By Muneeb Nasir
A man once approached Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, inquiring about the Day of Judgment, asking, "When will the Hour be?" The Prophet responded with a thought-provoking question of his own, saying, "What have you prepared for it?"
He redirected the man's focus to what truly matters – the things within his control.
The Prophet advised the man to concern himself with living a righteous life, preparing for the Hereafter, and being mindful of the questions he will face in front of God.
An early Islamic scholar, Fudayl ibn Iyaad, may Allah have mercy upon him, once encountered a man, and he asked him, “How old are you?”
The man responded, “Sixty years old.”
Fudayl ibn lyaad said to the man, “So you—for the past sixty years have been on a journey towards the meeting with your Lord and you have almost reached your destination.”
The man then said, “Verily from Allah we come and to Him we shall return.” (Qur’an, 2:156).
Fudayl ibn lyaad further asked the man, “Do you know the meaning of this statement?”
The man responded, “Yes. I know that I am a servant of God and I am returning to Him.”
“O my brother; whoever knows that he is a servant of God and that he is going to return to Him: then let him also know that he is going to stand in front of Him. And whoever knows that he is going to stand in front of Him then let him also know that he is going to be questioned. And whoever knows that he is going to be questioned then let him prepare answers for the questions,” advised Fudayl ibn Iyaad.
“What is the solution?” asked the man.
Fudayl ibn Iyaad advised the man, “Rectify what remains of your life and you will be forgiven for what has already passed by; but if you misuse what remains of your life then you will be taken to account for that which has passed by and that which remains.”
So, the pre-occupation of a believer is this – how do we rectify what remains of our life; how do we live with that awareness, that level of consciousness so that we do not misuse our remaining time in this world.
In his book "In The Early Hours: Reflections on Spiritual and Self Development," Ustadh Khurram Murad offers the following practical and straightforward advice on developing what he calls the 'Four States of Consciousness.' These states can be cultivated by constantly reminding yourself of certain truths and absorbing them into your daily life.
First, Say to yourself: I am in Allah's presence; He is watching me.
Whether you are alone or with others, Allah is with you, closer to you than your jugular vein. His awareness encompasses everything you do and say. So, throughout your day, make a conscious effort to remember this, especially when starting new tasks or speaking.
“..He is with you wherever you are.” (Qur’an, 58:7). “We are closer to him than his jugular vein––” (Qur’an, 50:16).
The Prophet was once asked about the best way to purify oneself, to which he replied, “You should always remember that Allah is with you wherever you are.'”(Hadith,Tirmidhi).
Second, Say to yourself: Everything I have has been given to me by Allah.
Reflect on the blessings He has bestowed upon you and be grateful for them.
All that there is - surrounding you, on you and in you - comes from Allah alone.
“It is God who brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and minds, so that you might be thankful.” (Qur’an, 16:78).
Third, Say to yourself: Nothing in this world can happen without His permission.
Everything lies within His control. Whether good or bad, no harm can befall you, and no benefit can reach you except by His will. Trust in Allah's wisdom and awareness, as He holds sway over His creation.
It is as the Qur’an informs us: ‘If God should touch you with misfortune, none can remove it but He, and if He should touch you with good fortune, He has power over all things. He alone holds sway over His creatures; He is the All-wise, the All-aware.” (Qur’an, 6: 17-18).
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, would supplicate to Allah,
“O Allah, whatever You want to give me, no one can stop it from coming to me and whatever You want to prevent from coming to me, nobody can give to me.”
Fourth, Say to yourself: I am going to return to Allah one day and that day could be today.
The exact time of your departure from this world is unknown. It could be in the morning, evening, or even at this very moment. To attain this level of consciousness, frequently reflect upon the Quranic verse: "from Allah we came, and to Him we shall return." (Qur’an, 2:156).
Start each day by asking yourself if it were your last day, would you be content with your actions? If you find yourself saying 'No' for too many days in a row, recognize the need for change.
By consistently reminding yourself of these truths and incorporating them into your daily thoughts and actions, you can elevate your consciousness and live a more mindful and purposeful life.