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Effects of Evil

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim

A short series on the evil effects of sins that prevent the servant from acts of obedience, darken the heart and weaken the heart and body.
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      1. Effects of Evil: Prevention from Acts of Obedience
      2. Effects of Evil: Darkness of the Heart
      3. Effects of Evil: Weakness of the Heart and Body
      4. Effects of Evil: Shortening of One’s Lifespan
      5. Effects of Evil: Sinning Begets More Sinning
      6. Effects of Evil: Weakening the Heart’s Desire for Goodness
      7. Effects of Evil: Sinfulness and Shamelessness
      8. Effects of Evil: Dulling the Mind
      9. Effects of Evil: Trivialisation of Sin
      10. Effects of Evil: The Despicable Nature of the Sinner
      11. Effects of Evil: Removal of Blessings and the Spread of Corruption
      12. Effects of Evil: The Loss of Protective Jealousy

Acts of disobedience have ugly, blameworthy, and harmful side effects that extend to one’s heart, body, the worldly life and the hereafter; [the details] of which no one is fully aware of except for Allāh

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah [d. 751 AH]

Effects of Evil: Prevention from Acts of Obedience

From them is disengaging with acts of obedience. For the perpetration of a sin deters one from an act of obedience that could have been carried out in its stead, which consequently further repels one from the path of a consecutive act of obedience, staving off the path to a third, then a fourth [sin] and so on. Thus does the perpetuation of sin repel one from many obedient acts, every single one of those acts are greater than this worldly life and everything that it contains. Its parable is like that of a man who nourishes himself with a meal that [he knows] will lead to a prolonged sickness, thereby preventing him from partaking in a great number of meals that are far more nourishing than his first. And Allāh alone is the One sought for help.

The Effects of Evil: Darkness of the Heart

From them is a palpable darkness the sinner will find in his heart. He feels it like he perceives the gloomy darkness of a jet-black night. The darkness of disobedience that has encompassed his heart becomes like a physical darkness that impedes his vision. Indeed, acts of obedience are a light, and acts of disobedience are darkness. As darkness is strengthened, so is the confusion the disobedient one finds himself in. Until he falls into acts of innovation, misguidance, and destructive matters without him even perceiving it. He is like a blind man that has taken an excursion into the blackness of night walking by himself. The darkness becomes so tangible that it appears in the eyes of this individual, then it again strengthens to where it overcomes his countenance. The blackness [of his sin] becomes displayed as part of him, seen by every on-looker. ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAbbās [رضي الله عنه] said: ‘Truly, goodness produces a brightness of countenance, a light in the heart, an expansion in sustenance, a strength in the body, and imparts love [for that person] in the hearts of the creation. Verily, evil causes blackness of the face, darkness of the heart, weakness of the body, deficiency in provision, and hatred in the hearts of the creation.’

Effects of Evil: Weakness of the Heart and Body

From them is that acts of disobedience weaken the heart and the body. As for its weakening of the heart, it is an apparent matter. For it continues to weaken it until its very life ceases. As for its weakening of the body, a believer’s true strength comes from his heart. If his heart increases in strength, so does his body. As for the continuous sinner, even if his body is strong he will find it most unreliable, weak in times of need. His strength will betray him when he finds himself in the most dire of circumstances. Contemplate the strength of the Persians and Romans, how did [their power] ultimately betray them when they required it the most? [Contemplate] how they were subjugated by the people of true īmān by means of the strength of their bodies and minds.

Effects of Evil: Shortening of One’s Lifespan

From them is that acts of disobedience shorten one’s lifespan, voiding it of its barakah [goodness]. There can be no doubt that, just as acts of piety increase one’s lifespan, acts of disobedience shortens it.

People have differed in this matter. Among them are those who say that the shortening of the lifespan of a sinner is directly related to the removal and absence of barakah [goodness] from one’s life. This is true, but it is only some of the effects of disobedient acts.

Another group claims that one’s lifespan actually depreciates just as one’s provision lessens. As Allāh has made the placing of barakah [goodness] in a person’s provision through various means that cause it to be plentiful and abundant. Similarly, there are means by which the barakah that is placed within one’s life is increased, and made to be abundant.

They say: There is nothing to prevent the increasing of one’s lifespan through various means, just as it is amenable to decreasing by various means. For provision, lifespan, happiness, sadness, health, sickness, richness, and poverty, only occur by the decree of the true Lord, the Exalted in Majesty. However, He decrees whatever He wills and attaches it to reasons and means that stipulate the occurrence of that decree, such that its existence becomes incumbent.

While another party believe that the true effect of disobedient acts insofar as its decreasing lifespan is actualised in the fact that true life is the life of one’s heart. Thus does Allāh, the Exalted, refer to the disbeliever as being deceased, void of life.

As the Most High says:

أَمْوَاتٌ غَيْرُ أَحْيَاءٍ ۖ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَ ‎﴿٢١﴾

‘They are, [in fact], dead, not alive’
[Al-Naḥl, 16:21]

True life, therefore, only occurs if one’s heart is alive. The true lifespan of man is only the length of time [his heart] lives. The true breadth of life is only the moments of time he spends with Allāh [i.e. engaging in acts of obedience]. Those are the true moments of life. Thus, piety, righteousness, and acts of obedience increase the frequency of those moments which are representative of true life. He possesses no actual life otherwise.

In general, any slave [of Allāh] that chooses to obstinately turn away from Allāh, engaging in acts of disobedience has wasted the days of his true life. The true consequence of this waste will only be apparent to him on the day:

يَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي قَدَّمْتُ لِحَيَاتِي ‎﴿٢٤﴾‏

‘He will say: “Alas! I wish I had sent forth (good deeds) for (this never-ending) life of mine (in the hereafter)”.
[Al-Fajr, 89:24]

There is no alternative for him [on that day], either he is acquainted with the goodness he set forth from this worldly life and the hereafter or he will see nothing. If he sees nothing [before him], then he has indeed wasted his entire life, spent it as a complete farce. If he sees [goodness] before him, then his path [in life] will have been elongated by means of the impediments [he faces], and the difficulty he finds in engaging in acts of obedience. These difficulties correlate directly with his engagement in disobedient acts. [These impediments and difficulties] are the true deficiency of [that] life. For the true secret of this issue is that the age of a man is measured only by the years of true life [in servitude to Allāh]. He possesses no such life except through turning towards his true Lord, to seek nourishment through loving and remembering Him, and prioritising that which is pleasing to Him above all else.

Effects of Evil: Sinning Begets More Sinning

From them is that disobedient acts seed more [disobedient acts], such that consecutive acts of disobedience beget one another. Up until it deeply pains the slave [of Allāh] to be apart from his sin, or to completely abandon it. As some of the pious predecessors used to say:

‘Indeed, from the punishment of a misdeed is a successive misdeed, just as the reward of righteous acts is another act of righteousness. Thus, the slave [of Allāh] engages in an act of goodness, and another [act of goodness] beside [his first] saying: ‘Enact this as well.’

If he carries it out, another one is expressed in a similar sentiment, and so on. So, his winnings are multiplied, his rewards increased many-fold. Similarly is the side of evil, such that his acts of obedience and disobedience become firmly established attitudes, consistent attributes, and an unwavering disposition. Such that if a good-doer was to cease his acts of righteousness it would feel to him as if his very soul is constricting within him, to the point that the earth closes in on him in spite of its vastness, and he feels within himself like a whale that has abandoned the water until he is able to return to [his rightful abode]. He then feels contentment, comfort and clarity in his eyes.

Similarly, if a criminal was to completely leave his acts of malfeasance, turning instead towards acts of piety, he would find his soul constricting within him, his very heart inhospitable and cramped [in relation to it], powerless in its execution, until he finally returns [to his previous sins].

For it has gotten to the point where many continuous sinners engage in disobedient acts while deriving no enjoyment from it, neither do they possess that which encourages them towards it, save only for the pain they feel through simply abandoning it. As explicitly stated by the shaykh of his people al-Ḥasan ibn Hāniʾ who said:

‘And a cup I drank from in [supposed] enjoyment, and another [I drink from] seeking only a cure from the first.’

Another [poet] said:

‘So it [sin] is my cure and also my sickness, as a drinker of intoxicants seeks to cure himself by drinking intoxicants.’

In so long as the slave [of Allāh] submits himself towards acts of goodness, making them habitual, feeling love for them, and holding them in esteem, [he will find] that Allāh by His Mercy will send angels that drive him towards [acts of righteousness], encouraging him, disturbing his rest and sitting until he engages in it. Just as if he was to continue habitual disobedience to where he loves it, and holds it above all else such that Allāh sends shayāṭīn [devils] in his wake that drive him further in its pursuit. The first [situation] is that the army of goodness is strengthened with support such that they become from among [Allāh’s] greatest allies. While the other lends support to the army of evil-doers and thus their allyship is in direct opposition [to Allāh].

Effects of Evil: Weakening the Heart’s Desire for Goodness

Acts of disobedience have ugly, blameworthy, and harmful side effects that extend to one’s heart, body, worldly life, and the hereafter; [the details] of which no one is fully aware of except for Allāh. From among the most frightening of them for the servant [of Allāh] is that [acts of disobedience] weaken the heart’s desire [for goodness]. Instead, the [heart’s] desire for disobedience is strengthened.

Furthermore, the desire for repentance is weakened, little by little, until it has completely abandoned the heart. Thus, half of the [heart] has died but one still does not turn to Allāh in repentance. Rather, he perpetually seeks forgiveness and repentance with the tongue of a liar; all the while his heart remains closely intertwined with disobedience. He continues his engagement in it, determined in its execution whenever the opportunity should present itself. This is from the greatest of all sicknesses and the closest of them to true destruction.

Effects of Evil: Sinfulness and Shamelessness

Acts of disobedience have ugly, blameworthy, and harmful side effects that extend to one’s heart, body, worldly life, and the hereafter; [the details] of which no one is fully aware of except for Allāh. From them is that the disgust [for acts of disobedience] are completely removed from the heart to the extent that such acts become routine. To the point where one does not even feel shame that people should see him engaging in disobedience, or that they should discuss his involvement with such things.

This [sinfulness], among perpetual sinners, represents the very apex of shamelessness and the most complete form of enjoyment [for them]. Among them are even those who boast to others regarding their disobedient acts. They inform those who are ignorant of their engagement in it, saying:

“O so-and-so, I did such-and-such [disobedient act]!”

This category of mankind is unforgivable, their path towards repentance is blocked, its doors locked before them in the majority of cases. As the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“All of my ummah can be forgiven, except for the mujāhirīn [those who engage in public acts of immorality]. This publicising includes the slave [of Allāh] whose privacy is maintained by Him [while he engages in disobedience], until he awakes in the morning and chooses to shame himself, saying: ‘O so-and-so, today I did such-and-such and such-and-such [disobedient act].’ Thus, he destroys himself while he spent the night in a state of privacy granted to him by his Lord.”

Effects of Evil: Dulling the Mind

Some of the pious predecessors used to say: There is no one who disobeys Allāh except that his intellect has abandoned him.

This matter is obvious, for if his intellect was truly present it would prevent him from engagement in such disobedient acts. He exists within the confines of his Lord’s grasp, under his subjugation. For He is fully acquainted with him while he is in his dwelling or place of sleep. His angels act as witnesses and watch over him. The ones who exhort using the Qurʾān forbid him. The exhorters of īmān forbid him. The exhorters of his imminent death forbid him. The exhorters of the Fire forbid him. For the goodness in this life and the hereafter that he has chosen to pass over is far greater than the happiness and enjoyment derived from the acts of disobedience he has chosen to engage in. So how can one with an unadulterated intellect present himself to such despicableness and contempt.

Effects of Evil: Trivialisation of Sin

Al-Bukhārī narrates in his ‘Ṣaḥīḥ’ that Ibn Masʿūd (رضي الله عنه) said: Indeed, the believer views his sin before him like a mountain which he fears is about to collapse upon him. While the perpetual sinner views his sins like a fly that has landed on his nose which he shoos away with his hand. So it flies away.1

Effects of Evil: The Despicable Nature of the Sinner

Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī said: They viewed Him as despicable so they chose to disobey Him. For if they had truly recognised His greatness, He would have protected them from such acts.

If a servant of Allāh chooses to be in a despicable state before Him, none can honour him. As the Most High said:

وَمَن يُهِنِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِن مُّكْرِمٍ

“And whomsoever Allah disgraces, none can honour him.”
(Ḥajj, 22:18)

Even if mankind’s apparent treatment of him is with reverence and respect, it is only due to their need for him or out of fear of his evil. All the while they hate and despise him with all their hearts.

From among the effects of sins and disobedience is that it produces within the world corruption of varying kinds. This corruption spreads to the water, the air, crops, fruits, and even homes.

The Most High said:

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

“Evil (sins and disobedience of Allāh, etc.) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds, etc.), that Allāh may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allāh, and begging His Pardon).”
(Al-Rūm, 30:41)

Mujāhid commented: “If an oppressor is given command over the land, he spreads therein oppression and corruption. To the extent that Allāh withholds a fruitful downpour because of his acts, leading to the complete destruction of crops and livestock. For Allāh does not love mischief.” Then, he recited the aforementioned verse. Upon completing it, he said: “[The sea] here is not the sea you are accustomed to. Rather, it refers to every locale built upon a flowing river which may also be referred to as a sea.” Likewise, ʿIkrimah said: “Evil (sins and disobedience of Allāh, etc.) has appeared on land and sea”, “I do not refer to the sea you are well aware of, rather, it is every town built upon a body of water.” Qatādah said: “As for ‘land’, it refers to the locale of built-up cities. As for ‘sea’, it refers to smaller towns and rural countryside.”

I [Ibn al-Qayyim] said: Allāh has similarly used the word ‘sea’ to describe any body of freshwater. The Most High said:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ هَٰذَا عَذْبٌ فُرَاتٌ وَهَٰذَا مِلْحٌ أُجَاجٌ

“And it is He Who has let free the two seas (kinds of water), one palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter.”
(Furqān, 25:53)

There are no bodies of sweet, freshwater in the world that are completely stagnant. Rather, it only refers to flowing rivers. Seas that are salty are composed of still water. Thus, the towns that are built upon flowing water are named after the water that surrounds them [as in the verse].

Ibn Zayd also commented: “Evil has appeared on land and sea..”, that is: [evil here] refers to sins.” I [Ibn al-Qayyim] said: He intends by this statement that the sins are the reason for the appearance of corruption [that is, sins and corruption are two separate entities]. If, instead, he means that the evil that has appeared has taken the form of sins themselves [that is, evil and sin here are the same entity], then His saying: “that Allāh may make them taste” is meant to denote a resulting punishment or recompense for those sins. So, according to the first interpretation [of corruption being the result of sin], corruption refers to deficiencies, evil, and ailments all of which Allāh allows to occur on earth as a result of the disobedient acts of His slaves. Such that every time they engage in sin, they are subjected to another punishment. As some of the pious predecessors used to say: “Everytime you engage in a new sin, Allāh creates from his dominion a new punishment to which you are subjected to.”

The most apparent interpretation of the verse—and Allāh knows best—is that ‘corruption’ here refers to both the sins themselves and that which those misdeeds stipulate. This is evidenced by His saying: “that Allāh may make them taste a part of that which they have done”. For such is our state, while He has only allowed us to taste but a small proportion of the actions we have chosen to engage in. If He was to allow us to taste the punishment of all our evil actions, it would not leave a moving, living creature on the surface of the earth.

Effects of Evil: Removal of Blessings and the Spread of Corruption

From among the effects of sins and disobedience is that it produces within the world corruption of varying kinds. This corruption spreads to the water, the air, crops, fruits, and even homes.

The Most High said:

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

“Evil (sins and disobedience of Allāh, etc.) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds, etc.), that Allāh may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allāh, and begging His Pardon).”
(Al-Rūm, 30:41)

Mujāhid commented: “If an oppressor is given command over the land, he spreads therein oppression and corruption. To the extent that Allāh withholds a fruitful downpour because of his acts, leading to the complete destruction of crops and livestock. For Allāh does not love mischief.” Then, he recited the aforementioned verse. Upon completing it, he said: “[The sea] here is not the sea you are accustomed to. Rather, it refers to every locale built upon a flowing river which may also be referred to as a sea.” Likewise, ʿIkrimah said: “Evil (sins and disobedience of Allāh, etc.) has appeared on land and sea”, “I do not refer to the sea you are well aware of, rather, it is every town built upon a body of water.” Qatādah said: “As for ‘land’, it refers to the locale of built-up cities. As for ‘sea’, it refers to smaller towns and rural countryside.”

I [Ibn al-Qayyim] said: Allāh has similarly used the word ‘sea’ to describe any body of freshwater. The Most High said:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي مَرَجَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ هَٰذَا عَذْبٌ فُرَاتٌ وَهَٰذَا مِلْحٌ أُجَاجٌ

“And it is He Who has let free the two seas (kinds of water), one palatable and sweet, and the other salt and bitter.”
(Furqān, 25:53)

There are no bodies of sweet, freshwater in the world that are completely stagnant. Rather, it only refers to flowing rivers. Seas that are salty are composed of still water. Thus, the towns that are built upon flowing water are named after the water that surrounds them [as in the verse].

Ibn Zayd also commented: “Evil has appeared on land and sea..”, that is: [evil here] refers to sins.” I [Ibn al-Qayyim] said: He intends by this statement that the sins are the reason for the appearance of corruption [that is, sins and corruption are two separate entities]. If, instead, he means that the evil that has appeared has taken the form of sins themselves [that is, evil and sin here are the same entity], then His saying: “that Allāh may make them taste” is meant to denote a resulting punishment or recompense for those sins. So, according to the first interpretation [of corruption being the result of sin], corruption refers to deficiencies, evil, and ailments all of which Allāh allows to occur on earth as a result of the disobedient acts of His slaves. Such that every time they engage in sin, they are subjected to another punishment. As some of the pious predecessors used to say: “Everytime you engage in a new sin, Allāh creates from his dominion a new punishment to which you are subjected to.”

The most apparent interpretation of the verse—and Allāh knows best—is that ‘corruption’ here refers to both the sins themselves and that which those misdeeds stipulate. This is evidenced by His saying: “that Allāh may make them taste a part of that which they have done”. For such is our state, while He has only allowed us to taste but a small proportion of the actions we have chosen to engage in. If He was to allow us to taste the punishment of all our evil actions, it would not leave a moving, living creature on the surface of the earth.2

From among the effects of disobedient acts on the earth as well are the occurrences of eclipses, earthquakes, and the removal of blessings. When the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) passed by the hovels of Thamūd, he prohibited his companions from entering therein, or from drinking their water, or taking from their wells. To the extent that he ordered that any dough that was made from their water be used as fodder for their camels. All due to the evil effects of their disobedience that affected that water.

The evil effects of disobedience also manifests itself in deficient crop yields, and the affliction of blight and disease. As narrated by Imām Aḥmad in his Musnad3 as part of a longer ḥadīth: “Wheat was found within the stockpiles of Banī Umayyah, a single grain of it equivalent to the size of a date pit.” This was found in a bag, upon which it was written: “This used to grow in a time of justice.”

Many of these afflictions were brought about by Allāh—the Glorified—as a result of the sins the servants of Allāh have engaged in. As a group among the elders of the desert related to me that they had grown accustomed to vegetation much bigger than that which currently grows, and that many of the current afflictions to their crop were completely unknown to them in the past. Rather, they only began recently.

As for the effects of sin on one’s appearance and physical form, al-Tirmidhī narrates in his ‘Jāmiʿ’ that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Allāh created Ādam with a height of sixty cubits while in the heavens. The creation continually decreases in size until now.”4

When Allāh finally purifies the earth from the oppressors, criminals, and the treacherous, and a servant among His servants from the family of His Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) comes out to fill this world with justice and equity, just as it was previously wrought with oppression, and when the Messiah wages war upon the Jews and the Christians, and the religion with which Allāh has sent his messengers shall finally be established wholly and completely—the earth shall release its blessings returning to its previous state [of abundance]. To the extent that an entire group of people shall feast upon a single pomegranate, taking shade in its husk. A cluster of grapes shall be equal to the amount carried by a camel. A single, recently matured camel shall suffice an entire crowd of people. All because the earth would have been finally purified from disobedience, allowing the effects of the blessings of Allāh—the Most High—to manifest which had previously been stifled by the presence of sin and disbelief.

There is no doubt that the punishments that Allāh has previously allowed to descend upon the earth continue to exert an effect on it, seeking that which mirrors and suits its ilk from sin. As these punishments represent the effects of the crimes committed for which the nations of the past were punished. These effects [of deficiency and removal of blessings] exerted upon the earth represent the residual effects of past punishment just as the current sins represent the effects of those past perpetrated crimes. Such that Allāh’s wisdom, and His universal pre-ordainment necessitates, at the beginning [of His creation] and at their end, that great punishment suits the perpetration of great crime. Just as smaller crime suits lighter punishment. Such does He—the Glorified—exercise judgement between His creation in the life of the grave and the subsequent land of reward and punishment.

Contemplate also the accompaniment of Shayṭān, his place and domicile. When he is closely associated with the servant of Allāh to where he occupies a commanding position over him, the blessings associated with that servant’s age, actions, statements, and provision are all removed. For whenever obedience to Shayṭān is given precedence in any place on earth, blessings will be removed from the place in which his obedience is favoured. Just as the domicile chosen by the servant in this instance is the raging fire, he cannot expect to experience any form of calm, tranquillity, compassion, or associated blessings.

Effects of Evil: The Loss of Protective Jealousy

Among the punishments for the perpetration of sins is extinguishing the fire of protective jealousy from the heart (soul), which represents its life, uprightness, and goodness. All of which are akin to the actual heat that gives life to the entire body. Protective jealousy is the heat and fire of the heart that act to purify it from its toxic and contemptible traits, just as the bellows purify the contaminants of gold, silver, and iron. For the most honourable of the people, and the greatest of them in aspirations are those whose protective jealousy is most severe. Whether this jealousy is directed within themselves, their inner circle, or the general populace.

Aḥādīth Regarding Protective Jealousy and Their Explanation

For this reason, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was the most severe of the people in his protective jealousy over his ummah, and Allāh is more severe in it than him. As authentically confirmed that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Are you surprised by the protective jealousy of Saʿd? My feelings of protective jealousy are greater than him, and Allāh’s protective jealousy is greater than mine”.5 Also, as authentically narrated in the khuṭbah he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) delivered during the eclipse: “O Ummah of Muḥammad! There are none who are greater in their protective jealousy than Allāh in relation to the fornication of one of His male servants, or the fornication of one of His servant-girls”.6 Also authentically confirmed is that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “There is none who possesses a greater amount of protective jealousy than Allāh. It is because of this that He has made all obscenities forbidden [great evil sins, every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.] whether committed openly or secretly.7 There are none to whom excuses are more beloved than Allāh. For this reason He has sent messengers as both bringers of glad tidings and as warners. There are none to whom praise and commemoration are more beloved than Allāh. For this reason He has praised Himself”.8

This ḥadīth combines protective jealousy—whose origin stems from contempt and hatred for obscene evil—and love for excuses which stipulate perfect justice, complete mercy, compassion, and goodness. It shows that Allāh—the Glorified—despite the severity of His protective jealousy, loves that His servants seek His forgiveness such that He may forgive those who seek it. That He does not immediately punish His servants for the perpetration of the acts that pertain to protective jealousy, such that He may forgive them. It is for this reason that He has sent His messengers, and revealed His books, seeking to grant them forgiveness and warn them.

This represents the very pinnacle of His gloriousness and goodness to His creation, the apex of His complete perfection. For the vast majority of those among the creation whose protective jealousy is severe are driven to seek expeditious retribution, punishing violators without seeking forgiveness or accepting it from those who seek it from him. It may even be that the violator has a valid excuse, but the protective jealousy of the wronged is so potent he refuses to accept it. Whereas most of those who accept excuses in such matters are sorely deficient in feelings of protective jealousy such that they widen the paths to the attainment of forgiveness. Perceiving that which is inexcusable as excusable, to the extent that he excuses many merely in relation to divine preordainment.9

Both types of people are not deserving of praise in any circumstance. For it has been authentically confirmed that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Indeed, among the feelings of protective jealousy is that which is beloved to Allāh, and among it is that which is hated by Him. As for that which is hated by Him, it is to have protective jealousy in the absence of doubts or suspicions10”.11 Rather, the praiseworthy form of protective jealousy occurs in an excusable circumstance, to where one feels protective jealousy at the appropriate time, and excuses another at the appropriate time. Whoever displays such conduct is truly deserving of praise.

Allāh’s Attributes of Perfection and Acting in Accordance with Them

Allāh is described by all attributes of perfection. He is, therefore, more deserving of being praised than anyone else. To the extent that none is able to praise Him as He deserves. Rather, He is as He has praised and commemorated Himself.12 Those who possess protective jealousy are in agreement with one of Allāh’s attributes. Whosoever is in agreement with Allāh in an attribute from among His attributes, will be driven towards Him holding the reins of that attribute, allowing him to enter before his Lord, gain closeness to Him and His mercy, making him among Allāh’s beloved. For, indeed Allāh—the Glorified—is Merciful and loves those who show mercy, Generous and loves those who show generosity, All-Knowing and loves the scholars, All-Strong and loves the strong believer more so than the weak believer13, Shy and loves those who show shyness14, Beautiful and loves beauty15, Odd [i.e., He is incomparable: One in His essence, actions, names, attributes and right to be worshipped] and loves that which is odd [i.e., to be worshipped with tawḥīd or with odd numbered acts16].17

If it was not for the fact that the perpetration of sins and acts of disobedience stipulates for the perpetrator the opposite of these attributes, it would be sufficient as a punishment for him. For indeed notions turn into whisperings. Whisperings turn to desires. Desires are strengthened and bolstered to the extent that they take the form of firm determination. Then, these manifest as actions which become one’s inextricable, unmovable, stagnant attributes and descriptors. To the extent that one is as unable to abandon them as he is unable to abandon his own innate characteristics.

The State of One Completely Devoid of Protective Jealousy

The point being made here is that as his perpetration of sin becomes increasingly severe, protective jealousy in relation to himself, his family, and the general populace is removed from his heart. To the extent that it becomes so weak that he is unable to perceive obscenities as obscene, regardless of whether he himself is the perpetrator of said actions or those around him. The one who arrives before this boundary would have entered upon the door of destruction.

The majority of such people are unable to confine themselves to merely lacking perception of the obscene. Rather, they attach goodness to it and oppression of others. It is beautified to them, calling and encouraging them towards it, causing them to aspire for its attainment. For this reason the cuckold is among the most contemptible of Allāh’s creation, forbidden from Paradise.18 Likewise, the one who permits oppression of others, or beautifies it. So behold the effects of possessing weak feelings of protective jealousy!

This proves that the foundation of this religion is based upon possessing feelings of protective jealousy. For the one who does not feel protective jealousy has no religion. Protective jealousy protects one’s heart, one’s limbs, and allows one to defend himself from engaging in evil obscenities. Negation of protective jealousy deadens the heart and the limbs by extension, to the extent that such a person is completely unable to defend himself from evil.

The Parable of Protective Jealousy

Protective jealousy in the heart may be likened to the strength one possesses that opposes and defends his body from sickness. If his strength abandons him, sickness shall take hold, finding a most accepting, undefended, unfortified place of residence. It is able to take firm hold of him, leading to his ultimate destruction and demise. It may also be likened to the horns of a water buffalo which he uses to defend himself and his offspring. Should his horns break, his predator becomes ever hopeful.

Endnotes:
[1] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 6308.
[2] Referencing the verse in Fāṭir 35:45.
[3] Musnad Imām Aḥmad: 7949.
[4] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 3326 and Muslim: 2841 as Ibn al-Qayyim himself says in Zād al-Masīr 2:422 and Manār al-Munīf: 66, not in Jāmiʿ al-Tirmidhī. And Allāh knows best.

[5] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 6846 and Muslim: 1499.
[6] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 1044 and Muslim: 901.
[7] See al-Aʿrāf, 7:33.
[8] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 4634 and Muslim: 2760.
[9] See article: “Is it Permissible to Use Divine Decree as Justification for One’s Misdeeds?” by Imām Ibn al-Qayyim
[10] Translator note: Regarding his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: “in the absence of suspicions” ʿAbd al-Raʾūf al-Manāwī said: “That is, jealousy accompanied simply by negative thoughts and assuming the worst. This is jealousy that is hated by Allāh because it corrupts a loving relationship, causing enmity and hatred to occur between a person and his beloved.” See Fayḍ al-Qadīr 4:407.
[11] Ḥasan by corroboration: narrated by Aḥmad:17398, al-Ṭabarānī:939-940 and Ibn Khuzaymah:2478. Its chain of narrators is weak but was graded Ḥasan by corroboration with another narration with a similar wording by Shaykh al-Albānī in al-Irwāʾ:1999.
[12] Referencing the authentic ḥadīth narrated by Muslim: 486 with this wording. Al-Ṣanʿānī said: There is admittance in it of one’s inability to to praise Him as He deserves. For this praise is above enumeration, nor is one able to truly encompass it. Just as one is unable to encompass His essence, His attributes may not be fully encompassed. And they shall never encompass anything of His knowledge.” See al-Taḥbīr: 5:844.
[13] Referencing the authentic ḥadīth with this wording as narrated by Muslim: 2664
[14] Referencing the authentic ḥadīth narrated by Abū Dāwūd: 4012 and al-Nasāʾī: 404. Graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmiʿ:1756
[15] Referencing the authentic ḥadīth with this wording as narrated by Muslim: 91. Graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in al-Sirāj al-Munīr: 5322.
[16] Translator note: Ibn Ḥajar said: “As He has ordered that many acts of worship be performed with odd numbers. For example, five daily prayers, the Witr prayer at night, the number of times one cleans himself when performing wuḍūʾ, the number of wrappings around the dead, and in many of His creations like the numbers of the heavens and the earth [i.e., seven; see al-Ṭalāq, 65:12]”. See Fatḥ al-Bārī 11:227.
[17] Referencing the authentic ḥadīth with this wording as narrated by al-Bukhārī: 6410 and Muslim: 2677.
[18] Referencing the authentic ḥadīth narrated by Imām Aḥmad: 6180. Graded authentic by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmiʿ: 3062.

Source: Al-Dā wa-al-Dawāʾ: 134-141, 147-148, 158-167
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: September 24, 2022
Edited: February 17, 2024

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