The Arabic word for reflecting on one’s spiritual state and taking one’s deeds into account, al-muhasaba, is a word form that indicates and connotes duality (just as mujadala would mean an argument between two people, and musharaka a partnership between two). This implies that when one takes oneself into account, one should do so in an objective, thorough and just way, just as if one’s nafs (ego) is another person one is working to help improve and encourage towards good.
This idea of self-accountability has a fundamentally Qura’nic basis as Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) says in Surat al-Hashr: “O you who have believed, fear Allah. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow (of deeds)—and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Quran, 59:18)
The great companion Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Hold yourself to account before you are judged, and weigh your actions before they are weighed against you.”
Some of the earlier generations would take stock of their actions by actually writing down all of their good and bad deeds on a regular basis, thanking Allah (swt) for the good they were able to perform and seeking forgiveness for the bad.
Making a habit of performing muhasaba in the mornings can help put one in planning mode for the day ahead, and to remember that each day is a new opportunity to do better and make amends for the past.
From a class with Sha. Muslema Purmul