Tomorrow will be October 20, 2016. By the look of things today, I can say with reasonable certainty that it will come. Then why this title for this article? That is to remind myself that whether tomorrow comes or not matters only if I am still here. Only then can I say that
tomorrow came but it is called today. If that happens, it will be my 61st birthday according to the Gregorian calendar. In the Hijri calendar my birthday will be on Rabi Al-Awwal 4, 1438 (December 3, 2016) and I will be 63, not 61.
Our usual custom is to congratulate each other. No problem with that but given the kind of mind I have, I ask myself, ‘What is this congratulation for?’ For having lived this long? Then I don’t deserve it because I had nothing to do with that. Like tomorrow, it happened because the Creator of the world decided it. Ah! Now that is a thought. But is that why I was congratulated? Is that in our mind when we congratulate people? If that is so, then some very famous and prominent people in this world would receive condolence messages, instead of congratulations. Messages to share with them the grief of others that they managed to stay alive an additional year. “If only you had died! So many others would have lived.” Sounds nasty. But that is a reality. So it is useful for us to reflect on how we lived, rather than for how long. If we lived well, spreading some level of goodness around us, then living long was good. If not? It’s like a race. Everyone gets to the finishing line. But winning depends not on crossing the finishing line but on running the race. It is how you run the race that decides if you are among the winners. Not merely crossing the finishing line. What tomorrow will also herald is the hour. The hour that tells me that I have one year less before it is time for me to meet my Rabb. So it is a time for some serious reflection and self-correction. Not that I must or do wait until tomorrow to do it. Every second comes with this message. Every breath I take tells me not to be sure that there will be another to follow it. Every grey (now more white than grey) hair in my beard and head tells me that the day for that meeting is coming. And asking me what I have prepared for it. Every challenge I face in life, every decision, dilemma, cross-road, they all ask the same question, “What will you do and how will that effect you?” Accounting and Retirement Planning are the two most critical subjects for one to learn. Both must be taught in primary school. But both are almost never taught. I say that because these two subjects teach two very important lessons: 1. That every action counts and adds to our Balance Sheet either on the Debit side or the Credit side. 2. And that it will show up in our Retirement Plan – not at 60 or 65 or whatever the statutory retirement age is, but at our real retirement from this life. It will all be there. Either a well-balanced, healthy Balance Sheet. Or a skewed one. If it is skewed on the side of credits with a huge Accounts Receivable, then rejoice for the One who has to pay you, has no resource crunch and will pay you more than you can imagine. But if is skewed negative, then there is a problem because once you and I go over the Great Divide, it’s over. No more entries permitted. No liquidation of liabilities. No reconciliation of accounts. It’s all done, signed, sealed and dusted. Now we only await payment. That’s why I say that we must teach accounting and retirement planning in primary school. The sooner we learn to think in this way, the better. So the birthday is a time for reflection, introspection and a time to balance our accounts. I ask for your dua and good wishes. That is all I need.
For myself, I remember the incident of the Beduin and make the same dua for myself;
“O The One Whom eyes cannot see, Who cannot be imagined, Who is beyond description, Who is unaffected by happenings, Who cannot be overwhelmed by the twists and turns of time, Who knows the weight of the mountains, the volume of the oceans, the number of falling raindrops, the number of leaves on the trees and everything upon which the night darkens and upon which the day brightens. No sky can hide another from Him, no surface of the earth can hide another from Him, no ocean can hide anything within its depths from Him and no mountain can conceal from Him anything within its rocks.
Make the last part of my life the best, make the best of my deeds the last and make my best day be the one in which I meet You.”