Ten Useless Matters

Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah

There are ten useless matters:

1. Knowledge that is not acted on
2. The deed that has neither sincerity nor is based on following the righteous examples of others
3. Money that is hoarded, as the owner neither enjoys it during this life nor obtains any reward for it in the Hereafter
4. The heart that is empty of love and longing for Allah, and of seeking closeness to Him
5. A body that does not obey and serve Allah
6. Loving Allah without following His orders or seeking His pleasure
7. Time that is not spent in expiating sins or seizing opportunities to do good
8. A mind that thinks about useless matters
9. Serving those who do not bring you close to Allah, nor benefit you in your life
10. Hoping and fearing whoever is under the authority of Allah and in His hand; while he cannot bring any benefit or harm to himself, nor death, nor life; nor can he resurrect himself.

However the greater of these matters are wasting the heart and wasting time. Wasting the heart is done by preferring this worldly life over the Hereafter, and wasting time is done by having incessant hope. Destruction occurs by following one’s desires and having incessant hope, while all goodness is found in following the right path and preparing oneself to meet Allah.

How strange it is that when a servant of Allah has a [worldly] problem, he seeks help of Allah, but he never asks Allah to cure his heart before it dies of ignorance, neglect, fulfilling one’s desires and being involved in innovations. Indeed, when the heart dies, he will never feel the significance or impact of his sins.

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Perfecting One’s Character – Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah

The Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam used to make a number of supplications related to good character.

“O Allah, guide me to good character, none guides to good character but You…” [Muslim]

“O Allah, I seek refuge in you from bad character, deeds and desires.” [at-Tirmidhee]

“O Allah, You perfectly created me, so perfect my character.” [Ahmad]

“O Allah, I seek refuge in you from disability and laziness; from cowardice and avarice; from decrepitude and harshness; from negligence and impoverishment, from lowness and humiliation. And I seek refuge in You from poverty and disbelief; from sinfulness, disunity and hypocrisy; from notability and riyaa’ (show off)…” [Ahmad, Maalik, Bazaar, Haithami and ibn `Abd al-Barr authenticated it.

The following beneficial excerpt is from “The Magnificent Journey” by ibn ul Qayyim [published by QSS]. It explains three conditions needed to acquire good manners, meaning proper nature, controlling one’s nafs and sound knowledge.

Three Conditions to Acquire Excellent Manners

This is one example of the excellent manners with which Allah (ta`aala) has equipped his Messenger (sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam). He described him as,

“Verily, You [Muhammad] are on an exalted standard on character.” [68:4]

`Aa’ishah, radhiallaahu `anhu, described him as, “His character was just [a reflection of] the Qur’aan.” [Muslim, Aboo Daawood, Ahmad]

Such excellent character cannot be attained without three conditions:

1. The foundation must be good. Inf one has a rough and dry nature, it will be hard for him to submit to this [excellence of character] through knowledge, will, or practice. On the other hand, a mild and smooth nature will be ready and willing to receive the plowing and the seeds [to prepare it for character excellence].

2. The soul must be strong and capable of conquering calls of laziness, transgression, and desire. Those matters contradict perfection, and souls which cannot defeat them will always be defeated and conquered.

3. [One must possess] a discerning knowledge of the truth of matters, enabling one to put them in the rightful position, and to distinguish between flash and cancer – between glass and jewels.

If these three qualities are present in a man, and Allah’s facilitation helps him, then he will be among those whom the best (husnaa) has been decreed and for whom Allah’s care has been secured.

The Perfect Believer

Imam Ibn ul Jawzee

The believer is not one who performs the ordained religious duties superficially and avoids what is forbidden only, but he is one whose faith is absolute, with no objection whatsoever arising in his heart and no obsession dwelling in his soul. The more hardships he faces, the more his faith grows and the more his submission strengthens.

He could pray and not see a trace of an answer to his prayers, yet he does not change because he knows that he is owned by One who deals with him in whatever way He chooses. For if an objection was to arise in his heart, he then forsakes the role of the slave and takes on the role of a protester such as that of Iblees (the devil).

A strong faith unveils itself in strong hardships.

A believer sees in Yahya, son of Zakariyya, a fine example. He was killed by a tyrant who confronted him, yet He (subhanahu wa ta`ala), who made him a prophet, did not intervene nor defend him.

Similarly all the tyranny that befell the prophets and the believers was not held back from them. If one goes to think that Divinity cannot answer for them then one is an unbeliever. However if one believes that Divinity can answer for them but chooses not to, and that God (subhanahu wa ta`ala) can make the believers go hungry while infidels are full and inflict the believers with sickness and grant the infidels health, then one is only left with submission to the Owner even when tormented or scorched.

Jacob cried for eighty years when Joseph son of Jacob (peace be upon him) was gone, he never gave up; all he said when his other son was gone too is “May God bring all of them back to me”.

Moses (peace be upon him) prayed against Pharaoh, who killed children and crucified magicians and cut their hands, for 40 years before he was answered.

In such submission the intense of one’s strong faith is manifested not in mere rak`at (bowings in prayer).

So many of those who glorify Qadar were afflicted with tribulations and this did not increase them except in submission and pleasure (with their Lord), and there lies an explanation of the meaning of His words, “Allah is pleased with them” (Qur’an, 5:119 and elsewhere).

Al-Hasan Al-Basree said: people are the same in health but when hardship befalls they show distinction.