I didn’t know how much more I could take. I wanted to scream. I checked the clock for the umpteenth time; it was 02:00, my heart was racing and I still wasn’t asleep. The palpitations were now being felt in my throat as the level of unease only increased with the passage of time. The windows were all open; the night was silent and cool, yet I still felt like I was burning inside. Within minutes I was drenched in my own sweat. It had become intolerable and I wanted it to end.
It was the night before the most important exam results in my life thus far came out, but it sounded like a scene from a horror movie. Six long years of medical school had amounted to an email scheduled to arrive at some point in the morning with one word: pass or fail.
I once again started to relive my examinations and scrutinise every answer and practical procedure I could remember, even though I knew it would not change the outcome. As I calculated the different permutations of marks I could obtain, I went through cycles of dread and hope; it had become a viscous cycle. The constant and unbreakable worrying was making me sick. I don’t remember ever feeling so scared in my life. It even reached a stage where I was talking to myself out of sheer lunacy; not my finest hour in hindsight. This time it was the final hurdle, the pinnacle of my education and I could not let, or rather did not want, it to slip away from my grasp; it meant too much to me.
The only thing that calmed me down momentarily was making heartfelt dua to Allah for the best for me, whatever that may be. Truly, in the remembrance of Allah, did my heart find rest. It was when I was speaking to Allah that I started to think if this was my state for a worldly exam result, what would be my state when I am about to receive the results of the most important exam, the exam above all others – my life, on the Day of Judgment.
“On the Day when every person will be confronted with all the good he has done, and all the evil he has done, he will wish that there were a great distance between him and his evil” (3:30).
Before it used to be difficult to comprehend the idea of drowning in your own sweat and your hair turning white due to the terro r of facing your judgement, but now it was so much more real. If the few hours before pre-results were unbearable, I wondered what 50,000 years, the length of Day of Judgement, would be like. It truly terrifies me what we will have to endure if we are not one of the lucky few who are under the shade on that fateful day.
The closer I came to the release of my results, the worse my state became, yet this is not replicated by coming closer to the results of our ultimate test and our eternal fate. The same questions kept running through my head: how do we continue with life so carelessly knowing what awaits us? How will we cope under such extreme anxiety and distress? How will we feel knowing there is nothing else we can do to change our outcome? How will we be able to face the Almighty Allah?
“When the trumpet is blown one blast the earth with the mountains shall be lifted and crushed with one crash” (69:13-14).
Such is the state of man that we are very forgetful and sometimes just brush over the ayahs in the Quran and ahadeeth describing the punishment and anguish that looms near for the wrong doers, not really understanding the reality of it all. We are so occupied by what is happening to us in this dunya we fail to give enough thought to what will happen to us in the next life. All we care about is what we can currently see; we are not wise enough to anticipate and prepare fully for our future. Yet that day will inevitably come where our whole existence and everything we have done will be measured. There will be no running away from judgement or the abode that awaits us.
On that day, we will not care for our own children, such will be the intensity of the questioning that any mercy we have in our hearts will transform into caring only about our own selves. On that day, we will be consumed by regret, revisiting all our deeds, knowing we could and should have done so much more. On that day, we will wish we could swap all the blessings and reward we have had for a ransom of our lives. On that, day our hearts will be in a state of frenzy, our lungs suffocating, and our skin crawling with fear.
The Messenger (saw) said: “Allah will talk to everyone directly, without a translator. The person will look to his right, and will not see anything but his deeds. Then the person, will look in front of himself and will see nothing but the Hell-fire facing him. So protect yourself from Hell-fire even by giving a charity of half a date.”
We may not be able to foresee what that decisive day will bring for us, but we can familiarize ourselves with its proceedings, regularly contemplate over its closeness, and relate to the warnings provided to us with our own personal experiences. For tests in this dunya are not just to become closer to Allah, but to also appreciate what the next world may have in store for us. We can prevent ourselves from suffering greatly of the Day of Judgment, or if not that, at least better the situation as much as we can, by repeatedly stopping to ponder over the descriptions of what is to come such that it sinks into our hearts and changes from a fantasy to a reality. That way we can understand that the suffering here is only a fraction of what could come and hopefully realize that we spend too much time worrying about the results in this world and not enough about the next; the balance of priorities is all wrong and needs fixing.
Without reminding ourselves of our purpose on this earth and the consequences of not fulfilling our duties to Allah and our fellow man, we will regrettably be lost in a world that will only do us harm.
Alhamdullilah I passed my exams and became a doctor, thanks to the duas of those around me and the mercy of Allah who has given me more than I could ever deserve. I remember bowing down in prostration and exclaiming shukr to my Lord as soon as I found out, knowing this had not only changed my life in terms of fulfilling a dream and establishing a career, but also in opening my eyes to the reality of the bigger exam I am currently still taking.
If we choose to, we have the ability to work towards and achieve our desired outcome. Do not let it slip from your grasp, because on that day nothing can change and we will be given our final result: pass or fail.
I pray moments like these provide us all with something to reflect and learn from so that we can redirect our priorities to focusing proportionately on the things that matter. May Allah save us from all forms of pain on the Day of Judgment and grant us desperately needed shade on that day through His mercy.
“The Hour will come there is no doubt. And God will raise those who are in the graves” (22:7).0