5:101 O you who have faith, do not ask about things which would harm you if they were made to appear to you.
He is saying, “Do not circle around the stations of the great ones, do not seek access to their states, and do not ask about their way stations, for then you will see that your level falls short of that and you will despair, and despair is the seed of remorse and the foundation of idleness.” A merchant from the bazaar came to Junayd and said, “O Pir of the Tariqah! If servanthood is what you have, then what do we have? What can we hope for? This is a place for despair.”
5:105 O you who have faith! Against you are your own souls. Those who are misguided cannot hurt you if you are guided.
The tongue of commentary is what I explained. The tongue of allusion in keeping with the tasting of the folk of desire is this: “O faithful, beware! Subjugate your own soul before it subjugates you. Busy it with obedience before it busies you with disobedience.”When Abū ʿUthmān was asked about this verse, he replied, “Against you is your own soul. If you occupy yourself with making its corruption wholesome and concealing its shameful parts, you will be too busy to gaze on the creatures and to occupy yourself with them.”
Ḥusayn Manṣūr Ḥallāj gave advice to his disciple, saying, “Against you is your own soul—if you do not keep it busy, it will keep you busy.”
Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī said, “Against you is your own soul—if you spare the creatures its evil, you will have taken care of most of its rightful due.”8
The nature of the soul is always to be at rest with this world and to hurry toward disobedience. It counts disobedience as a small thing and is lazy in obedience. It is conceited and acts with eye service toward the creatures. Within it are found associationism, eye-service, and hypocrisy. It is said, “The soul is duplicitous in all its states, hypocritical in most of its states, and more associate in some of its states.”
Abū Yazīd Basṭāmī said, “If in that world the Lord says to me, ‘Make a wish,’ I will ask permission to enter hell to punish this soul, for in this world it has always made me writhe and suffer.”
Muṣṭafā said, “Your worst enemy is your soul between your two sides.” He said this because when you get along with an enemy, you become secure from his evil, but when you get along with your own soul, you will perish. If you act well toward someone, he will thank you at the resurrection, and if you act badly, he will complain. The state of the soul is the opposite: If you act well toward it in this house, it will be your antagonist in that house, and if you act badly toward it in this house, it will thank you in that house.
Muṣṭafā said, “Whenever someone detests his own soul in God’s Essence, God will make him secure from the chastisement of the Day of Resurrection.” He also said, “O ʿAlī, when you see people occupying themselves with the defects of others, occupy yourself with the defects of your own soul. And when you see people occupying themselves with cultivating this world, occupy yourself with cultivating your heart.”
It has been said that in man’s makeup the heart is like the Kaaba, the soul is like a tavern, and the two are facing each other. Night and day the commanding soul raids the heart’s pavilion. Like someone stricken by affliction the heart complains each time to the Exalted Threshold, and each time a robe of honor is sent to the ledgers at the side of Eternity. “Surely in every day and night, God has 360 gazes at the hearts of the servants.”