How Do I Call Myself to Account?
Holding oneself to account is of two types: One before the action
and the other after the action
The First Type
It is necessary for the one who calls himself to account before he engages upon saying something particular or a particular action or any action for that matter, that he stops and looks with clear insight, not with his whim or desire, at this action.
Is this action in itself good for him, will he acquire recompense and reward for it from Allaah? Or is this action disobedience which will lead to earning evil and increasing ones burdens?
If he sees that this action is good and there is benefit in it for his religion, his life and the Hereafter he then moves onto another matter.
And this is to see whether Allaah's Face, His pleasure and the home of the Hereafter is desired by this action or is it merely for showing off, fame and seeking to be heard of?
If he had desired Allaah's Face by it then he should proceed with this action, whilst relying upon Allaah and seeking help from Him.
When he has finished from his action it is still necessary for him to call himself to account after he has acted. This enables him to see whether he made it sincerely and purely for Allaah or whether he was deceived (into thinking that it was) and satisfied with just merely performing the action, perhaps due to the praise of people. Then he forgets his initial desire and intention which was seeking the Face of Allaah. Was it better for him to perform that action or to fall short in executing it and abandoning it?
For this reason we find that the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has strongly encouraged us to be quiet if we do not find any good and useful words to speak. He said: "Whoever believes in Allaah and the Last Day let him speak good or remain silent
." [Reported by Bukhaaree and Muslim] Imaan an-Nawawi said: "When a person desires to speak, if there is definite goodness in his words for which he will be rewarded then let him speak and if it does not appear to him that there will be good in his words and that he will be rewarded then he should refrain from speaking."
When a servant is strict and hard upon himself in such a way he will travel upon the path of goodness and success as a result of it.
However, if he abandons his soul and neglects it he will be lead to the path of destruction and ruin by it, and into committing sins very easily without having the desire to seek forgiveness and repent from them.
The Second Type: Calling the soul to account after the action has been complete
This itself is of three types:
A person brings the soul to account for an act of obedience which was performed and which fell short in fulfilling Allaah ’ s right.
This means that it was not performed in the best possible way.
The right of Allaah upon the servant in every act of obedience consists of six matters:
1. Sincerity in the action (for the sake of Allaah alone) ,
2. Pure devotion to Allaah in it,
3. Following and imitating the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) in it,
4. Seeing and observing excellence in it
5. Seeing Allaah ’ s Benevolence in it
6. Seeing one ’ s shortcomings (in performing this action) after all of this.
So a person will call himself to account. Has he considered all these things with care and attention, the way they ought to be? And did he fulfil them all in this action?
A person calls himself to account for every action that he did, the abandonment of which would have been better for him than actually doing it.
A person calls himself to account for a matter that is mubaah (permissible - with no reward or punishment resulting from it).
Why did he do it? And did he desire the Face of Allaah and the home of the Hereafter by it so that he will have profited and succeeded?
Or did he desire by it, the world and its temporary rewards and delights as a result of which he loses that success
A person will call himself to account so that one day when he is sixty years old he will be counting his days and will find that they are twenty-one thousand and six-hundred in number. He lets out a scream and says: "Woe be to me, I will meet my Lord with twenty-one thousand sins. How will it be when there are thousands of sins in a day?!" Then he falls to the ground unconscious, and dies.
Let us therefore, look at the strictness and intensity of the way he called himself to account and the way in which he saw his sins to be against him. What then, will our condition be?!
One amongst the Salaf would choose a certain time, late at night, to call his soul to account. He would ask himself about the obligatory duties first and if he found any deficiency in them, he would complete them, either by fulfilling them or by making up for them.
Then he would call his soul to account with respect to the forbidden matters since he did something which the Sharee'ah has forbidden or which the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) warned against. So he would make up for it by seeking forgiveness from Allaah and then being remorseful and repenting from it.
Then he would hold his soul to account for its heedlessness. If he had been heedless of what he had been created for he would make up for it with the remembrance of Allaah, directing his attention towards Him and performing His worship. If he had been heedless with respect to a certain sin and went on to commit it, he would return to Allaah, seeking forgiveness from Him, repenting to Him.
He then goes on to call himself to account about what he said and uttered on a certain day, or to what his feet walked towards or what his hands grasped or what his eyes saw or what his ears heard and so on. He would therefore, see whether his action was in agreement with what Allaah is pleased with and whether he desired Allaah with his action and made it sincerely and purely for Him. Or did a blemish or impurity mix with his action such as showing off or seeking to be heard of, or opposing the command of Allaah (in the way that he performed his action).
Therefore, he throws against every one of his actions or his words two questions:
- For whom did I do it?! Was it for Allaah or other than Him? This a question about sincerity to Allaah.
- The other question: How did I do it?! Was it in agreement with the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah? Was it in agreement with the Sharee'ah or did it oppose and contradict the Sharee'ah (this is a question about following and imitating the way of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)).
--- will be continued, Insha Allah