Caliph ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab said: “Call yourselves to account before you are called to account.”
Each Breath Counts
The righteous men and women are always fully aware that they have come into this world to carry on a spiritual undertaking the resulting gain or loss of which is Paradise or Hellfire. He, therefore, is a wise man who strives in worship and says to his soul:
“O my soul, you have only one life; no single moment that has passed can be recovered, for in the counsel of Allah the number of breaths allotted to you is fixed, and cannot be increased. When life is over, no further spiritual work is possible for you; therefore what you do, do now; treat this day as if your life had been already spent and this were an extra day granted to you by the special favor of the Almighty. What can be greater folly than to lose it?”
At the resurrection, a man will find all the hours of his life arranged like a long series of treasure-chests. The lid of one will be opened, and it will be seen to be full of light: it represents an hour which he spent in doing good. His heart will be filled with such joy that even a fraction of it would make the inhabitants of Hellfire forget the fire.
The lid of a second will be opened; it is pitch-dark within, and from it issues such an evil odor as will cause everyone to hold his nose: it represents an hour which he spent in ill-doing, and he will suffer such terror that a fraction of it would embitter Paradise for the blessed.
The lid of a third treasure-chest will be opened; it will be seen to be empty and neither light nor dark within: this represents the hour in which he did neither good nor evil. Then he will feel remorse and confusion like that of a man who has been the possessor of a great treasure and wasted it or let it slip from his grasp.
Thus the whole series of the hours of one’s life will be displayed, one by one, to his gaze. Therefore a man should say to his soul every morning: “Allah has given you twenty-four treasures; take heed lest you lose any one of them, for you will not be able to endure the regret that will follow such loss.”
This consists in a man’s remembering that Allah observes all his acts and thoughts. People only see the outward, while God sees both the outer and inner man.
When Zulaykhah, the king’s wife, tempted Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), she cast a cloth over the face of the idol she used to worship. Yusuf said to her: “O Zulaykhah, you are ashamed before a block of stone, and should I not be ashamed before Him Who created the seven heavens and the earth?”
‘Abdullah ibn Dinar related:
“Once I was walking with the Caliph ‘Umar near Makkah when we met a shepherd’s slave-boy driving his flock. ‘Umar said to him:
“Sell me a sheep.”
The boy answered:
“They are not mine, but my master’s. Then, to try him, ‘Umar said:
“Well, you can tell him that a wolf carried one off, and he will know nothing about it.”
“No, he won’t”, said the boy, “but Allah will.”
‘Umar wept, then sent for the boy’s master, purchased him and set him free. He told the boy:
“For this saying you are free in this world and shall be free in the next.”
There are two degrees of recollection of God. The first degree is that of those righteous people whose thoughts are altogether absorbed in the contemplation of the majesty of God and have no room in their hearts for anything else at all.
The companions of the right hand. (56:27)
This is the second degree of the remembrance of God. The mentioned people are aware that God knows all about them and feel abashed in His presence, yet they are not carried out of themselves by the thought of His majesty, but remain clearly conscious of themselves and of the world.
Keep a Record
A man should call himself strictly to account for his past actions. Every evening he should examine his heart as to what he has done to see whether he has gained or lost in his spiritual capital. This is the more necessary as the heart is like a treacherous business partner, always ready to cajole and deceive. Sometimes it presents its own selfishness under the guise of obedience to God, so that a man supposes he has gained, when in reality he has lost.
A righteous man, Amiya, who is sixty years of age, counted up the days of his life. He found them about twenty-one thousand six hundred days. He said to himself:
“Alas! If I have committed one sin every day, how can I escape from the load of twenty-one thousand six hundred sins?”
He uttered a cry and fell to the ground; when they came to raise him they found him dead.
But most people are heedless, and never think of calling themselves to account. People count on their rosaries with self-satisfaction the numbers of times they have recited the name of Allah, but they keep no rosary for reckoning the numberless idle words they speak.
Finally, if a man finds himself sluggish and averse from austerity and self-discipline, he should consort with one who is proficient in such practices so as to catch the contagion of his enthusiasm. One righteous man used to say:
“When I grow lukewarm in self-discipline, I look at Muhammad Ibn Waasi’, and the sight of him rekindles my fervor for at least a week.”
Republished from Islam Web.