On the authority of Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junada and Abu Abdul Rahmaan Muaadh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with both of them) from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who said, “Fear Allah wherever you are. And follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will wipe it out. And behave towards the people with a good behaviour.” (Recorded in al-Tirmidhi)
“And follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will wipe it out.”
This part of the hadith illustrates that even those with taqwa, or fear of Allah (swt) may still slip and make mistakes. No one is perfect, but those who are from the mutaqeen or people of taqwa, do not persist in their sins. When they remember Allah (swt) they immediately perform a good deed to outweigh the negative effects of a bad one. Allah (swt) speaks of these people in the Qur’an:
“And be quick in the race for forgiveness from Your Lord and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the mutaqeen, Those who spend [for Allah’s cause] in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men. Verily, Allah loves the doers of good. And for those who, when they have committed some evil or wronged themselves, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah – and who do not persist in what they have done, while they know. For such, the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing amidst them, wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers [of taqwa].” (ali-Imran:133-136)
SubhanAllah, may Allah (swt) make us of the mutaqeen, Ameen.
It is important to note that a bad deed that violates the rights of others, cannot simply be wiped away by a good deed. Instead, the sinner must return the right to the person or ask for their forgiveness. An example of this would be if you said something bad about a person in a gathering, you should seek Allah’s forgiveness and say something good about them in a gathering of at least the same size, to outweigh the negative effects of what you have said.
We should also remember that in the same way that good deeds wipe away evil deeds, evil deeds can also wipe away good deeds. That is, the reward for the deed may be removed by the bad deed that is performed after it. This is especially true with regards to major sins such as dealing in riba (interest) or committing adultery.
Ten Ways in Which Allah (swt) Removes Sins
This hadith tells us one of the ways in which the punishment for a bad deed may be removed by Allah’s (swt) permission. Allah (swt) in His mercy has provided us with numerous opportunities to earn His (swt) forgiveness. Here are ten ways in which Allah (swt) removes sins from the believer:
1. Sincere repentance when one feels remorse and resolves not to do it again.
2. Recognising that one has committed a sin and that Allah forgives sins and then asking Him to forgive you.
3. Performance of good deeds.
4. Supplication for another Muslim.
5. What is done by a living person for the sake of the dead: fasting, charity etc
6. The intercession of the Prophet (s).
7. Afflictions in this life.
8. The hardship of the test and the life in the grave.
9. The events of the Day of Judgement.
10. The Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah (swt).
There are many ways that Allah (swt) promises to remove sins from us, and reading down the list, we can see that repenting and performing good deeds are amongst the easiest to achieve.
Let’s remember Allah’s (swt) promise of the Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, and strive to follow a bad deed with a good one, so that our scale of good deeds outweigh the bad on the Day of Judgement.