The Blank Page Before You


In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
 
The Qur'an spends a great deal of time and text describing, using some of the most vivid imagery, the events of the Last Day, the Day of Reckoning, the Day of Resurrection. Much of the chapters revealed during the Prophet's ministry in Mecca (the Meccan surahs) are about the last day. This passage is but one:
 
When the sun is shrouded in darkness,
And when the stars lose their light,
and when the mountains are made to vanish,
and when she-camels big with young, about to give birth, are left untended,
and when all beasts are gathered together,
and when the seas boil over,
and when all human beings are coupled,
and when the girl-child that was buried alive is made to ask,
for what crime had she been slain,
and when the scrolls [of men's deeds] are unfolded,
and when heaven is laid bare,
and when the blazing fire [of hell] is kindled bright,
and when paradise is brought into view:
[on that Day] every human being will come to know what he has prepared [for himself]. (81:1-14)
 
A prominent feature of the Day of Judgment is the presentation of the scrolls, the record of the deeds of man:
 
Now as for him whose record shall be placed in his right hand, he will exclaim, "Come you all! Read this my record…" (69:19)
 
But as for him whose record shall be placed in his left hand, he will exclaim: "Oh, would that I had never been shown this my record…" (69:25)
 
And as for him whose record shall be placed in his right hand, he will in time be called to account with an easy accounting and will [be able] to turn joyfully to those of his own kind. But as for him whose record shall be given to him behind his back; he will in time pray for utter destruction: but he will enter the blazing flame. (84:7-12)
 
All the deeds one commits are written down "for the record." That way, when one stands before God in the reckoning, there is no way someone will be wronged: all of his or her deeds will be spread open and he or she will be asked to account for what they did. Who is writing down these deeds? Noble angels: And yet, verily, there are ever-watchful forces over you: noble, recording, aware of whatever you do! (82:10-12)
 
Yet, who is the real author of our book of deeds? Who is responsible for what is written in these books? We are. We are the authors of our own books. Whatever deeds we do; whatever actions we take; whatever seeds we sow, they are all recorded for the judgment. Thus, we are writing our books to be presented before God. Here is where Natasha Bedingfield's song is so relevant: Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten.
 
Each day our books are clean: they are "blank pages before us." Each day the slate is clean, and by our actions, we write the story of our lives each and every day. Thus, on the Day of Judgment, if we get our books in our right hands, we have won: we have made the right decisions, made the right choices, stayed on the right side. And in reward we are given eternal bliss and happiness.
 
YET, if we make the wrong choices, make the wrong decisions, stay on the wrong side, then our books are given to us in our left hands behind our backs. And we will then say: Oh, would that I had never been shown this my record, and neither known this my account! Oh, would that this [death of mine] had been the end of me! Of no avail to me is all that I have [ever] possessed, [and] all my power of argument has died away from me! (69:25-29)
 
And we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
 
Yet, we are all sinners. We all make mistakes. All of our books have chapters and chapters and chapters of bad things that we wish would have never been there. Is there any hope? Is there any way we can "edit" our books? Are our books written with permanent marker? No. We can edit our books: we can erase those chapters by asking God for forgiveness. When we repent, our books are "edited." The bad deeds are erased. Our bad chapters are "redacted" from view. In fact, the bad deeds are replaced with good deeds. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said in a tradition that a good deed will erase a bad deed committed before it. As long as we are on this earth, we have ample and open opportunity to ask God for forgiveness, so that our books can be edited and the ugly parts be redacted forever.
 
And do you know what the best part is? Our Lord is Ever Forgiving, Ever Loving, just waiting for us to come back to Him at any time. The Prophet Jacob (pbuh), when telling his sons to go forth and find their brothers Joseph and Benjamin, said: " Do not lose hope of God's life-giving mercy; verily, none but people who deny the truth can ever lose hope of God's life-giving mercy." (12:87) In 39:53, it says: [Thus speaks God:] 'O you servants of Min who have transgressed against your own selves! Despair not of God's mercy: behold, God forgives all sins – for, verily, He alone is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace! (39:53)
 
We should never despair of God's mercy, no matter what we have done. God's mercy is much, much, much bigger than anything we have ever done. So, let us never let the opportunity to edit our books pass us by in this world. Let us always seek God's forgiveness; let us always "open the dirty window" of our hearts and "let the sun [ i.e., God's Light] illuminate the words that we cannot find." Let God's Light show us what proper words to use in our book of deeds. And let us always remember, if we ever fall, we can edit our books by seeking God's forgiveness and repentance.
 
When we get up each day, let us always keep in mind: Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten.
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