Chapter 13: Numerous ways of doing Good
allah, the exalted, says:
"... and whatever you do of good deeds, truly, allah knows it well.'' (2:215)
"and whatever good you do, (be sure) allah knows it.'' (2:197)
"so whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it.'' (99:7)
"whosoever does a good deed, it is for his ownself...'' (45:15)
117. abu dharr (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i asked: "o messenger of allah! which action is the best?'' he (pbuh) said, "faith in allah and jihad in the way of allah.'' i asked: "which neck (slave) is best (for emancipation)?'' he said, "that which is dearest of them in price and most valuable of them to its masters". i asked: "if i cannot afford (it)?'' he said, "then help a labourer or work for one who is disabled". i asked: "if i cannot do (it)?'' he said, "you should restrain yourself from doing wrong to people, because it (serves as) charity which you bestow upon yourself".
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: this hadith shows the excellence of jihad and emancipation of slaves. it also highlights the importance of co-operation and sympathy with others. similarly, one who refrains from putting others into trouble, his reward for it is no less than that of propitiatory offering and kindness. it also tells that faith in allah is the basis for the acceptance of good deeds. in fact, conduct is the fruit of one's faith. without faith nothing will be acceptable by allah.
118. abu dharr (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "when you get up in the morning, charity is due from every one of your joints. there is charity in every ascription of glory to allah; there is charity in every declaration of his greatness; there is charity in every utterance of praise of him; there is charity in every declaration that he is the only true god (worthy of worship); there is charity in enjoining good; there is charity in forbidding evil. two rak`ah of duha (forenoon prayer) is equal to all this (in reward)".
commentary: there are three hundred and sixty joints in a human body. it is these joints which enable him to work and make all kinds of movements. if man's body did not have these joints it would have been impossible for him to sit, stand, lie, move and make use of different organs of his body. thus every joint is a blessing for which one must express gratitude to allah. it is yet another blessing of allah that he has also told man a very easy way of thanksgiving which can be practised even by the poorest man in the world. this means of thanksgiving is recitation of tasbih (subhan allah), tahmid (al-hamdu lillah), takbir (allahu akbar), tahlil (la ilaha illallah), and to preach virtue and forbid wrong/ unlawful, etc. if one is unable to do even this, then he should perform two rak`ah prayer at any time between sunrise and sunset. if one wants to enlarge their number, he can increase them to eight with the condition that the eight are divided into four couplets.
119. abu dharr (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "the deeds of my people, good and bad, were presented before me, and i found the removal of harmful objects from the road among their good deeds, and phlegm which might be in a mosque left unburied among their evil deeds".
1. allah has listed in virtue even the good deed which is for the benefit of people or can save them from loss. what is its opposite, however small it may be, is reckoned as mischief. this hadith induces one to do good deeds to attain the pleasure of allah and prevents one from evil deeds so that one is saved from the displeasure of allah.
2. the hadith enjoins cleanliness of mosques and forbids throwing of anything there which violates its sacredness, i.e., spitting. if any such dirty thing is found there, it must be removed immediately.
120. abu dharr (may allah be pleased with him) reported: some people said to messenger of allah (pbuh): "o messenger of allah, the rich have taken away (all the) reward. they observe salat (prayers) as we do; and give sadaqah (charity) out of their surplus wealth.'' upon this he (the prophet (pbuh)) said, "has allah not prescribed for you (a course) following which you can (also) give sadaqah? in every declaration of the glorification of allah (i.e., saying subhan allah) there is a sadaqah, and in every takbir (i.e., saying allahu akbar) is a sadaqah, and in every celebration of praise (saying al-hamdu lillah) is a sadaqah, and in every declaration that he is one (la ilaha illallah) is a sadaqah, and in enjoining of good is a sadaqah, and in forbidding evil is a sadaqah, and in man's sexual intercourse (with his wife) there is a sadaqah.'' they (the companions) said: "o messenger of allah, is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual need among us?'' he 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".
commentary: this hadith highlights two important points. firstly, the enthusiasm of the companions of the prophet (pbuh) for surpassing each other in good actions. secondly, it tells that virtue has a vast meaning in islam and it includes every action which is done with good intention, provided it does not involve disobedience of allah. so much so that it covers even natural activities of man which fall in the category of mubah (that which is permissible and may be omitted without fear of sin) and one is rewarded for them. not only that, one is rewarded even for abstaining from a sin on the condition that the abstention is for the obedience of allah. then abstention rises to the level of an act of obedience and is rewarded likewise.
121. abu dharr (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "do not belittle any good deed, even meeting your brother (muslim) with a cheerful face".
commentary: we learn from this hadith that meeting somebody cheerfully is also a virtue for two reasons. firstly, it is a sign of good manners. secondly, it creates affection and friendship among the muslims which is a meritorious act.
122. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "every day the sun rises charity (sadaqah) is due on every joint of a person: you administer justice between two men is a charity; and assisting a man to mount his beast, or helping him load his luggage on it is a charity; and a good word is a charity; and every step that you take (towards the mosque) for salat (prayer) is a charity and removing harmful things from the road is a charity".
[al-bukhari and muslim].
in muslim, it is reported on the authority of `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) that messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "everyone of the children of adam has been created with three hundred and sixty joints; so he who declares the glory of allah (i.e., saying allahu akbar), praises allah (i.e., al-hamdu lillah), declares allah to be one (i.e., la ilaha illallah), glorifies allah, and seeks forgiveness from allah (i.e., astaghfirullah), and removes stone, or thorn, or bone from people's path, and enjoins good and forbids evil, to the number of those three hundred and sixty, will walk that day having rescued himself from hell".
commentary: this hadith also tells that even a person who does not have the capacity to pay sadaqah (charity, alms, propitiatory offerings, etc.) can also pay it in the manner prescribed above and earn its reward. moreover, he can also pay alms for the joints in his body.
123. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "he who goes to the mosque at dawn or dusk (for salat), allah prepares a hospitable abode for him in jannah, every time when he walks to it or comes back from it".
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: this hadith induces us to go to the mosque and perform salat in congregation.
124. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: o muslim women, never belittle any gift you give your neighbour even if it is a hoof of a sheep".
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: this hadith enjoins that any gift presented sincerely by a neighbour should not be treated as humble, however ordinary it may be, because in spite of being of small worth it has a high value with allah.
125. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him): the prophet (pbuh) said, "iman has over seventy branches, the uppermost of which is the declaration: `none has the right to be worshipped but allah' and the least of which is the removal of harmful object from the road, and modesty is a branch of iman.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
1. this hadith tells us that from the standpoint of practice, faith has several stages. it also tells that faith and practice are inseparable.
2. it also makes evident the importance and excellence of bashfulness because it induces a person to good deeds and deters him from evils.
126. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "while a man was walking on his way he became extremely thirsty. he found a well, he went down into it to drink water. upon leaving it, he saw a dog which was panting out of thirst. his tongue was lolling out and he was eating moist earth from extreme thirst. the man thought to himself: `this dog is extremely thirsty as i was.' so he descended into the well, filled up his leather sock with water, and holding it in his teeth, climbed up and quenched the thirst of the dog. allah appreciated his action and forgave his sins". the companions asked: "shall we be rewarded for showing kindness to the animals also?'' he (pbuh) said, "a reward is given in connection with every living creature".
[al-bukhari and muslim].
in the narration of al-bukhari, the prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: "allah forgave him in appreciation of this act and admitted him to jannah".
another narration says: "once a dog was going round the well and was about to die out of thirst. a prostitute of banu israel happened to see it. so she took off her leather sock and lowered it into the well. she drew out some water and gave the dog to drink. she was forgiven on account of her action".
1. this hadith emphasizes the importance of kindness to every creature, even animals, because allah is pleased with such kindness.
2. allah's quality of mercy and forgiveness is immensely vast. if he wants he may forgive a person even on a minor good action done by him.
127. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "i saw a man going about in jannah (and enjoying himself) as a reward for cutting from the middle of the road, a tree which was causing inconvenience to the muslims".
another narration says: "a man who passed by a branch of a tree leaning over a road and decided to remove it, saying to himself, `by allah! i will remove from the way of muslims so that it would not harm them.' on account of this he was admitted to jannah".
according to the narration in al-bukhari and muslim: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "while a man was walking, he saw a thorny branch on the road, so he removed it and allah appreciated his action and forgave him".
commentary: the act of saving people from harm and loss is greatly liked by allah, no matter how small it is. allah is greatly pleased if a person removes from the passage something that causes harm to people. on the contrary, persons who restrict or obstruct passages and thereby create inconvenience for the passers-by, as is usually done with great audacity on marriage parties, or create trouble for people by encroachment, do in fact incur allah's displeasure. but our moral sense has been so blunted that rather than feeling any compunction, we do such things boastfully forgetting that `truly, to allah we belong and truly, to him we shall return.' we have now become so low that we take pride in going against our religious teachings and practices thus incurring allah's displeasure. is there any further stage of moral turpitude and revolt against him?.
128. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "he who performs his wudu' perfectly and comes to jumu`ah prayer and listens (to the khutbah) silently, the sins which he has committed since the previous friday plus three more days (i.e., 10 days) will be forgiven for him. one who distracts himself with pebbles during the khutbah will not get the (jumu`ah) reward".
commentary: this hadith brings into prominence the following five important points:
1. it induces one to take full care in ablutions, that is to say, it should be strictly performed according to sunnah.
2. the excellence of jumu`ah (friday prayer), which is obligatory for every sane, adult, healthy and resident muslim, whether he lives in a town or village. the friday prayer is performed in the mosque in congregation. it has two rak`ah at the time of noon prayer and is preceded by khutbah of imam (who leads the prayer). it is not performed individually at home.
3. whoever does one good act will get ten-times reward in return. according to this principle, one who performs a friday prayer, his minor sins relating the rights of allah which are committed by him in ten days are forgiven.
4. silence during the khutbah is a must, otherwise, one loses the reward of jumu`ah prayer.
5. it is also necessary for a khatib to deliver a brief khutbah.
129. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "when a muslim or a believer washes his face (in the course of wudu'), every sin he has committed with his eyes is washed away from his face along with water, or with the last drop of water; when he washes his hands, every sin they wrought is erased from his hands with the water, or with the last drop of water; and when he washes his feet, every sin towards which his feet walked is washed away with water, or with the last drop of water, with the result that he comes out cleansed of all sins".
commentary: this hadith mentions the excellence of wudu'. obviously a person who performs wudu' five times daily would be free from sins. thus, wudu' is a means of both outward and inward cleanliness.
130. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "the five (daily) salat (prayers), and from one jumu`ah prayer to the (next) jumu`ah prayer, and from ramadan to ramadan are expiations for the (sins) committed in between (their intervals); provided the major sins are not committed".
commentary: if a muslim saves himself from major sins and does not neglect his obligations to people, then he remains free from sins by means of the `ibadah (worship) stated above.
131. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "should i not direct you to something by which allah obliterates the sins and elevates (your) ranks.'' they said: "yes, o messenger of allah". he said, "performing wudu' properly, even in difficulty, frequently going to the mosque, and waiting eagerly for the next salat (prayer) after a salat is over; indeed, that is ar-ribat".
commentary: ribat means staying on the frontier of an islamic country, for security and defense purposes. thus, it is a continuous process of jihad. continuous good deeds and `ibadah have been compared with ribat. performing full ablution in makarih (where severe unpleasantness and hard labour is involved) is quite difficult. for instance, in winter it is very cumbersome to properly wash all the organs of the body but a muslim does it to please allah. thus, its reward will be more in proportion to the labour. similarly, the nearness of a mosque is in many respect very useful but its being far from the house is better in this respect that the greater distance one has to cover for going to the mosque, the higher the reward for going there will be. those who live close to the mosque do not have this credit.
132. abu musa al-ash`ari (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "he who observes the fajr and `asr (prayers) will enter jannah.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: muslims are enjoined to take special care of two of the five prescribed salat, namely fajr and `asr because they occur during very comfortable hours. their excellence, and inducement on them, have been mentioned here for the reason that there is greater possibility of laziness and negligence in these two salat. it is very difficult indeed to rise for salat-ul-fajr (the dawn prayer). similar is the case of salat-ul-`asr (the afternoon prayer). it is the time when a person is very busy in winding up his daily affairs and thus there is serious risk of losing this salat on this account. one who observes these two at their stated time, can easily secure the other three without much effort. this endeavour on his part to secure salat will be a very effective means for him to enter jannah.
133. abu musa al-ash`ari (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "when a slave of allah suffers from illness or sets on a journey, he is credited with the equal of whatever good works he used to do when he was healthy or at home".
commentary: this hadith refers to the actions which a muslim should take to gain the blessings of allah and acceptance of his prayers by him, because one is duty-bound to fulfil all his obligations in all circumstances.
134. jabir (may allah be pleased with him) reported that he heard messenger of allah (pbuh) saying, "every good deed is charity".
muslim has reported the same on the authority of hudhaifah (may allah be pleased with him).
commentary: we come to know from this hadith that whatever good action and deed is done by a muslim, he gets a reward of sadaqah on it. the word ma`ruf stands here for every virtue and noble deed. renunciation of evils is also a virtue (mar`uf).
135. jabir (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "when a muslim plants a tree, whatever is eaten from it is charity from him and whatever is stolen is charity and whatever is subtracted from it is charity".
another narration says: "if a muslim plants a tree, or sows a field and men and beasts and birds eat from it, all of it is charity from him".
commentary: this hadith highlights the importance of gardening and agriculture. it is also one of the merits of these two occupations that if someone patiently bears the loss that he suffers due to pilferage or theft of their produce, he is rewarded for it.
136. jabir (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the tribe banu salimah wanted to move nearer to the mosque. on learning this messenger of allah (pbuh) said to them, "i heard that you intend to move nearer to the mosque". they said, "that is so, o messenger of allah, we do want to do that". he said, "o banu salimah, keep to your homes, your steps (to the mosque) are recorded".
another narration says: "there is for every step (towards the mosque) a degree (of reward) for you".
1. the more labour a good deed involves, the greater the proportion of reward for it will be.
2. no matter how great the distance of the mosque from one's house may be, one must go to it to perform salat with congregation.
137. ubayy bin ka`b (may allah be pleased with him) reported: there was a man, and i do not know of any other man whose house was farther than his from the mosque, and he never missed salat (in congregation). it was said to him (or i said to him): "if you buy a donkey you could ride it in the dark nights and in the burning sand.'' he said: "i do not like my house to be by the side of the mosque, for i (eagerly) desire that my steps towards the mosque and back from it should be recorded when i return to my family.'' upon this messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "allah has granted you all the rewards for you".
another narration says: "you will get the reward for what you have anticipated".
commentary: this hadith brings into focus the fervent zeal of the companions of the prophet (pbuh) for reward of good deeds in the hereafter. it also tells that one gets reward for actions according to one's intentions. if we see the matter of salat from this angle, we find that location of mosque at a long distance from a muslim's house is a blessing for him.
138. abdullah bin `amr bin al-`as (may allah be pleased with them) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "there are forty kinds of virtue; the uppermost of them is to lend a (milch) she-goat (to someone in order to benefit from it and then return it). he who practices any of these virtues expecting its reward and relying on the truthfulness of the promise made for it, shall enter jannah.''
commentary: loaning of anything to someone for temporary benefit, without loosing the right of its ownership, is a meritorious act.
139. `adi bin hatim (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i heard the prophet (pbuh) saying, "protect yourself from (hell) fire, by giving of half of a date (in charity)".
[al-bukhari and muslim].
in another narration `adi bin hatim (may allah be pleased with him) reported messenger of allah (pbuh) as saying: "allah will surely speak with everyone of you without an interpreter. he (the man) will look at his right side and will see nothing but (the deeds) which he had done before, and he will look to his left side and will see nothing but (the deeds) which he had done before. then he will look in front of him and will find nothing but hell-fire facing him. so protect (yourselves) from (hell) fire, by giving in charity even half a date; and if he does not finds it, then with a kind word".
commentary: this hadith brings into prominence the following three points:
1. the horror of the day of resurrection when one will have to stand before allah to account for all his actions which will then be lying at his both hands.
2. everyone should spend according to his capacity in the way of allah in the form of sadaqah and alms. in this way, good manners like polite conversation, etc., can also become a means of his salvation.
3. one's actions alone would help him on the day of resurrection.
140. anas (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "allah will be pleased with his slave who praises him (i.e., says al-hamdu lillah) when he eats and praises him when he drinks".
commentary: if a person expresses his gratitude to allah for food, which besides being a source of nourishment is enjoyable for him, he gets a reward for it and thus even eating can become rewardable too.
141. abu musa al-ash`ari (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "giving in charity is an obligation upon every muslim". it was said (to him): "what about one who does not find (the means) to do so?'' he (pbuh) said, "let him work with his hands, thus doing benefit to himself and give in charity.'' it was said to him: "what if he does not have (the means) to do so?'' he (pbuh) said, "then let him assist the needy, the aggrieved.'' it was said: "what about if he cannot even do this?'' he (pbuh) said, "then he should enjoin good.'' he was asked: "what if he cannot do that?'' he (the prophet (pbuh)) said, "he should then abstain from evil, for verily, that is a charity from him".
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: this hadهth emphasizes two things. firstly, it induces one to work hard so that he can fulfill his own needs and also spend in the way of allah. secondly, it points out a great variety of virtues and good deeds so much so that even to abstain from sin also comes in the category of sadaqah.