I’m sure we have all experienced a thought process where we think about doing something good or a supererogatory action but all of a sudden, we remember something else and subconsciously talk ourselves out of doing that nafl deed. It happens from time to time and depending on where your iman is, you may choose not to do the nafl deed a lot more than you’d like. One thing to always keep in mind when going through this thought process is the end result of whichever deed you are contemplating. In dunya, the intelligent person always looks at the long-term benefit of something. If you invest now, you hope to see a greater dividend in the future. Likewise, our attitude towards any action should be to look at the long-term benefit or harm. I’m not sure if it was Ibn al Qayyim (ra) or a Sahabi but I remember a quote along the lines of “One good deed gives birth to many good deeds while one bad deed gives birth to many bad deeds”. SubhanAllah, if we reflect on this, we’ll be able to pick out examples from our own lives that prove how true it is.
For brothers, lets say you’re at home and you’re contemplating whether to go to the masjd or not. Alhudmulillah, you make the intention and head out for the masjid. As you walk or drive to get there, with every step you’re getting hasanat. You give salaams to brothers and smile, more hasanat. You pray tahiyyatul masjid which you couldn’t have done at home, more hasanat. You pray in jama’ah which 27x more rewardable than praying alone, way more hasanat. You see everyone making dhikr after salah so you decide to do the same, more hasanat. You stay to listen to the lesson or khatira after salah, more hasanat. SubhanAllah, all these good deeds pile up one after another simply because you took that first step. Now, if you had stayed at home, chances are you would have prayed an average or less than average salah by yourself, ate, browsed the internet, watched a useless tv show, and maybe squeezed in some actual work.
For sisters, same thing. Let’s say you’re not sure whether to go to a ta’leem/halaqa or not so you make up excuses such as having lots of work to do, being tired, not having enough time, etc. But if you make the intention to go, #1 you get lots of hasanat for the intention and if you eventually act upon it, you open up a gate through which hasanat upon hasanat can flow through :) Meeting sisters with a smiling face, dropping sins by shaking hands, reminding other sisters about Allah and His Messenger (Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), offering any kind of assistance, etc. are all ways to benefit from what started as just one noble intention.
As we grow and mature and get more involved in different kinds of Islamic work, it’s hard not to feel a little exhausted at some point. Whether you are seeking knowledge, running a Muslim household, involved in your local MSA/ISOC/Qabeelah, or just trying to focus on yourself, all these efforts require a great deal of energy and patience which can easily run down if we don’t remain strong internally. One of my teachers shared with me: When working for the deen of Allah, don’t feel pressured by the hard work and long hours. Think: I don’t know how many difficulties and problems Allah has averted from my path because of this work. We really have no idea what our state would have been if, by some chance, we chose not to do the work we are now involved in right now. It’s really humbling to reflect on this thought.
Additionally, we need to remember that opening these abwaab al khair is not always easy. The haram or the gray area is always going to present short term benefits and the endless amount of regret that is guaranteed to come with it, probably won’t be evident early on. As we are on this path, we should remember that everything we face is ultimately a test and like any test, we have options. Whichever option we choose, will in some way affect our future in dunya or akhirah, or both. And we know that Allah ‘azzawajal never ever wastes the reward of the believers. The thing about Islamic work is that you might not see the results right away or you might not see them at all. But subhanAllah, if we have full trust in Allah, like the Anbiya had, then Allah will make a way out and facilitate our journey along this path. Look at the example of Yusuf (‘alayhis salam). He lived a miserable life but in the end, Allah raised his status to the point that his own brothers made sujood to him. [12:90] قَالُواْ أَإِنَّكَ لَأَنتَ يُوسُفُ قَالَ أَنَاْ يُوسُفُ وَهَذَا أَخِي قَدْ مَنَّ اللّهُ عَلَيْنَا إِنَّهُ مَن يَتَّقِ وَيِصْبِرْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ. Allah did not waste his reward, not in dunya and surely not in akhirah. So if we have this yaqeen, if we have unshakable taqwa in Allah, the path we must tread to attain the reward of the righteous will become much easier bi’ithnillah. And slowly but surely, we’ll be able to open more and more doors of good rather than bypassing opportunities that can add lots of weight to our scales on the Last Day inshaAllah.
The next time you find yourself pondering over whether or not you should make that extra nafl prayer, or fast the three white days, or use your miswak more regularly.. think of the long term affects of the choice you make. Think: that extra time you have will never come back. What’s better: wasting it for a little more rest or standing humbly before your Lord, who you will eventually have to stand before for much, much longer.
وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرً
And will provide for him fromwhere he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.
A reminder for myself before anyone else.