The best deeds

Illustrated by @nablinsky

The Messenger of Allah peace and blessings be upon him (pbuh) said in the following narrations:

  • “Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.” (al-Bukhari 6464)
  • “The most beloved of deeds according to Allah are the prayer in its earliest time, then to treat the parents in an excellent manner, and then jihad (striving) in the path of Allah.” (al-Bukhari 2630; Muslim 85)
  • “The most beloved of deeds to Allah is that you die and yet your tongue is still moist from the remembrance of Allah.” (Ibn Hibban 918)
  • “There is nothing heavier in the scales of the Hereafter than good character.” (at-Tirmidhi 2002)
  • “The best of all deeds is to have faith in Allah alone, then jihad and then an accepted Hajj; they surpass all other deeds like the distance between the rising and setting of the sun.” (al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr 17227)
  • “The best of all deeds is that you bring happiness to your Muslim brother, pay off his debt or feed him bread.” (al-Asbahani 1/214, hasan according to al-Albani)

Bloom

Sometimes I catch myself wishing that I was a child again. Wide-eyed, young, unburdened by my mistakes and without sin. But if I hadn’t grown, I would never have known my Lord. My Kind, Loving, Generous Lord. His Love. His Forgiveness. His Mercy – its vastness, its depth. And for this, I am so grateful.

My Merciful Lord. So many times I’ve stumbled, grumbled, and forgotten His favours. Sinning with the very blessings He has given me. Yet He is always with me, guiding me, showering me with His Blessings, embracing me in His Grace. And for all of this, I am so grateful.

I want to do better, be better.

peace and blessings be upon him

Our Lord says about Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that surely, he is indeed on an excellent standard of character (68:4). Allah has not sent our Prophet except as a mercy to all the worlds (21:107). Some of his qualities are described in this verse: “Surely, there has come to you, from among yourselves, a Messenger. He feels it very hard on him if you face a hardship (i.e. your suffering distresses him); he is very anxious for your welfare (i.e. he is deeply concerned for you), and towards the faithful he is very kind, full of mercy” (9:128). So take the Prophet as your example, for Allah has said, “There is indeed, in the Messenger of Allah, an excellent role model for you, you who hope for (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah with much remembrance.” (33:21)

Al-Hijr 15:49

The Forgiver
The Oft-Forgiving
The Most Forgiving
The Repeatedly Forgiving
The One Who loves to forgive
The One Who covers our flaws
The One Who erases our mistakes
as though they were never there
The One Who replaces our bad deeds
with good deeds when we repent
The One Who continuously accepts repentance
The One Who is Most Merciful to His servants
The One Whose Mercy exceeds everything.

“Tell My servants that I am indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Indeed those who believe and do good…

be it male or female (4:124), Allah will guide them because of their faith (10:9), answer their prayers and increase for them from His bounty (42:26). Allah will certainly absolve them of their sins (29:7) and admit them among the righteous (29:9). They are the best of creation (98:7) and will have the highest of ranks (20:75). Allah will bestow for them affection (19:96) and admit them into His Mercy. For them is forgiveness, a generous provision and a great, never-ending reward (5:9; 22:50; 34:4; 3:57; 18:2; 35:7; 41:8, 95:6). Their efforts will not be denied nor discounted (21:94), and they will not fear injustice nor deprivation (20:112). That is the absolute triumph (45:30).

Joy awaits them and an excellent place of return (13:29). Paradise (7:42). Lofty dwellings with cool shade, flowing rivers, as entertainment and accommodation (4:57; 10:9; 18:107; 22:14; 22:56; 29:58; 31:8; 47:12). For them is whatever they wish for (42:22). They will have pure spouses, and be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearl, and their garments will be of silk (4:57; 22:23). They will abide therein, forever (2:25; 7:42; 2:82; 4:122). Indeed, all these, for those who have believed and done good.

Removed from their hearts is any bitterness or ill feeling, and they will say, “All praise and thanks be to Allah, who has guided us to this. Had Allah not guided us, we would never have found the way.” (7:43)

re:

Another day
to reflect,
and regret,
and repent,
and return,
and recover,
and rediscover,
and refocus,
and reform,
and remember Him,
and respond to Him,
and rejoice.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Do good deeds in the time that you have and take advantage of the moments of gentle breeze from the mercy of Allah. Verily, Allah has moments of gentle breeze from His mercy that He sends upon whomever He wills among His servants. Ask Allah to cover your faults and protect you from your anxieties.” (al-Mu’jam al-Kabir 719; Hasan)

benefit

Ibn Umar reported: The Prophet pbuh said, “The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people.” (al-Muʻjam al-Awsat by al-Tabarani 6192). He also narrated that the Prophet pbuh said, “There is a tree among the trees which is similar to a Muslim (in goodness) and that is the date palm tree.” (Muslim 6747)

The scholars explained that the Muslim was likened to the date palm tree due to the abundance of its goodness, including but not limited to the continuity of its shade, the goodness of its fruit, its presence and the beauty of its growth throughout the year. It is amazing that from the time the date fruit emerges, it can continue to be eaten until it dries, and after it dries a lot of benefits are gained from it. Likewise from its leaves, wood, branches and even the date stone; they are used for firewood, rods, mats, ropes and fodder among other things.

Just as the believers are to be all good, from the abundance of their obedience to the nobility of their manners. They constantly pray, fast, recite the Quran, give in charity, join the ties of kinship, help the needy and oppressed as well as perform other acts of worship that not only benefit themselves and bring them closer to their Creator but also benefit those around them (adapted from an-Nawawi’s commentary of the hadith).

Practice

Allah mentions in the Quran the virtue of intending to be good, striving upon the path of goodness, and keeping to it. And because one treads upon this path, Allah increases their guidance, steadfastness, patience and piety. Whoever practices a good habit, Allah makes it easier for them. And whoever thanks Allah for what He has given, Allah gives them more in return.

“While as for those who accept guidance, He increases their guidance, and bestows on them their piety.” (Quran Surah Muhammad 47:17) And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’ (Surah Ibraheem 14:7)

The Prophet peace be upon him said, “Whosoever would be chaste and modest, Allah will keep him chaste and modest, and whosoever would seek self-sufficiency (relying on no one but Allah), Allah will make him self-sufficient, and whosoever would be patient, Allah will give him patience. And no one is granted a gift better and more comprehensive than patience.” (Muttafaqun ‘alayh)

In another narration, the Messenger of Allah pbuh said: “Whoever wants to refrain from asking, Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, will help him to do so, and whoever wants to be patient, Allah will help him to be patient. No one is ever given anything better and more far-reaching than patience.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 2588)

how to: pray

Successful are the believers. Those who in their prayer have khushoo’ (focus, humility, concentration, awe, reverence). (Al-Mu’minoon 23:1-2)

Abu Dardaa’ reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The first thing to be removed from this nation will be reverence, until you will not see anyone with reverence.” (Musnad al-Shamiyyin 1561)

Ammar ibn Yasir reported: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Verily, a man may return from his prayer and nothing good is written for him but a tenth of his prayer, or a ninth, or an eighth, or a seventh, or a sixth, or a fifth, or a fourth, or a third, or a half.” (Abu Dawud 796)

“We served ourselves in the company of Messenger of Allah (pbuh). We tended our camels by turn. One day, I had my turn to tend the camels, and I drove them in the afternoon. I found the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) addressing the people. I heard him say: Anyone among you who performs ablution, and does it well, then he stands and offers two rak’ahs of prayer, concentrating on it with his heart and body, Paradise will be his lot by all means.” (Abu Dawud 169)

Rabah ibn al-Harawi reported: ‘Isam ibn Yusuf passed by Hatim al-Asam, may Allah have mercy on him, while he was speaking in his assembly. ‘Isam said, “O Hatim, do you pray well?” Hatim said yes. ‘Isam said, “How do you pray?” Hatim said, “I establish the command, I walk with fear, I begin prayer with intention, I exalt Allah with grandeur, I recite with a measured recitation and reflection, I bow with reverence, I prostrate with humility, I sit to complete the testimony, and I invoke peace properly and according to the Sunnah. Then, I sincerely surrender the prayer to Allah Almighty and I return to myself with fear that it will not be accepted from me. I guard it with effort in this way until death.” ‘Isam said, “You may speak, for you do pray well.” (Ḥilyat al-Awliya’ 11623)