Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:
“Have taqwa (fear) of Allah wherever you may be, and follow up a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out, and behave well towards the people.” (At-Tirmidhi)
He, peace be upon him, also said:
“On every person’s joints or small bones (i.e. fingers and toes), there is sadaqah (charity) every day the sun rises.
Doing justice between two people is sadaqah; assisting a man to mount his animal, or lifting up his belongings onto it is sadaqah; a good word is sadaqah; every step you take towards prayer is sadaqah; and removing harmful things from pathways is sadaqah.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The first hadith which refers to the good deeds erasing the bad deeds is very important to remember in Islam. Being a new Muslim, a born Muslim or a revert of 20 years, you make mistakes.
Remember that Islam is perfect and people aren’t. God created mankind, the jinn, and the angels; the angels are perfect and make no mistakes and obey God’s every command, but we, as humans, do make mistakes and commit bad deeds; we can repent with sincerity and we hope in God’s forgiveness through repentance and making good deeds.
As the hadith mentions, if a person commits a sin or a bad deed unwillingly, then realizes they have committed a sin, they have the opportunity to erase it by doing a good deed or an act of charity. Be careful when referring to this hadith, it doesn’t mean to go around intentionally committing sins and doing bad deeds then simply doing something good afterwards in the hope of erasing it. You must have sincerity and pure intentions in your heart not to repeat the sin again.
With regards to good deeds or charity we can refer to the second hadith. Most people think, just like I did, that an act of charity is to put a few coins in a money box. Subhan Allah, through God’s mercy, He has made an act of charity so much more.
An act of charity could be to help an elderly person cross the road or help them carry their shopping. God has made it so easy for us in this life to increase our weights in good deeds.
Good deeds are so important in Islam. Helping others and presenting the real image of Islam as peaceful and beautiful are highly recommended. On the Day of Judgment, each person’s deeds will be weighed on a scale and if the good deeds outweigh the bad, God has promised us Paradise.
God says in the Quran that our deeds will be measured or weighed, and whosoever has more good deeds will enter the Gardens of Paradise and whose evil deeds weigh more than the good ones will be entered into the Hell fire.
I find it helpful and supportive to always remember God’s words before committing any bad or good deeds. Stop and think before you act, will this deed increase my scale of good or bad deeds? God wouldn’t want me to go against Him or Islam. Always keep God close to your heart when making intention to perform an act of charity and insha’Allah it will be accepted.
With regards to giving you some personal stories about myself and how I have replaced my bad deeds with good deeds, I cannot share them on this occasion as Prophet Muhammad once said:
“All the sins of my followers will be forgiven except those of the Mujahirin, those who commit sin openly or disclose their sins to the people.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
As the hadith above states, those who discuss or disclose their sins to others will not be forgiven, and this is a severe punishment. Although everyone is different, after I do something and then realize it’s a sin, I feel extremely guilty and sometimes talking to someone can make you feel less guilty.
However, in this situation remember that if you need to talk to someone about it, talk to your Creator, the All-Wise and the All-Knowing, for He knows what is in your heart and ask Him for forgiveness and Insha’Allah this will ease your guilt and stop you from talking about it with others.
Some people sometimes choose not to accept your help often out of pride, but it is important to politely persist in helping them. The Prophet’s wife Aisha reported that Prophet Muhammad said:
“O people, you should do whatever good deeds you can, for Allah does not get tired (of giving reward) until you get tired.
And the most beloved of good deeds to Allah is that in which a person persists, even if it is little. If the family of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) started to do something, they would persist in it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Many people, in particular elderly people, can be too proud to accept the help that they really need but God will provide you with more reward for persisting and almost insisting on helping the needy.
Some Practical Advice
I can offer you some personal advice in accordance with the Quran and the Sunnah which helps me get by when I sometimes make mistakes.
First of all, always take a few minutes to think before you act on what consequence your actions might have on you, others, and your faith.
Secondly, always praise and thank God for providing you with the opportunity to give charity as you may be increasing wealth of good deeds which could save you on the Day of Judgment.
Finally, do not dismiss the importance of small deeds. These can include actions such as saying hello to a passerby, being kind to your neighbors, smiling and remembering every step towards prayer…
Narrated Abu Hurairah:
I heard Allah’s Apostle saying:
“If there was a river at the door of anyone of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him?”
They said: “Not a trace of dirt would be left.”
The Prophet added:
“That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah blots out (annuls) evil deeds.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Be steadfast in your prayers and may Allah provide you all with opportunities to increase your wealth in good deeds and erase the bad deeds Insha’Allah.