THERE is a famous saying in Arabic that the heart of a believer is the abode of Allah. This means that Allah spiritually lives in the momin’s heart. If somebody breaks the believer’s heart, it is like breaking Allah’s abode. In contrast, if someone wins a momin’s heart, it is akin to winning Allah’s favour.
The above thought is significant in the light of the fundamental importance that Islam attaches to doing good deeds. Every individual is required to perform good deeds to win the hearts of his fellow beings. Winning hearts through good deeds is key to becoming close to Allah, besides gaining dignity, respect and honour in society. The deeds may be performed in this world but are elevated to heaven.
Good deeds first originate in the mind of a person and, subsequently, they are performed in the physical world. If the doer of a good deed repeats this performance several times, it becomes a habit as well as a feature of their character. However, the initial intention is vital to gain Allah’s favour even before the deed is actually accomplished. This intention that originates in the mind and heart not only brings satisfaction and happiness to a believer, it also motivates one to access resources that could lead to accomplishing the goal.
There are hundreds of thousands of good deeds that one can perform for the benefit of society. However, every deed carries its own weight. A well-known hadith states that deeds performed for seeking fame and popularity will go to waste. In contrast, a smaller deed, but one that is propelled by a sincere desire to please Allah, will carry greater weight. Good deeds include our routine work being performed with a sincere wish to please Allah. In addition, providing selfless service to the needy, helping ameliorate the pain and suffering of those weaker than us, and exhibiting love for our fellow beings can also be categorised as good deeds.
Good deeds can make life immortal.
All Islamic schools of thought emphasise that believers should perform good deeds, but some Sufis have stressed good actions as an essential feature of the Muslim faith. As doing good is the way to win hearts, one should be socially mindful and conscious of the consequences of all of one’s deeds. Once, a disciple visited his Sufi master in a hut. He saw many mice roaming around. The disciple was astonished. He suggested his master keep a cat in his hut in order to make the mice run away. Thereupon the master said: “Yes! Many times, I thought the same. But I am afraid that these mice would go to my neighbour’s house and create trouble for him. So, I avoid keeping a cat in my hut. I do not want to create trouble for my neighbour.”
The Quran says: “Do good, as Allah has been good to you” (28:77). Another verse says: “And do not forget liberality between yourselves (2:237). Similarly, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is said to have stated that a Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand other Muslims are safe.
Thus, Islam is an action-oriented religion. It places great emphasis on good deeds. It says so long as a believer is alive, he should perform good deeds and transmit them to his spiritual account in the Hereafter.
Through good deeds, one can change the world, eliminate human suffering and realise the dream of peace and tranquillity in society. Therefore, Islam emphasises that one should not impose on others what one does not desire for oneself.
A popular proverb goes: ‘you reap what you sow.’ One has to face the consequences of one’s action. Whatever action one takes in life never goes in vain in the Hereafter. If one does good in this world, he or she stands to gain a good reward. If he or she does evil, then the outcome to be expected is not good.
How beautifully the Poet of the East, Allama Iqbal, elaborated the importance of action in his famous verse: “Amal se zindagi banti hai jannat bhi jahannum bhi/ Ye khaki apni fitrat mein na noori hai na naari hai” (By action, life may become both paradise and hell; this creature of dust in its nature is neither of light nor of fire.)
Our life is limited on this earth. It is mortal but can be made immortal through good deeds. A person can leave behind a legacy of good deeds for society to emulate. They can become a role model for the coming generations. In every period of history, believers have contributed to their respective societies by doing good deeds. They have lit up their times like a beam in the dark. They have imprinted their names on the list of those who wanted good for others. It is said in a hadith that when a person dies, his deeds come to an end, but their benefits never cease.
The writer is an educationist with an interest in religion.
Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2022