In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate
All praise be to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon the most noble of the Prophets and Messengers
Today’s Tarbiya is covering the last chapter of ‘Dying and Living for Allah’, which is the last will and testament of the teacher and activist, Khurram Murad. Like most wills and testaments the work was written for close family and friends, and was not intended for publication. But upon receiving this beautiful and wise collection of thoughts and advice, Murad’s family published his words for the benefit of other Muslims. I’d encourage you all to read it in its entirety, but for the sake of brevity I’ll only be covering the closing chapter: ‘Journey to Fear and Hope’.
If you feel I’m cheating you of this weeks Tarbiya, than I’m sincerely sorry, but some things are better read with our own eyes, rather than through someone else’s. However, what I will ask you to do is read the passages and place yourself in each of the scenarios Murad discusses; at each point asking yourself if you’ve prepared well enough for the journey ahead, and if the road you’ve travelled by will place you as close to your Lord as you wish to be placed.
“When I reflect about my ultimate fate, the state is one between fear and hope. It is, however, fear that is dominant. It is within the power of Allah that at the time my end comes, hope might dominate over fear. I am full of regrets, full of sorrow, and full of shame over my misdeeds. When I read in the Quran about those who will be at the forefront of the exalted ones (al-sabiqun) in Paradise, or those who will enjoy Allah’s proximity in the Hereafter (al-muqarrabun), a twinge of sorrow sparks off in me. It was not all that difficult. And I remember what the Quran tells us: ‘And not far thence, Paradise shall be brought close to the God-fearing’ (50:31)
Yet I lost all the opportunities. For no good reason I emburdened myself with sins, sins which have caused nothing but destruction. It is difficult not to give up yearning to be apart of those who will be at the forefront of the good ones, or those who will enjoy the proximity of Allah in Paradise. But this seems like too good a dream to come true. Then I think of the ashab al-yamin (the people of the right hand) those whose good deeds will be heavier and who will be saved, even tough they would have committed sins. When I look at the pans of balance, here too there does not seem much hope, for I do not think I have myself deserving of being included in this category, even though this would have been easy
Then I read the description of ashab al-shimal (the people of the left hand), the people of Hell. I can hardly believe that I would be included among them. What will happen, then? My state seems to be the one described by the verse ‘There are those who have confessed their sins; their good works had been intermixed with evil, and perchance Allah will turn to them in mercy. Allah is All-Pardoning; All-Compassionate’ (9:102)
I have my share of good deeds and of sins too of which I am unaware. I also confess my sins, those that I know and those too of which I am unaware. A Day will come when people will confess their sins, and will confess them with pangs of regret and say: ‘If only we listened and understood’ (67.10) So I stand, in the words of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, ‘confessing and owing my sins to Thee’, and I do so before the coming of the Awesome Day. The tears of repentance are also flowing in accompaniment with a feeling of regret. This gives rise to some hope: it is well within the power of Him Who is All-Pardoning and All-Compassionate to look upon me with His Mercy, to compassionately turn to me and clasp me with His Grace. Maybe out of mercy He would not hand out my record of life publicly, and that which has hitherto remained hidden from others will remain hidden; maybe he would decide to show deference to the favourable opinions in which others have held me in this world so that the good opinions of so many believers are not proved untrue. He might cover me entirely with His Forgiveness and Mercy.
I recite this three times: ‘Thy Forgiveness is much vaster than my sins and Thy Mercy is much greater a source of hope than my deeds’, and my ears strain to hear from somewhere the heartening proclamation: ‘Rise, your sins are forgiven’… At such times my heart has been stirred by the hope of the fulfilment of the following promise: ‘If, whenever they wronged themselves, they had only come to thee and had prayed to Allah for forgiveness, and had the Messenger [also] prayed for their forgiveness, they would have found Allah All-Forgiving. All- Compassionate’ (4:64). Repentance and yearning, and yearning and repentance: this is the total harvest of life…’ (Khurram Murad)
The above are the words of someone who was older, had watched his children grow to maturity and had faced ups and downs in his health; perhaps we would expect him to be the sort of person who should be writing and thinking these thoughts. But the reflections he casts should never be too far from the thoughts of the believer, young or old – in our daily lives we plan for tomorrow, for next week and for months and years ahead. We make these plans with the hope that Allah will give us the life and strength to fulfil them, but how well are we planning for the time when we will leave this world and face the realities of the next?
The final sentence of a Hadith Qudsi reads: ‘…O My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good, praise Allah, and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself.’ (Bukhari) In the hadith Allah tells us that we, the ‘servants’ have ownership over our deeds – they are within our control, and therefore our responsibility. Our choices, deeds, and the very process by which we make those choices should consistently draw us closer to Allah. And for every choice or decision we make we should ask ourselves have I moved closer to Allah, or distanced myself, and will this prepare me well enough for ‘The day that all things secret will be tested ( and man) will have no power, no helper’ (86:9-10) ? I ask Allah to guide us and keep us firm in our faith. May He make heavy our good deeds and absolve us of our sins, and may we always feel the strength of His Mercy. Ameen.