By Hadil Arman
Legacy. When the subject of leaving a legacy comes up, you may find that some questions come to mind – is leaving a legacy even for someone “regular” like you and I? Do we ever know if we’ll even leave a legacy? What exactly is a legacy?
My answer for you today is simply this: it is what you make of it.
For me, it is what is left behind from the life of a person and what they continuously demonstrated. It is one of your deeds living in people’s memories. The deed living through their actions. That one deed you did, however small, having an everlasting domino effect that only Allah can allow to be. How limitless He is.
There’s more… It is the barakah that Allah puts in people’s memory of us after our death, in even the small things we did. It is the piece of information taken by someone you spoke to, and that very information, directly or indirectly, becoming a source of khayr ( goodness). One word, one sentence, turning into an amount of khayr you may not even be aware of – written and recorded for all posterity, because Allah never forgets.
It is the memories of ourselves we leave behind with others, knowingly and unknowingly. The impressions we leave behind, the people we positively influenced: the lady from around the corner, the colleague from work, the warm person we come across on the bus. What smile did we give back? Legacy is all these actions working for us when we need it most.
There’s more… Legacy is all the true and well-natured intentions we had. You see, intentions are everything. Even if we never completed or were never able to do something, Allah always knew our intentions. So, legacy is both the actions we took AND the intended actions we wanted to take, through our work, our impact, the projects we do and the charity we give in secret. Legacy is what you make of it. It is the past and forgotten deed but the living and unforgettable effect. It is the proof – Yes, the proof. It is the last stroke of a brush, and just like that, the work of art remains forever.
An example for me personally today.
From time to time, I come across people that truly have an impact on me. Many times, it has been upon their passing. The most recent one has been a sister called Iman Jasim (May Allah have mercy on her). Externally, from an outsider’s point of view, all you would generally see is what you would perceive to be normality – A normal sister, a normal mother.
So, what changed? Snippets of her life came to surface soon after her passing: The different effects she had on individuals, the memories from her children, her community’s thoughts and love for her. All resurfacing…resurfacing because they were always there, whether we knew about them or not is irrelevant, because her deed (may Allah accept them all) were always there and Allah knew. Her work, her charity, her books, her emotions, her dreams, her intentions, her actions her words, her values…it goes on.
The beauty is, only some of these things came to light. Only Allah knows what else she did, said and intended in secret. However, the one thing that touched my heart the most, was the impact it had on the people who knew her and even people who had never met her. I found myself staying up for hours during the night once and I randomly came across a post of her passing. I could not help but wonder ‘What secrets did she have with Allah?’ Why was I inclined to make duaa for her? A sister who I had never interacted with and never met. SubhanAllah the power and limitless mercy Allah has on someone is just mind-boggling, wouldn’t you agree? Only through Allah’s permission would she be able to impact someone like me from the other side of the world, only through His mercy would her story inspire me to make heartfelt duaa for her. So, I pondered…and pondered some more. Her story became one of value to me, full of lessons for my life – I took note, and ran with it. Her story may have an effect on you too, and that will be a unique and personal experience for each one of us that cares to engage with it.
So, what secrets did she have with her Lord? I certainly dont know the answer, but one thing is clear -her legacy was working for her at the time of her passing and so is alive, by the mercy of Allaah, and her legacy is on-going, and by Allah’s will, it will continue in ways our minds cannot imagine.
How do I protect my legacy?
Seeing through the things I need to do today to my ultimate intention behind them, and doing so consistently, because building a legacy in any sphere or aspect aspect does not happen in one day. Nonetheless, without consistency, however small, it will never happen.
Some may say, “How do you know that your deed will leave a legacy, that it will have that positive impact?” That’s the thing – we can never know. Today, this post may have enlightened you to think about something you haven’t given much thought to before. So, it maybe that the legacy action for today could just be a silent prayer between you and your Rabb, asking Him to guide you towards building a legacy that will work for your akhirah ( next life) and truly believing in what you are asking; truly believing that He will answer. Tomorrow your legacy action may be a thought, an idea, or even a change of behaviour towards a specific person, or towards all people; it may be the start of a new habit being formed. For someone else, this post is a reminder, a push. Something you already knew. Wherever you are, we need to start what we need to do today. It is to truly take action today, however small, to add to the end result.
“The most beloved of deeds to Allah are the most consistent of them, even if they are few”. (Al-Bukhari no. 6464 and Muslim no. 2818).
Keep the end in mind
It is important to have conscious intent in everything you do. Thinking about your legacy is to be mindful of your intent. It is to pray for it. It is to ask Allah to guide you towards having that end. It is to model. Let me say that again: It is to model, to watch, copy and learn from others – What stories have you heard that have left you in awe? Perhaps you have heard of someone’s passing who had a great impact on people, you may have heard different people vouching for this person’s character, for their actions, for their contagious smile, for their charity, for their work… the list in endless. Go back and assess what they did. Go back and gather as much information available on how they lived their life. None of them were perfect -none – but they had secrets with their Lord. Model them in ways personal to you an you will end up creating your own secrets. You are an individual, and you will translate their actions in your own individual way to mean something to you. Don’t ignore that, but trust yourself and follow what you translated it into.
I ask Allah to help us live the life we are more than capable of living, that He guides each and every one of us to live to our full potential, so that it shows up in the legacy we leave behind. I ask Allaah to help us all protect the legacy we plant in this dunya but won’t live to see here, but that He allows us to see its result in the Aakhirah, ameen.
Your legacy truly can be what you dream it to be, as long as you put in the work today.
About the author:
Hadil Arman is a UK based mother of two and a lover of reading, learning, creating and deep conversations and thoughts.