The Book of Destructive Evils is the third book of Imam Gazzali’s world renowned master piece Ihya Ulum-id-Din or the Revival of Religious learning. This work is an attempt to translate the third part of the Ihya not too literally but in substance. This book deals with soul and its attributes, conduct, greed and passion, benefits and harms of tongue, anger and envy, attachment for the world, love for wealth and harms of miserliness, power, show, pride and erroneous beliefs.
A literal translation is avoided in order to omit some unnecessary things which were prevalent in the then society, such as arguments of sects and sub-sects and also to omit the sayings of personages and sages of less importance but it should be noted that no verse of the Quran and saying of the Prophet has been omitted in this work.
Translations of the other three books of the Ihya have by the grace of God already come out of press, namely the Book of worship, the Book of worldly usages and the Book of constructive virtues.
I pray to the Almighty Allah that He may guide the people of the world in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah and the spirit in which the Ihya was written by Hujjatul Islam (proof of Islam), a title received by Imam Gazzali and about which it has been said “If all the books of Islam were destroyed, it would be but a slight loss if only the Ihya of Gazzali were preserved.”
DACCA FAZLUL KARIM
It is by means of soul that man is the Lord of creation as it is by means of soul that man acquires the knowledge of God and His attributes and by no other organs of the body. It is by means of soul that man can go to the nearness of God and make efforts to realise Him. So soul is the king of the body and its different organs are its servants to carry out its orders and commands. It is accepted by God when it remains free from things other than God. When it is attached to things other than God, it drifts away from God. It is the soul which will be asked and rebuked. It becomes fortunate if it is purified and cleaned, and it becomes fortunate if it is kept impure. It is the knowledge of soul which is the root of the knowledge of God. When man does not know himself he does not know God. Majority of men are ignorant of soul and its attributes as screen is cast between soul and baser self. God says: God moves between a man and his soul and controls it and its attributes. It is between the two fingers of the Merciful. It sometimes reaches the last limit of the devil and sometimes rises so high as to the throne of the Almighty. He who does not enquire about his soul is included among those persons of whom God says in the following verse: They forgot God and so He made their souls forgetful 19:67. They are the transgressors. It is therefore essential to know soul and its attributes which is the root of religion.
What has been said in the earlier pages of this book relates to the outward organs and bodily limbs. Now we shall narrate the attributes and evils of soul which are the subject matter of secret knowledge.
(1) QALB has got two meanings. It means first a piece of flesh in the left breast called heart which is hollow in the interior, which is filled up with black blood and which is again a source of Ruh or life. Heart is the centre or mine for circulation of blood. The detailed description of heart is to be found in Anatomy. It exists in breasts and lower animals and appertains to the material world. We shall not refer to it in our book. The second meaning of Qalb is soul with which we are concerned here. It is an immaterial thing or formless Latifa or basic subtle element which has got connection with the material heart. It is just like unseen electricity. It is the principal thing in a man. It catches knowledge of God and spiritual world. It is punished and rewarded. The connection of soul with heart is the connection of attributes with the bodily limbs, or a machine with the machine man, or a house with its inmates. This connection is of two kinds. One kind of connection is with Ulume Mokashafa or spiritual knowledge. But in this look, our object is to narrate Ulume Muamalah or knowledge of worldly usages. Its second connection requires the knowledge of the secrets of soul. The Prophet did not throw light on this object and so we should refrain from it. We shall translate the word Qalb in this book as soul or an immaterial thing Latifa with its attributes.
(2) RUH: It has got also two meanings. It means first a material thing within the heart which vibrates the whole body like the current of electricity and which runs through the veins of the body. It is called ‘life.’ It has got the power of touch, hearing, sight, smell and the power of the other limbs of the body. It is just like radiation of light of a lighted lamp pitched in a corner of the house. It is a subtle gas or steam which creates the heat of the heart. Our object is not that. The second meaning of Ruh is an immaterial subtle thing which is called soul and not life. God says: They ask you about Ruh. Say: It is a command from my Lord. 17:85.