سل عن الرفيق قبل الطريق
Ask about the companion before you travel
It is essential before you travel to know who will travel with you. If your travel companion is experienced and well-mannered you will enjoy his company and reach your destination safely. If he was the opposite of that, your trip will be hard and dangerous.
Likewise, your spiritual journey to Allah which takes a lifetime and is more important, requires careful choosing of your travel guide. In this case he is called master, teacher, guru, or shaikh. If he was an experienced and compassionate spiritual guide, you’ll safely reach spiritual perfection. Otherwise, you are in danger of losing the way and might end up in hell.
أعدى عدو للمرء غضبه وشهوته فمن ملكهما علت درجته وبلغ غايته
The fiercest enemies of any human are his own anger and craving, and whoever controls them will ascend and reach his purpose.
Craving is the literal translation from the Arabic word: الشهوة . In this quote it includes the variety of human desires: appetite for food, sexual desire, seeking power and fame, etc…
A distinction must be drawn here between seeking and satisfying the necessary desires of a human being (which the Islamic jurisprudence allows us to do), and the overwhelming addiction to lust, power, food, etc…, which is not normal. The latter is what the Imam refers to as your enemy, not the former.
Anger is also considered to be an enemy, and this quote is in line with the modern wave of anger management techniques and efforts.
The Imam is warning us about those two enemies, they are dangerous because they are fierce and invisible. He also shows us our purpose in life: to win the battle against anger and demonic desires, and this winning results in reaching spiritual perfection and ascent into Heaven.