عمرَ بن الخطَّاب رَضِيَ اللهُ عنهُ أَنَّهُ قَالَ حاسِبُوا أَنْفُسَكُم قَبلَ أَنْ تُحَاسِبُوا وَزِنُوا أَنْفُسَكُم قَبلَ أَنْ تُوزَنُوا
Umar ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Call yourself to account before Allah does. Weigh your deeds before Allah does.”
Al-Alaamah ibn Qayyim Al-Jawzeeyah (may Allah have mercy on him) wrote some remarkable words for this athar in his book, “Ighaathatu Al-Laahfan”. He said,”There are two ways to call the soul to account for its deeds. The first way is done before the deed and the second is after the action.
The first way is to halt and reflect on the intention for the act. The action isn’t done until it is clear (to you) that doing the deed is better than leaving it. Hasan Al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “May Allah have mercy on a slave that pauses at the intention. If the deed is for Allah, it is done, and if it is for another reason, it is abandoned”.
Some of the people of knowledge explained Hasan Al-Basri’s words. They said: When the soul is set in motion to do an act with an intention, the slave pauses and thinks. “Is this act possible or not and do I have the ability to do it?” Therefore if it’s not possible he doesn’t proceed. When it’s possible to carry out this action he pauses again and says, “Is it better for me to do this action or leave it? “If it’s better for the slave to refrain from doing this deed, he doesn’t carry it out.”
Now, if it is better for the slave to do this act, he advances; but pauses again. This time he reflects to see if his reason for doing the deed is for Allah’s face and reward or if it is for praise, fame or wealth from creation. If his intention is for worldly gain, he quits and leaves this endeavor; even though he could have attained what he desired. The reason he leaves this act is so the soul won’t be accustomed to Shirk. When the soul is accustomed to Shirk – deeds practiced for other than Allah, they become easy to do. And on the other hand, deeds done for Allah grow difficult on the soul. They grow to be so difficult that they develop into the most difficult things to practice.
Lastly if the deed is for Allah’s treasures the slave pauses again. This time he looks to see if he has any one to help and assist him if the action requires such. And if there isn’t anyone who can help, he holds back from the action. This is similar to how the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) remained from fighting Jihad in Mecca, until he had help and power.
These are the four steps that are needed to call yourself to account for a deed before its done.
The second type of account is done after the deed is completed. There are three ways to do this:
- Call the soul to account in obedience to Allah. Were there any shortcomings in fulfilling Allah’s rights, which prevented the deed from happening the way it should have? In reference to Allah’s rights there are six; sincerity, advice to Allah, proficiency, thankfulness to Allah, following the Sunnah , and the ability to acknowledge there were some faults in the action after the deed is complete. Therefore afterwards the slave looks to see if he carried out these six things completely. Did he do them in obedience?
- The soul is called to account to see if leaving the action would have been better.
- The soul is called to account for actions that are permissible and its normal practices. “Why did I do this action? “Did I do it seeking Allah’s pleasure and Jannah?” and if that’s the reason, the deed is a profit. Conversely, “Did I do this act seeking the temporal worldly gain? “If that’s the reason, the profit in that act is now lost!