What Is the Ruling of Doing a Good Deed Seeking Worldly Benefit?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


What is the ruling of doing a good deed seeking worldly benefit?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Seeking From Allah Most High

It must be understood that even if someone seeks from Allah Most High worldly benefits the fact that they sought those benefits from Allah Most High is a testimony to their faith. This is especially true regarding the Tahajjud prayer.

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Our Lord, blessed is He, descends every night to the lowest heaven when the last third of the night remains. He says, “Who is there to beseech me that I may respond to them? Who will ask of Me that I may give them? Who will seek forgiveness from Me that I may forgive them?” [Bukhari]

Even though asking for worldly things from Allah Most High is not ideal, according to many scholars, it is not sinful, nor does it render the deed void.

This is contrary to the one who does a deed for the sake of people. For example, one who gives charity is called generous, or one who does a deed to get money or praise from people.

Commentary of Sura Hud verses 15 and 16

The verse that you quoted above must be understood contextually.

“Whoever desires the life of this world and its adornment, We shall pay them in full for their deeds therein, and they will not be wronged therein. (But) they are those for whom there is nothing in the hereafter, but the Fire: and worthless is what they have done in it, and vain shall be what they were doing.” [Quran, 11:15]

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (May Allah have mercy on him) mentions regarding this verse that some scholars deemed this verse to be specifically for the disbelievers. This is due to the ending of verse 16 that “for them, there is nothing in the hereafter but fire.” He then mentions the other opinion that applies to everyone who does a good deed to be seen and praised by others. He also mentions that the verse could apply to someone who does a deed solely for the sake of worldly benefit with no intention for the Hereafter whatsoever.

According to this third opinion, it is necessary that we raise our intentions. Even if we have worldly needs, we should not seek them in and of themselves, but we should combine them with higher intentions.

For example, if someone is in financial difficulty and they wish to pray to Allah Most High for money, they should intend that by fulfilling their financial need, they will be able to worship Allah Most High better. And that they can fulfill their religious obligations upon them, such as taking care of their dependents.

In this way, there is a spiritual, religious, and otherworldly undertone to even fulfilling our worldly needs. And it is by these intentions and this widened outlook that our entire life can be in the worship of Allah, even our mundane acts and responsibilities.

High Intentions

Regarding this ideal of elevating our intentions from the merely worldly that that which relates to the next world, Allah Most High teaches us how to ask of Him. “And from amongst them are those who say, ‘Our Lord! grant us good in this world and good in the world to come, and save us from the torment of the Fire.” [Quran, 02:201]

Hope this helps
Allahu A‘lam

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.