Dear readers, it is common to see people rejoicing and celebrating at the end of every year without knowing that something has decreased from their life-span. Al-Hasan Al-Basry, a scholar and pious man, rightly said, “Son of Adam, you are but a number of days; whenever each day passes, part of you is gone.” The simile of this adage is that of a string of beads – whenever a day elapses, a bead is taken off until all of them are gone.”
In as much as almost all successful companies evaluate and audit their processes, goals, procedures – among other things – at the end of the year, individuals ought to do the same albeit in terms of what acts of worship have they performed and how many sins have they committed so that they hasten to repent to Allah (to Whom belongs all might and majesty) and reform themselves categorically.
Shaddad bin Aws (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said what can be translated as: “A wise man is the one who takes account of himself and strives for what is after death. And a failure is the person who surrenders to his whims and desires, and then indulges in wishful thinking about Allah’s forgiveness.” (Majority of the experts of prophetic narrations say that its meaning is correct being corroborated by other narrations, see Al-Fataawa Al-Hadeethiyya 1/56)
Imam Ibnul-Qayyim said that self-evaluation is compulsory due to the following verse, which can be translated as: “O you who believe, be ever God-fearing, and let every soul consider carefully what it has prepared for its meeting with Allah tomorrow. Thus, be ever God-fearing, indeed, God is all-aware of all that you do.”(Al-Hashr 59: 18 – 20)
Scholars of Islamic Jurisprudence asserted that self-evaluation can be done in two ways, they are: To consider carefully what you intend to do; will it benefit you, or is it better to avoid it or do something else? Holding yourself accountable and evaluating the acts that you performed by asking yourself the following questions: Did you perform them perfectly? Did you seek God’s pleasure by performing them? Was it necessary doing them? and What difference will doing them make?
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was keen on enjoining his companions to evaluate themselves before being held accountable by God. Abu Ayyoub Al-Ansarey (RA) narrated thus: A man approached Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and said, “O Messenger Allah, teach me briefly.” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) advised him thus: “When you stand up to pray, consider it your last prayer, and pray as if you are seeing Allah (to Whom belongs all might and majesty).
And if you do not see Him, definitely He sees you. Moreover, avoid saying a word to someone for which you will have to apologize, and be determined to eschew coveting what people have.” (Al-Albani rated it as Saheeh (authentic) in Saheeh Al-Ja’mei # 3, 776)
Dear readers, self-evaluation does not mean you deny yourself the enjoyments of this life. So long as you enjoy yourself within the parameters of God’s commands, there is no problem with that. However, you should make sure you strike a balance between your life enjoyments and worshipping God. God Almighty tells us what can be translated as: “… but seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” (Al-Qasas 28: 77)
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By Hassan T Bwambale