This article is from Purification of the Mind (Jila’ Al-Khatir)
* Repent and acknowledge your shortcomings and weaknesses. Repentance is the water of the True One (mighty and glorified is He). He revives the earth after its death with rain and quickens the hearts after their death with repentance and wakefulness. O disobedient ones, repent, never despair of the mercy of Allah (mighty and glorified is He), and never lose hope of His mercifulness!
* You must repent and ask for forgiveness frequently, for these are two great means to achieving success in the affairs of this world and the hereafter. Noah (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) ordered his people to pray for forgiveness, and he promised them that He will respond by granting them forgiveness and putting this world at their command and at their service. So he said, quoting Him (high is He): “And ask forgiveness of your Lord, He is Forgiving. He will send the rain on you in torrents, help you with wealth and sons, appoint for you gardens, and appoint for you rivers” (from 71.10‑12). Repent from your sins and turn away from your current attribution of partners to God so that He will grant you all that you wish for of things of this world and the hereafter.
You have sinned as your father Adam (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) sinned, so repent as he did. When he and his wife Eve (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on them) ate from the tree that their Lord forbade them to eat, He punished them with remoteness and stripped them of the rewards of His generosity. He left them naked, so they picked up leaves from Paradise [to cover their bodies]. But the leaves dried up and fell, so they remained naked. They were then sent down to earth. All that occurred as a result of the evil of disobedience and noncompliance. The poison of disobedience flowed in their bodies so He expelled them. Then Allah (mighty and glorified is He) taught them how to repent and ask for forgiveness. They repented and asked for forgiveness, so He pardoned and forgave them.
* When will you repent, O backsliders, O disobedient ones? Be reconciled with your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) by means of repentance. Was it not for my sense of shame in the presence of Allah (mighty and glorified is He) and in relation to His patience, I would get up and grab each one of you by the hand and say to him: “You have committed such and such. Repent to Allah (mighty and glorified is He)”. You must not speak and you will not be spoken to until your faith, certitude, and knowingness of your Master (mighty and glorified is He) have strengthened. Then, you will clinch to the firm handhold, which is the attainment of your heart to Him. The Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him) will be proud of you before the nations. O you who have believed with your tongue, how long will it be before you believe with your heart? O you who are a believer in your public life, how long will it be before you become a believer in your private life? Combining faith of the heart with striving against the lower self is useful. Combining faith of the tongue with disbelief in your heart is useless. The faith of the hypocrite is the faith of one who is afraid of the sword [of punishment].
* O disobedient ones, repent from your disobedience, for your Lord (mighty and glorified is He) is forgiving, merciful! He accepts repentance from His servants and covers the sins and erases them. Repent with your tongues and hearts. O Allah, we repent to you for every sin and guilt and we will never commit them again! “O our Lord, do not condemn us if we forget or make mistake!” (from 2.286). “O our Lord, do not make our hearts deviate after You have guided us!” (from 3.8). O Forgiver of sins, forgive us! O You who cover the shortcomings, draw a veil over our shortcomings! Ask Him for forgiveness, for He (high is He) forgives the sins, accepts the righteous deeds no matter how few they are, and rewards in return with things that are even better, for He is generous and bountiful. He gives rewards without asking for something in return and for no reason, so what if there is a reason?
Deal with Him by means of believing in His oneness, performing good works, being detached from this world and turning away from it, choosing the hereafter and welcoming and wishing for it, and giving up the acts of disobedience and sins and forsaking them. The seeker of the True One (mighty and glorified is He) does not wish for His Paradise and does not fear His Fire, but only wishes to see His face. He wishes for nearness to Him and fears remoteness from Him. You are a prisoner of Satan, passion, the lower self, this world, and lustful desires, but you do not have a clue. Your leg and heart are in shackles, but you are totally unaware. O Allah, deliver him from his captivity and deliver us! Amen.
You must keep the fast, perform the five daily prayers at their prescribed times, and honor all the limits of the Law. After performing the obligatory worship duties, start supererogation. Impose on yourself observing the strictest laws of religion (‘azīma) and avoid following the allowed concessions (rukhṣa). If the person resorts to these concessions and gives up observing the strictest laws, it is feared that he would totally lose his religion. Observing the strictest laws is for grown‑up men, because it is about enduring what is most dangerous, hardest, and most difficult. Following the allowed concessions is for the youngsters and women because it is the easiest.
* O young man, if you keep to repentance and proper reflection, you will give up all interests in worldly things and become occupied with those that are relevant to the hereafter! You will give up your interest in what belongs to the creatures and become occupied with what belongs to the Creator, and you will give up committing evil and do only good. O you who have relinquished reflection and repentance, you are a loser but you do not have a clue! You are a loser not a winner. Your likeness is as the likeness of a man who sells and buys without keeping account of his expenditure or counting the cash. He will soon find out that his capital has disappeared and what is left with him is bad, pseudo‑silver coins. Woe to you! Your capital, which is your lifetime, has gone to waste while you do not have a clue! Everything that you have earned is counterfeit whereas everything that the believers have earned is a gem. The believer will soon fulfill his commitments, whereas you will be taken and thrown in prison. The True One will not accept a single atom of what you have, for the True One (mighty and glorified is He) accepts only sincerity, which you do not have. Have you not heard these words of the Prophet (Allah’s prayer and peace be on him): “Call yourselves to account before you are called to account, weigh yourselves before you are weighed, and smarten yourselves up for the greatest parade”?
It has been said that whomever Allah (mighty and glorified is He) wishes to be a knower of Him (mighty and glorified is He), one of His saints, one of His lovers, one of His sought after ones, He assigns an angel to look after him in both his private and public lives, foster his heart and his intention, drive evil away from him, and allow only what is good to reach him. This is similar to what He (high is He) said about Joseph (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him): “thus [it was] so that We turned evil and lewdness away from him; [for] he is one of Our chosen servants” (from 12.24). This is what He did for the prophets, the messengers, the saints, and the truthful (Allah’s prayer and peace be on all of them).
John (prayer and peace be on our Prophet and on him) was passing by children who were playing who said to him: “Play with us.” He replied: “Glory be to Allah, it is not for playing that we have been created.” The lower selves of the people of Allah urge them to do good not evil. They have joined their hearts after being subjected to striving. Whenever their lower selves were subjected to strife, they gained comfort and longing for the Highest Companion. Listening to the Qur’an comes to be all their business. Before this, they used to hear only the sound and miss the meaning. Do not listen to or participate in prattle. The Qur’an is the source of life for the hearts and of purity for the innermost beings, and it lays the foundation for neighboring Allah (mighty and glorified is He) in Paradise.
* O young man, you have piled up sins one on top of another, and you are heading toward a vague, ambiguous end which may be good or bad. Pay attention to death as there is no way that you can escape it. Give up indulging in idle gossip and getting involved in matters that are irrelevant to you. Curtail your hopes and reduce your greedy keenness on obtaining worldly things because you will be dead soon. Your death is so close that it may come while you are sitting here. In this case you would have come here on foot but would be carried back to your house in a coffin.