15 Aphorisms from ibn ‘Ata’ Allah al-Sakandari

  1. One of the signs of relying on one’s own deeds is the loss of hope when a downfall occurs.
  2. Your striving for what has already been guaranteed to you, and your remissness in what is demanded of you are signs of the blurring of your intellect.
  3. Actions are lifeless forms, but the presence of an inner reality of sincerity (sirr al-ikhlāṣ) within them is what endows them with life-giving Spirit.
  4. Bury your existence in the earth of obscurity, for whatever sprouts forth, without having first been buried, flowers imperfectly
  5. Among the signs of success at the end is the turning to God at the beginning.
  6. Your being on the lookout for the vices hidden within you is better than your being on the lookout for the invisible realities veiled from you.
  7. How astonishing is he who flees from what is inescapable and searches for what is evanescent! “For surely it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts which are in the chests.”
  8. Do not keep company with anyone whose state does not inspire you and whose speech does not lead you to God.
  9. You might be in a bad state; then, associating with one who is in a worse state, you see virtue in yourself.
  10. No deed arising from a renouncing heart is small, and no deed arising from an avaricious heart is fruitful.
  11. A sign of the heart’s death is the absence of sadness over the acts of obedience you have neglected and the abandonment of regret over the mistakes you have made.
  12. Let no sin reach such proportions in your eyes that it cuts you off from having a good opinion of God for, indeed, whoever knows his Lord considers his sin as paltry next to His generosity.
  13. There is no minor sin when His justice confronts you; and there is no major sin when His grace confronts you.
  14. Let not obedience make you joyous because it comes from you; but rather, be joyous over it because it comes from God to you. “Say: In the grace of God and in His mercy, in that they should rejoice. It is better than that which they hoard.”
  15. Whoever is not thankful for graces runs the risk of losing them; and whoever is thankful, fetters them with their own cords.

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