Life in the Hereafter

TWO assets which all of us value beyond measure are good health and free time. Our lives are heavily affected by these two parameters. We take special care to watch what we eat, exercise, as we have become very health-conscious. We try to maximise our free time by ensuring that we do only the things which give us pleasure, albeit exclusively in this world.

Because our orientation today is predominantly materialistic or even hedonistic, we try our best to maintain good health only to look good for other people or to live longer to savour longer the pleasures of this world. Likewise, free time to many means only an opportunity to sleep, a time for leisure, or a time to sit around or just “lie around the house.”

While Islam does not prohibit good health or free time, it does frown upon those who exhaust these resources in worldly pursuits alone. “Squander not in the manner of a spendthrift,” warns Allah, “for spendthrifts are surely the brother of Satan and Satan is very ungrateful to this Lord” [Qur’an 17:26-27]. If you have good health and free time to benefit from, then “...don’t waste (it) for Allah does not love the wasters” [6:141]. As a matter of fact, our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) once cautioned, “There are two things wherein many people victimise themselves: good health and free time.”

Sensibly, the believer devotes every ounce of his/her energy (good health permitting) to every moment he/she gets to strive for the triumph of Islam. Thus every effort is made to use all energy and time as efficiently as possible to serve and thank Allah for all of His grace.

Nothing could be more pleasing to the Almighty than for us to faithfully obey the Qur’an and the Sunnah, “Say: if you really love Allah, follow me (Prophet Muhammad),” Allah reminds us, “Allah will love you” [3:31].

On the other hand, Allah dislikes laziness and has advised us to use our time efficiently through the guidance of His Prophet. In other words if we utilise our good health to maximise our free time for the pleasure of Allah, then Allah promises success for us in this world and in the next.

On the other hand, if we squander our good health chasing transient worldly pleasures, and waste our precious time on issues which can only destroy our chances for a propitious. Hereafter, we can only be described by the prophetic words as those who “...victimise themselves” and take these assets for granted.

Unfortunately for many, death will be an awakening. Tragically, nothing can then be done to redress the wasting of time in this life. Many of us will dearly regret the lost opportunities on our deathbed and in the Hereafter. On the Day of Judgment we will be shocked to see our records. The unveiling of the Hellfire will only horrify us. Being dragged to it and thrown into it will only increase our sorrow for having wasted our time today in trivial pursuits.

The Minor Reckoning

For many of us the reckoning begins at death, for many consider it the minor reckoning. As death approaches, a certainty descends upon all of us, namely that this life is finite and each one of us will definitely depart. In the final moments of this life a deep remorse sets in as “he ascertains that the (time of) parting has come, and one leg joins the other, for this day the drive will be (all) to the Lord,” [75:33].

Now he remembers the thousands of hours he wasted not using them for the pleasure of Allah. Despondent over his dire predicament, he begs Allah “O Lord! Please send me back (to life in the world) so I can do good in the things that I neglected,” [23:99-100].

This is one’s first occasion of genuine regret. Though his previous life was replete with artificial ho-hum taubas he now seriously repents at a time when the door of repentance shows “closed.” He has spent as many as sixty-seven years or more thinking “I’ll repent tomorrow” or “I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Regrettably, he didn’t reach “tomorrow,” and tragically death awakens him to do good when it doesn’t matter. Amazingly, he acknowledges his neglect but it is too late, for Allah’s decree has descended, the case is closed and life in this world has adjourned for him and the reckoning is about to commence. Foolishly, he tries to convince Allah that if given another chance he will surely rectify his record and avail himself of all those lost opportunities. Still affected by his worldly demeanour of trickery, he thinks he can talks his way past the Almighty and persuade Him. He thinks he can strike a deal with the All-Knowing much as he used to do in this world. He forgets that he is now dealing with the Lord of the Universe and not some drug lord, business mogul, or Harvard lawyer.

He forgets he is now attempting to outwit the Knower of the Unseen - ie Knower of what dribbles off our tongues as well as what our hearts really intend. Allah knows that he was afforded innumerable chances in this world, yet he procrastinated. Another chance would only result in nothing but more laziness. No wonder Allah rejoins “... never, it is but mere words He says.” [23:100].

Our Nervousness and Horror on the Day of Judgment

On the Day of Judgment, on the plains of reckoning, he will inevitably face moments of intense remorse and loss. Already dejected he will now discover to his regret that his closest friends actually misguided him and thoroughly misled him. On a day when any help would be invaluable he finds that he cannot count on his worldly buddies. Today his close associates will avail him of nothing, for each has his own reckoning to worry about. He reflects on all the time he spent with his “friends” at parties where they spent late nights gossiping. He remembers his gambling “partners” and drinking buddies.

He sees the lightest punishment from the Hellfire confronting him. “The slightest punishment on the Day of Judgment for the people of the Hellfire,” cautioned Prophet Muhammad, “will be when a man who will be brought forth, once two tiny pebble-sized firebrands are put on the balls of his feet, his brains will boil from their impact.” Soon after, the neglectful will become uncontrollably nervous. Amazingly, fingernail biting doesn’t appease his tension; instead his stress takes him to new heights as he now begins to bite on both his hands.

The Day that the wrongdoer will bite at his hands, he will say, ‘O, if only I had never taken such a one for a friend. He (definitely) led me astray from the message (of Allah) after it had come to me ah! Satan is (nothing) but a traitor to man!’” [25:27-29].

Sadly, his realisation has come too late. He should have chosen his associates more carefully and picked his friends more cautiously. He cannot blame others as he used to in the world. Today he has to face the consequences of his own evil choices. He parted company with the people of Paradise so he could relish all the pleasures of this world with his Hellfire “buddies” and end up in eternal perdition.