Islamic Ethics: Taking account of oneself
Accounting is a characteristic found in human nature, irrespective of his country, ancestry, community or religion. Man is always preoccupied about things that shall benefit or harm him, he is always worried about his future, his wealth, property and about other things. His mind is always analysing his strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Accounting is of various kinds. Generally, man takes an account of those things that are related to this temporary world. At such times, he forgets that there is someone else too, who is taking (his) account and whose rewards are everlasting. He is so absorbed in the accounting of this colourful and attractive world, that he has forgotten the terrifying accounting that shall take place in the grave or the impartial accounting of the Day of Mahshar. Man is busy in finding faults in others. He forgets to take account of himself and see how much he is immersed in sins and how many flaws lie within his own self.
Rather, man should make his own self so strong and powerful, that it becomes his advisor. The ‘self’ of man should exhort him towards all obligatory acts and refrain him from committing all prohibited acts. Today, so much time is being wasted in backbiting, accusing others, watching television and committing other sins. Man must realise that everything will be accounted for. The way you trained your children, the way you spent your money, whether you have usurped any one’s right, even if it is a material right, to the extent that even if you have done good or evil of the size of a mustard seed, it will be accounted for. The Day of Judgment is also referred to as ‘The Day of Cheating’ or ‘The Day of Lamenting’. As Allah mentions in Holy Quran:
‘And whatever is in your heart-whether you conceal it or manifest it-Allah will most sorely account you for it’.
It is for this very reason that Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) has narrated,
‘Take account (of your deeds) yourself before you are taken account of (by Allah)’.
(Beharul Anwar, 70/ 73)
Take account of yourself before the weighing scale is established. And be prepared for a great accounting.
Just as man carries a watch in order in order to keep track of time, in the same manner, he should assign a watch for himself that will keep a track of his daily activities. He should check everyday the actions that are beneficial to him and the actions that harm him. Every night when we lie down on the bed, we should analyse our entire day and scrutinize each and every of our actions. ‘What did we eat?’ ‘What did we earn?’ ‘Did we commit any sin?’ At the same time we should also remember about the Day of Qiyamat. If we find that we have performed good actions, then we should praise Allah and if we find that we have performed bad actions, then we should seek forgiveness from Him and resolve not to repeat them.
It was asked from Hazrat Ali (a.s.): ‘How should a person take account of himself?’ He (a.s) replied
‘When a person ends his day, then he should turn towards himself and say ‘O self! This day that has passed will not return. Allah will ask you about how you wasted your day. He will ask you about the actions you performed, whether you remembered Him and praised Him? Whether you fulfilled a right of your fellow believer? Did you remove a difficulty that befell upon a believer? Did you protect his children in his absence? Did you safeguard his rights after his death? Did you -on account of your position- prevent anyone from backbiting your believing brother? Did you help any Muslim throughout the day?
Thus every man should ponder over his actions that he has performed during the day. If he finds that he has done good actions, then he should praise Allah for giving him the opportunity (taufeeq). But if he finds that he has committed sins, then he should seek forgiveness from Allah and make a firm intention that he shall not repeat that act again.
Then let us be strict with ourselves every time we account for ourselves, just as a master is strict with his slave. Or as a partner takes account of another partner. So account of yourself before your account is taken which will be so severe that there shall be no scope for rectification.