“Then you will be asked that day about the pleasures you enjoyed.” (at-Takathur 102:8) This verse shows that the servants will be asked about the pleasures they enjoyed in this world: did they show gratitude for them or not? Anyone who is required to display gratitude for every favour such as good health, sound senses and good livelihood should know that all of his deeds taken together cannot repay even some of these favours. Hence that person would be deserving of punishment.
Kharatiti’s Kitab al-Shukr, records on the authority of Abdullah ibn Amr that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “The servant will be summoned on the day of Judgement and he will stand before Allah, Mighty and Magnificent. He will say to His Angels, ‘Look at the deeds of My servant and the favours I bestowed upon him.’ They will look and say, ‘They do not even amount to one of Your favours granted him.’ Then He will say, ‘Look to his evil deeds and good deeds.’ They will look and find them the same whereupon He will say, ‘Servant of Mine, I have accepted your good deeds and forgiven you your evil. My favours, I have gifted you.’
Tabarani records on the authority of ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A person will be brought on the Day of Judgment with such deeds that would burden a mountain were they to be placed on it! Then just one favour from amongst the favours of Allah would be displayed and would almost extinguish all those deeds were Allah not to distend them through His mercy.” (Tabarani 1604)
Ibn Abi al-Dunya records that Wahb ibn Munabbih said, ‘A servant worshipped Allah for fifty years. Allah inspired him with the words, “I have forgiven you.” The servant asked, “Lord, what have you to forgive, I have committed no sin!” Thereupon Allah ordered a vein in is neck to throb painfully such that he could not pray or sleep. After a while it was cured and an angel came to him, and he complained to him about his vein. The angel said to him, “Your Lord, Mighty and Magnificent says: your worship for the last fifty years equates to the soothing of that vein.” (Abu Nu’aym, vol 4, p70 and ibn Abi Dunya 148)
Whoever understands all of what has preceded will realise that his deeds, even if they are great, are not sufficient to merit his success and entry into Paradise or salvation from the Fire in and of themselves. As such, he will no longer overly rely on his deeds or be impressed by them, even if they be great and wonderful. If this is the case of great and many deeds, what then would one think of the paltry deeds of the many? Such a person should ponder his deficiency in worship and devote himself to penitence and repentance!
The Journey to Allah by Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali Pages 31-34