On pre-destination and effort

Q. Why should we not live freely and do whatever we want if, according to a Hadith, actions are based on the way they end? If a sinner repents at the end of his life then he will have a good ending, as opposed to someone who spent his life doing righteous deeds but ended up a sinner and would have a bad ending. Then what’s even the point of trying?

Logically, we would take this chance.

The thing is, even if we look at our life in the light of this Hadith, we cannot afford to take the risk. Even by dunyawiand intellectual standards and logic, the safe-side principle would be to do good. At least there’s a chance of having a good death (from a Deeni perspective there is much more than a mere ‘chance’) if you make an effort to not sin and do tawbah when you do fall into sin, as opposed to when you don’t even make an effort, because that is 100% guaranteed fail. 

While the hadith you have quoted is correct, it is not supposed to make you think ‘then what’s the use’. This is not the reaction Allah swt wants from us. It should be more like ‘OK so if I sincerely make the effort throughout my life and even if I keep failing, Allah swt will inshaAllah grant me death on the way I ‘try’ to lead my life’. And the more we make an attempt, the more we are likely to succeed, the more we are likely to be protected from a death which is not befitting for a Muslim.  

In fact scholars and mashaikh have said that if a person continues to make effort towards Allah swt in this world, and even if he doesn’t succeed during his lifetime, it is against Allah swt’s Mercy to group him with those who didn’t make effort. Just like every ‘SubhanAllah’ will count to raise status in Jannah, how can we think that our efforts will go to waste? It is against Allah swt’s Karam to let our efforts go to waste. 

Also, Jannah and Jahannum are not like a pass/fail course – it’s not that Jannah is pass and Jahannum is fail. There are many, many levels. Even within those levels, it is not like an A or B grade. An A is an A whether at 90 or at 98, a B is a B whether at 89 or 80. That’s not true for Jannah and Jahannum. Every single moment, every single effort, every single fraction of a second that we made an effort towards Allah swt, will be written down in our Book of Deeds.  

It’s an effort worth making.  

Allah swt is so Kareem, He isn’t trying to put us into trouble. For all we know, just by virtue of our mediocre and worthless but consistent efforts, He might grant us forgiveness, which is anything but mediocre and worthless. And that’s the best thing about our Deen – we don’t lose out, AT ALL. Nothing goes to waste. 

In fact that is our reason for studying ilm (making an effort towards Him and changing ourselves as opposed to the world around us), and that is the reason for anything we do in Deen. As the last two verses of Surah Zilzaal say: 

“So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” 

Also, let me just add here that it is a great trickery of Shaytaan to stop people from doing tawbah. There are a few reasons for this. 

  1. Shaytan was never able to do tawbah. He disobeyed Allah swt by not prostrating to Adam AS but then he could have just done tawbah. Even today he can do tawbah, but does not do it because of his egoistic issues. So he hates to see his enemy — Human beings — do something which he cannot get himself to do.
  2. There are two doors to Jannah: Taqwa (i.e. to not do sins) and Tawbah (to seek forgiveness if sin was committed). Door of Taqwa was already closed on us when we couldn’t stop ourselves from sinning. Now our hope is to get Jannah through Door of Tawbah, and this is the door which shaytan is trying to close on us by making us hopeless (we feel we will not be forgiven even if we seek forgiveness) or making us too hopeful (we feel we will be forgiven anyway so why make tawbah?).

 

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