إحْذَرُوا يَوْماً تُفْحَصُ فيهِ الأعْمالُ، وتَكْثُرُ فيهِ الزِّلْزالُ، وتَشيبُ فيهِ الأطْفالُ۔
Beware of the day when the deeds are audited, when earthquakes increase and when young children turn old.
— Imam Ali a.s.
(Ghurar al-Hikam: The Hereafter)
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.
In this profound Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), he warns us about a day that we should be cautious of. He mentions three significant events that will occur on this day: the auditing of deeds, the increase of earthquakes, and the premature aging of children.
Let us delve into the meanings of the important words in this Hadith. The word (ihtathiru) "إحْذَرُوا" means to be cautious, to beware, or to take heed. It emphasizes the need for vigilance and awareness. (tufhasu) "تُفْحَصُ" refers to the auditing or examination of deeds, where each action will be scrutinized and accounted for. (zilzal) "الزِّلْزَالُ" signifies earthquakes, which are natural disasters that cause immense destruction and upheaval. Finally, (tashib) "تَشِيبُ" means the premature aging or greying of children, which is a metaphorical representation of the severity and intensity of the events unfolding on that day.
To understand the deeper meaning of this Hadith, we can turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Zalzalah (99:1-3):
When the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake. And the earth discharges its burdens. And man says, 'What is [wrong] with it?'
These verses highlight the Day of Judgment, when the earth will experience a tremendous earthquake, shaking everything to its core. The earth will release its burdens, exposing the hidden deeds of all individuals. This is in line with the concept of the auditing of deeds mentioned in the Hadith. The Quranic verses also depict the astonishment and confusion of people on that day, similar to the warning given by Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) about the increase in earthquakes.
Furthermore, the concept of premature aging of children mentioned in the Hadith can be understood in light of Surah Al-Ma'arij (70:19-26). Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) describes the Day of Judgment as a day when people will be filled with fear and anxiety. The intensity of the events will be so overwhelming that even young children will appear aged and disheveled. This metaphorical representation emphasizes the severity and magnitude of the events unfolding on that day.
Reflecting on this Hadith, we are reminded of the transient nature of this worldly life. It serves as a wake-up call for us to be mindful of our actions and to constantly strive towards righteousness. The auditing of deeds signifies that every action, no matter how small, will be accounted for. The increase in earthquakes serves as a reminder of the power and might of Allah (تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَىٰ), and the premature aging of children symbolizes the magnitude and severity of the events on the Day of Judgment.
As Muslims, we should take this Hadith as a reminder to be conscious of our deeds, to seek forgiveness for our shortcomings, and to strive for righteousness in all aspects of our lives. May Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) guide us and grant us the strength to prepare for the day when our deeds will be audited, earthquakes will increase, and young children turn old.
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