Do Not Mention the Good You Did

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the fourteenth in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

When you do good for them, do not make it a big deal. Reminders of good that you do reduce or remove the reward of the good with Allah. Allah says:

قَوْلٌۭ مَّعْرُوفٌۭ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ خَيْرٌۭ مِّن صَدَقَةٍۢ يَتْبَعُهَآ أَذًۭى ۗ وَٱللَّهُ غَنِىٌّ حَلِيمٌۭ

“A decent word, though giving nothing, and forgiving the ill-manners of those asking, are better than charity that is followed by offending; And Allah is free of need for anything, graciously long-forbearing.” [Quran, 2:263; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

“Offending” meaning offensive reminders. If you did something of the good, you should be doing it for the sake of Allah. Do the good for the person out of caring for them.

Seek Fairness

The sincere believer does not ascribe their actions to themselves. They see any good that they did to be a gift from Allah that they are grateful for. Think, “Allah facilitated this for me.” See Allah’s favor upon you.

If you find that you are reminding people of what you did for them, this is from a degree of being heedless of Allah’s favor upon you and a lack of gratitude to Allah. It is also hurting the other person.

Do not argue. Wisdom is to choose the right time for the right action or the right words. 

One example if someone says to you, “You never get me food that I like!” It may be the case that you did, however, instead of arguing, order the food they like. Put it in a positive way. Do not let there be a hurtful reminder. A positive reminder is from seeking fairness.

Discussion or Argument

There is a difference between discussion and argument. Discussion is when there is an issue that is being addressed towards a resolution. That is healthy. Argument is when you are just attacking the other person. 

The one who stops the argument first has the greater reward. When the time is right, discuss the issue. Have positive solutions in mind, or at least you intend to come to positive solutions. 

If one sent another a gift and then one sees them the following week and asks if they got the gift out of wanting to make sure they got it, then that is not a hurtful reminder. 

That is not a hurtful reminder. So I guess it goes back to the intention and why are you asking them about that incident? And something good you did. The attitude of you know for example one of my teachers you know.

Seek Good Company

Someone went to his teacher after having completed a text with him and he thanked him. The person thanked the teacher and asked him which way the direction of prayer was and he performed the prostration of thanks. The teacher broke down crying. He said, “If you are grateful for a teacher as bad as me and you prostrate out of gratitude, then I should prostrate and never raise my head for having students like you.”

When it comes to what is from others to ourselves, we acknowledge it deeply. As for what is from us to them, we just have gratitude that Allah facilitated it. 

These are high virtues, approximate. Think of ways that you can bring them into your life. Seek good company. The company of exemplars. The company of people who are better than you in their religious practice and character. Visit them. 

Be observant the good qualities of all the company that you keep. Learn from them.