The Heaven of this
From al-Wâbil as-Sayyib min al-Kalim at-Tayyib
by Micheal Abdur-Rahmân Fitzgerald and Moulay Youssef Slitine
I heard the Shaykh of Islâm, Ibn Taymiyyah - may Allâh
sanctify his soul - say, 'Truly, there is a Heaven in this world, [and] whoever does not enter it, will not enter the Heaven
of the next world.' And once he said to me, 'What can my enemies do to me? I have in my breast both my Heaven and my garden.
If I travel they are with me, and they never leave me. Imprisonment for me is a religious retreat [khalwa]. To be slain
for me is martyrdom [shahâda] and to be exiled from my land is a spiritual journey [siyaha].'
imprisonment in the fortress, he would say, 'I could not be more grateful for this blessing were I to have this entire fortress
in gold'; or, 'I could never repay them for the good that has come to me in [this prison].' [Ibn al-Qayyim accompanied Ibn
Taymiyyah to prison (cf. Introduction).] And in prostration he would say, whilst in a state of imprisonment 'O Allâh, help
me in my gratitude to You, remembrance of You and the most comely worship of You' as much as Allâh willed. [A prayer recommended
by the Prophet to Mu'adh. Nasâ'î, Sahw, 1286; Abû Dâwûd, Salât, 1301]
Once he said to me, 'The real prisoner is someone whose
heart is imprisoned from his Lord; the true captive is someone captured by his passions.' And when he entered the fortress
and was inside its walls, he gazed upon them and recited the verse, 'And a wall between them is struck which has a gate. On
the inside there is a mercy, on the outside punishment.' [Qur'ân LVII:13]
Allâh knows, I have never seen anyone who had a better
life than his. Despite the difficulties and all that expunges comfort and luxury, nay, things completely opposite to them;
despite intimidation and oppression, Ibn Taymiyyah had a purer life than anyone could. He was the most generous, the strongest
of heart and the most joyful of soul, with 'the radiance of bliss' on his face. ['Nadratun al-na'im'. Qur'ân LXXXIII:24]
When we were seized with fear and our thoughts [about
Allâh's decree] turned negative, and the earth grew narrow for us, we would go to him. No sooner did we look at him and hear
his words than all these [feelings] would leave us, to be replaced by relief, strength, certainty and tranquillity. So glory
be to the One who lets His servants witness His Heaven well before they meet Him, who opens its doors to them in this world
of deeds and who gives them something of its refreshment, its breeze and its perfume - that they might seek it and hasten
towards it with all their strength.
A gnostic once said, 'If kings and the sons of kings
knew what we had , they would try to take it from us by the sword!' Another said: 'How pitiful, the worldly people! They leave
this life without ever having tasted the sweetest thing in it.' When asked what that was, he replied, 'The love of Allâh,
the knowledge of Allâh and the remembrance of Allâh,' or words to that effect. [Possibly referring to the saying by 'Abdullâh
ibn al-Mubârak: 'Worldly people leave the world before having feasted on the sweetest thing in it.' They asked him what that
was and he answered, 'The knowledge of Almighty Alâh.' Isfahânî, Hilyâ, VIII:167] Another said: 'There are times when
the heart dances in joy.' And another said, 'There are times when I say, If the people of Heaven have anything like this,
how truly sweet their lives!'
To love Allâh, to know Him intimately, to remember
Him constantly, to find peace and rest in Him, to make Him alone the [ultimate] object of love, fear, hope and trust; to base
one's act on His control of His servant's cares, aspirations and will - such is the world's Heaven, and such is a blessing
with which no other blessing can compare. It is by this that the hearts of those who love Allâh are gladdened and that the
gnostics find life. As their hearts are gladdened by Allâh, so others are gladdened by them. For whoever finds his source
of gladness in Allâh, gladdens all hearts; whoever does not, finds nothing in this world but restlessness.
Anyone with life in his heart will confirm this. But
someone whose heart is dead will only estrange you from Allâh; and so seek intimacy [with Allâh] without him, when you can,
for his mere presence will estrange you. If you are tested by him, show him only your outer aspect, but leave him behind in
your heart. Depart from him with your soul and do not let him distract you from the one who is most important to you. Know
that the greatest of all losses is the involvement with someone who weakens your relationship and standing with Allâh, cutting
you off from Him, wasting your time, dispersing your heart, weakening your resolve and dividing your aspirations. Therefore,
if you are tested with this [kind of situation] - and it is inevitable that you will be - then bear up for the sake of Allâh,
and acknowledge Him as much as you are able.
Draw near to Allâh by whatever of it pleases Him. Make
your association [with worldly people] a profit not a loss. Be like the man travelling along, whom another invites to stop:
seek to take him along with you. When he comes along, lead him but be not lead by him. And if he refuses, and you have no
hope that he will journey, then [at least] do not let him detain you. Rather, hasten on, pay him no heed. Do not [even] turn
in his direction, for he is a highway robber regardless.
Protect your heart and be careful of how you spend
your day and your night. Let not the sun set on you before you reach camp, 'lest you be carried off'. Nor let the dawn find
you abandoned in the camp after the caravan has moved on, and the time is nigh for you to reach them. [There are some omissions
in the arabic editions here. The sense of the last sentence is not at all together clear.]