The following categories of people are the ‘firsts’ who will be rewarded on the Day of Judgement.
- As-Sabiqoon – The Forerunners
They rush to do good without waiting for anyone else to follow. They continuously challenge themselves and others in their efforts to commit as many recommended deeds as possible with the intention of earning Allah (swt) pleasure. Prophet Muhammad (sa) exhorts Muslims to ‘rush to do good deeds’, and they follow this Hadeeth in letter and spirit. Scholars have identified them as being self-motivated and having high ambitions. They do not wait for the right environment, visionary leaders or adequate supporters.
In Surah Al-Waqiah, Allah (swt) mentions As-hab Al-Yameen (those on the right hand) in verse eight and then the Sabiqoon twice in verse ten. What is the difference between the two mentioned groups? The forerunners are a small part of those on the right hand (all those who have earned Allah’s [swt] pleasure).
Also, Sabiqoon refers to both individuals and groups of people. Abu Bakr Siddiq (rtam) is a perfect example of the individual Sabiqoon. The early emigrants to Madinah, who migrated before the conquest of Makkah, are an example of such a group of forerunners. By the same token, those who are forerunners in this life will be forerunners to be rewarded on the Day of Judgement – they will be under the shade of Allah’s (swt) throne and the quickest to their stations in Jannah. They rush to Allah (swt) in Dunya; therefore, they will be rushed to Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgement by the Saiq (drivers) and the Shaheed (witnesses) amongst the angels, who will take charge of us on that day.
Likewise, the first to run away from evil or to abandon sin are also categorized as Sabiqoon. According to Ibn Seereen, the early converts of Makkah and Madinah, who prayed toward Jerusalem, both sacrificed greatly in their bid to leave the ways of the Jahiliyah.
When you see that something needs to be rectified around you, someone needs help, how long does it take you to act? Do you hesitate before responding? Do you dither, when choosing what course of action to take? An incident that comes to mind and that still causes me to hang my head in shame occurred during Hajj. During waiting midway between Mina and Arafah for some of our companions, we were disgusted by the amount of litter around us. One lady made no remarks. Instead, she started picking the empty lunch boxes and juice cartons and putting them in a corner to ease the sanitary workers’ job. We stared at her and then quickly scrambled to help, realizing our mistake. She was a forerunner to do good – we simply followed suit.
- The Trendsetters
Remember the incident narrated by Jabir (rtam), when a group of destitute Bedouins came to visit the Prophet (sa) and he asked the Sahabah to come forth and aid them? The Sahabah hesitated, and this disappointed the Prophet (sa). Then, an Ansari offered a purse of silver, and the Sahabah then came forth with their contributions. Note that this was a voluntary Sadqah, and the Prophet (sa) praised the Ansari, whose charity stirred others.
To revive a Sunnah or encourage a good deed is a highly commendable action. The reward of the trendsetter is infinite, for as long as someone continues to do good inspired by him/her. You can set a good example by your own conduct, which is a subtle form of Dawah.
Consider the efforts of Edhi and the Robin Hood Army. Both saw people suffering, both recognized the potential to do good and then both took action to help others without the need for external prompting. Inspired by their selflessness, other charities also set up ambulance services and kitchens to aid the poor and needy.
- Ghuraba – The Strangers
Among the most challenging situations one can face is to adopt an unpopular truth – to buck a trend. Why? Because then one becomes a stranger in one’s own community. This requires deep faith in Allah’s (swt) promise of the Hereafter and great steadfastness and courage to go against the flow.
Ibn Qayyim says Muslims become Ghuraba, when they stay away from sins that have become common cultural practices, such as extravagant weddings, or are anti-Sunnah, such as the system of dowry amongst the sub-continental Muslims. This instigates severe pressure from our own kith and kin, and we must abstain without adopting a condescending attitude or being rude.
- Al-Mujaddid – The Revivers
From time to time, Allah (swt) sends a ‘reviver’ to restore the lost elements of Islam. Through the ages, people in different lands have renewed various aspects of lost Sunnah. For instance, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz helped reinforce justice in society, which had been lost due to the political machinations and intrigues. Salahudin Ayyubi reinvigorated despondent Muslims toward fighting and conquering Jerusalem. Shah Waliullah Dehlavi revived an interest in Hadeeth Sciences in the subcontinent and helped in connecting the masses to the meaning of the Quran.
We can bring religion ‘back to life’ through reintroducing a lost concept or action, even the most basic Sunnah rituals. In our society, it is customary to give a newborn Ghutti, which is often in the form of honey. Few people, however, know that it stems from the Sunnah of Tehneek, where the Prophet (sa) would chew a date and then rub it on the gums of the newborn to stimulate salivation and suckling, while praying for the faith and prosperity of the newborn. In one family, this Sunnah had been lost, until one young mother read about it, while preparing for her newborn, and since then the Sunnah has been practiced. Her effort illustrates how we can become revivers in our small circle of influence and through simple, daily Sunnah practices.
- Al Mushineen – The Distinguished
These are the Muttaqeen (the God-conscious people), who seek to do deeds perfectly and aspire in unusual ways. Why are they a subset of the God-conscious? This is because you cannot have the perfection (Ihsan) in some aspects of your worship or dealings with people, whilst compromising Taqwa in any other aspect of your dealings with Allah (swt) or people.
Our effort should be to emulate some aspect of these heroes and heroines and try to be amongst the ‘firsts’ to be approved on the Day of Judgement.
Based on the “Firsts” series by Shaikh Omar Suleiman – Founder, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research