Lateefah Binuyo examines the way to worship for maximum reward.
"... So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord..."
[Surah Al-Kahf: 110]
In Islam, there is a great deal of emphasis placed on the performance of righteous deeds because they are all that will remain with us when we are all alone in the grave. Allah SWT says in a Hadith Qudsi, "O My slaves, it is but your deeds that I reckon for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good (in the Hereafter) praise Allah and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself." (Muslim)
Since our good deeds are our only means of refuge and salvation (along with Allah's Mercy), the quantity and quality we accrue is of equal importance. Allah SWT asks, "Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought they were acquiring good by their deeds" (Surah Al-Kahf: 103-104). So when we perform any righteous deed, it is important to ask ourselves: "Am I doing it the right way? Am I sincere in my actions? Is this worth presenting to my Lord? And most importantly, will it be accepted by Him?"
Righteous deeds are not limited to Salah, Zakah, Saum and Hajj alone; they cover all actions that we do as long as they meet the following conditions:
- one must be in a state of Iman;
- the deed must be sincerely for Allah's sake;
- the deed must be done in accordance with the legislation of Allah SWT and Sunnah of the prophet (SAW).
Iman (faith) is belief in the heart, affirmation by the tongue and action by the limbs. In fact, our deeds are the fruits of our faith. Faith is a prerequisite for the acceptance of our deeds as Allah says: "And whoever does righteous good deeds, male or female and is a true believer (in the oneness of Allah) such will enter paradise and not the least injustice, even to the size of a Naqira (speck on the back of a date stone) will be done to them." (Surah An-Nisaa':124)
On the contrary, without faith, the reward if any, would be in this life and nothing will be acceptable to Allah on the Day of Judgement. Allah SWT says: "And We shall turn to whatever deeds they (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners) did, and We shall make such deeds as scattered floating particles of dust." (Surah Al-Furqan:23)
To some people, it goes without saying that performance of good deeds is an essential component of faith, but in actual fact, a deficient faith will inadvertently affect the acceptance of our deeds. We should therefore check our state of Iman - are we Muslims because we truly believe or because our parents are or because that is what is socially acceptable in our community? Do we hold any beliefs, make any statements or do any deeds that may nullify our claim to be Muslims?
Sincerity of intention - solely for Allah's sake
"Say (O Muhammad): 'Verily, I am commanded to worship Allah (Alone) by obeying Him and doing religious deeds sincerely for His sake only... Say (O Muhammad): 'Allah Alone I worship by doing religious deeds sincerely for His sake only (and not to show off, nor set up rivals with Him in worship)." (Surah Az-Zumar: 11-14)
Sincerity means that all our actions - both words and deeds, hidden and apparent - should be to seek the pleasure of Allah and none other than Him. The Prophet (SAW) said: "Indeed actions are but by intentions and there is for every man what he intends." (Bukhari) Therefore, sincerity is a must for every action and any deed that is done not solely for the sake of Allah is fruitless.
Our actions must not be contaminated by shirk be it by pride, showing off or any striving for worldly gain of any kind. Rather it must be for the love of Allah, fearing His punishment and hoping for His rewards as He explicitly instructed us: "And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him)." (Surah Al Bayyinah:5)
Let us ask ourselves - Are we sincere in our deeds and intention? Because whether we hide it or reveal it, Allah knows it.
According to the Qur'an and Sunnah
For our deeds to be classified as righteous, they must be done purely in accordance with the legislation of Allah which is achieved by following the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). Anything contrary to this is disobedience to Allah because "He who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad), has indeed obeyed Allah." (Surah An-Nisaa': 10)
It may be difficult to understand the concept that 'everything' we do could be classified as worship. Worship (Ibadah) is everything Allah loves and is pleased with from our statements and actions whether apparent or hidden. An example is when the Prophet (SAW) once said that there is sadaqah in a man's sexual intercourse (with his wife). The companions were shocked and said: 'O Messenger of Allah, is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual need among us?' He (SAW) said, "You see, if he were to satisfy it with something forbidden, would it not be a sin on his part? Similarly, if he were to satisfy it legally, he should be rewarded." (Muslim)
Therefore, what we say, do and forsake should be according to the law of Allah, by following what the Prophet (SAW) brought, and shunning anything that goes against it, and not inventing any new form of worship. Even if we abstain from a sin out of obedience to Allah SWT, the abstinence rises to the level of obedience and we are rewarded for our steadfastness.
For those who are sincerely ignorant on matters of worship, it is incumbent on them to seek knowledge on the 'how', 'when' and 'where' to carry out these deeds. Allah SWT commands us "So know (Oh Muhammad) that, La ilaha illallah, (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah)." (Surah Muhammad: 19). Therefore, it is essential to have knowledge about Allah and how He wants us to worship Him. Performance of righteous deeds should not be based on hearsay but on authentic proof from the Qur'an and Sunnah. Anything less than this and one runs the risk of falling in the category of people who follow their desires.
These are the people who, with all good intentions, engage in deeds, practices, celebrations that are not part of Islam. This is deadly because the toxin called bid'ah (innovation) blinds the person doing it and all she can see is good. The Prophet (SAW) said: "Whoever performs a (good) deed which we have not ordered (anyone) to do (or is not in accordance with our religion of Islamic Montheism), then that deed will be rejected and will not be accepted" (Bukhari). Thus, if you are in doubt seek knowledge, if you are still in doubt, ask the people who know.
Finally, as the saying goes, "What is worth doing at all is worth doing well". Sisters, never for once think that our deeds will go unrewarded or unpunished no matter how small or negligible it is and reflect on this admonition from Imam Ibn Qayyim: "Know, that days are but hours, and hours are but breaths, and every soul is a container, hence let not any breath pass without any benefit, such as on the Day of Judgement you find an empty container and feel regret! Be aware of every hour and how it passes, and only spend it in the best possible way; do not neglect yourself, but render it accustomed to the noblest and best of actions, and send to your grave that which will please you when you arrive to it."
This article was first published in SISTERS, the magazine for fabulous Muslim women. Visit the SISTERS website at www.sisters-magazine.com to read more articles - and download a complimentary issue!