Taking Stock

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The end of the financial year is a time for stocktaking. It is a time when profits or losses are calculated. Allah Ta‘ala forbid, if the stocktaking exercise reveals a loss, it results in great concern and anxiety. Meetings are held, consultants are approached for advice, “belt tightening” measures are implemented and a host of other strategies are adopted to cover the loss and make a profit. If it appears that the loss is due to pilferage, extra security measures are implemented. In short, the stocktaking spurs one to action.

While much effort is put into ascertaining the profits and losses of this world, how often do we take stock of our profits and losses of the Hereafter? Are we certain we are not in a loss situation? We would only be able to truly ascertain this after taking stock of our lives – of our beliefs, actions, character, monetary dealings and social life.

Take Stock Now

Hazrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) is reported to have said: “Take an account of yourself before you are taken to account (on the Day of Judgement) and adorn yourself for your appearance in the court of Allah Ta‘ala, for verily the giving of an account on the Day of Judgement is lighter for the one who took stock of himself in the world.” (Sunan Tirmizi #2459)

Many of the pious predecessors used to daily take an account of the day’s deeds before going to bed. During the day they noted down all the actions they had performed in that day, the words they had spoken and even what they thought about. At night they would bring out their notebook and study the actions of the day. Everything recorded therein was thereafter responded to accordingly — if something deserved shukr (gratitude), such as having been able to perform any righteous action, or having received any good, they expressed shukr. If something demanded repentance and seeking forgiveness, they immediately did so. (Risaalatul Mustarshideen, pg. 81)

While the ideal is to take stock daily, the least is that occasionally one takes stock of all aspects of one’s life. The stocktaking should commence with the level of one’s imaan. How strong is it? Does it make one jump out of bed and proceed for Fajr Salaah to the musjid? Is one’s imaan saving one from all haraam, such as gossip, lying, casting lustful glances, engaging in haraam business transactions, etc.? If the stocktaking reveals that one’s imaan is not strong enough to save oneself from sin and disobedience, urgent steps must be taken to strengthen it. Imaan is strengthened by associating with the pious, being in the gatherings of Deen and striving in the path of Allah Ta‘ala. This must be done before the “business” shuts down – that is before death.

Urgent Meeting

Then take stock of one’s ‘ibaadah. Ask oneself, “Am I performing my salaah? Am I performing it with jamaa‘ah in the musjid (for males)? Am I performing my salaah correctly, in the sunnah manner, with complete humility and devotion, or is it a haphazard salaah? If it needs improvement, set up an urgent “meeting” with an experienced and learned person to rectify one’s salaah and plug the losses being incurred by performing salaah which does not conform to the sunnah. Likewise, take an account of all the other acts of worship.

With great scrutiny, take stock of the attributes of imaan. What is the level of hayaa (modesty and shame) in my life? Is it increasing or decreasing? Is my dressing gradually becoming more immodest (shorter and tighter than it used to be)? Stake stock of one’s taqwa (consciousness of Allah Ta‘ala), sincerity, humility, trust in Allah Ta‘ala, love for Allah Ta‘ala and Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) over everything else, sabr (patience), shukr (gratitude), simplicity, the heart being free from love for the world and love for ego, etc. Consider: Do I possess these qualities to the standard required? If not, I must immediately consult an expert to help me acquire them.

Checklist

A crucial aspect to take stock of is one’s akhlaaq (character). Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “There is nothing weightier on the scales on the Day of Judgement (apart from obligatory actions) than good character.” (Sunan Tirmizi #2002) Some of the aspects to consider in this regard are: Anger. Do I vent my anger over trivial things? A Sahaabi (radiyallahu ‘anhu) requested Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) for advice. “Do not get angry” was his reply. He repeated his request two more times. Each time he got the same reply. (Saheeh Bukhaari #6116) Take stock of one’s akhlaaq in the light of the words of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam): “Join ties with the one who severs relationship with you, give the one who has deprived you, and forgive the one who has oppressed you.” (Musnad Ahmad #17452)

Take stock of one’s time. How much of my time is dedicated to earning the world? What percentage of my time is spent in striving for Deen?

Also, take stock of one’s heart! Check: Is my heart filled with the love of Allah Ta‘ala and His beloved Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) more than the love of others? Are my aspirations more for the Hereafter or for this world? Do I desire to become a true slave of Allah Ta‘ala more than the desire to become wealthy or gain worldly positions and status? To what extent is the sunnah in my life? Allah Ta‘ala forbid, is there a greater inclination towards the western lifestyle than the sunnah?

The abovementioned points are merely some of the aspects we should be taking stock of. One should consult an experienced, pious personality for guidance in these and all other aspects of one’s life.

The main objective of the stocktaking exercise is to propel one to action. Is one’s “balance sheet” indicating a loss? If yes, there is no time to procrastinate. It is necessary to take immediate steps to recover the loss. One should sincerely repent, fulfil outstanding ‘ibaadah, balance one’s time and dedicate a significant amount to Deen and towards becoming a true slave of Allah Ta‘ala.

May Allah Ta‘ala enable us to take stock of ourselves before our stock is taken, aameen.

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