Sitting in the Nairobi traffic jam as I return home from work, I gaze through my window at the billboard across the street. I have passed this airline advertisement countless times. The caption reads in big letters: “May Allah accept your good deeds.” The photo captures a Muslim man seated on his flight, while in the foreground, a man and his son are praying in Mecca. The message is clear: remember your duty to go on pilgrimage to Mecca and teach your son to do likewise. The airline brings the two messages together hoping you will choose them as you make your travel to Mecca.
The obvious meaning is visibly displayed in your duty to go on pilgrimage, but the subtle is hidden in the shadow. What does the phrase, “May Allah accept your good deeds” mean? It stirs the question: why wouldn’t Allah accept my good deeds? Or, how can I know if Allah will accept my good deeds? These are haunting questions for Muslims as they really don’t know if their good deeds are enough and will be accepted. Islam teaches us that we will face eternal judgment and account for all of our deeds. A record of good deeds and bad deeds are being kept as we walk the Earth. The good deeds are quickly written down, while the bad deeds are slowly recorded. But where will we end in the final judgement and will our good deeds be enough or accepted by Allah? That is a decision for Allah alone and we cannot know. To not know one’s eternal state must produce fear and anxiety.
I remember having that fear and anxiety in my life when I doubted my own eternal state. Would I be cast into hell or enjoy heaven with the Lord? It was such a hard place to be. Wondering, wondering, and wondering about eternity and where I would spend it. I had been trying to live the Christian life by doing the right things: going to church, attending Bible studies and even sharing about Jesus with others. Yet, I was living a double life of piety and then rebellion to God. Sunday was the day I attended church and the rest of the days in the week I sought what I wanted. But God intervened in my foolishness and rebellion to Him. While finishing up college, God brought deep conviction on my soul and laid it out for me in no uncertain terms. Either I was going to surrender all to Jesus and pick up my cross and follow after him or I was going to go my own way. The Lord told me that I needed to make a choice, but He made it clear that I could not do both.
Sitting in my college apartment that summer day, I remember the Lord breaking through my stubbornness and bringing me home. The peace of God filled my soul that day and has remained ever since. I no longer fear my eternal state and the judgment that awaits each of us. Jesus has paid the costly price for my sin and exchanged His righteousness for my sin. I am only here on Earth momentarily and then Heaven bound. Oh yes, I still sin (hopefully less and less as I become molded by Jesus) but now I no longer fear the judgment, as God has made peace with me through His Son Jesus.
My Lord, may my Muslim brothers and sisters that walk this Earth with me no longer have to fear the judgement of Allah. May they no longer have to wonder if their good deeds will be accepted. May the great news about Jesus Christ interceding for us in our eternal judgement fill their hearts, souls, and minds as they embrace you, dear Lord, for salvation.