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Chapter 16: The Waning Dusk (series)


Myth: Counting your good deeds before the Judgment Day

That’s half of Ramadan gone. Calls for an official half-time evaluation which we should be doing every waking minute anyway. Here’s the question-

Say, “Shall We tell you about the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds?” (18:103)

When I first read this, my immediate response was: “Kaafir and Mushrik!” But the answer was quite humbling and made me count the skeletons in my closet.

This is something worth losing sleep over.

“Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds!” (18:104)

Imagine coming up with a mountain of good deeds on the Judgment Day and watch it amount to nothing. There are worldly motives behind everything that we do and sometimes behind religious activities too. You share something good on Facebook– you sit back and wait for likes to pour in. You work away on a blog post all night, hit ‘Publish’, spread it around and then you find yourself fixated on the stats. Number of visitors, likes, follows and reblogs… And the passion nosedives if your posts and statuses don’t receive as much attention as you would’ve liked.

It all boils down to intentions at the end of the day. There is an internal monologue I’m sure everyone’s familiar with when they’re trying to get their act together. Make sure pleasing Allah is set on default. In fact, unlike computers where your settings stay fixed, you have to keep changing your default settings.

Materialism is one of the dominant themes of Surah Al-Kahf, and is highlighted in these verses too. Whatever it is that you are exhausting yourself with in this life, if you keep Allah out of the equation, your good deeds will weigh naught. Imagine the work on your sleepless nights wasted to nothingness. There are times when your bones creak because of the stress. Because you’ve decided to go an extra mile volunteering for causes in your otherwise very busy life. It’s scary to think that it could all turn to dust– poof!

Honestly, when I look back at some of my things people might classify as good, I can’t come up with any that I think is preserved in its sincerest form. It’s like every good that you do is followed by a whine, or complaints, selfish motives, unnecessary broadcasting or you reminding somebody that you did them a favor. If you even imply as much– it’s gone. Kaput. Totaled.

When one of my Quran mentors passed away a couple of years back, I only prayed for her efforts be accepted. It would be terrifying to meet your Rabb with hollow deeds. To have struggled your entire life but draw a blank. And I’d rather people pray the same for me and everyone else. Because no matter how much you want your actions to be solely for Allah, they always get corrupted.

The truth is- we are more concerned about accumulating good deeds than about preserving them.

“A believer catches his intention changing forty times a day, but a hypocrite remains on the same intention for forty years.”

-Yasir Qadhi

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