The Importance of Self-Accounting
It is that time of the year when we have to take the time to fill out our tax forms. Some of us hire an accountant to take care of that job, some of us plan early and submit our yearly forms ahead of time, while others wait till the last minute to do our taxes. Painful as it is, none of us looks forward to this time of the year, when we have to review our financial records for the past year. But whether we like it or not, it has to be done, and the consequences of not doing so are grave, both state-wise and federal.
Likewise, just like we make it a point every year to file our worldly taxes, it is worth taking the time on a regular basis to file our ‘heavenly’ taxes and review our deeds and actions of our lives. Whether we do it on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis is up to our convenience; however, doing so daily is a much easier task than doing it occasionally. The idea of Muhasabat Al-Nafs (self-accounting) is highly recommended in Islam, and there are numerous narrations which urge us to observe this disciplinary practice. We are encouraged to call ourselves to account before we are called to it and to weigh our deeds before a day when they shall be weighed for us.
The Holy Qur’an describes the Day of Resurrection as the Day of Auditing and the Almighty God as the one who audits promptly. One of the most difficult stages through which we all have to pass over on the Day of Resurrection is the stage of auditing of deeds. During our entire span of life, we perform various deeds which we forget after a while, but they are registered and recorded in our scroll of deeds in a manner that not even the smallest or most insignificant action is removed from the letter of deeds.
God advises us clearly in the Qur’an, “Oh you who believe, be conscious of God and maintain your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent to the morrow, and fear God. Verily, God is All-aware of what you do.” [59:18] The Almighty also says, “And whether you make known what is in your minds or hide it, God will bring you to account for it.” (2:284)
Our Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has also stressed the importance of self-accounting on numerous occasions. For example, he said: “On the Day of Judgment, each servant of God will not be able to move forward even a single step without being questioned about the following: how he spent his life, how he spent his youth, through what means he earned the money and how was it spend, and about the guardianship of us (Ahlul Bayt).” (Bihar al-Anwar)
Now is the time to ask ourselves whether or not the earnings on our W2’s are coming from legitimate sources according to Islamic standards. It is the appropriate time to assess whether our spendings are in the way of Allah or in meaningless and unnecessary things. It is a good time to make sure that as we pay out our taxes to the government if we owe something, that we also pay our yearly Khums to the Divine government that is obligatory upon us.
mam Ali al-Naqi (peace be upon him) has advised us, “Whoever does not scrutinize his actions daily does not belong to us; then if he found that he has performed some righteous deeds, he should request God to increase His Grace, and in case he has done an evil act, he should seek pardon from Him by offering repentance.” (Wasail al-Shi’a) The purpose of this exercise of scrutiny and self-auditing is to discover one’s faults and sins, thus leading to repentance and struggle to correcting one’s faults and purifying one’s self.
A man is like an investor in this world; his limited capital, rather, his life span consists of these very hours, days, weeks, months, and years. This most precious capital – i.e. one’s life span – willingly or unwillingly gets consumed, and eventually one approaches death. The youth turns into old age, strength gives up to weakness, and sound health changes into illness. If one has performed righteous deeds and forwarded some provisions for the Hereafter, then in that case he has not suffered a loss, because he had secured for himself a happy and prosperous future. But if he wasted his precious capital, consisting of his life, youth, strength, and physical fitness, and against all this spending no righteous deed was deposited for his Hereafter, and instead, with moral abjectness and indulgence into sins and transgressions, he made his heart dark and contaminated, then he has inflicted upon himself the most severe damage and loss which could never be compensated.
Indeed, the stage of piety cannot be reached unless a person questions his own deeds, and as the Prophet stated in the above-mentioned tradition, one of the things that we will be questioned about is the love and devotion to the Holy Household of the Prophet (peace be upon them), and surely it is the most important! On what level of the scale of Wilayah do we stand, and are we truly translating our claimed love to the Infallible Imams to actions and deeds which stamps a signature of devotion to them? We hope and pray that we attain their intercession which we desperately need, and that our deeds are overlooked and forgiven by virtue of their greatness and status in Allah’s eyes.
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