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Monday, June 25, 2012

Accountability and the Day of Judgment


Question and answer details
M J
2012/06/24
My question is related to the Day of Judgment and our accountability. Will we be asked what we did in this world? What is the first question that will be asked? In some of the answers provided on the website, it is often said that we will be asked about what we did. What are these questions? Did Muhammad ever mention this in a hadith perhaps? Are the prophets also included in this questioning?
Shahul Hameed
Answer
Salam, M.

Thank you for your question.
One of the fundamental creeds of Islam is about the Day of Judgment. All humans who have lived on earth are accountable and answerable on that day for their beliefs and willful actions. Allah Almighty says in the Qur'an what means,
*{On the Day when every soul will be confronted with all the good it has done and all the evil it has done, it will wish there were a great distance between it and its evil. But Allah cautions you (to remember) Himself. And Allah is full of kindness to those that serve Him}* (Aal `Imran 3:30)
*{Verily, to Us will be their return, then verily, for Us will be their Reckoning}* (Al-Ghashiyah 88:25–26)
The above verses show that Allah Almighty will hold us accountable for all our doings, and only He can be the true judge of our deeds because Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
Deeds are but by intentions and every person shall have what he intended. Thus, whose migration was for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, then his migration was for Allah and His Messenger. And whose migration was for the sake of some worldly benefit or marrying some woman, then his migration was for what he migrated. (Al-Bukhari)
This means that a fair and true judgment of our actions is possible only when the motives behind the actions as well as the circumstances impelling a person to undertake those actions are correctly and fully evaluated. No human can really judge others' motives and correctly evaluate their compulsions. Only Allah the All-Knowing can do that.
Note the following verse of the Qur'an:
*{Whoever chooses to follow the right path, follows it but for his own good; and whoever goes astray, goes but astray to his own loss; and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another's burden}* (Al-Israa' 17:15)
This verse tells us that in the Final Judgment (1) we are accountable for our actions, and (2) no injustice will be done to anyone.
The Qur'an makes it perfectly clear that all humans will be questioned about their actions on the Day of Judgment. And in this matter even prophets are not spared:
*{Then surely, We shall question those (people) to whom It (the book) was sent and, verily, We shall question the messengers}* (Al-A`raf 7:6-7)
There are Prophetic sayings that teach us that the righteous servants of Allah will have a smooth passage through the questioning and will be able to enter Paradise with ease; whereas the hypocrites and hardened sinners will have a hard time before they are sentenced to Hell.
The Prophet said,
The first thing people will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment is Prayer. Allah will say to His angels (even though He already knows), "Look at My servants' Prayers. Were they complete or not?" If they are complete, they will be written as complete. If they are not complete, Allah will say, "See if My servant has Voluntary Prayers." If he has them, Allah will say, "Complete his Obligatory Prayer shortage with his Voluntary Prayers." Then the rest of his deeds will be dealt with in the same manner" (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and An-Nasa'i)
Prophet Muhammad has also warned us about five things we will have to answer for:
The son of Adam will not pass away from Allah until he is asked about five things: How he lived his life, how he utilized his youth, what means he earned his wealth with, how he spent his wealth, and what he did with his knowledge. (At-Tirmidhi)
Allah Almighty will also ask us about all the contracts, agreements, and promises we made in our lives, regardless of whether they were made to God or to people:
*{And fulfill (every) covenant. Verily! The covenant will be questioned about}* (Al-Israa' 17:34)
Allah will also question us on the Day of Judgment about what we listen to, watch, and think of. We read in the Qur'an what means:
*{Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart; about each of those, you will be questioned (by Allah)}* (Al-Israa' 17:36)
*{Then, on that Day, you shall be asked about the delight (you indulged in, in this world)}* (At-Takathur 102:8)
This means that all the blessings and delights we have been enjoying in this world, such as our health, wealth, food, and drink, as well as other comforts of life, will be subject to the Last Day's questioning.
Prophet Muhammad described the manner of questioning on the Day of Judgment thus:
Allah will talk to everyone directly, without a translator. The person will look to his right, and will not see anything but his deeds. Then the person will look to his front and will see nothing but the Hellfire facing him. So protect yourself from Hellfire even with the charity of half a date. (Al-Bukhari)
The Prophet also said,
Allah will meet a person and ask him, "O person, wasn't I generous to you? And didn't I give you a spouse and make the horses and camels at your disposal?" The servant will reply, "Yes!" Allah will then ask, "Did you think that you will meet Me?" He will reply, "No!" Allah will say, "I will forget you as you forgot Me."
Then Allah Almighty will meet another person and his reply will be the same as the first person's. Then again He will meet a third person and will ask similar questions, and the person's reply will be, "O Lord, I believed in You, in Your books, and in Your messengers. I prayed, I fasted, and I gave charity." And he will praise Allah as much as he can. Allah will say, "Hold on to your words, now We will bring the witnesses." The person will ask himself, "Who will testify against me?" Then that person's mouth will be sealed, and his thighs, flesh, and bones will be asked to speak. They will speak about his bad deeds. He will know that he has no excuse. That is the hypocrite with whom Allah the Exalted will be furious. (Muslim)
The foregoing discussion should be sufficient motivation for us to lead a good life in this world and to be prepared for accountability in the hereafter so that we are not among the losers on the Day of Reckoning.
I hope this answers your questions. Please keep in touch.
Salam.

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