First Impression… Last Impression…Lasting Impressions
Have you ever stood by a pond and thrown a pebble into it? Didn’t it create an infinite number of ripples? Similarly, over the span of our lives, every one of us is constantly creating a series of unending ripples by our words, actions, presence and personality. This ripple effect stays long after we are gone or our action is over, in the form of traces and impressions, and continues to influence and inspire others. Thus, the chain continues.
Allah (SWT) states:
“…We record whatever deeds they have sent ahead, & the traces (aathaarahum) which they left behind; for of all things do we take account in a clear record.”
(Surah Ya-sin 36:12)
We know that Allah (SWT) is meticulous in His Accountability and fair in His Judgment. Thus, He informs us that His recording includes everything big and small, exposed or concealed, good and bad with numerical clarity. He (SWT) records not just deeds but also the traces, impact and impressions of those deeds, with precision.
“Whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it. Whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” (Surah az-Zalzalah 99: 7-8)
Everyday, whatever we do is presented or forwarded to Allah (SWT). What remains are the impressions, and these we will find in our Book on the Day of Accountability. Therefore, with the right intention, knowledge and actions we can strive to leave impressions that just might play an important role in tipping the scale in our favour. The Arabic word, ‘Aathaar’ cannot be translated into one word in English as it encompasses various sublime concepts depending on the context in which it is used:
1. Impression of a deed on one’s body – for example, tasbeeh on fingers. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Count on your fingers, for they will be asked, and will be made to speak.”
2. Impression of our body on the environment – for example, footsteps on the way to the masjid. The Prophet (SAW) said, “…And your footsteps will be recorded.” (Bukhari)
3. Effects of direct instruction or imparting knowledge. “When the son of Adam dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: knowledge which is beneficial to others, a righteous child who prays for him, or an ongoing charity which he leaves behind.” (Muslim)
4. Effects of setting an example or through inspiring others. “Whoever starts (or sets an example of) something good in Islam, will have a reward for it. And a reward equal to that of everyone who does it after him, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest…” (Muslim)
5. Direct impact of a deed performed and its continuation. “…An ongoing charity which he leaves behind.” (Muslim)
In the light of the above, let us take a look at examples of things that we can do that will leave beautiful, lasting impressions, insha Allah.
Adopt good Islamic manners.
Our personality leaves an impression on others and plays a crucial part in attracting them towards Islam. This includes our temperament, speech, character, behaviour and interaction with others.
“Forbidden upon the Hell Fire is every easygoing, flexible, easy-to-deal-with, and easy-to-besociable-with person.” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Musnad [Hasan])
Record or print books, CDs or pamphlets for distribution in your community.
“The one who tells another about something good is like the one who does it.” (Muslim)
Learn, adopt or revive a forgotten Sunnah, for example learn cupping (hijamah) for treatment.
“Whoever revives one of my Sunnahs that has died out after I am gone, will have a reward like that of everyone who does it, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest.” (Tirmidhi)
Teach or help someone memorise the Quran.
“The best of you is the one who learns the Quran and teaches it.”(Bukhari)
Write a good book, a beneficial article or launch a useful website.
Your work will remain long after you are gone and you will continue to reap the benefits.
Meet your family and sisters in Islam with a smile.
Nothing warms people up more than this easy (and infectious!) form of sadaqah.
“Every good deed is charity, and indeed, it is a good deed to meet your brother with a cheerful face…” (Ahmad)
Begin a phone call with a quick dua.
Seek protection for your tongue from gossiping, lying or backbiting before picking up the phone.
“On the Day when their tongues, their hands, and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions.” (Surah Noor 24:24)
Give charity from your excess food.
When eating out, parcel up the surplus food you ordered and give it to a hungry homeless person outside the restaurant.
Give a unique gift that encourages a sunnah, for example, a bottle of original kohl with a card describing how the Prophet (SAW) used it.
Clean the masjid.
Pick up litter after the prayer is over & people have left. “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) commanded us to set up mosques among our houses and commanded us to clean them.” (Musnad Ahmad)
Quench someone’s thirst.
Take a bottle of water or juice when you go out and offer it to someone working in the hot sun.
Make dua for your sister.
Look at the needs and problems of your sisters and supplicate for them without even being asked.
”The supplication of a Muslim for his brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Every time he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angels appointed for this particular task says: “Ameen! May it be for you, too.” (Muslim)
There are infinite opportunities to do good, and myriad examples to draw on for inspiration. Let us start exploring those prospects and create the ripples of our own athaar …
Huma Imam is a UAE based writer.