Sincere Counsel to the Students of Sacred knowledge by Imam Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597 AH)
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The challenges of parenthood are experienced by all and many times a parent is hard put to ascertain the correct course of action in bringing up a child in the correct Islamic manner, or, when required, disciplining that child. This treatise is a moving and pertinent advice which Imam Ibn al-Jawzi, himself a great scholar and parent, directed to his carefree and disobedient child. It is important for every parent and child to read since it lays down the principles for providing a solid religious and spiritual education for oneself and one’s family, thereby providing the foundation that every Muslim needs in his journey through this world to the next.
The main concept running throughout the work is on acquiring knowledge which is of spiritual benefit, purifying the intention, the challenges, the pitfalls and obstacles the seeker confronts, and acting on the basis of the acquired knowledge.
This second masterpiece in the series deals with the splendid admonishment of an Imam whose name is well known to all. Many indeed are the eyes that have shed tears after reading it, the hearts it has softened and great indeed is the benefit it contains. Through it the heedless wakes up, the ignorant comes to know and the sinner decides to repent. How excellent is his speech and oratory! He is the one who says: “Be merciful to a tear that is dropping for what it missed from you, and a heart burning due to your farness from it. My God, my God! My knowledge of Your grace makes me impatient for You, my certainty of Your Ascendancy [i.e. violent punishment] makes me lose hope of You, and every time I lift the veil of yearning to Your presence, my shyness of You does not allow me. My God! To You and by You I humble myself, and towards You I direct.”
The author, Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597 AH), was an learned scholar possessing extensive knowledge. While still young, he became known as someone who was religious and given to learning. He would not waste his time in idle activities and would scrupulously avoid any food whose source was doubtful. He was a great preacher and his fame was widespread; many people repented and accepted Islam at his hands. He was also a prolific writer and authored over one thousand works encompassing a multitude of Islamic disciplines and sciences.