Extract from the book: The Purification Of The Soul
[compiled from the works of Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, and Abu Hamid al-Ghazali]
You should know that all acts of disobedience are poison to the heart and cause its sickness and ruin. They result in its running off course, against that of Allaah, and so its sickness festers and increases.
Whoever is concerned with the health and life of his heart, must rid it of the effects of such poisons, and then protect it by avoiding new ones. If he takes any by mistake, then he should hasten to wipe out their effect by turning in repentance and seeking forgiveness from Allaah, as well as by doing good deeds that will wipe out his wrong actions.
By four poisons we mean:
1) unnecessary talking,
2) unrestrained glances,
3) too much food and
4) keeping bad company
Of all the poisons, these are the most widespread and have the greatest effect on a heart’s well-being.
“The faith of a servant is not put right until his heart is put right, and his heart is not put right until his tongue is put right.”[Anas in al-Musnad]
Staring and gazing without restraint is disobedience to Allaah: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that is more purifying for them. Surely Allaah is aware of what they do.” [24:30] .
Too much food:
The consumption of small amounts of food guarantees tenderness of the heart, strength of intellect, humility of the self, weakness of desires, and gentleness of temperament. Immoderate eating brings about the opposite of these praiseworthy qualities. Al-Miqdam Ibn Ma’d Yakrib said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (salalaahu ‘alayi sallam) say: “The son of Adam fills no vessel more displeasing to Allaah than his stomach. A few moesels should be enough for him to preserve his strength. If he must fill it, then he should allow a third for his food, a third for his drink and leave a third empty for easy breathing.”
Keeping Bad Company:
Unnecessary companionship is a chronic disease that causes much harm. How often have the wrong kind of companionship and intermixing deprived people of Allaah’s generosity, planting discord in their hearts which even the passage of time-even if it were long enough for mountains to be worn away-has been unable to dispel.
Companionship: Four categories
A servant should benefit from companionship. In order to do so he should divide people into four categories, and be careful not to get them mixed up, for once one of them is mixed with another, then evil can find its way through to him;
The first category are those people whose company is like food: it is indispensible, night or day.
The second category are those people whose company is like a medicine. They are only required when a disease sets in.
The third category:are those people company is harmful. Mixing with this type of person is like a disease, in all its variety and degrees and strengths and weakneses.
Associating with one or more of them is like an incurable chronic disease. You will never profit either in this life or the next life if you have them for company.
The fourth category are those people whose company is doom itself. It is like taking poison: its victim either finds an antidote or perishes. Many people belong to this category. They are the people of religious innovation and misguidance, those who abandon the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (salalaahu ‘alayi wa sallam) and advocate other beliefs. They call what is Sunnah a bid’ah and vice-versa.
“Every person has a pledge for that which he has earned.” [Surah at-Toor (52):21]