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Will I Get Rewarded for a Good Deed If I Receive Benefit From It in This Life?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I live in house which is owned by my parents and our country allows me to save taxes by paying a rent to my parents. Does it reduce my reward on spending on parents if I do that?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. I pray you are well.

The Prophet ﷺ has said, ‘Actions are according to intentions’ [Al Bukhari, Muslim]. The beauty of this is that if a person intended to do an act of good for the sake of Allah, yet didn’t end up doing it, they would nevertheless get the reward for what they intended.

However, if a person did an act of good for a reason other than for the sake of Allah, then they receive according to that intention.

Intentions

If you made the intention that you would have spent on your parents for the sake of Allah, irrespective of whether you are entitled to tax breaks or not, then your reward in the Afterlife will not be diminished in any way, even if you also receive the benefit of the tax breaks.

If your only intention when spending on your parents was to receive the tax breaks, then the tax breaks in themselves are a worldly blessing, but one cannot categorically say whether you will be rewarded in the next life or not for the act. And Allah knows best.

May Allah increase you in every good, and reward you for your looking after your parents.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

Does Seeking Reward Affect the Sincerity of One’s Intentions? (Video)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Does seeking reward affect the sincerity of one’s intentions?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

I Pay the Electricity Bill of a Mosque. What Is the Reward?

Answered by Shaykh Sulayman Van Ael

Question: Assalam alaykum,

Is there any hadith regarding the reward for providing lightning for a mosque? Is it valid to make intention to pay the electricity bill for the mosque as a mean to provide lighting for the believers so that Allah may put light in my grave?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

Dear questioner about light on the day of resurrection,

No direct proof

There is no direct proof that states that Allah will provide he who provides light for the mosque, with light.

Indirect proof

It is known that Muhammad – peace and blessings be upon him – said: “Actions will be rewarded in harmony with the intention behind them.” And – peace and blessings be upon him – said: “The water of Zamzam will result in that what it was drunk for.” (This is a sound hadith, declared authentic by as-Suyuti, Ibn Hajar, Ibn Khuzayman, Ibn Hummam, ad-Daylami, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi and others)

The early muslims and their understanding of these indirect proofs

Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi drunk from Zam-Zam with three intentions. Ibn Khuzayma was asked where he got his knowledge from. He said: because of the du’a he made while drinking from zam-zam. Others drunk from zam-zam with the intention not to experience any form of thirst on the day of the resurrection.

Be sincere

If you are sincere in what you want, then Allah will give you what you ask for. In the time of the Prophet – peace and blessings be upon him – a man wanted to die in a certain way. And it did take place exactly as he said. Muhammad – peace and blessing be upon him – said: “He was sincere with Allah so Allah gave him what he was longing for.”

Conclusion

If you do this with the intention that Allah will give you light on the day of resurrection, then I believe that all these general proofs and many others that I did not mention show us that you will get what you long for as long as you are sincere.

Better vs. best

I still think that the best thing is to leave things up to Allah. He knows best what we need most. Maybe it is not light in your grave that you need most, but something else.

Worship is for Allah alone

The best thing is to do good because it pleases Allah, and not to think about the reward. That Allah chose you to be that element in this universe through which He wants to be worshipped is the biggest reward and most generous Divine present.

I ask Allah to take us by the hand to everything that pleases Him, amin.

Wassalam
[Shaykh] Sulayman Van Ael

Shaykh Sulayman Van Ael
received ijazah from various luminaries in the ten Qur’anic readings, in Ihya Ulum al-Din, in the major books of hadith, in different texts in Guelph classical Islamic sciences–including grammar, tafsir, fiqh, and usul.

Is a Convert Rewarded for the Good Deeds He Performed Prior to Converting to Islam?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

Do good deeds of a convert performed while he was a non-Muslim get accepted (and he receives benefits for them) when he becomes a Muslim?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

A convert is rewarded for the good deeds he or she performed prior to converting to Islam.

This is based on the literal understanding of the hadith, “You have embraced Islam with all the good deeds that you used to practice.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

Another hadith that supports this understanding is the statement of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), “If a servant accepts Islam and practices it well, God will record for him every previous good deed he performed.” [al-Nasa’i, Sunan]

For this reason, Imam al-Nawawi stated that, “The correct position held by the verifying scholars – and some reported consensus on this – is that if a non-Muslim performed good deeds, such as charity and maintaining family ties, and then embraced Islam and died a Muslim, the reward of these deeds will be recorded for him or her.” [Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari (1:99)]

And God knows best
[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

The Greatest Reward: Fulfilling The Urgent Need Of Others

A fund like no other

Alhamdullilah, last year we established the SeekersHub Global Zakat Fund, a fund like no other, supporting deserving scholars and students of knowledge, both locally and abroad.

We distributed over $350,000 in zakat funds in 2015.
This year, it is our mission to raise $1 million in zakat funds.


zakatThe impact of your zakat

Your zakat has the power to transform the world. War, poverty, injustice – the world is losing touch with Divine Wisdom. Many Muslim scholars who have dedicated their lives to preserving this wisdom are under great duress – at home and abroad.

The need is great — Shaykh Faraz explains why you shouldn’t wait till Ramadan to give.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VxeSh2-QGc

The urgent need

The SeekersHub Global Zakat Fund addresses an urgent, critical need:

  • Continuing to support deserving and needy scholars and students of knowledge — the teachers of today and tomorrow.
  • Supporting displaced mainstream Syrian scholars, given the turmoil and political instability in the region.

This is a communal responsibility and critical to the preservation of authentic Islamic scholarship for our children’s future.


zakatMay Allah reward you and your families manifold for your generosity.

Beneficial Knowledge and Intentions, a khutbah by Habib Hussein Al Saggaf

Making the intention to gain beneficial knowledge through daily readings of the Qur’an and hadith collections is the key message in this Friday Sermon given by Habib Hussein Al Saggaf. He goes on to encourage us to make sincere intention to do good deeds because Allah rewards us for good intentions even if were unable to carry it out later due to unforeseen circumstances.

Habib Hussein Al Saggaf

Seeking Beneficial KnowledgeHabib Hussein Al Saggaf is a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1971. His father raised him on the love of seeking knowledge, love of the spiritual scholars, love of the righteous and saints of Allah. He memorized the Holy Qur’an before reaching his teenage years. He spent much time in the company of the people of knowledge, religious scholars and the righteous. It was with these kind of people that he was raised, nurtured, and protected under the guidance of Al Habib Al Imam ‘Abdul Qadir bin Ahmad As-Saqqaf, from whom he was given the ijazah (permission to carry on the knowledge attained). He was also given special attention by and received ijazah from Habib al-Imam Ahmad Mash-hur bin Taha Al Haddad, through whom more than 500,000 individuals came into Islam. He was also given ijazah from Al Habib Al ‘Alamah Yahya bin Ahmad Al ‘Aydrus, Al Habib Omar bin Zain  ‘Aydid, Al Habib Abu Bakr bin ‘Ali al-Mash-hur and the respected Habib Omar bin Muhammad bin Salem bin Hafith, who gave him permission to teach and call people to Allah. Habib Hussein then went on to study at Al-Azhar University in Egypt in 1992 for six years in the faculty of Shari’ah, Islamic Law, from where he graduated with a degree in Islamic Shari’ah. After his graduation he traveled to the city of Tarim in the Hadramawt valley of Yemen, which is known as the city of scholars and saints. There he became a student of Habib Omar bin Hafith, and studied in Dar Al Mustafa Institute in various Islamic sciences.

Resources on Beneficial Knowledge and Intentions:

Cover photo by Maica Pineda.

 

How Do I Strengthen My Faith and Truly Repent?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question:1) How can one be firm in faith? What causes faith not to stay firm in the heart?

2) I know we have to repent immediately for sins but my repentance is not sincere as there is no strong remorse, so how can I truly repent? Please help me.
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. You have asked a very important question – many of us are concerned about how to make our faith firm in our hearts, and how to truly repent. May Allah bless you manifold for your deep concern about such weighty matters.
Turn to Allah in Sincere Supplication
My first suggestion is for you to turn directly to Allah using this beautiful dua every time you start to feel a dip in your faith, and after each prayer:
Shahr ibn Hawshab (Allah be well-pleased with him) said, “I said to Umm Salama, ‘O Mother of the believers! What was the most frequent supplication of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, when he was with you?’ She said, “His most frequent supplication was, ‘O Turner of the hearts, make my heart firm in Your deen!’” [Tirmidhi]

‏يا مقلب القلوب ثبت قلبي على دينك‏
Ya muqallibal-qulubi, thabbit qalbi ‘ala deenika

Faith and Knowledge
Ultimately, it is not knowledge, books, or teachers who can grant you lasting faith, but it is only Allah’s Mercy which descends and makes faith firm in your heart. Make it a point to study at least one book on belief with a qualified teacher (e.g. The Creed of Imam Tahawi) to strengthen your understanding of our belief as Muslims. I recommend the course on Islamic Belief on SeekersGuidance.
Attaining solid faith is a lifelong journey, so be kind and patient with yourself as you strengthen your faith. We live in a time of instant gratification, so remind yourself that attaining lasting faith is a tremendous gift which cannot be attained simply because we want it right now.
Keep your faith on the increase through daily good works using all of your limbs e.g. kindness with your tongue, charity with your wealth, service with your limbs. Link all of your actions to attaining Allah’s pleasure, and inshaAllah, your faith will strengthen. Do your best to avoid sin, because that darkens the heart and is a blow to your faith.
Repentance
Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said, “Verily, Allah is more delighted with the repentance of His slave than a person who lost his camel in a desert land and then finds it (unexpectedly).” [Bukhari and Muslim]
On the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) say: Allah the Almighty said: O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it. [Tirmidhi]
Know that Allah loves the repentance of His servants, and it is a sign of His Concern for you that you wish to make good your repentance. Attaining deeper levels of repentance takes continual practice. Please explore this brilliant reader on repentance. I pray it is of benefit to you.
To cultivate your heart, commit to saying “astaghfirullah” a 100 times every day. Pick a time where you can sit, face the qibla, be in a state of wudu, and be truly be present with your Lord. Before or after Fajr, or Isha prayer are often times of quiet. Even if it feels dry on your tongue, persist until it comes alive in your heart, and then all of your limbs will follow. Strive to rise before Fajr prayer, even if it’s for five minutes, to cry out to your Lord.
May Allah bless you and all believers with lasting faith, sincere repentance, and hearts alive with remembrance of Him.
Please refer to these following links:
Doubts About Islam: I Don’t Find Any Observable Effect or Peace in My Worship
Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long
Weak Iman, Misgivings, and Loving the Messenger (Allah Bless Him and Give Him Peace)
I Have Baseless Misgivings (Waswasa) About the Soundness of My Faith and My Marriage
Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Doubts About Islam: I Don’t Find Any Observable Effect or Peace in My Worship

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: How can I convince my self about the truth of Islam and that my ceremonial actions like salat and dua have any effect? I converted when I was a teenager and have been practicing regularly. Yet, for everything else in the universe, or at least for the things I care about, I observe cause and effect.I do an action and an effect is produced. But with invocation, prayer, and dhikr no observable effect is produced. I have not experienced peace in the remembrance of Allah. Shaytan feels closer to me than Allah. Then I keep hearing from Christian coworkers, classmates, etc. how such and such miracle occurred in their lives or how they got a sign from God – and I think they honestly believe what they say. What should I do? Please advise.

Answer: In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,

As salaamu alaikum brother,

I want to tell you that what you have done is very brave- trying to get help to clear your doubts about the Truth is something that is necessary for any Muslim to do. Many people live and suffer with the disease of doubt in silence for years while it takes a toll on their mental, spiritual and even their physical health.

It is also very reassuring that despite this issue, you keep up your worship to Allah through the five daily prayers. However, we must not think for a moment that we are doing a favor to Allah; rather it is He who is doing us a great, incalculable favor, a sign of His immense generosity that engulfs us even while we have been unmindful of Him.

First, we will look at why you might feel emptiness in your worship, then your confusions regarding God and His existence and how to solve that, then finally, why these problems might be occurring and the cure for it.

Why Does My Prayer Feel Like an Empty Ritual?

Part of the reason that people feel emptiness in their prayers is because they feel that by praying and fasting and supplicating, they are doing something to benefit Allah, and that He should feel obliged to reimburse them for their efforts. Then, they desire certain outcomes that their limited insight feels is best for them, and that if those do not occur, then Allah has not answered them, so they become despondent.

Rather, do we ask ourselves how Allah can possibly owe us anything, when, long before we were even created, in His infinite knowledge, He willed that we would be guided as Muslims today? Did He not choose you and I out of billions of people to believe in Him?

What did we do in pre-eternity, what great act of piety, what service, what obedience, for which our creation and guidance was recompense? Nothing whatsoever.

What was there before this entire world of cause and effect and ups and downs and desires and actions? Allah alone, and His pure largess and mercy.

So is it not fitting that we worship Him out of a profound sense of gratitude, solely because He alone deserves to be worshiped, rather than for outcomes, as if He has to pay us back for acts of worship that He guided us to in the first place?

When we choose freely to worship Him (even after He makes us inclined to do so), He creates the act and enables us, then we acquire that prayer in our account of good deeds, then He Himself appreciates it and rewards us for something He created. That is the reality for our devotions. They are in fact a gift from Him to us, not the other way around. Knowing this should change the state of our worship, insha Allah.

The Wordly Returns of Sincere Worship

The scholars of Islamic spirituality say that the one guaranteed (though not obligatory) worldly effect of sincere obedience (such as prayer) is the tawfiq, or divine facilitation, to do more good deeds. This is much more beneficial than any worldly thing to ask for, and of course, the rewards in the Hereafter are permanent.

Still, none of a believer’s prayers are unheard: they are either answered, or something harmful is averted in its stead, or delayed till the Hereafter where the result is better.

Perhaps the reward for your steadfast prayers and devotions for all these years since you became Muslim is that, even through your difficult times of doubting the very One who gave you all of these blessings, He still enables you to worship Him and keeps you connected to Him, out of His love and divine concern for you.

He, Most Gracious and Merciful, is what is keeping us from falling into disbelief at all times, not our practice, though He can make that a means to attach ourselves to Him.  Seeing Allah’s gentle hand behind the blessings in our life can uplift us so much, and seeing how He has saved us from so much potential harm as well can make us appreciate what we have now and feel content.

Know Your Lord – Study the Science of Beliefs

Sometimes, we as Muslims confuse our priorities in this religion. One might think that having small doubts about the existence of the Creator whilst continuing outward practice is the relatively better position to be in, rather than having firm faith while slipping in and out of practice due to laziness.

Both are bad and undesirable, but the preference of the former over the latter is putting worship (‘ibadah) before the One who is worshiped (al-ma`bud), which doesn’t make sense. The first obligatory duty upon us as Muslims – rather, as human beings – is to know Our Lord. Everything else follows after firmly confirming that knowledge in our hearts [al-Dardir, Sharh Kharida al Bahiyya].

That’s why it is highly recommended for us all to study at least one basic primer in Islamic Beliefs with a qualified teacher. This primer can be one that lists the general beliefs that a Muslim needs to have without explanation if it is readily followed.

However, in an age where doubt and confusion are widespread, a work should be studied which allows the beginner to logically understand how it is necessary that this world have a Creator who is unlike His creation, and why Islam’s teachings on the nature and qualities of the Creator make it the indisputable religion of truth. In the case of someone who has doubts, it becomes an obligation to seek that knowledge. Seeker’s Guidance offers a course on Islamic Beliefs that I would personally recommend everyone to take.

Then, once one sees how Islam’s view of God is the necessary truth that accurately reflects and applies to what actually exists, the message from God which carried the proofs for this knowledge and obligated us to believe (al-Qur’an) can be verified as true, after which the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) can be verified as true, after which one can be convinced, as you asked, of the truth of Islam as a religion in all its various aspects.

It is also worth reminding you that, years ago, you made a conscious decision to accept Islam, Alhamdulillah. You came as a result of seeing the truth in it; of being sure and knowing that Allah is One and that Islam is His religion. What has changed? Don’t sell yourself short in thinking you don’t have faith – you might actually have all you need to discern truth from falsehood, but the problem is lying in your outlook.

After all, you are seeking this help and trying to convince yourself because you know deep down inside this is the truth- not because some other non-truth has convinced you and is dawning on you, and you are afraid to admit that. The issues you bring up are not well-formulated lines of reasoning, but scattered doubts mixed with emotions.   If you had been led totally astray by disbelieving in the truth of Islam, you might not have felt disturbed about this; if there wasn’t some good in your heart, you would never be concerned about this. Then what is the problem?

This is where it is important to understand the role of baseless misgivings (wasawasa) and the effect that they can have on the Muslim’s heart and mind, tempting even firm believers into thinking that they don’t really have faith, or to doubt something they know exists as rationally and necessarily true, but can’t see.

Baseless Misgivings in One’s Faith – Shaytan’s Weapon of Choice

The Devil (shaytan) is mankind’s sworn enemy, as Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an. After his own straying from Allah Most High’s pleasure and subsequently being cast out of divine favour, he vowed that he would lead all of mankind astray, out of envy for the close relationship that Adam (peace be upon him) and his progeny (us) shared with their Lord.

His main influence is by the fact that he whispers evil thoughts into our hearts. Then, we take these suggestions, and begin to repeatedly think about the evil (or less good) action, until it becomes our own thought, which then leads to determination, then to action.

One thing I have learned is to constantly remind yourself that not every thought you have is from your own mind- especially the gross ones and ones we wouldn’t repeat.  When the Devil whispers doubts into people’s minds, sometimes they mistaken them for our own, and feel disgust and shock for thinking such a gross thought, then they blame themselves over and over, allowing themselves to re-expose their mind to the thought repeatedly, till it actually does start confusing them, until it finally settles and becomes an internal struggle.

To have these fleeting doubtful thoughts, at the initial stage, is something normal, and to seek refuge in Allah Ta’ala from the Devil immediately is the remedy. Do not let those thoughts grow, rather, say “a`udhu billahi min ash-shaytan nir-rajeem” and if you pondered on the thought, seek forgiveness (istighfar).

It is narrated from Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him), who ascribed it back to the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) that he said, “Truly, Allah has overlooked for my Ummah that which is whispered, or the which is thought about in the lower self, as long as they do not act upon it, or speak about it.”  [al-Bukhari, Sahih]

He also narrates that people from amongst the Companions came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and consulted him: “We surely find within ourselves things that one of us would consider an enormity to even speak about.”  So he [peace and blessings be upon him] asked, “And you have really found that [within yourselves?]”  “Yes,” they replied.  “That,” he replied (peace and blessings be upon him), “is clear faith.” [Muslim, Sahih]

You mentioned that you felt the Devil was closer to you than Allah Most High. It is true that the Devil “runs in the children of Adam like the circulation of blood.” [Bukhari, Muslim]. You feel so sure of this, yet, the Devil can make you doubt even his existence as well, because if he admits his existence to one with doubts, isn’t it plainly obvious that the One who created him must exist?

Perhaps the feeling of the Devil being closer is actually about how you spend your time- do you, from your side, make yourself closer to your vain desires and ego, or to Allah? What are the hidden departments in your life which you need to address? Often, it is our connection to sinful or vain things that we overlook that causes us to feel emptiness.

We may feel far from Allah at those times, but is Allah far from us? No, never! Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’an:

“And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then [tell them] surely, I am near. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he calls on Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright.” [al-Quran, 2:186]

So knowing that Allah Ta’ala is closer to us than the Devil or anything else, if we act on the second part of the verse, namely to call on Allah sincerely and to rely and trust in Him to fulfill our every need, we get the result, which is being led aright, which is the means to attaining success in both this world and the Hereafter.

Someone might look at people of other faiths and think that they experience peace. Most of feeling tranquil is a mental thing; anyone can do that if they put their mind to it, even if they do the worst of things at other times, or worship false gods or have corrupt practices. That false sense of “peace” can mislead them into self-satisfaction and contentment with misguidance; it also doesn’t guarantee anything beyond this-worldly feelings.

But true peace is from Allah, al-Salam, when the believer combines truth with his/her love for the Divine, because He says: “Indeed!  It is in the remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest.” [al-Quran, 13:28].

If a person chooses their religion based on what makes them feel good, and not based on whether they are worshipping the one true God the way He wants and deserves to be worshiped, who, or what exactly are they worshiping then? Their Lord, or simply their own base desires and fancies? In conclusion, these issues are simply things in our mind that we have to deal with by taking positive steps to developing a meaningful relationship with Allah Ta’ala.

May Allah Ta’ala make it easy for you and us to stay on the Truth of Islam and may He shower His love and mercy upon us and the entire ummah of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

I tell myself all of this first and foremost, and then remind others.  And Allah knows best.

Wasallam,
Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Good Deeds & Salvation: Putting Our Works Into Perspective

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: What role do actions play in salvation?  There are, of course, Muslims out there who have adopted ideas similar to the Christians that belief is all that you need to be saved. What would you advise that I tell them.

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

All that one needs to be saved is Allah. Neither actions nor beliefs alone guarantee one’s salvation.

`A’isha (Allah be well pleased with her) narrates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Perform your deeds properly and in moderation, and know that one’s deeds will not cause anyone of you to enter Heaven, and that the most beloved of actions to Allah are the most consistent ones even if little in amount.” [Bukhari]

Abu Hurayra (Allah be well-pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “There is no one whose deeds will cause him to enter Heaven. It was said, ‘Not even you, Messenger of Allah?’ He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘Not even me unless my Lord envelops me with His mercy.'” [Muslim]

In another narration the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “There is no one whose deeds will cause his salvation. It was said, ‘Not even you Messenger of Allah? He (Allah bless him and grant him peace), ‘Not even me unless my Lord takes hold of me with mercy.'” [Muslim]

Understanding Allah’s Greatness:

In order to understand  the narrations properly, as well as the relation of one’s deeds to salvation, some key points of belief need to be outlined. The most essential is knowledge that Allah is not obligated to do anything.

Imam Nawawi, while explaining the above narrations, states, “Know that the position of Ahl al-Sunna is that reward, punishment, obligatoriness, impermissibility, and other than them two from the categories of moral responsibility, are not established by the rational intellect (`aql). All of this and other than it is not established except by recourse to divine revelation. The position of the Ahl al-Sunna is also that there is absolutely nothing obligatory on Allah Most High. Rather, the cosmos is His possession, and this world and the next are subject to His mastery; He does in them whatever He wills. So, if He punished every obedient and righteous slave and caused them to enter the Fire this would be considered equitable justice from Him, and if He honored them, blessed them, and entered them into Heaven then it is a gracious favor from Him. If He graciously favored the disbelievers and entered them into Heaven it would also be akin to this. However, He Most High has informed us – and His message is true – that He will not do so…” [Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Similarly, Imam Bajuri states, “So, the position of Ahl al-Sunna is that His rewarding us is due to pure gracious favor that is not admixed with compulsion or obligation [to do so].” [Tuhfat al-Murid]

Imam Haramayn al-Juwayni, the teacher of Imam Ghazali, states, “Similarly, with a person who is highly respected within his family, if he is generous with his son and provides all his needs, and the son honors him, respects him and seeks his approval and strives to earn it, therefore, that person is not owed in regard for his assistance anymore then he has already obtained from the beneficence that has accrued to his credit. If then this is the situation with a person who provides services to another like himself, a servant who tried to compare his own acts of service with God’s bounteous generosity to him in any single instance would find the beneficence of God completely acquitted and fulfilled in regard to any of his own good deeds.” [Kitab al-Irshad]

What Are Your Deeds? Allah’s Creation

The above becomes clearer when one realizes what one’s deeds really are: a creation of Allah. Unlike certain groups that believed that humans create their own choiceful acts, the Ahl al-Sunna unanimously agree that all of one’s actions are created by Allah. This is clear from the verse, “Allah created you and that which you do.” [37: 96] The commentators of the Qur’an agree that the vast majority constituted this as a proof of Allah’s being the creator of all actions. [Razi, Tafsir al-Kabir; Baydawi, Anwar al-Tanzil; Qurtubi, Jami` al-Ahkam al-Qur’an]

Similarly, the scholars defined “divinely given success” (tawfiq) as “Allah’s creating the ability to perform acts of obedience within the slave.” [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid; Sawi, Sharh `ala al-Jawhara]

As such, since our actions are a creaton of Allah and only came into being due to His will and omnipotent power, the servant has no right to claim that his deeds will cause his salvation, or that he deserves salvation due to them, since his deeds properly belong to Allah who created them, not the servant himself. Deeds not only include outward rituals, but also inward belief and convictions, all of which are blessings bestowed upon us by Allah. As the Qur’an states, “Whatever blessing you have, it is from Allah.” [16:53]

Imam Nawawi, while explaining the verse “enter heaven enveloped in what you did [of good acts]” [16: 32], states that “entering heaven is due to actions, yet divinely give success (tawfiq) to perform those acts, being guided in having sincerity in them, and their acceptance is due to Allah’s mercy and gracious favor.” [Sharh Sahih Muslim] Ibn Hajar `Asqalani stated that some scholars, such as Ibn Battal and Qadi `Iyyad, stated that one’s entry into heaven is purely out of Allah’s mercy whereas the degree where one will be in heaven is commensurate with one’s deeds. This was also mentioned by Ibn al-Jawzi, who added that since actions are only for a limited earthly time-span, the eternal reward of heaven is not, strictly speaking, due to them but due to Allah’s blessing upon the servant. [Fath al-Bari]

The Goal is Allah: Putting Deeds Into Perspective

At the same time, this does not mean that one can leave performing the deeds that one has been commanded to perform. It remains an obligation on every morally responsible individual to fulfill the command of Allah Most High and strive to do so with excellence. This is not only decisively conveyed in the Qur’an but the narratives in question also state this unequivocally, such as the statement “perform your deeds properly and in moderation”. When closely looked at, it becomes clear that the purpose of these narratives is not to completely deemphasize the place of works, but to put them into correct perspective. The lessons that the narratives convey include:

[1] Being moderate and not excessive in one’s worship: The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “This religion is ease and none makes it difficult except that it will overwhelm him. So, perform your deeds properly and in moderation…” [Bukhari] The wording of this narration is akin to the wording of the narratives related to our discussion here.

Imam Sakhawi quotes `A’isha (Allah be well-pleased with her) as stating that the ploy of the devil in relation to the servants duty to perform certain acts revolves around making him go to excess or making him lax in fulfilling these duties. [Maqasid al-Husna] The best way is to take the middle path and do a moderate amount of work with presence and purity of heart. Bakr al-Muzani said, “Abu Bakr did not surpass the Companions of the Prophet with [abundant] fasts and prayers but due to something in his heart.” [Saffarini, Ghida al-Albab; Ghazali, Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din]

[2] Being consistent in one’s deeds (mudawama): Some of the narrations, after mentioning that deeds are not a guarantee of one’s entry into heaven, clearly state that the most beloved of works to Allah is the good deed that is done consistently.

[3] Reflecting on the mercy and generosity of Allah (tafkir): Qadi `Iyyad says that the purpose of stating that none will enter heaven except he whom Allah shows mercy and generosity towards is not to demean the status of righteous acts. Rather, it is to allow the servant to contemplate on the fact that actions are only carried out and completed by the favor and generosity of Allah. Good deeds are in fact a sign to the slave of Allah’s mercy pouring down upon him. [Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir; Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari]

[4] Thanking Allah for all of the blessings He has given one (shukr): The Qur’an states, “If you are thankful, I shall certainly increase you.” [14: 8] The scholars have defined “thankfulness” as “the slaves directing all that which he has been blessed with towards that which it was created for.” [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid] This should be expressed with one’s heart, tongue, and all of one’s limbs. This should not only be for the continual bestowal of these blessings, which include acts of worship, but also out of realization that Allah is truly deserving of all thanks. Even the mere existence of a person is enough of a reason to thank Allah.

[5] Realizing one’s complete neediness towards Allah (faqr): This is the very definition of “God”, namely He whom all others are in utter need of and who Himself is in need of nothing. [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid; Sawi, Sharh `ala al-Jawhara] Abu Bakr al-Shibli said, “Neediness is that a slave not be in need of anything other than Allah.” [Qushayri, Risala]

[6] Relying on Allah alone, not one’s works (tawakkul): The Qur’an repeatedly mentions reliance on Allah stating, “Place your reliance in the Living God, the Undying” [25: 58] and “Whoever places his reliance on Allah then He is his sufficiency.” [65: 3]

Reliance on Allah entails recognizing His oneness, which is a oneness in essence, attributes, as well as acts. When one realizes that the acts one performs are in reality not from oneself but from Allah then one ceases to rely solely on works. Rather, the servant then turns to the Creator of those works. Imam Ghazali states, “When this was unveiled to you, you did not cast a glance towards anything other than Him. Rather, your fear was now from Him, and your hope towards Him… If the doors of unveiling were opened to you this reality would be made patently clear to you with a clarity more complete than witnessing with actual sight.” [Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din]

Abu `Abdullah al-Qurshi was asked about reliance and he stated, “It is being attached to Allah in every moment.” Ibn Masruq stated, “It is submitting to the blows of fate and sacred rulings.” Abu Usman al-Hiri said, “It is sufficing with Allah while being dependent upon Him.” [Qushayri, Risala]

It was in this context that Ibn Ata’illah said, “One of the signs of relying on deeds is loss of hope when a misstep occurs.” [Hikam] Those who rely on Allah never lose hope, whereas those who rely on themselves eventually slip and plummet. The prophetic narratives regarding the insufficiency of deeds is a reminder of this point.

[7] Being sincere in servitude (ikhlas): All of the above indicates a higher reality, a reality seldom understood or consciously realized, which is that the reason why Allah is worshipped and should be worshiped is because He is Allah, the Master of everything. There is a difference, as scholars have stated, between an individual who carries out the command of a king because he wants to spend the night at his castle, or have some gift bestowed upon him, and between someone who does so because the king truly deserves such service, regardless of any benefits that may accrue from it.

Among the definitions of sincerity given are: “It is singularizing the Real in one’s obedience through resolve, and this is that one desires to seek closeness to Allah through his obedience and nothing else”; “It is forgetting that deeds exact reward in the next life”; “Lowering one’s gaze from catching sight of [one’s] actions”; “It is a secret between Allah and the slave”; “It is that its possessor not desire repayment for it in the two abodes [this world and the next]”; “That you not see in your acts other than Allah”. [Qushayri, Risala]

Conclusion: Opening the Doors to Allah’s Bounty

The conclusion to all of this is that neither faith alone nor deeds suffice in guaranteeing salvation for one. Rather, it is only though Allah’s mercy and favor that any individual will enter heaven. This is indicated by numerous prophetic narratives.

Yet, at the same time, this does not absolve anyone of the duty to believe and perform righteous deeds, as commanded by Allah. Doing so is a sign of Allah enveloping the slave in His mercy and blessing him with divine success. The narrations of the Prophet (Allah bless him) seek to make people understand the role and place of deeds in our Islamic tradition, and to turn hearts towards the one favoring one with those acts, towards the one who is sought through those acts.. When this is done and the heart attaches itself to Allah through purity, complete reliance, thankfulness, need, sincerity, and faithful following of the sunna, one will be blessed with righteous works and divine favors, both in this world and the next.

In essence, the prophetic words and teachings are a means for us to find increase in our worship, to optimize it, and to allow us to be submerged in the immense bounties of Allah Most High. It is a key to the door that leads to divine bestowals, if followed and understood correctly.

May Allah grant us success in this life and the next.

And Allah Knows Best
Wasalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani