Reflection No. 90 on Q 23:99-100 – Regret

رَبِّ ارْجِعُونِ لَعَلِّي أَعْمَلُ صَالِحًا فِيمَا تَرَكْتُ

My Lord! Send me back, so that I may do good in that which I left.
Sura Mu’minun, verse 99-100

Regret is a very difficult pill to swallow. It has been described as a negative emotion that creates a sorrowful feeling of loss. A frustration at a missed opportunity. Regret can be for the things you did which you shouldn’t have done, or for the things you didn’t do which should have been done.

The Quran describes the intense feelings of regret which a human being experiences at the time of death, and on the day of Judgement. He asks for a return to the world, so he can do good. Of course this request will not be granted, and he is told that when the time comes, it will not be delayed or brought forward even by an hour. Once our time is up, there is nothing we can do about it. Life is over, and we will be left with whatever we have managed to do in it.

Verses like the above are poignant reminders of the transiency of time and the futility of asking for another chance. It is a warning to us that we have only one life, one chance to collect as much as we can. It is a race we are running. A race against time and the many distractions of the world, to amass as much as possible of the Baqiyatus Salehaat, the righteous deeds that will last forever.

Recite this verse to remind yourself daily of the urgent need to collect as much as possible. It is a long journey, and you will need a lot to see yourself through. Gather as much as you can. Every day, do deeds that will multiply in reward, deeds that will have ripple effects and may even travel beyond the horizons of your own small word. Small, doable deeds, that don’t require much except a thoughtfulness that is characteristic of a conscious believer. Even one spoken word sometimes, according to Hadith, can travel to the East and the West, to places you never expected, and the reward (or punishment) of that can last up to the Day of Judgment.

Be alert for every chance to do good, and rush towards it. Don’t miss opportunities so you don’t experience the helpless regret described in the above verse. Although we will all feel some regret, even the doers of good who will wish they had done more, it will help if we are aware and prepare well. At least the negative consequences of the regret will be less.