Here is another excerpt from Abū ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī’s Infamies of the Soul and Their Treatment. This excerpt points out how we hold ourselves back by committing violations, and that our ultimate success rests upon purifying ourselves of moral and behavioral violations.
1. Expecting salvation despite violations
One of the infamies of the soul is imagining that one is standing at the door of salvation, knocking with various litanies and good deeds – and the door is open; however, one has shut the door of returning [to the truth] on himself through numerous violations.
Al-Ḥusayn ibn Yaḥyā informed me, saying: I heard Jaʿfar ibn Muḥammad say: I heard Masrūq say: Rābiʿa al-ʿAdawiya passed by the assembly of Ṣāliḥ al-Murrī while Ṣāliḥ was saying, “Whoever persists in knocking on the door is on the verge of the door opening for him.” Rābiʿa said, “The door, O underminer, is open but you flee from it! How can you reach a goal when you mistook its path from the first step?”
So how can the slave escape the infamies of the soul when he is the one who pursues passions for it? Or how can one escape from chasing whims when he does not hold back from violations?
I heard Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Hamdān say: I heard Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq al-Thaqafī say: I heard Ibn Abī al-Dunyā say, “One of the sages said, ‘Do not expect to sober up while you have an infamy. And do not expect salvation while you have a sin [against you].’”
This condition is treated by what Sarī al-Saqṭī said: [by] traveling the path of guidance, wholesome nourishment, and complete protection [from Allah].