What kind of a reckoning will there be on the Day of Reckoning?
On the Day of Reckoning, everyone will be individually judged. Everything a man has done throughout his life will be shown without anything being withheld:
“…even if something weighs as little as a mustard-seed and is inside a rock or anywhere else in the heavens or earth, Allah will bring it out. Allah is All-Pervading, All-Aware.” (Surah Luqman: 16).
Nothing a person has done will remain a secret.
One may forget what he did in the world of this life, but Allah does not forget any of his deeds and brings them before him on the day of reckoning. Everybody will be given the record of his deeds on the day of reckoning. At the same time, the scales of justice that weigh the good and evil deeds of man are brought in and no one is wronged by so much as the smallest speck. During the reckoning, the human being’s hearing, his sight and his skin will testify against him and those who have witnessed what he has done in the life of this world will be brought in to testify. The unbelievers will be driven into hell after a dreadful reckoning. But the believers will be given an easy reckoning, after which they will enter heaven with all the joy and excitement of a great victory.
Allah has proclaimed in the Qur’an that everybody will be held accountable for what he has done. Everyone will be made to see what he has done in the world, one by one, and no one will be able to help another unless Allah so wills. This truth is stated in the Qur’an as follows:
No burden-bearer can bear another’s burden. If someone who is weighed down calls for help to bear his load, none of it will be borne for him, even by his next of kin… (Surat al-Fatir: 18)
On that day, it is impossible to make up for anything. To believe after death will not lead anyone to success. As is also stated in the Quran, the unbelievers will beg to be allowed to do everything demanded of them on the day of reckoning, but nothing will be accepted from them any more. They will wish to go back to the world and do righteous deeds but their wishes will be refused. When they realize that there is no possibility of atonement, the unbelievers will feel an unbearable regret. The feelings of hopelessness and regret experienced there is incomparable to anything in this world, because the unbelievers will realize that they will live in the punishment of hell forever, without the slightest hope of escape, unless Allah so wills:
If only you could see them standing before the Fire, saying, ‘Oh! If only we could be sent back again, we would not deny the Signs of our Lord and we would be among those who believe.’ No, it is simply that what they were concealing before has been shown to them; and if they were sent back, they would merely return to what they were forbidden to do. Truly, they are liars. They say, ‘There is nothing but this life and we will not be raised again.’ If only you could see them when they are standing before their Lord. He will say, ‘Is this not the Truth?’ They will say, ‘Yes indeed, by our Lord!’ He will say, ‘Then taste Our punishment because you rejected the Faith.’ (Surat al-An’am: 27-30)
What kind of a place is Hell?
For unbelievers, Hell is a place where there are all kinds of distress, torment and punishment which last forever. In the Qur’an, it is said of Hell:
Hell lies in wait—a homecoming for the profligate who shall remain in it for ages, not tasting any coolness there or any drink, except for boiling water and decaying filth— a fitting recompense. (Surat al-Naba’: 21-26)
In the verses of the Qur’an, it is related that there is literally a life in Hell. But it is a life in which all kinds of humiliation, misery, disgrace, physical and psychological torture are experienced.
By the given standards of life in this world, man cannot fully comprehend the punishment of Hell. The unbelievers undergo great punishment in hell in every respect, both physically and spiritually. Moreover, there is never any interruption in or lessening of this punishment:
But no! Hell is a Raging Blaze stripping away the limbs and scalp, which claims all who drew back and turned away, and amassed wealth and hoarded it up. (Surat al-Ma‘arij: 15-18)
Paradise is a place where those sincere servants who love Allah very much, fear and respect Him wholeheartedly, who have observed the verses of the Qur’an, obeyed Allah’s orders and lived their lives to gain His approval, will live forever in happiness, possessing everything they want. In paradise, man will be able to instantly enjoy whatever beauty he may think of and do anything he wants, whenever he wants. Paradise holds everything man’s self may desire and enjoy, and even more. The generous recompense the believers will receive there is related in these verses:
My servants, you will feel no fear today; you will know no sorrow.
As for those who believed in Our Signs and became Muslims:
Enter the Garden, you and your wives, delighting in your joy.
Platters and cups of gold will passed around among you and you will have there all that the heart desires and the eye finds delight in. You will remain in it timelessly, forever.
That is the Garden you will inherit for what you did. (Surat az-Zukhruf: 68-72)
…Allah has inscribed faith upon such people’s hearts and will reinforce them with a spirit of His own and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing under them. There they shall remain timelessly, forever. Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. Such people are of the party of Allah. Truly, it is the party of Allah who are successful. (Surat al-Mujadilah: 22)
Some other qualities of the believers to whom Allah promises Heaven are stated in the Qur’an as follows:
those who believe and do good works (Surat al-Baqarah: 25),
those who go in fear (taqwa) of Allah (Surat al ‘Imran: 15),
those who control their rage (Surat al ‘Imran: 134),
those who do not knowingly persist in their misdeeds. (Surat al ‘Imran: 135),
those who obey Allah and His Messenger (Surat an-Nisa: 13),
those who say their prayers (salat) regularly and give in charity (zakat) regularly, and believe in Allah’s Messengers and respect and support them (Surat al-Ma‘idah: 12),
those who are sincere (Surat al-Ma‘idah: 119),
those who do good (Surah Yunus: 26),
those who humble themselves before their Lord (Surah Hud: 23),
those who honour their trusts and their contracts (Surat al-Muminun: 8),
those who repent (Surah Maryam: 60),
those who say their prayers (salat) regularly (Surat al-Muminun: 9),
those who outdo each other in goodness (Surah Fatir: 32),
those who turn to Allah in sincere repentance (Surah Qaf: 32),
those who fear the All-Merciful in the Unseen and come with a heart turned in devotion to Him. (Surah Qaf: 33).
In any society, there is a general concept of “virtue” established by its members. People who give money to beggars, behave to others in a friendly manner and, try to help them with their petty problems are considered “virtuous people”. These are certainly good forms of behavior. Yet, the virtue with which Allah will be pleased is not a concept limited to such matters. A truly “virtuous person” is one who believes in Allah with a sincere heart and organizes his life in a way of which Allah will approve. In the Qur’an, Allah has explained what true virtue is:
It is not a virtue to turn your faces to the East or to the West. Rather, the truly virtuous are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets, and who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travellers and beggars and to set servants free, and who say their prayers (salat) and give in charity (zakat) regularly; those who honour their contracts when they make them, and are steadfast in poverty and illness and in times of war. Those are the people who are true believers. They are the people who are the Allah-fearing. (Surat al-Baqara: 177)
In societies which do not live according to the moral values of the Qur’an, very different values can cause people to feel love and respect towards each other, like sharing the same culture, holding a title, being beautiful, or dressing smartly. A love based on such worldly values is not, of course, true love at all. And such respect is not true respect. Once the other side no longer possesses these means, the love they maintained was so powerful will disappear in a single moment. Yet, the real goal of the believers is the approval of Allah. Because of their love for Allah, they also feel love and affection towards that which Allah created. This love never fades in the face of want or difficulty and is not shaped by material values. They are never on friendly terms with manners with which Allah is not pleased, nor can they feel any affection towards a person embodying such manners in their hearts. This is stated in the Qur’an:
You will not find people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having any regard for anyone who opposes Allah and His Messenger, though they be their fathers, their sons, their brothers or their nearest kindred. (Surat al-Mujadilah: 22)
Allah orders believers in many verses of the Qur’an to be together and not to turn away from believers by desiring the life of this world:
Hold fast to the rope of Allah all together, and do not separate. Remember Allah’s blessing to you when you were enemies and He joined your hearts together so that you became brothers by His blessing. You were on the very brink of the pit of the Fire and He rescued you from it. In this way Allah makes His Signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be guided. (Surat Al Imran: 103)
A person who lives according to the Qur’an is surely bound to obey these commands of Allah like all of Allah’s other commands. To be with the believers is a great blessing and a support for every human being. For instance, after Allah gave Musa (as) the responsibility of prophethood, Musa (as) asked for his brother Harun (as) to be a helper to him. Believers always remind each other about Allah, they forbid one another to commit evil acts or make mistakes, they help each other and cooperate in every way possible. Also, of all people, believers are the ones who have the highest moral standards and who always act conscientiously. Therefore, the most peaceful environments are those in which the believers live together.
The lives of those who believe in Allah in this world are beautiful in every respect, just as their lives will be in the hereafter. Allah gives the good news to those who act righteously that they will also be rewarded generously in this world:
To all those, male or female, who, being believers, act rightly, We will give a good life and We will recompense them according to their noblest deeds. (Surat an-Nahl: 97)
There is no specific place, time or way of praying to Allah. Allah is closer to us than our jugular vein and He knows and sees everything that crosses our minds, everything that we think, everything in our subconscience, and everything else too. Therefore, we can call to Allah and ask for His help at any time – while walking, working at something, eating, sitting, or standing. Allah defines what the attitude of one who prays should be:
“Call on your Lord humbly and secretly...” (Surat al-A‘raf: 55)
What is important is that one who prays must turn to Allah alone and be sincere.
Allah hears the call of everyone and responds to whoever invokes His name. He has stated this truth thus:
“If My servants ask you about Me, I am indeed close (to them). I answer the call of the caller when he calls on Me...” (Surat al-Baqara: 186)
Allah states in the Qur’an that He will respond to the oppressed and distressed when they call on Him, provided that the suppliant truly and sincerely wants what he prays for.
However, it must not be forgotten that people may not always identify what is favorable and good for them. It may be that something that we imagine to be good for us is not so. Since Allah knows that we are not fully knowledgeable and keeps everything under His control, He may on some occasions refuse to grant a prayer, but may give us a greater blessing when the time is ripe. Besides, man is created with a hasty nature and sometimes he is over eager to have everything he wants realized. Allah may then delay His response to a prayer. Allah’s decree is always the most beautiful and is definitely good. The suppliant always has to be patient and await Allah’s will.
It is enough for man to say sincerely that he repents to Allah for his sins and mistakes, ask forgiveness from Allah and pledge not to repeat them again. Allah says:
But if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and amends his conduct, Allah will turn towards him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving and Most Merciful. (Surat al-Ma’ida: 39)
Allah accepts every sincere form of repentance which involves the offender pledging not to repeat his mistake and subsequently amending his conduct. The greatness or the pettiness of the sin makes no difference. The important thing is deciding to root out bad attitudes. Allah’s verdict regarding repentance is as follows:
Allah only accepts the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and then quickly repent after doing it. Allah turns towards such people in mercy. Allah is All-Knowing and All-Wise. (Surat an-Nisa’: 17)
This is an extremely insincere thought which causes many people to go wrong. Allah knows all hearts and the secrets hidden in them. Allah may have proclaimed that He will accept the repentance of those who truly regret their deeds and who decisively correct their conduct, but those who commit sins thinking, “Allah will forgive me anyway” will nevertheless have to account in the hereafter for everything they have done and they will be recompensed or punished accordingly.
Of no effect is the repentance of those who persist in doing evil until death comes to them and who then say, ‘Now we repent’, nor of people who die rejecting faith. We have prepared for them a painful punishment. (Surat an-Nisa’: 18)
Why is prayer important?
Five regular daily prayers, among the most important observances after faith itself, are acts of worship which believers are commanded to carry out throughout their lives at the specific times appointed.
Human beings are prone to forgetfulness and heedlessness. If they fail to use their will and become caught up in the flow of their day-to-day activities, then they become distanced from those subjects they really ought to be concentrating on. They may forget that Allah surrounds them in every possible way, that He sees and hears them at every moment, that they will account to Him for all their deeds, the existence of Paradise and Hell, that nothing takes place outside destiny and that there is something auspicious in all events. Falling into heedlessness may cause people to neglect the true purpose behind their lives.
The prayer, however, which is performed five times daily, eliminates this forgetfulness and neglect, and keeps a believer’s consciousness and will alive. It ensures that the believer constantly turns to Allah and helps him lead a life directed towards the observance of our Creator’s commandments. The believer who stands in the presence of Allah ready to perform the prayer establishes a powerful spiritual bond with our Lord. One verse describes how the prayer reminds a person of Allah and prevents all forms of wickedness:
Were other prophets commanded to perform the prayer?
The prayer has been made obligatory for all believers, from the prophets on down. All the prophets sent to mankind throughout the course of history have preached this observance, made obligatory by Allah, and have been role models for all believers by performing that obligation in the finest and truest manner possible.
The Qur’an contains several verses regarding the prophets being commanded to perform the prayer, the scrupulous way they performed and maintained it, and the way they passed that command on to their own societies. Some of these verses read:
- For the Prophet Ibrahim (as):
- For the Prophet Isma‘il (as):
The blessed Maryam, a role model for female believers, was also commanded to perform the prayer:
The Prophet ‘Isa (as) also received that same commandment from Allah:
The times of this obligatory observance have been stipulated for believers in the Qur’an. The relevant verse reads:
There are five timings for the prayer; “morning,” “noon,” “afternoon,” “evening” and “night.” These are clearly set out in several verses in the Qur’an, one of which reads:
Our Prophet (saas), who best understood and commented on the Qur’an through the revelation and inspiration of Allah, also described the timings of the five prayers in the day. One of the hadiths in which the timings of the prayer are revealed is that reported by 'Abdullah b. 'Amr:
Both the verses of the Qur’an and the sound hadiths of our Prophet (saas), as well as statements by Islamic scholars, show that there are five timings for the prayer and that there can be no debate over this.
The five daily prayers, with their fards (obligatory), wajibs (compulsory) and sunnahs, consist of 40 rakats (units), as follows:
How does one perform the prayer with khushu’?
Performing the prayer with khushu’ means performing this obligation through feeling an enormous awe of Allah, in the consciousness of being in His presence and feeling His majesty and greatness in one’s heart. In the prayer, a believer who is aware that he is in the presence of Allah, the Lord of the worlds, will experience that majesty and fear, and the closeness he feels to Allah will be proportionate to that fear and awe.
A believer who wishes to perform the obligation of the prayer in a proper manner must take precautions against anything that might prevent that state of the heart and try to establish the requisite attention and concentration.
Allah tells us that when we stand in His presence we must remember Him alone, praise Him and express His Oneness, as the One Who is unfettered by any deficiency. The surahs and supplications unanimously agreed by the Ahl al-Sunnah should be recited in the prayer. Performing the prayer in the proper manner is a great opportunity for wholeheartedly praising our Lord. Indeed, in one verse Allah states the prayer is to be performed in remembrance of Him:
What does a person who starts living by his religious moralityn have to change about himself?
In addition to obeying Allah’s orders and performing the rites of worship, the most important change a person who starts living by religious morality should make is adopt a life built on good morals by always following his conscience. Everyone will have the character and way of life he adopted before becoming acquainted with religion. However, when he starts living by religious morality, he must perpetuate his good character traits for the approval of Allah, and immediately abandon those that do not meet the standards of the Qur’an, or remould them in line with the morals of the Qur’an. True believers will not have different world views, life styles or viewpoints. The only criterion for them is the Qur’an and the sunnah, and the only models to be followed are the Prophet Muhammad (saas), the prophets and righteous believers whom Allah gives as examples in the Qur’an.
Before he is warned, a person would be considered ignorant about religion, with no knowledge of what is right or wrong. Therefore, if he repents and does not revert to the same sins and mistakes and seeks forgiveness from Allah, he will not be held responsible for his sinful past. What is important in Allah’s Sight is not to try to justify any mistakes or sins. Allah has given the believers this good news:
As for those who believe and do good deeds, We will cleanse them of their sins, and recompense them for the best of their deeds. (Surat al-‘Ankabut: 7)
Is it necessary to explain the morals of Islam to others?
Allah holds it the responsibility of all people to live the religion of Islam. Everyone who is aware of the existence of the religion will be asked in the hereafter whether he has abided by the Qur’an or not. Therefore, those who live Allah’s religion must convey the good morals laid down in the Qur’an to other people, inviting them to the righteous way, urging them to do right and forbidding them to do wrong. In the Qur’an, Allah gave the following commandment:
Let there be a community among you who call to the good, and enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. They are the ones who achieve success. (Surat Al ‘Imran: 104)
In what sense does Allah appreciate patience?
In the Qur’an, Allah tells man to be patient for His sake. In a verse, it is commanded: “Be steadfast for your Lord.” (Surat al- Muddaththir: 7) One of the most significant qualities of man which is inseparable from the good morals he upholds and the good deeds he performs to gain Allah’s approval is patience.
Yet, we must distinguish between patience and “tolerance”. Tolerance is the virtue of enduring any inconvenience that is unpleasant or painful. However, patience, as referred to in the Qur’an, is not a source of difficulty for the believer. The believer exercises patience in order to gain the approval of Allah, therefore he does not suffer any distress because of his patience; on the contrary, he derives spiritual pleasure from it.
Also, patience is an attribute that covers all the characteristics of a believer as set forth in the Qur’an, for a person may be humble, generous, sacrificing and obedient, but these qualities will be truly valuable only if he perseveres with patience in maintaining them. This means that patience is an attribute which renders all other attributes of a believer valuable and valid.