Many people who are dieting keep a food diary to track what they eat. They may think they are just eating a little lettuce and some grilled chicken, but in fact when they are forced to notice every nibble that enters their mouth, the oreos and sips of coke start adding up.
I read somewhere that what we measure, we improve on. The mere fact that we are measuring something makes us conscious of that thing, and that then leads us to see where we are going wrong, and we improve. For example, make a list of all the books you have read this year, and you will somehow feel the urge to hit a higher target. Instead of just reading a vague amount, you aim for maybe 24 books a year. Even if you don’t hit the high target you set, you will still end up closer to 24 than if you had not thought about it at all.
Today is the 15th of Shabaan. The old books have closed and the new ones have been opened. I wonder if our recording angels are given new sharpened pencils and are eager to start using these fresh new books? Do these angels know us, and do they root for us, hoping that we will do the right thing, and glad when we are engaged in Ibaadat? When we read Salaah, do they join in? Or do they have to just be recording all the time? I rarely think of these angels in real terms, but they are part of the unseen, they are there. We greet them in Salaah.
So, the books…Allah tracks our deeds, so shouldn’t we also track our own deeds? It may seem clinical to say “I want to read 100 Yaaseens this year” but if I don’t make that goal, it will be harder to remember that I want to try to read more Quraan. When I have a list that I can tick off and get that satisfying feeling of moving towards success, I will find little pockets in the day to squeeze in that one more Yaaseen.
Can we make zikr and fasting and nawaafil goals? I think I will. If there is an unseen book following me around, I want to try to have a worldly book that can keep me on track. So that one day when I am asked what I did with my life, I won’t be surprised, and I can pull out my book and account.