Bringing Ourselves to Account

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from “The Purification of the Soul”, compiled from the works of Imam ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (r.a.), Imam ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (r.a.) and Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (r.a.).

When the nafs that urges evil overwhelms the heart of a believer, the only remedy is to bring it to account and then to disregard it.  Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) related on the authority of ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.), that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “The intelligent person is the one who brings his self to account and acts in preparation for what lies beyond his death; and the foolish person is the one who abandons himself to his desires and cravings and expects Allah to Fulfil his futile wishes.”

Imam Ahmad (r.a.) also related that ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) said, “Judge yourselves before you yourselves are Judged; and weigh your selves in the Balance before you yourselves are Weighed in the Balance.  When you are Brought to account tomorrow, it will be much easier for you if you have already brought your selves to account today.  So do so, before you come to the Final Gathering for on that Day you will be exposed, whatever you have hidden will no longer be hidden.”

That Day shall ye be Brought to Judgement: not an act of yours that ye hide will be hidden. (Surah al-Haqqah:18)

al-Hasan (r.a.) said, “A believer is responsible for his self, and he brings it to account in order to please Allah.  Judgement will be lighter on the Day of Judgement for the people who have brought their selves to account in this life, but it will be severe for the people who did not prepare for it by bringing their selves to account beforehand.”

A believer is distracted by something that he likes, so he says to it, “By Allah, I like you and I need you, but there is no means by which I can have you, so you have been kept from me.”  When whatever it is, is out of his sight and beyond his reach, then he returns to his senses and says, “I did not really want this!  What made me preoccupied with it?  By Allah, I shall never concern myself with it again!”

The believers are a people who have been Prevented through the Qur’an from indulging in the pleasures of this world; it comes between them and what might destroy them.  The believer is like a prisoner in this world, who tries to free himself from its shackles and fetters, placing his trust in nothing in it, until the day he meets his Creator.  He knows full well that he is accountable for everything that he hears, sees and says, and for everything that he does with his body.

Shaykh Malik ibn Dinar (q.s.) said, “May Allah Grant Mercy to a servant who says to his self, ‘Aren’t you such and such?  Didn’t you do such and such?’  Then he rebukes it and puts it in its place, and disciplines it and restrains it in accordance with the Book of Allah, Mighty and Glorious is He, and becomes its guide and master.”

It is undoubtedly the responsibility of anyone who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgement, and who wishes to keep his affairs in order, to make sure that he brings his self to account.  He must control what it does and what it does not do, even its most insignificant activities, for each and every breath we take during our lifetime is precious.  It can be used to acquire one of the treasures which ensure a state of bliss that is everlasting.  Whoever wastes it, or uses it to acquire things which may cause his destruction, will suffer great losses, which are only allowed to happen by the most ignorant, foolish and reckless of people.

The true extent of such losses will only become apparent on the Day of Judgement.  Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

“On the Day when every soul will be confronted with all the good it has done, and all the evil it has done, it will wish there were a great distance between it and its evil.  But Allah Cautions you (to fear) Him. And Allah is Full of Kindness to those that serve Him.” (Surah Ali ‘Imran:30)


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