Alchemy: Of This World

[T]he world presents itself under the guise of a radiant but immoral sorceress, pretends to be in love with you, fondles you, and then goes off to your enemies, leaving you to die of chagrin and despair. Jesus (عليه السلام) saw the world revealed in the form of an ugly old hag. He asked her how many husbands she had possessed; she replied that they were countless. He asked whether they had died or been divorced; she said that she had slain them all. “I marvel”, he said, “at the fools who see, what you have done to others, and still desire you.”

This sorceress decks herself out in gorgeous and jewelled apparel and veils her face. Then she goes forth to seduce men, too many of whom follow her to their own destruction. The Prophet ﷺ has said that in the Judgment Day the world will appear in the form of a hideous witch with green eyes and projecting teeth. Men, beholding her, will say, “Mercy on us! who is this?” The angels will answer, “This is the world for whose sake you quarrelled and fought and embittered one another’s lives.” Then she will be cast into hell, whence she will cry out, “O Lord! where are those, my former lovers?” God will then command that they be cast after her.

– Abu Hamid al-Ghazālī, translated by Claud Field, The Alchemy of Happiness: The Knowledge of This World

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