It is always on those long solo drives that the gears of self reflection start turning in my mind. Earlier this month, I was on my way before sunrise to a familiar destination, alone. It was about a two hour trek the morning after heavy rainfall. As my car started and warmed up, my Bluetooth device connected automatically as it usually does, and a lecture started playing at random from a lengthy playlist of insightful talks. One specific zinger stuck with me: “Allah is infinite in His mercy. And the beauty of it is, at any point in your life when you decide to fall under the reign of this mercy, Allah leaves the door open. Look at your deen (religion). Excuse, after excuse, after excuse, after excuse! Drag you by the head and put you in Jannah (Heaven)!”
The speaker then explains what he means by this last intense line quoted above. From one ablution to the next, God says He will wash away the minor sins committed between them. Same thing between prayers, between Fridays, and the list goes on. Very small actions in Islam that take less than minutes at times weigh extremely heavy on the scale of good deeds. The speaker says God is making excuse after excuse to put us in Heaven, and yet as oftentimes lazy human beings, we do not take advantage of the opportunities to cash in on the rewards. The trade-in value for something as simple as reciting a single ten-second supplication in the morning is immense, equivalent to hours and hours of worship according to a narration of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). And yet, we still do not do it.
As this year of 2018 winds down, all of the world is reflecting back on their 2018 on a global scale, but also on a personal level. Have I improved as a person? Did I accomplish what I wanted to professionally, personally, spiritually? If I did not, where did I mess up? Most importantly, how can I actually move forward full speed ahead into the new year and avoid another slump?
While humanity seems to ponder this question every December, Muslims are encouraged to take time out for this self-reflection much more often. We have to check ourselves daily and become better than we were the previous day. Instilling good habits and breaking bad ones are constants on the to-do list for a Muslim. It can seem like a trying task, but as the speaker reiterates, “Over and over and over again, the mercy of Allah is an excuse to take you by your head and put you into Jannah.”
In other words, God makes it easy! He wants us there in Heaven. He wants us to be successful. For such small actions, He promises immense reward. God does not work on a one-to-one ratio. One good deed seldom equals one reward from the Islamic understanding of the equation. A simple intention before even acting out the good deed is enough to earn reward. As the speaker reminds, “The only thing it takes—the only thing it takes—is for you to make that intention that you will turn to Allah.”
As the talk and my drive (and really, 2018) came to a close, I took away what I had to do next. I needed to “decide to fall under the reign of God’s mercy.” In short: make an intention. An intention to refocus and rededicate my life and time to God. Be productive, invest time in good acts. With a sincere intention, there is so much potential to turn life around and get set on the right track. God wants to see us take that initial step and then, He creates excuse after excuse to bestow His mercy on us and ultimately land us into that wonderful abode of Heaven.