Accounting for Deeds in Both Worlds


     عن أبي بَرْزَةَ رضي الله عنه أن رسولَ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « لا تَزُولُ قَدمَا عبْدٍ يَومَ القِيامَةِ حَتَّى يُسْأَلَ عَنْ أَرْبعٍ: عَنْ عُمْرِهِ فِيمَ أَفْنَاهُ، وَعَنْ عِلْمِهِ مَا عَمِلَ بِهِ، وعَنْ مالِهِ منْ أَيْنَ اكْتَسبهُ وَفِيمَ أَنْفَقَهُ، وَعَن جِسْمِهِ فِيمَ أَبْلاه» .  رواه الترمذي وقال: هذا حديث حسن صحيح.

Narrated Abu Barza, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of God ﷺ said: “The two feet of any slave on the Day of Judgment shall not move on until he is asked about four things: About his age, how he spent it; about his knowledge, how he acted upon it; about his money, from where he earned it and how he spent it; and about his body, how he wore it away.”   Related by Al-Tirmidhi with an authentic narration.

In our daily struggle with the worldly life, we tend to forget or postpone thinking about and preparing for the Hereafter.  Man often considers only what is in front of him, while ignoring that which comes later. Man considers his immediate future yet postpones plans for the distant future. But the wise person is he who considers both the immediate and distant future. The wise person sees what is in front of him, but also what is lying ahead behind the curve. The wise Muslim prepares not only for this life, but also struggles as hard for the other world soon to come.

Indeed, as soon as one dies, the veil is lifted from his eyes and he starts seeing and experiencing the real truth for the first time.  After death, man starts seeing the world as never before. He starts seeing the recompense of his actions, he starts seeing and experiencing the bliss of Paradise or the punishment of Hell-Fire, he starts seeing the angels of mercy or the angels of punishment, and he starts seeing the end results of the righteous people and the evil unjust people. He is truly seeing the world for the first time.

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

When someone of you dies, then his day of judgment begins.

Related by Ibn Abi al-Dunya and Al-Daylami.

Indeed, when man dies, the angels take his soul, and either ascend with it to heavens or descend with it to the pits. Before that, the Angel of Death appears in either of two forms: a beautiful and inviting shape with which he captures the soul of the believers, or an ugly and terrifying form with which he captures the soul of the disbelievers. Soon after, the angels of mercy or punishment take over according to one’s deeds. And once the dead person is lain in his grave, the two angels, Munkar and Nakir, come to him and question him, asking him to account for every single deed and action he performed in the world.

Thus, our daily actions do not go without notice; rather, every action or deed is recorded and we will be asked about it. The major guideline and rule is: is this action in accordance with God’s rules?  Does it violate any of God’s commands?  This then sets the path to the Hereafter.  Obedience to God is rewarded with bliss and happiness in the Hereafter, while disobedience and sin may be punished in the grave and Hell. In the above hadith, the Prophet gives us a glimpse of the accounting that man would undergo after death.  After death, man will be asked about his age, his knowledge, his wealth, and his body. When man dies, he will be asked how he gained and used those four matters, and whether he followed God’s rules and commands regarding each. Then his reward or punishment will be served based on his actions–but God’s mercy is great.

If we ponder upon the things mentioned in the hadith, we will find that they encompass every deed of the son of Adam in this life:

First, the son of Adam will be asked about how he spent his age i.e. his time. Did he spend his time doing something permissible, did he spend his time doing something useful, or did he just waste his time? Did he take advantage of his time to do good deeds or was he too preoccupied with enjoyment and desires?

Second, the son of Adam will be asked about his knowledge i.e. the knowledge of Islam.  Did he learn about his deen (religion), did he learn about the commands of Allah or His obligations and forbidden things, did he act upon that knowledge, and did he teach it to others?

Third, the son of Adam will be asked about his wealth i.e. money. How did he earn his money? Did he steal, did he cheat, did he rob others, or did he earn from a permissible source? And how did he spend that money? Did he spend it on sins, did he waste it away, or did he give to the poor and the needy?

And fourth, the son of Adam will be asked about his body i.e. his limbs. Did he use his body to worship God or to instead commit sins? Did he guard his body from bad substances like drugs and alcohol or did harm himself? Did he fast for the sake of God? And how did he use his eyes, his ears, his mouth, his mind, his hands and his feet?  Indeed, he will be asked about every limb.

The sensible person should consider these four questions and should prepare answers for the accounting to come. The Muslim is forewarned; God the Exalted says: { And let every soul consider what it has presented for tomorrow, and fear God, verily God is well aware of all that you do} (surah 59, verse 18). The Muslim should take heed, as the following hadith prompts:

وعَنْ أبي يَعْلَى شَدَّادِ بْن أَوْسٍ رضي اللَّه عنه عن النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « الكَيِّسُ مَنْ دَانَ نَفْسَهُ وَعَمِلَ لِمَا بَعْدَ المَوْتِ، وَالعَاجِزُ مَنْ أَتْبَعَ نَفْسَهُ هَوَاهَا وَتَمَنَّى عَلَى اللَّهِ» .  رواه التِّرْمِذيُّ وابن ماجه وأحمد والحاكم .

Narrated Abu Ya’la Shaddad Ibn Aws, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“The sensible person is he who takes account of himself and works for what comes after death. And the foolish person is he who lets his self follow its desires, and then indulges in wishful thinking about God.”  Related by At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ahmad and Al-Hakim.

The golden rule to follow to pass this accounting is to follow the rules of God in everything and to stay away from all sins.  In case the Muslim slips and commits a sin, he should return to God in repentance and ask His forgiveness as soon as possible. Thus, when he dies, he will be able to answer faithfully and with sincerity, and pass the accounting with ease.

Finally, the Muslim should not feel overwhelmed by the accounting for deeds, but should put his trust in His God and hope the best from His only Lord, for indeed God is the Most Merciful and Most Forgiving. The Muslim is asked to try his best and then leave the rest to God, provided the Muslim keeps asking God’s forgiveness and keeps returning to Him after every slip. Indeed, the son of Adam is weak and wrongful, but the door of repentance is wide and the bounds of God’s mercy are limitless–yet the sensible is the one who exerts effort and only then expects and hopes for the best from his Lord.  And God knows best.

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