Imagine you are standing in the middle of a very large train station. Young people, old people and children are all rushing past; they are all in a great hurry. They are all trying to get on the same train, because they will all be setting out on the same journey. Some have carefully packed all they own. They are unaware that they will not need any of it at the end of the journey. Some are bidding farewell to their families. They do not realize there can be no return at the end of the journey. We are just some of the millions of travelers who will board that same train when the time comes. We stand there and wait for the train that will take us off to our eternal lives in the Hereafter, a train that we shall one day have to board.
At the end of the journey lie death and angels to meet us. We all carry ledger books that we cannot see. If we think of that train trip as the brief life we spend in this world, then everything we do on that journey, all our sins and merit, is written down in fine detail in those ledgers. We may not be aware of it, but the angels carefully write down every word we say, every step we take, and all our sins and merit. The opening of those ledgers is the best of tidings for believers, because the believer has filled his brief lifetime with good deeds, worship and prayer. He realizes that death lies at the end of that journey, after which will begin the unending life of the Hereafter. That is why he stands before our Lord in submission and trust:
“As for him who is given his Book in his right hand, he will say, ‘Here, come and read my Book! I counted on meeting my Reckoning.’” (Surat Al-Haqqa, 19-20)
Deniers, on the other hand, embark on that train journey with great joy and delight, since they are deceived by Satan into being caught up by this world. There is no training of the lower self on their journeys, no religious observances and no relying on and trusting in God, just living for the transitory joys of this world. Yet the ledgers they carry with them all unawares will inevitably be opened at the end of the journey, and everything on that journey will be written down, day-by-day and hour by hour:
“The Book will be set in place [before them] and you will see the evildoers fearful of what is in it. They will say, ‘Alas for us! What is this Book which does not pass over any action, small or great, without recording it?’ They will find there everything they did and your Lord will not wrong anyone at all.” (Surat Al-Kahf, 49)
In fact, if you look, there is a huge crowd full of false and insincere souls all around in the station that millions of people are passing through. It is such a vast crowd that people become lost in it. They may see one another’s faces but forget to see the face of God. They value one another very much. What their spouses and friends say is of enormous importance to them. They became so caught up by the events of the day that everything they say revolves around this world. They talk about they make money, how they put their children through the best schools and how they accumulated wealth and possessions; yet they do not know that they will have to leave all these behind at the stations they stop at. They do not know that all that awaits them at the end of the journey is God.
“So leave them in their glut of ignorance for a while. Do they imagine that, in the wealth and children We extend to them, We are hastening to them with good things? No indeed, but they have no awareness!” (Surat Al-Muminun, 54- 56)
Believers, on the other hand, board that train with deep faith, submission and a sincere heart. They know that the journey is actually quite short. God will test them with difficulties and sickness in the brief life of this world, and they will respond to these tests with fortitude and goodness. Their journeys will be filled with good works, prayer and worship. They will also have to leave behind their wealth, possessions, spouses, friends and children at every stop because all that awaits them at the end of the line is the cold ground and a white shroud. Since they are aware of this, they have no passion for the life of this world and realize that the life of this world is not a place for greed and desire. At the end of this journey, which they make with a sincere heart and deep faith, stands open the gates to the Gardens of Paradise to meet them.
“The life of this world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The abode of the hereafter — that is truly Life if they only knew.”(Surat Al-‘Ankabut, 64)
It is a fact that not a single person will be able to avoid waiting in that station and boarding that train. All the people we value so much in the life of the world will board that train, and at the end of the journey, those millions of much-valued bodies will turn into a mere handful of earth. As those bodies all enter the ground at the end of the journey, the bones will fall apart and not a trace will remain of all those millions of people; all that will remain is the souls bowing in awe before our Lord and hoping for forgiveness.
“...except for those who repent and believe and act rightly: God will transform the wrong actions of such people into good – God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surat Al-Furqan, 70)