‘Ataa’ Sulami (rahimahullah) narrates the following:
I was once passing through the alleys of Kufah when I saw ‘Alyaan laughing at a doctor. As it was well known that ‘Alyaan never laughed, I became intrigued and drew closer. As I approached, I asked him why he was laughing. ‘Alyaan replied, “I am laughing at this doctor who is treating the illnesses of others, despite the fact that he is himself fatally ill.” Hearing this, I asked ‘Alyaan, “Do you know of any medication that can save him from his illness?” “Yes!” he replied, “I know of a medication which is such that if it is administered to him, I hope that he will recover.” “What is the formula of this medication?” I prompted. On my request, ‘Alyaan proceeded to prescribe the following:
1. A few leaves from the tree of poverty
2. The root of the tree of sabr (patience, forbearance and steadfastness)
3. Fruit from the tree of humility
4. Fruit from the tree of ma’rifat (recognition of Allah Ta‘ala)
5. The ingredient of pondering over one’s condition
Using the mortar and pestle (or the grinding stone) of grief and regret over one’s sins, crush the above ingredients into a fine paste. Thereafter place the paste into the pan of taqwa and pour some of the water of hayaa into the mixture. Using the firewood of Allah Ta‘ala’s love, light a fire beneath the pan and boil the mixture until it begins to froth. Once the mixture is prepared, empty it into the bottle of always remaining pleased over the decision of Allah Ta‘ala. Thereafter, cool the mixture by fanning it with the fan of the praise of Allah Ta‘ala. Finally, take this medication consistently, by pouring a little into the cup of concern over one’s state and condition, and by swallowing it using the spoon of repentance. If this medication is taken regularly, there is hope that the person will never again fall into the illness of disobeying Allah Ta‘ala. (Taareekh Ibni ‘Asaakir, vol. 41, pg. 524)
1. Just as a person’s body falls ill, their soul also falls ill by succumbing to spiritual illnesses. A physical illness has the potential to destroy a person’s health, ultimately leading to his death. A spiritual illness, on the other hand, has the potential to destroy a person’s deen, ultimately leading to the ruin of his Hereafter. Just as a qualified, experienced doctor is consulted when the body falls ill, similarly an expert spiritual doctor should be consulted when the soul falls ill. Thereafter, when the doctor of the soul prescribes some treatment and medication, it should be strictly adhered to in order for the patient to see the desired outcome. These spiritual doctors are none other than the Mashaayikh.
2. Just as the physical body requires a variety of ingredients to remain healthy e.g. vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, etc, a person’s soul also requires a variety of ‘ingredients’ to remain healthy. These ‘ingredients’ are the qualities of sabr (patience and perseverance), shukr (gratitude), taqwa (consciousness and fear of Allah Ta‘ala), hayaa (modesty and shame) and other similar praiseworthy qualities.
3. If the physical body is poisoned, it begins to die. Similarly, when the soul is poisoned, through a person committing excessive evil deeds and failing to repent and change his life, the soul begins to die. If the soul is not treated, but rather it is further poisoned, it will eventually die, and the death of the soul occurs when the soul loses imaan and a person now leaves the fold of Islam. May Allah Ta‘ala save us from the condition of the death of the soul.