A Delayed Response
[Sayd al-Khatir] by ibn al-Jawziyyah
Translated by Zaynah ar-Rawahi
While talking to himself Ibn Al-Jawziyyah was blaming his soul in a gentle way. He said: I found myself in trouble, and so I made Du'a consistently, all the while requesting relief and comfort. The response to my Du'a seemed to be delayed, and so my soul became disturbed and worried.
However, I rebuked it saying, "Woe unto you; look attentively at yourself, are you the one possessed or are you the possessor? Are you the one that is controlled or are you the controller? Are you not aware that this world is the abode of tests for you? If you desire that your goals be fulfilled and become impatient when they are not, then, where is your test? Is it not the ultimate test when you get the opposite of whatever you desired?
"So, (dear restless soul) try to understand the meaning of the word 'Abd, and whatever is dear to you will become worthless, and whatever is difficult will become easy." After it deliberated over what I said, it became a little appeased.
I informed it that I had a second argument for it, and so I said, "Allah (azza wajal) is a necessary requirement in order for any of your aims to be fulfilled; yet you do not exhort yourself to work for His (azza wajal) pleasure. This is ignorance, as the matter should have been opposite to what yohu desire, primarily because you are the one possessed. (You should note) that the mindful 'Abd should make sure that he fulfills the rights due to the Master, and that it is not necessary that He (azza wajal) gives to Al-'Abd whatever he desires or loves."
It made it quieter yet I then mentioned that I had a third argument for it, and so I said, "You are under the impression that the response to your Du'a has been slow; yet you were responsible for this because you closed the door of response (to your Du'a) because of your constant sinning. If, however, you open the door [by developing Taqwa for Allah (azza wajal)], then the response (to your Du'a) would arrive quicker, because having Taqwa for Allah (azza wajal) is the cause of all comfort." Allah (azza wajal) said:
"...And whoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him (Taqwa), He will make a way for him, to get out (from every difficulty), and will provide for him from sources that he never could imagine…" [At-Talaq:2-3]
Therefore, understand that if you do not develop this Taqwa for Him (subhana wa ta'ala), the result will be different from what you expect. Woe is me from the drunkenness of mindlessness which became stronger than any other drunkenness in confronting the soul's aims to prevent them ftom reaching its hopes. It (the soul) knew that this was the truth, and so it became more tranquil still.
I said to it, "I have a forth argument for you, and it is that you seek a particular answer (to your Du'a); yet you are not aware of the consequences that would result (if you were granted what you desire) because what you seek might be to your detriment. In this state you are like a feverish child asking for candy.
"(0 soul) be conscious that your Master is more aware about your well-being than you are." As
He (azza wajal) said:
"... And maybe you will dislike something that is good for You…" [Al- Baqarah; 2: 161]
When this became clear to the soul, it became more tranquil still. I then said to it, "I have a fifth argument for you, and it is that your demands would lessen your rewards and would reduce your status (with Allah). However, if you would request that which is good for your eternal abode (Al-Akhirah), it would be better for you. (O soul) it is crucial that you understand what I have explained."
It said, "I meandered in the garden of your explanation, and as such I wandered when I understood."