This world life is like the river of Talut, over which the virtues have made a pronouncement that “So whoever drinks from it is not of me, and whoever does not taste it is indeed of me.” (al-Baarah 2:249) However, when people positioned themselves in a state like that of Ibn Umm Maktum, may Allah be pleased with him, they were given a small amount of latitude, “excepting one who takes [from it] in the hollow of his hand.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:249) Whereas the heedless ones could not wait, and so they drank their fill from it. Thus, when it was the time to participate in the war against self-desires, they responded with words of self-defeat “There is no power for us today against Goliath and his soldiers…” (al-Baqarah 2:249) While those who had disciplined their bodies succeeded, and received the spoils of this war.
This life is like your shadow; if you turn your back to it and walk away from it, it will continue following you, but if you try to chase it and catch it, it will always run away from you. For this Allah, Exalted is He, Commanded this wordily life to serve those who serve Him, and to enslave those who serve it.
The pious does not pay attention to his shadow, therefore the shadow always follows him, while the one seeking it diligently all the time keeps looking around for it, and is thus unable to see it.
O the one devoted to this wordily life, for how long will you be lost in the desert of confusion “[We would then be] like the one whom the devils enticed.” (al-Anam 6:71) Does your assiduity have any limit? Will your hope [to remain in this life] ever end? Woe to you: the ocean never drains out, so be content with what he already has in his hand! Woe to you, all that you rejoice for in this life is actually what you should be sad for, if only you would realise.
This life is like wine; whenever the assiduous drinks from it, his thirst increases. It is sufficient for you to cover your parts with the garment of contentedness, for it casts away the concerns from your heart and replaces them with comfort.
All evil lies in insatiability; how many are those whose thirst does not extinguish because they choke of their drink; indeed the sweetness of honey can be enjoyed in small portions only. The example of a person attached to this life is like that of a bee that comes across a water lily, gets attracted by its scent and decides to settle upon its leaves. However, when night falls, the leaves draw back and get submerged in the water, and thus the bee meets its death.
Your excessive keenness is like a cloud that can block the bright sun of your intellect. This cloud prevents the heart from perceiving the hereafter, therefore you should send the platoon of your strong-will, to tear apart this hazy cloud into bits. You have what suffices you, nevertheless you seek what would ruin you. Do you not know that continuing to drink water even after your thirst has been extinguished will make you perpetually thirsty. How chained you are to this life! Indeed, fever is the companion of honey, and the one diligently pursuing this life shall never have a life – because what kind of life is it when someone is neither sufficed nor content! Despite all this, such a person is always more bewildered than a bug on the back of a camel, though what he is after is less in worth than the wing of a mosquito.
Allah ordained this life, so that we subsist on what suffices to maintain the health of our bodies, so that we can dedicate these bodies for that which they were created [worshipping Allah]. Exercising indulgence in acquiring more than what is required, compromises this noble purpose; a person who spends his entire life accumulating wealth is in reality storing it for his heirs as one day he will die leaving all this wealth behind; all he does is burn himself with the fire of his assiduousness, while others get the benefit of what he painstakingly collected, in the same manner that people benefit from the remains of a burning stick.
How many are those who were doomed by this wordily life! How many are those whose love of this life was the cause of their ruin!
O you who is as wishful as Kanan [ruler of Babel], as deceitful as Nimrod [an ancient king], as miserly as Tahalbah [who refused to pay zakah], as prone to error as Numan: When it comes to collecting wealth you are like Hatib [a companion who fought at Badr and Uhud] but when it comes to squandering away your life then you are as generous as Hatim [the Christian Arab poet of ancient Arabia] but what would you do when you fall into regret like the regret of al-Kasai [a poor hunter].
You have thrown yourself into the deep well of wordily love! When will piety arrive to rescue you from your condition, so that you would be among those who would hear the chants of joy “Glad tidings” (Yusuf 12:19)