Just consider of how many times a day you have to force yourself to remember something. Already by the time you get out of bed, there are many issues with which you have to keep your mind occupied. You might have taken notes or placed a reminder somewhere so as not to forget about any of them. At times, even the thought of forgetting is worrisome…
What if, though, you had actually forgotten about something greatly more important than anything else in your daily life?
Our purpose in writing this book is to remind you of those issues in your life that are most important. Never forget that, forgetting those things of which you will be reminded in this book will cost you immeasurably more than forgetting what you attempt to remember throughout the day, no matter how valuable that issue may seem.
The purpose of this book is to remind you of the reason of your existence in this world. We feel the need to remind of this because man is forgetful. Engrossed in everyday routines, unless he wills otherwise, he may easily become distracted from the real issues to which he actually needs to pay attention. He may easily forget that Allah encompasses him all around, that He watches him at every moment, that He listens to him, and that he will one day have to give an account of his actions to Allah. He may well forget about the certainty of death, the grave, Paradise and Hell, that nothing happens other than that which is Allah's Will, and that there is ultimately a reason for everything.
Man is prone to forgetfulness. In forgetfulness, he may not remember the purpose of his life, and thus, temporarily fail to conduct himself correctly and commit a mistake. For sincere people, such forgetfulness does not last more than a second; by the time they recognize their failings, they immediately repent, turn towards Allah, and continue observing the limits set by Him. Believers pray to Allah in the following way:
... Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake!... (Surat al-Baqara, 286)
The kind of forgetfulness meant here, though, is actually not the ordinary forgetfulness we are likely to experience in our daily lives. Man is, by nature, forgetful and is inclined to make mistakes. However, the sort of forgetfulness treated in this book is the kind that contributes to spiritual numbness, inattention and ignorance, even though one's mental faculties allow him to continue with the regular course of his day.
So, what is it that a person disregards and therefore forgets?
No doubt, the most crucial matter a person is inclined to forget is the existence of his Creator, and his accountability to Him… the reality of an eternal life to be spent either in Paradise or in Hell… The existence of Hellfire and the eternal blessings of Paradise are as real as you reading this page. However, despite their knowledge of these truths, those who have allowed themselves to become forgetful have become unconcerned, and falsely assume that deliberately forgetting these matters will help them avoid the truth.
But, can man really avoid his responsibilities by forgetting about them? Certainly not. Man is responsible to Allah, his Creator; he will taste death sooner or later, and will then be called to account in His presence, all alone. As a consequence to this account, he will either spend the rest of eternity either in Paradise or in Hell. As the Qur'an reads, "We did not create heaven and earth and everything in between them as a game" (Surat al-Anbiya': 16); no being, including man, is created without a purpose. Man is not left to his own devices, but is created to "worship Allah." (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 56) However, if he becomes carried away by daily routines and fails to exercise his wisdom, then he may well come to forget this truth. Only those who reflect more deeply on the events and beings that surround them can arrive to this important conclusion.
Reflection upon one's own creation alone would make a person realize Allah's favours on him. It will eventually make him conscious of the necessity of making serious effort to show devotion to his Creator. Initially, he was nothing; then, he began life as a single cell invisible to the naked eye. This cell divided billions of times, and gradually grew into a man with all his organs intact. More importantly, this being acquired life, a soul, though he had been nothing. A drop of sperm developed into a lump, and then into a being, able to enjoy the faculties of thinking and speaking. It is His Lord Who created him from nothing. However, some people come to forget their creation, making paltry excuses, and dare to deny Him.
He makes likenesses of Us and forgets his own creation, saying, "Who will give life to bones when they are decayed?" Say "He Who made them in the first place will bring them back to life. He has total knowledge of each created thing." (Surah Ya Sin, 78-79)
If you too fear of being ungrateful, then you have to stop being distracted by every-day thoughts. Because, a person keeps himself occupied with the thought of his Lord only if he does so deliberately. Similarly, he becomes cognizant of his responsibility to Him, if he remembers that this world is a temporary place, and that he will have to give an account of everything he has done in this world.
Essentially, none of the issues discussed in this book are of a kind for which you would merely say, "I'd better not forget." No, you must not forget any single one of them. Only by remembering them can you worship Allah and earn His good pleasure. Most importantly, do not forget that it is the only way to salvation, both in this world and beyond.
Allah shows you two ways with which He tests you; you are free to make a choice, but remember that one of these ways leads to eternal punishment, while the other leads to eternal bliss...
And shown him the two highways? But he has not braved the steep ascent. What will convey to you what the steep ascent is? It is freeing a slave or feeding on a day of hunger an orphaned relative or a poor man in the dust; then to be one of those who believe and urge each other to steadfastness and urge each other to compassion. Those are the Companions of the Right. Those who reject Our signs, they are the Companions of the Left. Above them is a sealed vault of Fire. (Surat al-Balad, 10-20)