Know that all the facets of mankind's
disposition are for their benefit - either directly such as the desire
for food, or indirectly by preventing harm, such as the capacity for
anger. However, when these natural impulses are not moderated it
culminates in harm. If the desire for food is excessive it leads to
gluttony. Similarly when anger is uncontrolled it leads to transgression.
The aim should be to achieve
equilibrium of the soul, to allow the
faithful to approach God without distraction.
The author addresses many spiritual diseases
- such as envy, greed, uncontrolled lust, sexual desire, arrogance,
gluttony, anger, stinginess, extravagance, vanity and attachment to this
world. He also discusses the qualities that the seeker of God must
acquire - such as love, self discipline, humility, self-criticism,
improvement of character, patience and truthfulness. In a simple yet
effective way he shows the wayfarers how to cure their spiritual
diseases and acquire the necessary qualities for their journey to Allah.
This masterpiece has been divided into
thirty chapters to facilitate the reader's comprehension. Important
points are highlighted using anecdotes from the early righteous
The author, Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597
AH) was an erudiate scholar of the Hanbali madhab.