Hadith 37: Allah Recorded the Good Deeds

On the authority of ibn Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with both of them): On the authority of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him) from among the sayings that he related from His Lord (glorified and exalted be He) is that He said, “Verily, Allah recorded the good deeds and the evil deeds. Then He clarified how [that recording should occur:] whoever decided to do a good deed but he did not do it, Allah records it with Him as a complete good deed. And if he decided to do it and actually did it, Allah records it with Him as ten good deeds up to seven hundred up to many times over. If he decided to do an evil deed but he did not do it, Allah records it with Him as one complete good deed. If he decided to do it and he actually did it, Allah records it as one evil deed.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The Narrator

Abdullah ibn Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, was a cousin of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. He was born three years before the Hijrah and grew up alongside the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. He did not hear many hadith directly from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him,
due to his young age, but he used to go the houses of the companions and wait for them to come out in order to hear hadith from them. He related hadith from Ali, Umar, Ubayy ibn Kaab, Muaadh ibn Jabal, Abu Dharr and others. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, made dua for ibn Abbaas that he would become knowledgeable in the religion. As a result he became an expert in tafseer (Quranic commentary) and 1,660 ahadith have been narrated on his authority.

“… from among the sayings he relates from His Lord (glorified and exalted be He)”

This statement shows us that this is a qudsi hadith, in which the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, directly related words of Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, that were not to be contained in the Qur’an.

 ”Verily, Allah recorded the good deeds and the evil deeds.”

Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, has already recorded and decreed which deeds are deserving of reward and which are deserving of punishment. In this narration of the hadith the wording is “Allah recorded” implying that Allah Himself recorded these things. In other narrations it states that the angels record the deeds at the command of Allah, which is the more common understanding, supported by other hadith.

These two understandings have been reconciled by ibn Uthaimeen who stated that the recording by Allah implies two matters. One is the recording of the good and bad deeds by Allah in the Preserved Tablet (al-Lauh al-Mahfoodh), which took place before any of the deeds were actually performed, according to Allah’s knowledge of when they will occur. The second recording is when the person actually performs the deeds, at which time they are recorded by the angels according to Allah’s justice and mercy.

The fact that all our good and bad deeds are recorded should be a reminder to us that anything we do and say should not be taken lightly. Nothing escapes Allah’s knowledge, and everything will be recorded as either a good or bad deed. This should cause us to pause before we act and ask ourselves, ‘Will this be recorded for me as a good deed or an evil deed?’ Call yourself to account before you are called to account.

Then He clarified how [that recording should occur:] whoever decided to do a good deed but he did not do it, Allah records it with Him as a complete good deed.”

We can see from this hadith that Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, has divided deeds into four categories:  deciding to do good deeds and then not doing them, doing good deeds, deciding to do evil deeds and then not doing them and doing evil deeds.

This post will discuss the issue of deciding to do a good deed, and then not doing it. In order to completely understand this concept, Jamal al-Din Zarabozo point out in his commentary on this hadith that we must understand the meaning of hamm, which translates as considered or decided and the differences between this and other similar terms.

The first concept to understand is al-haajis, which is a fleeting thought that occurs in one’s mind but does not stay. This kind of thought can occur to anyone and its content may be quite evil, but we are not held accountable for this. This hadith is not referring to this type of thought.

The second concept to understand is al-khaatir, which is a thought that comes into one’s mind, that a person gives some thought or consideration to, but then dismisses. This thought can also be quite evil, coming either from shaitan or one’s own soul, but once it has passed the person does not give anymore consideration to it. We are not held responsible for this type of thought either.

The third concept is ‘the speech of a person to himself’ and this goes beyond the other levels to contemplate whether or not we should actually perform this action. If we do not act on this then we will not be held responsible for this thought.

By the mercy of Allah we are not held accountable for any of the above listed type of thoughts. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, advised us:

“Verily, Allah has overlooked for [the members of] my nation what their souls think about as long as they do not act on it or speak about it.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Although we are not held accountable, if evil thoughts do come to our minds we should refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan.

The next level is a decision or al-hamm, and that is what this portion of the hadith is referring to. This is where the heart is determined to do a specific act. It is a decision that is just short of a complete resolution to act. It is this type of intention that this hadith is referring to.

So whoever decides in their heart, and becomes determined to do a good deed, but they are unable to do it, will have a reward with Allah that is equal to a complete good deed. This determination in the heart, it should be noted is different to having a fleeting thought, or lightly contemplating something. This special reward is reserved for those who had resolved in their hearts to do a good deed, for the sake of Allah, but were unable to do it. And Allah knows best what is in the hearts.

“And if he decided to do it and actually did it, Allah records it with Him as ten good deeds up to seven hundred up to many times over.”

SubhanAllah, such is the mercy of Allah that when we actually do a good deed, He not only rewards us for that, but He increases our reward at least ten times! Allah tells us in the Qur’an:

“Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof” (Surah al-Anaam:160)

How easy Allah makes it for us to make our scale of good deeds heavy on the Day of Judgement, all praises and glory be to Him. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, tells us in this part of the hadith, that some good deeds could actually receive up to seven hundred times the reward of the deed.

SubhanAllah, we should immediately ask ourselves, what is it that secures a reward as great as seven hundred times? One deed that is specifically multiplied seven hundred fold, is the act of giving wealth for the sake of Allah. Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, says in the Qur’an:

“The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is as that of a grain [of corn]. It grows seven ears and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills. And Allah is all-sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knowing” (Surah al-Baqarah:261)

There is also the following example from the hadith:

“On the authority of Abu Masood al-Ansaari who said: A man came with a camel and its reigns, saying, “This is for the sake of Allah.” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “For you, on the Day of Resurrection, will be seven hundred camels, all of them with their reigns.” (Recorded in Muslim)

We also have hadith that tell us that a deed may be rewarded so many times over that the total amount is known only to Allah. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“Every good deed that a human performs is multiplied ten times up to seven hundred. And Allah has said, ‘Except for the fast for it is done for My sake and I shall reward it [even more]. The person leaves his desires and food for My sake…” (Recorded in al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Patience and perseverance is another deed that is rewarded by an amount that is known only to Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an:

“Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full without measure.” (Surah al-Zumar:10)

In fact, the same deed may be performed by two different people and the reward for each of them may be totally different. We can see from this, that the amount of multiple reward is based on a number of factors, including the excellence of one’s Islam, one’s sincerity and purity in action, the excellence of the deed itself and the need for the deed done. In this way even a small deed may secure a large reward with Allah.

“If he decided to do an evil deed but he did not do it, Allah records it with Him as one complete good deed.”

If a person considers doing an evil deed, but fears Allah and changes their mind, a full good deed is recorded for them. From this we can see that restraining oneself from evil for the sake of Allah, is a good deed and deserves to be rewarded as such.

If a person is able to make restraint for the sake of Allah a part of their character, Allah promises they be from among the inhabitants of Paradise:

“But as for him who feared standing before his Lord and restrained himself from impure evil desires and lusts, verily, Paradise will be his abode,” (Surah al-Naaziaat:40-41)

It may be the case that someone decides not to perform an evil deed, simply out of fear of what others may think of them. In this case some scholars say that the person may be held accountable for this intention, because they put the fear of men over fear of Allah, and Allah knows best. If a person decided to perform an evil deed and is prevented from doing so simply by circumstance, they will still be held accountable for this evil intention.

The question arises – if a person decides to do a good deed and it is counted as a good deed, shouldn’t the one who decides to do an evil deed have it counted as an evil deed? The answer is that this is part of the blessings and mercy of Allah, all praises and glory be to Him. Allah records the evil deeds of people and them responsible for it as an act of justice on His part. And He forgives other deeds and disregards the decision to do evil as an act of His mercy.

We can see the wisdom behind this mercy when we consider that if a person knows they will be held accountable just for the evil thought, there is not much to stop them from actually committing the sin. But if that person restrains themselves, no evil deed will be recorded for them, in fact there is the incentive of achieving a good deed. Then, if they actually go forward and do the good deed, it will be multiplied for them many times. And Allah is the most Just, full of Mercy.

”If he decided to do it and he actually did it, Allah records it as one evil deed.”

Allah is not unjust to any of His creation. If a person commits an evil deed, it is recorded as one bad deed without any multiplication. Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, tells us in the Qur’an:

“Whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof, and they will not be wronged.” (Surah al-Anaam:160)

We remember from previous posts, that when a person intends to do a good deed, this is in itself considered a good deed, and if they then go on to perform the deed, the reward is multiplied a minimum of ten times. SubhanAllah the mercy of Allah to His slaves!

If a person intends to do an evil deed, but does not do it, a good deed is recorded for them. If they actually perform an evil deed, it is only counted as one evil deed with no multiplication. We should note though that evil deeds do differ in their weight and gravity. So whilst they are only counted as one evil deed, some of these deeds may be graver than others.

Very grave sins include destructive sins such as adultery, murder, shirk and so forth. The time at which the sin is committed may contribute to the gravity, such as wrongdoing committed during the Inviolable Months, being worse than that committed at other times. The sanctity of the place where the wrongdoing was committed also increases the gravity of the sin. Allah says of sins committed in the Inviolable Mosque:

“And whoever inclines to evil therein or to do wrong, him We shall cause to taste a painful torment” (Surah al-Hajj:26)

The nobility of the person, or the fact that they are taken as an example can also make the sin graver. For example Allah, all praises and glory be to Him, threatened the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him with a very great punishment, because of his position as we see in the following ayah:

“And had We not made you stand firm, you would nearly have inclined towards them [the disbelievers] a little. In that case, We would have made you taste a double portion [of punishment] in this life and a double portion after death. And then you would have found non to help you against Us.” (Surah al-Israa:74-75)

Allah also says:

“O wives of the Prophet! Whoever of you commits an open illegal sexual intercourse, the torment for her will be doubled. And that is easy for Allah.” (Surah Al Ahzaab:30)

Many scholars have also noted that if a person shows pleasure at having committed a sin the enormity of the sin would be considered greater. The sin is also made greater by telling others about what you have done. The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said:

“All of my Nation are to be forgiven except those who publicise their sins. Publicising the sins includes a person doing something during the night and then in the morning, although Allah had kept that act concealed for him, he says, ‘O so and so, last night I did such and such’. He spent the whole night being concealed by his Lord and in the morning he uncovered what Allah had kept concealed for him.” (Recorded in al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The enormity of the sin is also greater when there is little excuse for the person to commit the sin. This means that the act was not committed by a person who was overcome by their desires. The Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said:

“There are three [categories of people] to whom Allah will not speak [any pleasing words], for whom Allah will not cleanse of their sins and at whom Allah will not look and they shall have a grievous punishment. [They are] an old man who commits illegal sexual intercourse, a lying king and an arrogant impoverished person.” (Recorded by Muslim)

If we consider how merciful Allah is with recompensing our deeds, we will see that the only ones who are destroyed are those who destroy themselves willingly. If a person restrains themselves and then does a good deed, they will find their reward multiplied by Allah. And Allah is the Most Just, the Most Kind.

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