As Muslims, we are people who have devoted their lives to doing as many good deeds as possible, no matter their weight. We understand that good deeds are a way to seek the mercy of Allah (ta’ala) and attain al-Jannah.
But doing a good deed is not enough. The next step, and one of the most important things to do for your deed to be accepted, is to guard it jealously against actions that can nullify it.
When you want to do a good deed, you start with an intention. For your deed to be accepted by Allah (ta’ala), the primary intention has to be that you are doing the deed for Allah (ta’ala)’s sake alone. Not for the social media likes, the fandom, the hero status you may get from people, or the “ma sha’a Allahs”.
Then you go ahead to do your deed as excellently as possible. But your work as regard this deed doesn’t stop there, and this is why we are talking about guarding your good deeds jealously.
Why Should I Guard My Good Deeds?
Good deeds in Islam must have the utmost level of sincerity to them. They should come with the purest of intentions. That said, our sincerity and good intentions can be easily swayed by our own weak nafs or Shaytaan. When this happens, you find yourself doing a good deed for some reason other than the pleasure of Allah (ta’ala), or that after you have done a deed, you do something wrong that may ruin it.
To put it simply, we should guard our good deeds so that they are not destroyed by our actions, or by what Shaytaan whispers into our heart.
Actions That May Waste A Good Deed
Many things that we do, knowingly or unknowingly may waste the good deeds that a person has done before. Being aware of these things will help us guard against them so that we can protect our deeds. Some of these are:
A person may do a good deed with the intention of being seen and praised by others. This is regarded as showing-off, and it is one of the things that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) feared for us.
No matter how beautiful the deed is, the moment your intention is only to impress people, it will be nullified in the eyes of Allah (ta’ala). So, what is the purpose of doing a good deed that will not be of benefit to you in the hereafter?
You wonder why “harmlessly” chatting about other people’s lives can waste your good deed? Remember that many of the things we talk about in other people can be regarded as backbiting and slander. When this happens, you are unknowingly giving some of your good deeds to the person that was being slandered. Imagine coming on the Day of Resurrection to find that all the good deeds that you strove to do on earth has been given to someone else as a compensation for all the times you spoke poorly about them behind their back?
There is no doubt that sins affect the acceptance of our good deeds in a lot of cases. Performing your daily salah is an example of a good deed but imagine going to prayer drunk on alcohol. The intoxicant already serves as a nullifier of your salah.
When we engage in sins, we waste the good deeds that we have performed.
How to Guard Our Deeds from Being Wasted
The first step is to know what can possibly waste our deeds and the next step is to make conscious efforts to guard them from being wasted. Here are a few tips:
Purify your Intentions
Purifying our intention helps us to put our heart in the right place. It helps us to acknowledge why we are doing a deed and what we want to get out of it. When you purify your intention, you focus your deed on the pleasure of Allah (ta’ala) alone.
Before we do a good deed, we should ask ourselves: “why do I want to do this?” and “what do I hope to gain from it?”.
Why do you want to post that Islamic reminder on social media? Is it to remind other Muslims about their deen? Or is so that people can see you as a religious person?
Why are you reciting the Qur’an out loud in the Masjid? Is it so that you can give the words of the Qur’an their rights? Or do you want people to swoon at the sound of your voice and your knowledge of tajweed?
With everything we do, we should start with the purest of intentions so that they may be accepted by Allah (ta’ala).
Keep your Deeds Private
As much as possible, we should strive to keep our deeds between us and Allah (ta’ala). Yes, you will do good deeds that other people will see while you are performing them. But if it is possible to do a deed without the knowledge of others, then it is good for you. This will keep the heart pure and prevent Shaytaan from inspiring you to want to show off.
The Prophet (SAW) said, “He who lets the people hear of his good deeds intentionally, to win their praise, Allah will let the people know his real intention (on the Day of Resurrection), and he who does good things in public to show off and win the praise of the people, Allah will disclose his real intention (and humiliate him).” (Bukhari)
Keep Silent about Others
Many of the things we say about other people are things that we don’t really need to say. If you paid attention to it, you will find that you can do away with most of the ways through which we backbite or slander other people. And the more you reduce these instances of backbiting, the less good deeds you must give away to others.
Even though we strive to sin less, the reality is that we are all sinners in one way or the other. The best thing we can do for ourselves however, is to engage in as much istighfar as possible, so that if Allah (ta’ala) wills, our sins will be forgiven without them affecting our good deeds.
It is not enough to do good deeds as Muslims. We should also put our energy into ensuring that we do not lose these deeds through other things that we do daily. Otherwise, it will be as if a person is constantly pouring water into a leaky bucket. All the water (which are your good deeds) will drain away from the holes (which are actions that waste good deeds) in the bucket, and at the end of the day, there will be no water in the bucket.
Related Video: Hide Your Good Deeds