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A Believer’s Good Deeds

A Believer’s Good Deeds
God bestows us chance upon chance to make the right decision and engage in good deeds on a daily basis.

Good and evil has existed since the beginning of time and the continuous battle between the two forces exists until this very day.

Since our childhood, we have been exposed to fairy tales and story books, lining up the good versus the evil, in hopes that the good always triumphs over the latter.

Great literature works, box office movies and even artists through their paintings often depict stories of heroes defeating demons, both with distinguishable features, characteristics and personalities.

However, as we grow up, the lines of good and evil are often blurred and sometimes believers can even begin to confuse the two. Sometimes one chooses evil over good, some with intent, while others do it unconsciously.

According to Muslims’ belief, both good and evil were created by God, but this does not award believers with a license to be engaged in evil deeds. On the contrary, the Quran specifically lists out good deeds and those that are evil for believers to make the rational choice between the two.

Although specific prohibitions, for example the consumption of alcohol and sexual relations outside the realm of marriage, may sound restrictive to a non-Muslim, believers are reminded that the guidelines in the Quran were tailored with the human being’s best interest at heart.

Performing good deeds is the believer’s way of proving purification of his heart to God. It is inexcusable for a person to insist that he or she is a good person but engages in activities that are explicitly prohibited in the Quran. Performing good deeds should also be done for the sake of Allah, and not to demonstrate some air of superiority in one’s relation to others or for worldly recognitions. Though it may be tempting to do the same to please another human being for example, a believer’s intentions should be tailored to please God only.

Rewards vs. Punishments

God reminds us that though some good deeds may seem minute or mundane as compared to achievements of other people, the weight of the deed falls under His judgment as only God will eventually bestow rewards or punishments upon us.

{Why were there not, among the generations before you, persons possessed of balanced good sense, prohibiting (men) from mischief in the earth—except a few among them whom We saved (from harm)? Those who did wrong gladly pursued the life of luxury that they were given and were evildoers.} (11:116)

Think back over the years as how we were rewarded by people around us. For example, even before the age of three perhaps, we were praised for using the potty, rather than passing bodily function on the floor during the transition from the diaper to the toilet. Some of us were probably awarded with stickers on a sticker chart. When we started schooling, we were given a report card, full of grades, indicating how well we had performed for the year.

Our parents pushed us to score straight A’s on our report card, to be recognized as good students and to earn a pass to a prestigious tertiary education institution. There, we were also judged on how well we performed during exams; and once we hit the job market, the gleaming salary slip was an indicator of how successful we had become. Although all these awards are applauded in Islam, as long as the achievements do not contradict Islamic principles, there is a more important “award chart” awaiting Muslims, which really does measure one’s success as a Muslim.

This chart is a record of a believer’s good deeds or a ledger known in Arabic as the “Illiyin”.

{And what explains to thee what ‘Illiyin‘ is? (It is) a written record, (Which is) witnessed by the ones Nearest (to Allah). Surely the Righteous will be in Bliss…} (83:1922)

Students who excelled in school understand the bliss of receiving a stellar report card, full of A’s and praiseworthy remarks from their teachers. Students who do not do well can relate to a certain level of disappointment followed by determination to perform better in the next round of exams.

So, imagine the bliss of receiving the “Illiyin” in one’s right hand… {Soon will his account be taken by an easy reckoning, And he will turn to his people, rejoicing!} (84: 79)

Imagine being communicated the good news of a peaceful abode of eternity, full of rewards and replenishments of whims and fancies. Imagine a report card that could determine the demise of hardship, obstacles and challenges. Imagine receiving the “Illiyin”, and being placed together with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions, and not to mention to enjoy the Hereafter in the Gardens of God. And it is that easy to receive the “Illiyin” in one’s right hand – by performing good deeds for the sake of Allah and hating what is prohibited for the sake of Allah.

The difference between receiving this report card as compared to the ones we received in school, or at work (by means of bonuses or increments as rewards), is that there is no second chance.

When the day of judgment arrives… there will be no returning back. Having said that however, God bestows us chance upon chance to make the right decision and engage in good deeds on a daily basis and He promises to take into account even the slightest deeds, which may include picking up litter and throwing it away in the dustbin.

The suite of good deeds knows no horizons. It ranges from a smile to brighten another person’s day to honoring a contract to waking up at an unearthly hour to prostrate to the Lord.

How to Keep up with Good Deeds

The best way for a believer to keep up with good deeds is to continuously read the Quran. The Quran does not only list out the myriads of good deeds loved dearly by God, but it provides ample opportunity to ponder and reflect on one’s plight as a Muslim. The Quran in itself is also a blessing as it cleanses the heart from evil and solidifies a strong relationship with God. The more the Quran there is in one’s heart, the less likely is the Muslim to stray the Islamic way of life.

Scholars have said that good deeds blot out sins and evil acts.

Imagine standing at a junction of two streets on a hot afternoon, only to be met with a heavy thunderstorm. One street is cleaned out by the rain; the street litter is swept away by the gentle ripples and streams and the dirt is washed away by the tides of water. After the rain, the air is cool, the floors are clean and there is a slight reflection of a rainbow in the puddles of water. The other street however has gotten dirtier with the thunderstorm. The drains are clogged. Roaches and rodents culminate onto the pavements. The garbage bins have spilled over and the air is acidic and hazy.

Which street would you like to walk on – the one that is pure and clean or the one which is full of rubbish and pollutants?

This is the same with a believer who is full of good intentions and is ever-enthused to engage in good. God – through the metaphorical rain – will continue to cleanse him or her through His guidance.

For a person who is corrupt, continuously lauds evil and is proud of his or her sins, he or she will continuously create dirt and grime for himself or herself, until there is nothing left, except pollutants.

To be a good Muslim, one has to be brutally honest with oneself. An interesting comparison is found in Quranic reflections, a blog by teachers and students of al-Huda International, through comparing one’s self to the palm tree. The date is one of the Islamically universal fruits that materializes in the Quran and the Sunnah as one of the many blessings of God.

{Have you not considered how Allah presents an example [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and whose branches [high] in the sky? It produces fruits all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they may be reminded.} (14:245)

A Muslim may ask himself: Is my relationship with God deeply rooted like the palm tree– able to withstand the harshest weather, without toppling over onto the ground? A believer full of good deeds would not bend over during times of adversities as a person with good deeds cultivates a strong faith.

A believer may question: “Am I strong and sturdy like the trunk of a date palm tree? Am I well-nourished physically, mentally, socially and spiritually? Do I have a good balance of life for this world and the hereafter? Do I stand strong like the date-palm tree, full of faith and trust in my surroundings or do I fall apart easily?”

A believer who is full of good deeds is well-nourished because he or she recognizes the rights of his or her body, mind, friends and heart over himself or herself and will strive to lead a balanced and positive life.

A believer may reflect: Do I grow outwards and larger like the branches and leaves of the date palm tree? Do I constantly seek to help others? Do I provide strong support for my brothers and sisters? Do I provide shade for those who are in need? A believer full of good deeds will utilize all of his or her knowledge and strength to continuously help others.

A believer should ponder: Do I bear fruits that are nutritious, energizing, delightful and joyful like the date palm tree? Do I carry positive energy and spread out love to others? Do others rush to greet me for all the right reasons? Am I wanted in another person’s home for help?

A believer full of good deeds is wanted, needed and loved by other persons for the sake of Allah.

The underlying message is: Believers engaged in good deeds are like the blessed date palm tree. Enjoy the cleansing of rain, like the street that was bestowed a rainbow. Have your faith flourished, the positive force that changes the environment for the better. And most of all, let that ever telling report card be handed to you in your right hand, with scrolls and scrolls of good deeds performed on Earth, for the sake of Allah.

About Maria Zain

Maria Zain AboutIslam.net author who passed away in December 2014.

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