to the extent that this sin becomes the cause for him entering Paradise. As for the doer of good, then he does not consider this good a favour from his Lord upon him. Rather, he becomes arrogant and amazed with himself, saying: I have achieved such and such, and such and such. So this further increases him in self-adulation, pride and arrogance – such that this becomes the cause for his destruction.” 4
Ibn al-Qayyim – raḥimahullāh – said, “There is no doubt that the heart becomes covered with rust, just as metal dishes – silver, and their like – become rusty. So the rust of the heart is polished with dhikr (remembrance of Allāh), for dhikr polishes the heart until it becomes like a shiny mirror. However, when dhikr is abandoned, the rust returns; and when it commences then the heart again begins to be cleansed. Thus, the heart becoming rusty is due to two matters: sins and ghaflah (neglecting remembrance of Allāh). Likewise, it is cleansed and polished by two things: istighfār (seeking Allāh’s forgiveness) and dhikr.” 5
“Jihād (striving) against the soul has four stages:
Firstly: To strive in learning guidance and the religion of truth, without which there will be no success. Indeed, there can be no true happiness, nor any delight in this world and in the Hereafter, except through it.
Secondly: Striving to act upon what has been learnt, since knowledge without action will not benefit, rather it will cause harm.
Thirdly: Striving to invite others towards it and to teach those who do not know, otherwise he may be considered from those who hide what Allāh has revealed of guidance and clear explanation. Such knowledge will neither benefit nor save a person from the punishment of Allāh.
Fourthly: Striving to be patient and persevering against those who oppose this daʿwah (call) to Allāh and those who seek to cause harm – patiently bearing all these hardships for the sake of Allāh.
When these four stages are completed then such a person is considered to be amongst the Rabbāniyyīn. The Salaf were agreed that a Scholar does not deserve the title of Rabbaanee until he recognises and knows the truth, acts upon it, and teaches it to others. So whosoever has knowledge, acts upon it, and teaches this knowledge to others, is considered from the Rabbāniyyīn.” 6
Ibn al-Qayyim said, whilst commenting upon the following ḥadīth, “Trials and tribulations will be presented to hearts, as a reed mat is interwoven stick by stick. Any heart which absorbs these trials will have a black mark put in it. However, any heart that rejects them will have a white mark put in it. The result is that hearts will be of two kinds: one white like a white stone, which will not be harmed by trials as long as the heavens and earth endure; and the other dark and rusty, like an over-turned vessel; not able to recognise the good, nor reject evil, but rather being absorbed with its desires.” 7
“The fitan (trials) which are presented to the hearts – and which are the cause of its weakness – are: [i] the trials relating to shahwah (false desire) and [ii] the trials relating to Subḥah (doubt)…So the first causes intentions and desires to be corrupted, whilst the second causes knowledge and beliefs to be corrupted.” 8 Speaking about such trials, he – raḥimahullāh – said, “Hearts – when exposed to such fitan (trials) – are of two types: [The first type]: a heart, which, when exposed to such trials, absorbs it like a sponge that soaks up water, leaving in it a black stain. Such a heart continues to soak-up the various trials that are presented to it, until it becomes dark and corrupted – which is what is meant by “an over turned vessel,” so when this occurs, two dangerous and deadly diseases take hold of it and plunge it into destruction:
Firstly: confusing good with evil, so it neither recognises the good, nor rejects the evil. This disease may take hold of it to such an extent that it believes good to be evil; and evil to be good, Sunnah to be bidʿah (innovation); and innovations to be the Sunnah, and the truth to be falsehood; and falsehood the truth.
Secondly: judging by its whims and desires, over and against what Allāh’s Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) came with – being enslaved by its whims and desires and being led by them also.
[The second type]: a white heart in which the light of īmān is bright and its raḍīance is illuminating. So when trials are presented to such a heart, it rejects and turns away from them. This further increases its light and illumination and its strength.” 9
إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ ﴿٥﴾
“You alone do we worship.”
is built upon four principles:- Ascertaining what Allāh and His Messenger love and are pleased with, from [i] the sayings of the heart and [ii] of the tongue; and [iii] the actions of the heart and [iv] of the limbs.
So al-ʿubūdiyyah (servitude and slavery to Allāh) is a comprehensive term for all these for stages. The one who actualises them has indeed actualised, “You alone do we worship.”
The saying of the heart: It is iʿtiqād (belief) in what Allāh – the Most Perfect – informed about His Self; concerning His Names, His Attributes, His Actions, His Angels, and all that He sent upon the tongue of His Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam).
The saying of the tongue: It is to inform and convey (what Allāh has revealed), to call to it, defend it, to explain the false innovations which oppose it, to establish its remembrance and to convey what it orders.
The action of the heart: Such as love for Him, reliance upon Him, repenting to Him, having fear and hope in Him, making the Religion purely and sincerely for Him, having patience in what He orders and prohibits, having patience with what He decrees and being pleased with it, having allegiance and enmity for His sake, humbling oneself in front of Him and having humility in front of Him, becoming tranquil with Him and other than this from the actions of the heart which are actually connected to the action of the limbs … and actions of the limbs without the action of the heart is of little benefit, if any benefit at all.
The action of the limbs: Such as Prayer and Jihād, attending the Jumuʿah and being with the Jamāʿah, aiding those who are unable and displaying goodness and kindness to the creation, and other than this.” 10