Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
Is it true that someone who sins while they know it’s haram or know that Allah’s watching then all their good deeds get erased? Also, I heard that if someone does not pray asr, his or her good deeds get canceled.
I have missed many prayers, including ‘asr, and am trying to get back on track. If I don’t makeup all my ‘asr prayers before I die, does that mean if I die, then I die with all my good deeds erased?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
Allah Most High mentions the possibility of one’s previous good deeds being nullified.
The reasons for this vary in the following verses:
Showing Off That Which Is Akin to Showing Off
Allah Most High says, “O believers! Do not waste your charity with reminders ˹of your generosity˺ or hurtful words, like those who donate their wealth just to show off and do not believe in Allah or the Last Day. Their example is that of a hard barren rock covered with a thin layer of soil hit by a strong rain—leaving it just a bare stone. Such people are unable to preserve the reward of their charity. Allah does not guide ˹such˺ disbelieving people.” [Quran; 2:264]
Scholars have deemed that one’s remorse for doing a good deed also renders that deed null and void. [Habib Husayn al-Saqqaf, lessons on Ayyuha al-Walad by Imam al-Ghazali]
Abandoning an Action Without Seeing It to Its Valid Conclusion
Allah Most High says, “O believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and do not let your deeds be in vain…” [Quran; 47:33]
Not Showing the Messenger of Allah His Due Reverence
Allah Most High says, “O believers! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak loudly to him as you do to one another, or your deeds will become void while you are unaware.” [Quran; 49:02]
Aside from these few situations, it is unlikely that all of one’s deeds be voided by a sin, even if that sin be committed intentionally and knowingly.
Abandoning the ‘Asr Prayer
Imam Ahmad narrates on the authority of Buraidah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace said, “Whoever leaves the Asr prayer, his deeds are rendered void.” [Ahmad]
The commentators of this narration understood it in various ways.
Al-Mulhib says, “Its’ meaning is whoever leaves it out of neglect and a lack of importance for the virtue of its time, while being able to perform it, then he will not attain the reward of those who prayed it in its proper time…” [Ibn Batal, Sharh al-Bukhari]
The commentator here limits the nullification of deeds to that specific Asr prayer. [Ibid.]
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
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.