What is your ‘bank balance’ today?
The question above is, to say the least, a forbidden one. It is a question that never gets asked even by couples. We are often afraid to tell people how much money we have deposited with the various banks in the country. In fact we are often afraid to tell ourselves how much we worth. Nobody wishes to be reminded he is worth not more than six feet and six yards of white cloth. Nobody wishes to be reminded that what he keeps in the banks do not actually belong to him. What you keep in the banks belong to those who will inherit you after your death. Al-Rasul (s.a.w) tells us: “what you spend in the path of the Almighty is actually what you are worth”.
Brethren, only the Almighty knows exactly the time margin between the emergence of Prophet Musa and Prophet Muhammad (upon them be peace and blessings of Allah). Whereas Qarun lived during the time of Prophet Musa, men like Ubayy b. Kab. b. Salul lived during the time of Prophet Muhammad. Both men thought the life which was worth living was that which grants men and women material comforts. But both Prophets strove to dispel this jejune philosophy. For example, Prophet Muhammad emerged as a head of state, a family man, a judge, a peacemaker and a close confidant to Christians, Jews and Muslims in Madina.
He was the leader of the executive arm of government, the Minister of finance and the works minister. He had access to the opportunities from which our politicians nowadays exploit to make millions and indeed, billions of naira. Yet he lived a life which was devoid of plum and plenitude. His personal room consisted of mats and mud floor; it was devoid of tiles, marbles and what they now call POP (whatever that means). Muhammad lived in Makkah and Madina which had no air-conditioners, no well-paved lounges, terraces and boulevards. He worshipped his creator in a mosque in Madina which was bereft of golden pillars and rugs. Each time he went out to the markets in Madina, ordinary citizens of the Madinite State were always there to welcome him. Muhammad had no bullet-proof cars. Muhammad died without having a bank account!
Thus the day he died, the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (upon him be the choicest blessings and benedictions of Allah) left only one thing as estate for his heirs, for us: Islam. He left behind no housing estate, no shares in multinational companies, no dividends from which his heirs could benefit.
Thus Dear Brethren, I woke up today to confront the question: how much do I worth? Permit me to ask you too: How much do you worth? This question is not actually targeted at an invasion of your privacy, at least in material terms. In fact I usually take flight from doing self assessment using currency as the denominator; I abhor the temptation to view life mainly through the prism of material provisions at my possession; I always pooh-pooh a reading of life which glories in the valorization of the temporal over the eternal. Rather, I desire to ask you my sister and brother what you think you worth in the estimation of your creator; I want to ask you what you have left in your account with your Creator. To know your worth in the estimation of your Creator is very simple. Examine the way you treat His injunctions. Reflect on the way you serve Him. Let us take our daily prayers (salat) as an example. According to Ibn Qayyim in his book “The path to guidance”, there are five levels of Muslim worshippers. “The First is the one who is negligent and consequently wrongs his soul. He is the one who falls short in performing ablution properly, in performing the prayer at its time and within its specified limits, and in fulfilling its essential pillars.
The second level belongs to the one who guards his prayers upon their proper times and within their specified limits, fulfils their essential pillars and performs his ablution with care. However, his striving (in achieving the above) is wasted due to whisperings in his prayer so he is taken away by thoughts and ideas from achieving the fullest rewards.
The Third level is that of the one who guards his prayers within the specified limits, fulfils their essential pillars and strives with himself to repel the whisperings of Satan. On account of this he is engaged in (both) prayer and jihaad.
The Fourth level is that of the one who stands for the prayer, completes and perfects its due rights, its essential pillars, performs it within its specified limits and his heart becomes engrossed in safeguarding its rights and specified limits, so that nothing is wasted from it.
The Fifth level is that of the one who stands for the prayer like the one mentioned above. However, on top of this, he has taken and placed his heart in front of his Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, looking towards Him with his heart with anticipation. The whisperings, thoughts and ideas have vanished and the coverings which are between him and his Lord are raised. What is between this person and others with respect to the prayer, is superior and greater than what is between the heavens and the earth. This person is busy with his Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, delighted with Him.
IbnQayyim suggests that the first worshipper will be punished, the second will be held to account, the third will have his sins and shortcomings expiated, the fourth will be rewarded and the fifth will be close to his Lord, because he will receive the portion of one who makes his prayer the delight and pleasure of his eye.
Whoever makes observance of prayers the delight and pleasure of his eye will enjoy nearness to his Lord, the Mighty and Majestic on the day of resurrection. Conversely, those who trifle with their prayers are like the dregs and scum that follow a downpour in the reckoning of Allah. Let me ask you once again: what do you think you worth? Are you still busy counting the countables? Spare a thought this Friday for that which you cannot estimate: the remaining days you have in your account with your creator!!!
Oladosu A. Afis
Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.