The closest people to Allah on the Day of Judgement
In Surat ar-Rahman, Allah describes Jannah more than Hellfire. Although description of Hellfire do come up in some verses, the majority of surah is addressing the description of Jannah, and the favours which Allah will offer the people of Jannah.
Categories on the Day of Judgement
The following surah is Surat al-Waqiah, where Allah gives the categorisation of people on the Day of Judgement. The people of the right hand, the people of the left hand, and the sabiqoon, which is a special category. The sabiqoon are the people who are in the front all the time, and always striving to be close to Allah. Yes, the people of the right will achieve Jannah, but the sabiqoon are not just people of Jannah, but the highest level in Jannah.
Who are the sabiqoon?
This ayah gives us a clear message, that if we want to be among the sabiqoon, we need to be doing extra. Scholars of tafsir have said different things about them, but it always comes down to the same principle, which is that the sabiqoon are people who compete in goodness. They are always in the front row in the mosque, always responsive to Allah and trying to comply with His commands. They are not hesitant and not lagging behind.
The majority opinion is that there can be different categories of sabiqoon – you might always be on time with yours salah, or doing your proper zakat on time, not hiding or trying to trick the system to avoid paying it. You could be a sabiqoon in helping those who are in need, or supporting those who are ill and sick. Whatever category of goodness you are striving in, it counts, but you won’t get to that level while you are relaxed and falling behind. You need to train well and prepare yourself.
Who are the muqarraboon?
In the next ayah, Allah says about the sabiqoon, ‘They are the ones nearest to Allah.’, the muqarraboon. Scholars have said that this means closest to the Arsh, the Throne of Allah. The higher you go in Jannah, the closer you get to throne. The highest level is al-Firdaus al-’Ala, the highest level of Firdaus, which is the level of the prophets and messengers, as well as the sidiqeen (truthful), shuhadaa (martyrs), and saliheen (doers of good.)
Levels of Jannah
The Prophet Muhammad said that Jannah has 100 main levels, and that, ‘the people of Paradise will see the people of the highest places in Paradise above them as you see a brilliant star far away on the horizon in the east or the west, because of the difference in status between them’ [Bukhari]. Think of how many million miles are between the Earth and any star.
Allah describes people of Jannah and these categories to encourage us that we can be among the best. Aim high. In English, we say the sky is limit. In Shariah, we say the sky is the start. There are no limits: you can go even higher than the sky. But you need determination and effort. As is quoted constantly, Allah says, ‘Believe and do good deeds’ 50 times in the Quran. It’s not enough to have imaan without action – always combine imaan and action.
However souls in lower ranks of Jannah will be able to visit souls in higher levels. The people of the highest ranks will be able to intercede for those in the lowest ranks, and bring them up to visit, etc. So even if you are lagging behind, you might have a friend or relative who can pull you with them. But you might not have this, or it might not last, so don’t rely only this! Work hard, and ask Allah for acceptance.
Now is the time for action
Ramadan is the time for action. Especially these last 10 nights, as Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated, ‘When the last ten nights of Ramadan arrived, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would tighten his belt, spend the night in worship, and awaken his family. [Bukhari and Muslim]. ‘Tighten his belt’ is an idiom whose main meaning is to do extra efforts in these nights.
Other narrations also mention that he used to do ghusl on the odd nights of Ramadan, to prepare for Laylatul Qadr. Scholars used to do this as well. They would buy very beautiful and expensive clothes, only to wear on these nights. Then they would fold them and keep for next year, to wear on nights that might be Laylatul Qadr. The Prophet (peace be on him) would stay in the mosque for the last ten nights, and not leave until Fajr on Eid day.
Let’s do our best to increase our ibadah and closeness to Allah, and compete in goodness. Those who do goodness in dunya will be people of goodness in akhira, and those who are in the front in dunya will be in front in akhira. We ask Allah to make us among the sabiqoon and muqarrabooon. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Ramadan Night 23
Transcribed by Hana Khan
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