Supervision—the Most Important Factor for Self‑restraint
One of the most important factors for self-building and self‑refinement is guarding, supervising and paying attention to the self. A wise person who is concerned about his well‑being and prosperity will not remain ignorant about his own moral abjectness and psychological disease; rather he will be continuously guarding and supervising his self and strictly controlling his habits, etiquettes, actions, deeds and even thoughts.
Recordings of Deeds
Qur’anic verses and traditions indicate that all actions, deeds, sayings, even breatbings, intentions and thoughts of human beings are recorded in his letter of deeds and will remain filed for the Day of Resurrection and each person will be judged on that Day strictly in accordance to his performance. Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:
یَوْمَئِذٍ یَصْدُرُ النَّاسُ أَشْتَاتًا لِیُرَوْا أَعْمَالَهُمْ. فَمَنْ یَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَیْرًا یَرَه.وَمَنْ یَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا یَرَه.
“That day mankind will issue forth in scattered groups to be shown their deeds. And whoso doeth good an atom's weight will see it then. And whoso doeth ill an atom's weight will see it then. 99:6-8”
وَوُضِعَ الْکِتَابُ فَتَرَى الْمُجْرِمِینَ مُشْفِقِینَ مِمَّا فِیهِ وَیَقُولُونَ یَا وَیْلَتَنَا مَالِ هَذَا الْکِتَابِ لَا یُغَادِرُ صَغِیرَةً وَلَا کَبِیرَةً إِلَّا أَحْصَاهَا وَوَجَدُوا مَا عَمِلُوا حَاضِرًا وَلَا یَظْلِمُ رَبُّکَ أَحَدًا.
“And the Book is placed, and thou seest the guilty fearful of that which is therein, and they say: What kind of a Book is this that leaveth not a small thing nor a great thing but hath counted it! And they find all that they did confronting them, and thy Lord wrongeth no one. 18:49”
یَوْمَ تَجِدُ کُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ خَیْرٍ مُحْضَرًا وَمَا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ سُوءٍ تَوَدُّ لَوْ أَنَّ بَیْنَهَا وَبَیْنَهُ أَمَدًا بَعِیدًا وَیُحَذِّرُکُمْ اللَّهُ نَفْسَهُ وَاللَّهُ رَءُوفٌ بِالْعِبَادِ.
“On the Day when every soul will find itself confronted with all that it hath done of good and all that it hath done of evil (every soul) will long that there might be a mighty space of distance between it and that (evil). Allah biddeth you beware of Him. And Allah is Full of Pity for (His) bondmen. 3:30”
مَا یَلْفِظُ مِنْ قَوْلٍ إِلَّا لَدَیْهِ رَقِیبٌ عَتِیدٌ.
“He uttereth no word but there is with him an observer ready. 50:18”
If we believe that all our movements, actions, deeds, sayings and even thoughts are being registered, recorded and saved, how can we then remain naive about the consequences arising therein?
Accounting on the Judgment Day
Qur’anic versa and traditions confirm that human beings will be accounted for their deeds accurately on the Day of Resurrection. All their deeds, whether small or big, shall be checked; and even the most insignificant actions shall not be neglected. Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:
وَنَضَعُ الْمَوَازِینَ الْقِسْطَ لِیَوْمِ الْقِیَامَةِ فَلَا تُظْلَمُ نَفْسٌ شَیْئًا وَإِنْ کَانَ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِنْ خَرْدَلٍ أَتَیْنَا بِهَا وَکَفَى بِنَا حَاسِبِینَ.
“And We set a just balance for the Day of Resurrection so that no soul is wronged in aught. Though it be of the weight of a grain of mustard seed, We bring it. And We suffice for reckoners. 21:47”
وَإِنْ تُبْدُوا مَا فِی أَنفُسِکُمْ أَوْ تُخْفُوهُ یُحَاسِبْکُمْ بِهِ اللَّهُ.
“And whether ye make known what is in your minds or hide it, Allah will bring you to account for it. 2:284”
وَالْوَزْنُ یَوْمَئِذٍ الْحَقُّ فَمَنْ ثَقُلَتْ مَوَازِینُهُ فَأُوْلَئِکَ هُمْ الْمُفْلِحُونَ. وَمَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِینُهُ فَأُوْلَئِکَ الَّذِینَ خَسِرُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ بِمَا کَانُوا بِآیَاتِنَا یَظْلِمُونَ.
“The weighing on that day is the true (weighing). As for those whose scale is heavy, they are the successful And as for those whose scale is light: those are they who lose their souls because they used to wrong Our revelations. 7:8‑9”
The Holy Qur’an describes the Day of Resurrection as the Day of Auditing and Almighty God as the One Who audits promptly. According to Qur'anic verses and traditions, one of the most difficult stages through which we all have to pass over on the Day of Resurrection is the stage of auditing of deeds. During our entire span of life, we perform various deeds which are forgotten by us after a while, but they are registered and recorded in our letter of deeds by Almighty God in a manner that not even the smallest or insignificant action is removed from the letter of deeds.
All of them are registerd and recorded right here in this world and will remain with the human being forever although he might be ignorant completely in this world, but after death when his esoteric eyes will be opened, he will see them all intact written in a single file. Then he will realise that all the actions, deeds, beliefs and thoughts written over there are indeed belonging to him and henceforth shall never be separated from him. Almighty God says in the Holy Qur'an:
وَجَاءَتْ کُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَعَهَا سَائِقٌ وَشَهِیدٌ. لَقَدْ کُنْتَ فِی غَفْلَةٍ مِنْ هَذَا فَکَشَفْنَا عَنْکَ غِطَاءَکَ فَبَصَرُکَ الْیَوْمَ حَدِیدٌ.
“And every soul cometh, along with it a driver and a witness (And unto the evil-doer it is said): Thou wast in heedlessness of this. Now We have removed from thee thy covering, and piercing is thy sight this day. 50:21-22”
The Holy Prophet (a.s) said:
لا تَزولُ قَدَما عَبْدٍ یَومَ القِیامَةِ حَتىّ یُسألُ عَن أربَعٍ: عَن عُمُرِهِ فِیما أفْناهُ وَشَبابِهِ فیما أبْلاهُ وَعَن مالِهِ مِن أیْنَ اکْتَسَبَهُ وفِیما أنْفَقَهُ وَعَنْ حُبِّنا أهْلَ البَیتِ.
“On the Day of Resurrection, each servant of God will not be able to move forward even a single step without being asked about four thing: (1) How he spent his life, (2) How he spent his youth, (3) through what means he earned the money and how was it spent, and (4) about the love for us—the Ahl al-Bayt.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 7, pp. 258)
In another narration, the Prophet (a.s) said:
یُفتَحُ لِلعَبدِ یَومَ القِیامَةِ عَلى کُلّ یَومٍ مِنْ أیّامِ عُمُرِهِ أرْبَعٌ وَعشْرونَ خُزانَة عَدَدَ ساعَاتِ اللّیْلِ وَالنّهارِ؛ فَخُزانَةٌ یَجِدُها مَمْلوءةٌ نوراً وَسُروراً فَیَنالُه عِندَ مُشاهَدَتِها مِن الفَرحِ وَالسُّرورِ ما لَو وُزِّعَ عَلى أهْلِ النّارِ لأدْهَشَهُم عَن الإحْساسِ بِألَمِ النّارِ، وَهیَ السّاعَةُ الّتی أطاعَ فِیها رَبَّهُ. ثُمّ یُفتَحُ لهُ خُزانَةٌ أخْرى فَیَراها مُظلِمَةً مُنْتِنَةً مُفْزِعَةً، فَیَنالُهُ مِنها عِندَ مُشاهَدَتِها مِن الفَزَعِ وَالجَزَعِ ما لَوْ قُسِّمَ عَلى أهْلِ الجَنَّةِ لَنَغَّصَ عَلَیهم نَعیمَها، وَهِی السّاعَةُ الّتی عَصَى فیها رَبَّهُ. ثُمّ یُفتَحُ لهُ خُزانةَ ٌأخْرى فَیَراها خالِیَةً لَیسَ فِیها ما یَسُرُّهُ وَلا یَسوؤُهُ وَهِی السّاعَةُ الّتی نامَ فِیها أوِ اشْتَغَلَ فِیها بِشَیءٍ مِن مُباحاتِ الدُّنْیا، فَیَنالُهُ مِن الغُبْنِ والأسَفِ عَلى فَواتِها حَیثُ کان مُتَمَکِّناً مِن أنْ یَمْلأَها حَسَناتٍ ما لا یُوصَفُ. وَمِنْ هذا قَولُهُ تَعالى: ﴿ذَلِکَ یَوْمُ التَّغابُنِ﴾
“On the Day of Judgement when a servant of God is being readied for accounting, for each day of his living in the world, twenty four treasure boxes (each one representing an hour) are brought in front of him. Then they open a treasure box which is full of light and joy where by seeing it the servant of God becomes so happy that if his happiness is distributed among all the dwellers of Hell, they will forget the pain and torture of Hellfire. This treasure box represents the hour when he was busy in acts of worship. After that, another treasure box is opened which is frightening, dark and malodorous where by seeing it he becomes so frightened and sad that if his grief is distributed among the dwellers of Paradise, all of the blessings of Paradise will become unpleasant for them. This treasure box represents the hour when he was busy in sinning. Then another treasure box is opened before him which is completely empty containing deeds producing neither joy nor sadness. This treasure box represents the period when he was either sleeping or busy performing allowable worldly acts. Seeing this empty treasurer, a servant of God feels sorry because he could have utilized this hour for doing righteous deeds. It is because of this reason that the Day of Judegment has been named by Almighty God as the Day of Regret.” (Bihar al-Anwar vol. 7 pp. 262)
On the Day of Judgment, the accounts of our deeds will be audited swiftly and most accurately determining the final destinies accordingly; all the past deeds shall be scrutinized; human limbs and members, prophets, angels and even earth will offer their testimonies; it will be real tough scrutiny indeed, and will determine one’s eternal destination. Because of the anxiety of the result, hearts palpitate and bodies tremble in fear—a fear so horrible and frightening that mothers will ignore the breast feeding of their babies and pregnant women will loose their conception by miscarriages. All are anxious and worried to learn about their ultimate consequences. Will the result of their scrutiny be God’s pleasure securing a draft for freedom, being honorable among God’s prophets and saints, eternal living in Paradise in the company of God’s most favorite and descent servants? Or, will it be wrath of God, humiliation and disgrace before other creatures and eternal living in Hell? In conclusion, scrutiny of people’s deed is not the same; for some of them, it will be extremely complicated and lengthy while for others, it will be swift and easy. It will be done at various stops several times and at each station some of the questions will be asked. The most horrible and difficult station is the stop for oppressors, where the questions are asked regarding trampling of human rights, oppressions and tyrannies.
Here the accounts must be settled completely and everybody shall pay his debt to the creditors. Unfortunately, over there, no one possesses ready cash to pay for his debt and therefore, he has no choice except to pay from the account of his righteous deeds. If he has some in his account, he may exchange them for clearing his debt. If he does not possesses righteous deeds in his account, the creditor’s sins will be transferred into the balance of his deeds.
Anyhow, it is a horrible and tough day indeed, and may God help all of us. Of course, the length and toughness of scrutiny is not same for all. It differs according to the magnitude of good and evil deeds, but for the pious and God’s servants, it will be extremely swift and easy. In reply to a question regarding the length of the Day of Judegment, the Holy Prophet (a.s) said:
وَالّذی نَفسی بِیدِهِ، إنّهُ لَیُخَفَّفُ عَلى المُؤمِنِ حَتىّ یَکونَ أهْوَنَ عَلیهِ مِن الصَّلاةِ المَکتوبَةِ یُصَلّیها فی الدّنْیا.
“By God! For the believers, it will be swifter and easier than the performance of a single prayer of this world.” (Majma` al-Zawa’id, vol. 1, pp. 337)
Self‑scrutiny Before the Judgment Day
One who believes in Day of Judgement, scrutiny of deeds, rewards and punishment knows that all deeds are registered and recorded and judgments will be issued either good or bad. How can then a person be naive about his deeds, actions, moral etiquettes and thoughts? Will he not really care about what has been done by him during the days, months, years and entire span of his life? What provisions have been forwarded by him for the Hereafter?
One of the preconditions of belief is that it demands the believers with scrutinizing their accounts of deeds in this world and pondering profoundly upon what they have done in the past and what is being done right now? Acting in a manner like a wise businessman who cheks his accounts each day in order to determine his profits and losses must be followed. Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:
حاسِبوا أنفُسَکُم قَبلَ أنْ تُحاسَبوا وَوازِنُوها قَبلَ أنْ تُوازَنُوا.
“Before being audited on the Judgement Day, better self‑scrutinize your deeds in this world.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 385)
مَنْ حاسَبَ نَفْسَهُ ربحَ.
“Whoever scrutinizes the account of his self in this world will earn profit.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 618)
Imam `Ali al‑Naqi (a.s) said:
لیس مِنّا مَن لم یحاسِب فی کلّ یومٍ نفسه، فإنْ عمل حَسَنا استزاد الله منه وحمد الله علیه، وإنْ عمل شیئاً استغفر الله منه وتاب إلیه.
“Whoever does not scrutinize his actions daily does not belong to us; then if he finds that he has performed some righteous deeds, he shall request Almighty God to increase His Grace; and if he has done an evil act, he shall seek pardon from Almighty God by offering repentance.” (Wasa’il al-Shi`ah, vol. 11, pp. 377)
Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:
مَنْ حاسَبَ نَفْسَهُ ربحَ، وَمَن غَفلَ عَنهُ خَسِرَ، ومَنْ خافَ أمِنَ، ومَن اعْتَبَر أبْصَرَ، ومَنْ أبْصَرَ فَهِمَ، ومَن فَهِمَ عَلِمَ.
“Whoever does not scrutinize the account of his self will earn a profit; whoever is negligent will suffer a loss; whoever is fearful in this world will be safe in the Hereafter; whoever will pay heed to counseling will see the realities; whoever is able to see the realities will understand; and whoever understands will become wise and intelligent.” ((Wasa’il al-Shi`ah, vol. 11, pp. 379)
The Holy Prophet (a.s) said to Abu-Dharr:
یا أبا ذَرّ! حاسِبْ نَفْسَکَ قَبلَ أنْ تُحاسَبَ فإنّهُ أهْوَنُ لِحِسابِکَ غداً، وَزِنْ نَفْسَکَ قَبلَ أنْ تُوزَنَ، وَتَجَهَّزْ لِلعَرْضِ الأکْبَرِ یَومَ لا یَخْفَى عَلى اللهِ خافِیَةٌ. یا أبا ذَرّ! لا یَکونُ الرَّجُلُ مِن المُتَّقِینَ حَتىّ یُحاسِبَ نَفسَهُ أشَدَّ مِن مُحاسَبَةِ الشَّریکِ شَریکَهُ، فَیَعْلَمَ مِن أینَ مَطْعَمُهُ وَمِن أینَ مَشْرَبُهُ ومِنْ أینَ مَلبَسُهُ. أمِنْ حَلالٍ أم حَرامٍ؟ یا أبا ذَرّ! مَن لَمْ یُبالِ مِنْ أیْنَ اکْتَسَبَ المَالَ لَمْ یُبالِ اللهُ مِنْ أیْنَ أدْخَلَهُ النّارَ.
“Oh Abu-Dharr! Before they scrutinize your account of deeds on the Judgement Day, do your own self‑auditing in this world because today’s review is easier than tomorrow’s auditing on the Judgement Day, try to attain self‑purification in this world instead of being cleaned on the Judgement Day when the deeds will be presented to Almighty God and even the smallest deeds will not be hidden from him. O Abu-Dharr! One never acquires piety unless he self-scrutinize his own deeds—a scrutiny much more severe than the auditing of accounts between two business associates. A man must ponder seriously as through what means he has acquired his means of living—lawfully or forbidden. O Abu-Dharr! Whoever does not respect the Divine limitations for earning a living, Almighty God too will not have slight hesitation in dispatching him inside Hellfire through either passage.” (Wasa’il al-Shi`ah, vol. 11, pp. 379)
Imam al‑Sajjad (a.s) said:
یا بن آدم، لا تزالُ بخیرٍ ما دام لک واعظٌ مِن نفسک، وما کانت المحاسبةُ مِن هَمِّک، وما کان الخوفُ لک شِعارا والحُزنُ دِثارا، یا بن آدم، إنّک میّتٌ مبعوثٌ وموقوفٌ بین یَدَی الله ومسؤولٌ فأعد جواباً.
“O son of Adam! You will be continuously accompanied by goodness and blessing so long as you possess a preacher in your heart; practice self‑scrutiny on your deeds and fear Almighty God. O son of Adam! Verily, you will die and be raised on the Resurrection Day and your deeds will be judged in accordance with Divine Justice. Therefore, get your self readied for getting scrutinized for your deeds on the Judgement Day.” (Wasa’il al-Shi`ah, vol. 11, pp. 378)
A man is like an investor in this world, his limited capital (life span) consists of these very hours, days, weeks, months and years. This most precious capital, either willingly or unwillingly, gets consumed and eventually one approaches death. The youth turns into old age, strength gives up to weakness and sound health changes into sickness. If against this spending of capital one has performed righteous deeds and forwarded some provisions for the Hereafter, he will not suffer a loss because he secured himself a happy and prosperous future. But if he wastes his precious capital consisting his life, youth, strength and physical fitness and against all this spending no righteous deed was deposited for his Hereafter and instead with moral abjectness and indulgence into sins and transgressions made his heart dark and contaminated, then he will inflict upon himself the most severe damage and loss, which can never be compensated. Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:
وَالْعَصْرِ. إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِی خُسْرٍ. إِلَّا الَّذِینَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ.
“By the declining day. Lo! Man is a state of loss. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance. 103:1‑3”
Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:
إنّ العاقِلَ مَن نَظَرَ فِی یَومِهِ لِغَدِهِ وَسَعى فی فَکاکِ نَفْسِهِ وَعَمِلَ لِما لا بُدَّ لَهُ وَلا مَحِیصَ عَنْهُ.
“A true wise man is he who arranges his day for tomorrow (the Resurrection Day), strives for achieving freedom of self and works for that which is inevitable and inescapable.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 238)
مَن حاسَبَ نَفسَهُ وَقفَ عَلى عُیوبِهِ وَأحاطَ بِذُنوبِهِ فاسْتَقالَ الذّنوبَ وَأصْلَحَ العُیوبَ.
“Whoever scrutinizes his deeds will discover his faults and sins and then will repent for his sins and strive for correcting his faults.” (Ghurar al-Hikam Hubn, pp. 696)
How to Scrutinize
Supervision and management of self is not an easy task since it requires determination, maturity, sincerity, efforts, endeavors and specific program. Will the imperious self offer surrender so easily? Will it present itself for cross examination and verdict? Will it agree to pay it dues so easily? Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:
مَنْ لَمْ یُسَیِّسْ نَفْسَهُ أضاعَها.
“Whoewr has not programmed his se lf for performance of righteous deeds has indeed wasted it.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 640)
مَن اغْتَرَّ بِنَفسِهِ سَلَّمَتْهُ إلى المَعاطِبِ.
“Whoewr is not careful of self’s frauds and cheating will be destroyed.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 685)
مَن کانَ لهُ مِن نَفسِهِ یَقَظَةٌ کانَ عَلیهِ مِن اللهِ حَفَظَة.
“Whoever possesses self-awakening and self-enlightenment, God will assign Divine angels to protect him.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 679)
Self‑accounting must be accomplished in three steps in order to acquire this habit gradually:
Making Commitments (Mushara§ah)
Self‑accounting should be started as follows: As the early hour of the day before starting daily routine activities, some time must be allocated for this purpose. For example, after offering the Morning Prayer, one may sit alone in an isolated place and address to his self in the following manner: “Right now, I am alive but I do not know how long it may last, may be for one hour or little bit more. The time of life already spent has all been wasted and the remaining time left might be counted as capital still at my disposal. For each hour spent out of this remaining life, I can arrange some provisions for the Hereafter. If in this moment the angel of death arrives for seizing my soul, I will desire for living one more day or even one extra hour. O helpless poor self! Just imagine that you are in such a condition and your desire for this living a little longer has been granted and you have been allowed to return to this world. O self! Be kind to me as well as to yourself and do not waste these precious hours for indulgence into nonsense amusements. Do not be negligent now, otherwise you will be ashamed tomorrow on the Judgement Day when being regretful will not be of any help. O self! For each hour spent during this life, Almighty God has created a treasure box in which good and evil deeds will be deposited, to be opened on the Judgment Day. O self! Try to fill this treasure with righteous deeds. Be careful not to fill it with sins and transgressions.”
Likewise, all the parts of the body should be addressed individually to comment themselves not to commit sins. For example, the tongue should be asked that lying, backbiting, talebearing, fault-finding, abusing, babbling, insulting, self‑praising, disputing and false testimony are abjectnesses, Divinely forbidden, which destroy the eternal life of man. Therefore, I will not allow to indulge in these acts. O tongue! Be kind to me and yourself and do not commit immoral acts because everything said will be taped and deposited into the treasure box containing the deeds and I will be accountable on the Day of Judgment.
In this manner, the tongue should be required to commit itself not to indulge into sinning. After that, the righteous deeds which can be performed by it should be reminded and their performance should be made obligatory each day. For example, it can be said to the tongue: “You may recite such and such invocation (dhikr) and such and such supplication, fill up the treasure box of deeds with joy and illumination and receive a good result in the Hereafter. Therefore, do not be negligent otherwise you will feel terribly sorry later on. Similarly, all the other parts of the body should be required to commit themselves to perform only righteous deeds and strictly guard them against sins and transgressions. Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) narrated the following on the authority of his father:
اللّیلُ إذا أقْبلَ نادَى مُنادٍ بِصَوتٍ یَسمَعُهُ الخَلائِقُ إلاّ الثَّقَلانِ! یا بْنَ آدَمَ! إنِّی خَلقٌ جَدیدٌ. إنّی عَلى ما فِیَّ شَهِیدٌ. فَخُذْ مِنیّ فإنِّی لَو طَلَعَتِ الشَّمْسُ لَمْ أرْجِعْ إلى الدُّنْیا وَلَمْ تَزدَدْ فِیّ مِن حَسَنةٍ ولَمْ تُسْتَعْتَبْ فِیَّ مِن سَیِّئَة. وَکَذلِکَ یَقولُ النَّهارُ إذا أدْبرَ اللّیلُ.
“When night approaches, it makes an announcement heard by all the creatures except human being and jinn: ‘O sons of Adams! I am a new creation and I will testify about all the deeds performed during my tenure. Utilize my existence to the best of your advantage because after the sunrise, you will never see me again. After that you will not be able to increase your righteous deeds and repent for your sins and transgressions. After the night departs, each coming day repeats the same announcement.” (Wasa’il al-Shi`ah, vol. 11, pp. 380)
It is quite possible that Satan and the imperious self may tell us: “You cannot live with such program. Is it possible to live with such limitations and restrictions? How can you allocate a certain hour for auditing program every day?” With these whispers, Satan and the imperious self want to deceive us preventing from taking the important decision. We must resist against these plots and neutralize them by telling them: “This program is absolutely feasible and does not have any contradiction with the daily activities, and since it is necessary for attaining self-refinement and self‑purification as well as accomplishing the eternal salvation, I must undertake this program.” It is not so difficult, and once you decide firmly, it will be easier. Even if it is a little bit difficult in the beginning, it will be easier gradually.
Supervision and Control (Muraqabah)
After passing through the stage of making commitments, we enter into the stage of contact execution. At this stage, all the self’s actions should strictly be monitored all the day to be sure that they are performed according to commitments made earlier. Man should remain awake in all situations and strictly guard his actions. He should remind himself continuously that Almighty God watches all our actions, and should remember the commitments made earlier. Even a slight negligence may provide opportunity for Satan and the imperious self to make their entry disrupting the entire program. Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:
مَن کانَ لهُ مِن نَفسِهِ زاجِرٌ کانَ عَلَیهِ مِن اللهِ حافِظٌ.
“Whoever possesses a guard to reprimand within his self, Almighty God will oppoint for him a Divine Protector.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 698)
A cautious and aware human being is continuously occupied in God’s Remembrance seeing Him in His presence. He does not perform any task hastily without profound thinking and appraising all the consequences. If he commits a sin or transgression, he immediately reminds himself of Almighty God and the Judgment Day and refrains from its continuation. He does not forget his earlier commitments and in this manner keeps the self continuously subdued, preventing him from indulgence into evil and obscene deeds. This program is one of the best means for attaining self‑refinement and purification. In addition, a cautious believer thinks continuously about the obligatory and recommended deeds, dischargement of duties, righteous deeds and charity throughout the day; he tries his best to offer the daily prayers on their preferred times with humility, devotion and presence of mind—offering in a manner as though this will be the last prayer of his life; he keeps himself occupied with remembrance of Almighty God in all situations and involvement. He does not spend his free time in nonsense amusements; instead, he utilizes it to the maximum advantages of affairs related to the Hereafter; he knows the importance and preciousness of time and endeavors seriously for utilizing every available opportunity for achieving self‑perfection; he strives to perform recommended deeds (Mustahabbat) as much as his capacity permits. How good it is that a believer should try to become habitual on performing at least some of the recommended deeds. Remembrance of Almighty God and recital of invocation (dhikr) is on such recommended deed which can be done easily in all circumstances.
It is also important that a believer with sincerity and pure intention of God’s Nearness (Qurba), should direct all his daily activities for worship, spiritual migration and ascend towards God’s Countenance. Even working, eating, drinking, sleeping, marrying and all other lawful desired acts through sincerity and pure intention can be made a part of worshipping. Work and business if done with the intention of earning a lawful genuine living and serving the people will became an act of worship. Similarly, eating, drinking and resting if are preliminaries for living and being a devoted servant of God are considered as worship. That is the way God’s pure servants used to live and they still live in this manner.
Accounting of Deeds
The third stage is the accounting of deeds performed every day. It is necessary that a person should fix a certain hour to scrutinize his deeds and the most suitable time will be the hour when he has finished all his daily activities. At this time, he should sit alone in a corner and think of what he has done during this stay. He should begin from the very first until the last hour of the day checking every minor activity accurately. If he finds that he has performed a righteous deeds and worship at that time, he should thank Almighty God for bestowing his Divine Grace and should decide for its continuation. But if finds that he has committed a sin or transgression, he must show his wrath against the self addressing: “O you wretched self! Look what have you done? You destroyed my letter of deed and made it totally dark. What will your reply to Almighty God on the Day of Judgment be? What are you going to do with the painful punishment of Hell? Almighty God bestowed upon you life, health and resources in order to enable you to collect provisions for the Hereafter; instead, you blackened your letter of deeds with sins. Why do you not consider the probability of death approaching you at this very moment? In that case, what are you going to do? O shameless self! How come you are not ashamed from Almighty God? O you liar and wretched hypocrite! You claim to be a believer in the existence of Almighty God and the Hereafter, how come your actions reflect contradictions with your belier?”
Then, he should repent sincerely and decide firmly not to indulge into sins and transgressions as well as to compensate for his past omissions. Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:
مَن وَبَّخَ نَفسَهُ عَلى العُیوبِ ارْتَدَعَتْ عَنْ کَثْرَةِ الذُّنوبِ.
“Whoever reprimands his self for his faults and sins will be able to restrain it from indulgence into sins.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 696)
If he realizes that the self is showing rebellious tendencies and is not ready for repentance and refraining from sinning, he must then take a firm stand against it through resistance. He may threaten it that serious consequences will arise in case it continues to show disobedience. For example, if it has consumed the forbidden (haram) food or has committed other sins, then to punish it will donate some money for charity for God’s pleasure, observe fasting for a few days, temporarily refrain himself from eating delicious foods or cold water or other food which is self’s favorite or stay outside under the burning sun for a certain period.
One should not show weakness and negligence against the self, otherwise he will take the upper hand eventually throwing a human being into the darkest and deepest valleys of deviations and misfortunes. If you act strongly offering stiff resistance against it, it will become subdued. If he finds that at a particular hour he has neither performed any righteous deed nor committed any sin, even in that case he should show his anger and reprimand the self that how come this particular hour which was the precious capital of the life has been wasted for nothing. You can perform a righteous deeds in this period and deposit it in the accounts of your deeds for the Hereafter. O you wretched looser! Why have you wasted this valuable precious opportunity? You will certainly feel sorry for your negligence on the Day of Judgment—a Day when regret will not be of any use. In this manner, acting like a strict partner all the daily transactions of the self should be scrutinized strictly. Of course, it will be better if the result of this scrutiny can be recorded in a notebook.
The matter of supervision and scrutiny for attaining self-purification and refinement is an important, useful thing which is absolutely neecessary; whoever is serious aspiring for his salvation and prosperity should pay special attention to it. Although in the beginning it may appear to be a difficult task, with firm determination and perseverance it will be easy; and the imperious self will be subdued surrendering completely to your supervision and domination. The Holy Prophet (a.s) once asked his companions, “May I tell you about the most intelligent person and the most stupid?” They replied, “O Prophet of God! please tell us.” He said:
أکْیَسُ الکَیِّسینَ مَن حاسَبَ نَفْسَهُ وَعَمِلَ لِما بَعدَ المَوتِ، وَأحْمَقُ الحَمْقى مَنْ أتْبَعَ نَفْسَهُ هَواه وَتَمَنّى عَلى اللهِ الأمانیَ… إذا أصْبَحَ ثُمَّ أمْسَى رَجَعَ إلَى نَفْسِهِ وَقالَ: یا نَفْسُ، إنَّ هذا یَومٌ مَضَى عَلیکِ لا یَعُودُ إلَیْکِ أبَداً، وَاللهُ سائِلُکِ عَنهُ فِیما أفْنَیْتِهِ، فَما الّذی عَمِلْتِ فیهِ؟ أَذَکَرْتِ اللهَ أمْ حَمِدْتِیهِ؟ أقَضَیْتِ حَقَّ أخٍ مُؤمِنٍ؟ أنَفَّسْتِ عَنهُ کُربَتَهُ؟ أحَفِظْتِیهِ بِظَهْرِ الغَیبِ فی أهْلِهِ وَوِلْدِهِ؟ أحَفِظْتِیهِ بَعدَ المَوْتِ فی مُخَلَّفِیهِ؟ أکَفَفْتِ عَن غِیبَةِ أخٍ مُؤمنٍ بِفَضْلِ جاهِکِ؟ أأعَنْتِ مُسْلِماً؟ ما الّذی صَنَعْتِ فیهِ؟ فَیَذکُرُ ما کَانَ مِنهُ. فإنْ ذَکَرَ أنَّهُ جَرى مِنهُ خَیرٌ حَمِدَ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَکَبَّرَهُ عَلى تَوفیقِهِ. وإنْ ذَکَرَ مَعْصِیَةً أوْ تَقصِیراً اسْتَغْفَرَ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَعزَمَ عَلى تَرْکِ مُعاوَدَتِهِ وَمَحا ذلِکَ عَن نَفْسِهِ بِتَجدِیدِ الصَّلاةِ عَلى مُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِهِ الطَّیِّبِینَ وعَرَضَ بَیعَةَ أمِیرِ المُؤمِنِینَ عَلى نَفْسِهِ وَقَبولَها، وإعادَةَ لَعْنِ شانِئِیهِ وَأعْدائِهِ وَدافِعِیهِ عَن حُقوقِهِ. فإذا فَعَلَ ذلِکَ قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: لَسْتُ أناقِشُکَ فی شَیءٍ مِن الذُّنوبِ مَع مُوالاتِکَ أولِیائی وَمُعاداتِکَ أعدائی.
“The most intelligent is he who audits his self’s account and performs righteous deeds for his life after death, and the most stupid is he who is a prisoner of self’s whims and passions keeping himself amused with long term desires… When a day finishes entering into night, communicate with your self saying, ‘O self! This day has also passed and will never return. Almighty God is going to ask you about it as how you spent it, what deeds you performed, you remembered and praised him, discharged your obligations as regards to the rights of a brother believer, removed sorrow fom his heart, took care of his children and family in his absence, paid his due share to his offspring after his death, helped a fellow Muslim or any other act that you did that day.’ Therefore, remind your self of whatever you did and if you find that you have done some righteous deed, thank Almighty God for bestowing His grace. If you find that you committed a sin, immediately repent and decide firmly never to commit any sin again. Through recital of Salawat (blessings) upon the Holy Prophet and his Progeny (a.s), purify your self from impurities and contamination. Take the oath of allegiance for the leadership of Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) and curse his enemies. If one acts in this manner, Almighty God will say, ‘I am not going to have any controversy with you at the time of auditing account of your deeds on the Day of Judgment because you were loyal to my Saints and showed enmity against their enemies.’” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 69)
The Holy Prophet (a.s) said to Abu-Dharr:
عَلى العاقِلِ أنْ یَکونَ له ساعاتٌ: ساعَةٌ یُناجِی فِیها رَبَّهُ وَساعَةٌ یُحاسِبُ بِها نَفْسَهُ وَساعَةٌ یَتَفَکَّرُ فی ما صَنَعَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لهُ.
“A wise person should distribute his hours as follows: One hour should be assigned for being occupied in prayers, supplications and hymns with Almighty God. One hour should be allocated for auditing the account of self’s deeds. One hour should be reserved for pondering the Divine Blessings bestowed upon him.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 64)
Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:
حاسِبوا أنفُسَکُم بأعْمالِها وَطالِبُوها بأدَاءِ المَفْروضِ عَلَیها وَالأخْذِ مِن فنائِها لِبَقائِها وَتَزَوَّدوا وَتَأهَّبوا قَبلَ أنْ تُبْعَثُوا.
“Let your selves be accountable for their deeds, be demanded to discharge their due obligations by utilizing this transient world properly. You should collect provisions for the Hereafter and make yourself ready for that journey before being forced to be transferred.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 385)
ما أحَقّ الإنْسانِ أنْ یَکونَ لهُ ساعَةٌ لا یَشْغَلُهُ عَنها شاغِلٌ یُحاسِبُ فِیها نَفْسَهُ فَیَنْظُر فِیما اکْتَسَبَ بِها وَعَلَیها فی لَیلِها وَنَهارِها.
“It is very necessary for a person to allocate a free time for himsef to scrutinize the account of his deeds and see what kind of good and useful or bad and hamful deeds have been performed by him during the past twenty four hours.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 753)
جَاهِدْ نَفسَکَ وَحاسِبْها مُحاسَبَةَ الشَّریکِ شَریکَهُ وَطالِبْها بِحُقوقِ اللهِ مُطالَبَةَ الخَصْمِ خَصمَهُ فإنَّ أسْعَدَ النّاسِ مَن انْتَدَبَ مُحاسَبَةَ نَفْسَهُ.
“Wage a continuous struggel against the self like a strict business partner checking precisely the account of his deeds and like a creditor forcing him for payment of God’s dues, because the most prosperous person is he who does his own self-scrutiny.” (Ghurar al-Hikam, pp. 371)
Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) said:
فحاسبوا أنفسکم قبل أن تحاسبوا فإن فی القیامة خمسین موقفاً کل موقف مقداره ألف سنة. ﴿تَعْرُجُ الْمَلَائِکَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَیْهِ فِی یَوْمٍ کَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ خَمْسِینَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ.﴾
“Do your own self‑auditing for the account of deeds in this world before being forced to be audited on the Judgment Day, because over there, this will be done over fifty stops each being one thousand years long. ‘(Whereby) the angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day whereof the span is fifty thousand years.’” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 64)
At the time of self-scrutiny, a person should not be optimistic trusting his self, because the deceitful imperious self with hundreds of deceits and tricks manifests evils as good and vise versa, does not allow a person to identify his duties and their dischargments, justifies refraining from worshipping and encourages indulgence into sins and transgressions. It makes you forget your aim or regard them as minor omissions presenting minor acts of worships as great and making you proud of it. It cleans the thoughts of death and Resurrection Day from the memory of your mind, encourages the hopes and long‑term desires and presents self‑scrutiny as difficult, impracticable and even unnecessary. Because of these considerations, a person should be pessimistic while auditing the account of his deeds and should scrutinize strictly with precision without paying any attention to the Satanic justifications and interpretations. Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:
وإنَّ لِلذِّکْرِ لأهْلاً أخَذُوهُ مِنَ الدُّنیا بَدَلاً فَلَم تَشْغَلْهُمْ تِجارَةٌ وَلا بَیعٌ عَنهُ، یَقْطَعونَ بِه أیّامَ الحَیاةِ وَیَهْتِفونَ بِالزَّواجِرِ عَن مَحارِمِ اللهِ فی أسْماعِ الغافِلِینَ، وَیأمُرُونَ بِالقِسْطِ وَیأتَمِرونَ بهِ وَیَنْهَونَ عَن المُنْکَرِ وَیَتَناهَوْنَ عنهُ. فَکَأنَّما قَطَعوا الدُّنیا إلى الآخِرَةِ وَهُمْ فیها فَشاهَدوا ما وَراءَ ذلِکَ. فَکَأنَّما أُطلِعُوا غُیوبَ أهْلِ البَرزَخِ فی طُولِ الإقامَةِ فیهِ وَحَقَّقتِ القِیامَةُ عَلیهِم عِداتهَا. فَکَشَفوا غِطاءَ ذلِکَ لأهْلِ الدُّنیا حَتىّ کأنَّهُم یَرَونَ ما لا یَرى النّاسُ وَیَسْمَعونَ ما لا یَسْمَعونَ. فَلَو مَثَّلْتَهُم لِعَقْلِکَ فی مقاومهم المَحمُودَةِ وَمَجالِسِهِم المَشْهودَةِ وَقَد نَشَروا دَواوینَ أعْمالِهِم وَفَرِغوا لِمُحاسَبَةِ أنْفُسِهِم عَن کُلّ صَغیرَةٍ وَکَبیرَةٍ أُمِروا بِها فَقَصَّروا عَنها أوْ نُهُوا عَنها فَفَرَّطوا فِیها، وَحَمَلوا ثِقْلَ أوْزارِهِم عَلى ظُهورِهِمْ فَضَعُفوا عَن الاسْتِقْلالِ بِها فَنَشَجوا نَشیجاً وَتَجاوَبوا نَحیباً. یَعِجُّونَ إلى رَبِّهِمْ مِن مقاومِ نَدَمٍ وَاعْتِرافٍ لَرَأیْتَ أعْلامَ هُدىً وَمَصابِیحَ دُجىً قَد حَفَّتْ بِهِمُ المَلائِکَةُ وَتَنَزَّلَتْ عَلیهِمُ السَّکینَةُ وَفُتِحَتْ لهُمْ أبْوابُ السَّماءِ وأُعِدَّتْ لَهُم مَقاعِدُ الکَراماتِ فی مَقامٍ إطَّلَعُ اللهُ عَلیهِم فیهِ فَرَضِیَ سَعْیَهُم وَحَمِدَ مَقامَهُم.
“There are some people devoted to the remembrance (of God), who have adopted it, in place of worldly matters so that commerce or trade does not turn them away from it. They pass their life in it. They speak into the ears of neglectful persons warning against matters held unlawful by God, they order them to practice justice and themselves keep practicing it and they prevent them from the unlawful and themselves refrain from it. It is as though they have finished the journey of this world towards the Next World and have beheld what lies beyond it. Consequently, they have become acquainted with all that befell them in the interstice during their long stay therein, and the Day of Judgment fulfills its promises for them. Therefore, they removed the curtain from these things for the people of the world until it was as though they were seeing what people did not see and were hearing what people did not hear. If you picture them in your mind in their admirable positions and well‑known sittings, when they have opened the records of their actions and are prepared to render an account of themselves in respect of the small as well as the big things they were ordered to do but they failed to do, or were ordered to refrain from but they indulged therein. They realized the weight of their burden (of bad acts) on their backs and felt too weak to bear them, then they wept bitterly and spoke to each other while still crying and bewailing to God in repentance and acknowledgment (of their shortcomings). You would find them to be emblems of guidance and lamps in darkness, angels would be surrounding them, peace would be descending upon them, the doors of the sky would be opened for them and positions of honor would be assigned to them in the place of which God had informed them. Therefore, He has appreciated their actions and praised their position.” (Nahj al- Balaghah, Sermon No. 222)
 Imam al‑Naqi (a.s)—the Tenth Imam `Ali ibn Muhammad al‑Naqi al-Hadi (a.s), son of Imam Muhammad al‑Taqi al-Jawad, was born on Friday 2nd of Rajab AH 212 in the vicinity of al-Madinah. He was only six years old when his father, Imam al‑Taqi, was poisoned by the `Abbasid Caliph, al‑Mutawakkil. The Holy Imam devoted himself to the sacred mission of preaching in al-Madinah and thus earned the faith of people as well as their allegiance and recognition of his great knowledge and attributes. This reputation evoked the jealousy and malice of the `Abbasid Caliph against him; therefore, Al‑Mutawwakil imprisoned him under his strict vigilance for a number of years during which he was subjected to severe tortures. But even in this miserable imprisonment, the Imam kept devoting himself at all times to worshipping Almighty God. The watchman of the prison used to comment that Imam al‑Naqi used to be as angel in human garb. He was poisoned by the `Abbasid Caliph on 26th of Jumada al-Thaniyah, AH 254. The Imam was only forty two years old at the time of his martyrdom. The period of his Imamate was thirty five years. He wa buried in Samarra’, Iraq.