Can Bad Deeds Nullify Good Deeds?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


In light of the Hadith of jealousy/envy, can bad deeds nullify good deeds?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

Personal sins do not render one’s good deeds void. That said, we must explain the meaning of the above-referred narration. The narration is as follows:

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Beware of jealousy! Indeed, jealousy consumes good deeds like fire consumes firewood.” [Abu Dawud]

The great Hadith commentator Mulla ‘Ali Qari comments on the above narration saying:

“Indeed jealousy, in so far as it results in the violation of the envied person rights, consumes good deeds….” [‘Ali al-Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih]

What Type of Sins Ruins Past Good Deeds

From the explanation of Mulla ‘Ali Qari (Allah have mercy on him), we understand that it is not merely the sin of jealous that ruins deeds rather the sins that jealousy leads to: specifically sins that violate the rights and honor of others.

To explain this further, consider the fact that if one is jealous of another, they are more likely and susceptible to backbiting, harming, stealing from, etc… that person. These types of sins, do indeed ruin past deeds.

Who is the Bankrupt Person

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) asked, “Do you know who the bankrupt one is?” They replied, “The bankrupt one amongst us, is he who has not money nor belongings.”

So he said, “Indeed, the bankrupt one in my nation is he who comes on the Day of Judgment with prayer and fasting and charity, but comes having accused this (person), (wrongfully) consumed the wealth of this one, spilled the blood of this one, struck this one – thus each one will be given from his deeds.

If the deeds are exhausted prior to his paying back all that he owes, their sins will be taken from and cast upon him; then he will be cast in the Hell-Fire.” [Muslim]

The sins listed in this narration are examples of oppression wherein the rights of another, whether they relate to money, safety, honor, etc…, were violated. The basis of such sins is retribution.

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “You will indeed pay everyone their rights on the Day of Judgment; even the sheep without horns will take retribution from the horned sheep who butt it.”

Oppression is Darkness

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Beware of oppression! For indeed, oppression is layers of darkness on the Day of Judgment.” [Ahmad]

It is for this reason, that one’s hard work and efforts are in jeopardy of being lost, that oppression is so emphatically emphasized against. With one’s personal sins they hope in Allah’s mercy; but Allah has made it such that with oppression you are at the mercy of those who you violated – and on a day when no one will care for any but themselves.

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 several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.

Arabic References:

وَعَنْهُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: «أَتَدْرُونَ مَا الْمُفْلِسُ؟» . قَالُوا: الْمُفْلِسُ فِينَا مَنْ لَا دِرْهَمَ لَهُ وَلَا مَتَاعَ. فَقَالَ: «إِنَّ الْمُفْلِسَ مِنْ أُمَّتِي مَنْ يَأْتِي يَوْم الْقِيَامَة بِصَلَاة وَصِيَام وَزَكَاة وَيَأْتِي وَقَدْ شَتَمَ هَذَا وَقَذَفَ هَذَا. وَأَكَلَ مَالَ هَذَا. وَسَفَكَ دَمَ هَذَا وَضَرَبَ هَذَا فَيُعْطَى هَذَا مِنْ حَسَنَاتِهِ وَهَذَا مِنْ حَسَنَاتِهِ فَإِنْ فَنِيَتْ حَسَنَاتُهُ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَقْضِيَ مَا عَلَيْهِ أُخِذَ مِنْ خَطَايَاهُمْ فَطُرِحَتْ عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ طُرح فِي النَّار» . رَوَاهُ مُسلم
ص1418 – كتاب مشكاة المصابيح – الفصل الأول

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7204 – حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ أَبِي عَدِيٍّ، عَنْ شُعْبَةَ، عَنِ الْعَلَاءِ، وَمُحَمَّدُ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ الْعَلَاءَ، يُحَدِّثُ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” لَتُؤَدُّنَّ الْحُقُوقَ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، حَتَّى يُقْتَصَّ (1) لِلشَّاةِ الْجَمَّاءِ مِنَ الشَّاةِ الْقَرْنَاءِ نَطَحَتْهَا ” (2)
ص137 – مسند أحمد ط الرسالة – مسند أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه

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56 – (2578) حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللهِ بْنُ مَسْلَمَةَ بْنِ قَعْنَبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا دَاوُدُ يَعْنِي ابْنَ قَيْسٍ، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللهِ بْنِ مِقْسَمٍ، عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللهِ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، قَالَ: «اتَّقُوا الظُّلْمَ، فَإِنَّ الظُّلْمَ ظُلُمَاتٌ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، وَاتَّقُوا الشُّحَّ، فَإِنَّ الشُّحَّ أَهْلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ، حَمَلَهُمْ عَلَى أَنْ سَفَكُوا دِمَاءَهُمْ وَاسْتَحَلُّوا مَحَارِمَهُمْ»
ص1996 – صحيح مسلم – باب تحريم الظل