Should We Do Good For The Sake of Good Or For Reward?

24 March, 2020
Q Salam. Ever since we are young, we are always taught to act in an unselfish manner. It is better to help an old lady cross the street just because it is good to do so rather than helping her purely for some reward. Helping the old lady across the street for some reward or benefit to yourself is a selfish act and is not a morally good act. Likewise giving money to charity to simply look good is not a morally good act.  My point is that we should do good just for the sake of doing good rather than for a reward but in Islam and other religions doing good acts is simply for the purpose of gaining paradise, is this not selfish? It is just like helping the old lady cross the road only because you know she will reward you but on a bigger scale. Thank you for your response.


Short Answer:

  • Our intention for any good deed should always be for the sake of Allah, to please Him because He created us and to Him we shall all return.
  • We should put others before ourselves and that is the most noble of deeds. It is quite noble to do good for the sake of Allah alone, seeking no reward from others.


Salam Dear Aslan,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

You are quite right when you say that good deeds should be done not merely for a reward from people, but because they are good deeds in themselves.

But why do we wish to do what is good and just?

Every act we perform has an intention behind it, either good or bad.

Our intention for any good deed should always be for the sake of Allah, to please Him because He created us and to Him we shall all return. In the Quran, the reason for our existence is clear.

I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me. (Quran 51:56)

We serve Allah not because he is in need of it, but because we need it. That is true mercy from the Lord of all the worlds.

Allah is not in need of us to do good, and is not affected if we do evil. We are the ones who benefit or suffer from our actions.

However, if we do not seek reward from people that is one thing, but if we do not seek reward from Allah, what are we trying to accomplish in performing good deeds?

Only those believe in Our Signs, who, when they are recited to them, fall down in prostration, and celebrate the praises of their Lord, nor are they (ever) puffed up with pride. Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope: and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them. Now no person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden (in reserve) for them – as a reward for their (good) deeds. Is then the man who believes no better than the man who is rebellious and wicked? Not equal are they. For those who believe and do righteous deeds are Gardens as hospitable homes, for their (good) deeds. (Quran 32:15-19)

In the Hereafter there are only two final destinations for mankind, Paradise and Hellfire.

When we see the Hellfire, and every one of us will have to see it, we will wish that we could do anything to get as far away from it as possible, not only because of the heat, but because of the roar of its flames and sounds of those being tormented in it.

Regardless of how good we were in this life, we will be in fear not knowing whether we will be saved from it or not.

When we see Paradise, we will hope that we are among those to be admitted to it. And if we are admitted, we will wish that we had done more so that we could receive more of its blessings and pleasures.

More Than Reward

It is quite noble to do good for the sake of Allah alone, seeking no reward from others.

To expect no reward from Allah is also good but only if it is because we feel, out of humility before Allah, that we do not deserve it.

If we do good without seeking reward from Allah because we are confident that we have 100% pure intentions, that would be somewhat arrogant of us.

Allah teaches us in the Quran to ask him for what we need.

And there are men who say: “Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and defend us from the torment of the Fire!” To these will be allotted what they have earned; and Allah is quick in account. (Quran 2: 201-202)

We ask to be saved from the torment of the Hellfire and to be in Allah’s company and the company of those with whom He is pleased.

Should Allah not be a gracious host? And if Allah is gracious and hospitable as a host, would it not be an unimaginably nice visit; one that we would not want to come to an end?

He loves to provide for His creation and has ordained that He will be Merciful over it, even for those who deny His existence.

For those who believe and follow His commands there will be a great reward.

If you loan to Allah, a beautiful loan, He will double it to your (credit), and He will grant you Forgiveness: for Allah is most Ready to appreciate (service), Most Forbearing. (Quran 64:17)

Allah loves to hear us asking for help and guidance

Sometimes He will even make life difficult for us so that we will feel helIs It Good to Be Selfishpless and turn to Him for help.

It is a way of teaching us that we are truly in constant need of Allah, and that without Him we are nothing.

The highest level of faith is to love Allah and His Prophet more than anything else, including ourselves.

To love Islam more than anything, to love the truth and what is right more than our own desires.

We should put others before ourselves and that is the most noble of deeds.

We seek the pleasure of Allah because He has given us everything, including our own selves.

He is the reason we exist and the reason for our existence is to worship Him.

We worship Him by doing things that please Him, in the ways that please Him.

It pleases Allah when He sees that we recognize the Truth, that He is all that matters in our lives.

Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; the commerce in which ye fear a decline: or the dwellings in which ye delight – are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause; then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious. (Quran 9:24)

I hope this answers your question. I ask Allah, praise be to him, that He guides us all to what He likes and pleases Him. Amen.

Please keep in touch.


(From AboutIslam’s archives)

Read more…

Should We Do Good Only for Reward?

Entering Paradise: Grace or Good Deeds?

Purity of Intentions

About Waleed Najmeddine
Waleed Ahmed Najmeddine is a Canadian born Muslim and public school administrator. He is an active member of the Muslim community and enjoys educating Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam. He currently holds a Master of Education degree in leadership and school improvement.