The discerning scholar is adept at diagnosing the various spiritual illnesses resulting from sins, and treating the malaise in the heart. If he finds a person falling into despair, he tries to ignite the spark of hope in his heart. If, on the other hand, he sees that one is in a reckless and fearless state, he works to instill the fear of Allah in his heart. Thus, the scholar treats sickness by using its opposite as a cure.
The third masterpiece in the series addresses the disturbing phenomena of unrealistic hope, lack of fear of Allah and wishful thinking. These are in essence diseases of the heart, which are widely prevalent today. Curing these diseases can only be achieved using the potent medicine of intimidation and deterrence. When the heart is complacent and neglectful, treating it with soothing remedies is akin to prescribing a sedative for the drowsy patient that exacerbates the drowsiness.
Ibn al-Jawzi has collected herein ominous narrations, warnings against wrongdoing, and stories of foreboding and punishment that shake the hearts from their slumber. The self-assured one becomes anxious; the hard-hearted becomes soft; the dried tear ducts start to flow, and the slothful becomes motivated.
The author, Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597 AH), was a 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.