This Ramadan, our special guest blogger and columnist will be sharing daily Islamic reminders with our community.
My cell phone allows me to dictate all of the messages or articles that I write. I speak into my phone and my words turn into text. I did not write the words, but nevertheless, I am the author. The words that show up on my screen are the words that I have uttered and nothing will show up that I did not say.
And this, dear readers, is like our book of deeds in which everything we have done or said in the course of our lives is being recorded even now (see Quran 82:10-12). We did not write the book with our hands, but nevertheless, we are its author because that which is found in this book is a 100% accurate account of everything we did without leaving anything out whatsoever. (See Quran 17:13-14; 3:30; 18:49; 84:7-12; 99:6-8)
So we have to ask ourselves in a very truthful and honest way regarding what kind of entries are being made in our book of deeds. And those entries, of course, are the actions we carry out and the words that we speak in our lives. This book is waiting for us and will be presented before us when we stand before Allah and we will exclaim “what kind of book is this? It leaves nothing out whatsoever!” (see 18:49) In other words, it is a true account of everything we have done, even as the words that I see on my screen are a true record of the words that I have spoken, with one small difference. Sometimes my phone does not read my words correctly and makes a mistake. As a result, I have to manually go back and make the necessary corrections. But with our book of deeds, there will be absolutely no mistakes whatsoever and we will not be able to dispute what is written therein.
But while we are still alive and breathing we can choose which deeds we wish to have recorded in our favour. This means that if we don’t want to have deeds that we will be ashamed of when we meet Allah, then we should avoid them and instead carry out those deeds which are pleasing to Allah.
We all are very much aware of the truth of our own records, at least to a certain extent. There are some deeds that we have committed that we have totally forgotten about, while there are other deeds that we wish we could forget about but cannot. But in this book of deeds, there will be no forgetting or anything being overlooked.
But what hope do we have if there are so many bad deeds on our record? First of all, Allah loves to forgive His servants when they call upon Him and ask for forgiveness. (see Quran 39:53) One way to do this is to carry out those acts that Allah has prescribed, such as the five daily prayers, fasting the month of Ramadan and, if able, performing the Hajj and other such righteous deeds.
Consider the following hadeeth Qudsi in al-Bukhari:
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said: Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him.
We should also keep in mind, as stated in the Quran, that every bad deed counts as one while every good deed counts as 10. (See Quran 6:160) This is an example of the generosity of Allah towards His servants even when they are disobedient.
When we stand before Allah and our good deeds are placed on one side of a scale and our bad deeds are placed on the other, if our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds then this will be good news for us. But if our bad deeds outweigh our good deeds then this is not very good news at all. (See Quran 23:102-103; But, as I stated, Allah has made the weight of the good deeds much greater than the weight of the bad deeds.
And Allah says: “And we place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no soul will be treated unjustly in any way.” [Sūrah al-Anbiyā, 21:47]
During this blessed month, there is an opportunity to carry out more good deeds as they are more rewardable during this time of fasting. In addition, this month contains Lalatyl Qadr which is better than 1,000 months. This is why we should take every opportunity we can to carry out as many good deeds as possible during this blessed month, as well as on the night of Lalatyl Qadr. Doing so helps to ensure that our record of good deeds will be heavier when we stand before Allah.
And we should never discount any good deed as insignificant. Recall that Jabir ibn Sulaym reported: I came to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and I said, “O Messenger of Allah, instruct me.” The Prophet said, “Fear Allah and do not belittle any good deed, not even emptying your bucket in a cup for someone to drink or speaking to your brother with a cheerful face.” — (al-Sunan al-Kubrá lil-Nasā’ī)
We should always hope that Allah will accept all that we do and know that He is most generous to those who turn to him in sincerity and hope.
Hudhayfa (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “The angels received the soul of a man who lived before you. They said: Have you done anything good? The man said no. They said: Try to remember. The man said: I used to give loans and I would order my servants to give respite to those in difficulty, and to overlook the faults of those in ease. Allah Almighty said: Overlook his faults.” — Bukhari and Muslim
And in another version of the same hadith:
Abu Mas’ud (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “A man from the time before you was called to account in the Hereafter. Nothing good was found with him except that he was lenient in his business with people and he would order his servant to relieve the debts of those in hardship. Allah Almighty said: We are more worthy of such actions, so overlook his sins.” — Bukhari and Muslim
And yet another version:
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “A man would give loans to the people and he would say to his servant: If the debtor is in hardship you should forgive the debt that perhaps Allah will relieve us. So when he met Allah, then Allah relieved him.”
— Bukhari and Muslim
The believer asks Allah for forgiveness on a regular basis and we are reminded many times in the Quran that Allah is indeed forgiving. Allah says in the Quran:
Say, ˹O Prophet, that Allah says,˺ “O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins.1 He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah Az-Zumar 39:53-54)
In addition, the Prophet (PBUH) asked Allah for forgiveness over 70 times a day and he (PBUH) is our example of conduct. The mindful and observant Muslim is always aware of personal shortcomings and sins and knows the only hope of salvation is Allah’s forgiveness.
One means of obtaining Allah’s forgiveness is to be lenient and forgiving toward others. And this is the central message of the above prophetic narrations.
A man passed away and was brought before Allah and he could not think of anything of good that he did during his lifetime other than being lenient and forgiving toward those who owed him money. If they could not pay he would give them more time. And if they were unable to pay at all due to real hardship he would totally forgive them of their debts. And then Allah Almighty said: “We are more worthy of such actions, so overlook his sins.” In other words, Allah is more worthy to forgive than we human beings are. For the man’s simple act of leniency and forgiveness, Allah forgave him and he was admitted into paradise.
In another hadeeth Jabir (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “May Allah have mercy on a man who is lenient when selling, buying, and seeking repayment.” — Bukhari
We too, if we want to receive Allah’s forgiveness, should follow the same course of action. Be easygoing with people who are in your debt, who you work with or who are in your employment. Be lenient with them when they are going through a difficult time, and outright forgive them when they are not in a position to pay you back at all.
Even as we want Allah to be lenient and forgiving toward us, we need to work on being lenient and forgiving toward others. This is a means of obtaining forgiveness from Allah. And the month of Ramadan, which is so full of blessings, is the best time to do this.
[Br. Shawn is a trained minister and former assistant pastor. He embraced Islam in 1993, Masha Allah.]