Each of us has thought of that day. Each of us has wondered how the weight of eternal regret, the burden of inescapable sin, must feel, but none of us has endured it yet. Thankfully, Allah warns us of it in hopes that we’ll never have to.
One of these warnings comes in the form of a striking depiction of Judgement Day’s events, a description complete with grand imagery and powerful emotion.
In Surah Kahf, Allah describes the immaculate rows in which mankind will stand in, silently awaiting their judgments, their final destinations:
وَعُرِضُوا عَلَىٰ رَبِّكَ صَفًّا لَقَدْ جِئْتُمُونَا كَمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ ۚ
They all will be brought before your Lord standing in rows and Allah will say: “Well! You see that you have returned to Us as We created you the first time…”
Allah announces that all of us have been returned to him just as he created us the first time. At this fateful moment, the suspense, the anxiety, is enough to shatter hearts.
Then, suddenly, people’s books are placed in their hands, the criminals behind their backs, and the righteous in their rights. Terror and surging horror overtake the criminals as the detail and comprehensiveness of their evil records stuns them:
And the book of deeds will be placed; and you will see the guilty filled with dread at what they see therein; and they will exclaim: “Oh, woe unto us! What a record is this! It leaves out nothing, be it small or great, but takes everything into account!” For they found all that they ever did facing them, and your Lord does not wrong anyone.
We notice that these descriptions utilize entirely plural vocabulary. “They found all that they did,” They will be brought in rows,” “They will exclaim.”
Interestingly enough, the wording used to describe their books being placed is a dramatic shift from the expected plural. It says: the book was placed,” whereas it should say: “the books were placed”, in reference to all of the accounts that will be given out. So why the singular usage here?
As we stand on that fearful day, in our hearts. there will be no “plural”, nobody else will matter. On that day, brothers will forget each other, and even mothers will abandon their newborn babies out of concern for themselves:
On that Day each man shall flee from his own brother.
We will not even notice others’ books because, in our eyes, there will be only one book, our own, and the weight of that book, the importance of it to each and every single man and woman, will be enough to wipe our hearts, and our entire peripheries, of concern for anyone else’s fate. Our ultimate destinies will, quite literally, hang in the balance.
Despite the events of Judgment Day taking place in a collective, none of us will feel part as if we are part of one. Everyone will cry: Nafsi, Nafsi, my soul, my soul! Even the prophets, when asked to go intercede with Allah, will be afraid for their own well being.
This state of intense isolation, loneliness even amongst masses of people, will exacerbate the inner fears of the wrongdoers, as they realize their solitary state condemns them to meet their most powerful lord utterly helpless, without others to confide in.
Allah explicitly hi-lights this lonely state of return, suggested by the singular usage of the word “book”, in Surah Anaam:
And truly you have come unto Us alone, as We created you the first time. You have left behind you all that which We had bestowed on you. We see not with you your intercessors whom you claimed to be your partners. Now you and they have been cut off, and all that you used to claim has vanished from you.
On that day, the suffering of the criminals will be theirs alone, no one will avail them of the justice they deserve.
Through this, Allah shows us our own thoughts on the Day of Judgement. He foreshadows our ultimate reality as a powerful warning of a day where we will perceive only one book, despite the countless billions being distributed. That book will be different for everyone in content, but not in gravity.
We ask Allah to make our each of our book’s a source of pride for us on that day, and to not allow our sins to way us down. Ameen.