The Sweetness of Good Deeds and the Warning of Bad Deeds

The Sweetness of Good Deeds and the Warning of Bad Deeds

All that Allah has created in this worldly life is just a model of what exists in the Hereafter. The process by which this worldly life operates, reflects the process operating in the Hereafter. The example of the former is what Ibn ‘Abbas (radiyAllahu ‘anhuma) said, ‘There is nothing in Paradise that is similar to what is on earth except the names.’

This is because Allah, Exalted is He, made the grace of earth be a means of attraction to the grace of the Hereafter and He made the punishment of this worldly life be a means of admonishment of the punishment of the Hereafter.

The example of the latter is that every oppressor will be punished in this life before he is punished for it in the Hereafter. The same applies to every sin committed and this is reflected in the meaning stated in the verse,

“Whoever does a wrong will be recompensed for it.” [Qur’an 4:123]

Some sinners whose wealth is safe and whose health is sound believe that he is left unpunished, while in fact, his unawareness that he is being punished is enough of a punishment.

The wise have said before, ‘Committing a sin is the punishment for committing a previous sin, and the good deed after doing a good deed is the reward of the first good deed.’

In fact, the punishment can sometimes be intangible as what some of the learned among the Children of Israel said, ‘O Lord, we disobey you but You do not punish us?’ It was said to them, ‘The Lord has been punishing you but you do not realise it! Have you not noticed that the sweetness you used to have while invoking Him alone has been taken away from you?’

He who ponders upon this kind of punishment will find it happen ing in all cases. Wahb Ibn al-Ward was once asked, ‘Could a person who commits sins taste the joy of obedience?’ He replied: ‘No, not even the one who intends to commit a sin.’

How many people there are who allowed their eyes to look at the unlawful and so Allah deprived them from having the sense of in sight, or allowed their tongue to backbite and abuse, so He forbade their heart to be pure, or consumed a doubtful food and because of which He blackened their hearts and forbade them from praying at night and tasting the sweetness of His invocation, and so forth. This is something those who monitor their actions and bring themselves into account are fully aware of and understand.

In contrast, the pious and the obedient find the reward of their obedience in this life too before the Hereafter. Abu Umamah (radiyAllahu ‘anhu) narrated that the Prophet () narrated from His Lord that He, Exalted is He, said, “A look at a woman [who is unlawful to look at] is one of the Shaytan’s poisoned arrows. Whoever abandons it for the sake of my pleasure I shall reward him with a faith which he will find the taste of its sweetness in his heart.”[1]

All that has been mentioned so far is just a brief note to those who fail to notice this kind of punishment and reward. As for the obvious reward and punishment, it is very rare not to occur. 

From this kind of reward and punishment is what the Prophet () mentioned, “Sleeping during the time of duha time [i.e. starting from after sunrise to noon time] prevents one from receiving his provision”[2], and that “the slave [of Allah] is prevented from receiving his provision because of a sin he commits.”[3]

Scholars of the Qur’an reported that each person from the children of Prophet Ya’qub (‘alayhi as-salam) had twelve children except Yusuf (alayhi as-salam) who had eleven because he was about to incline [to the seduction of the wife of his master though he did not act upon it as his inclination was a mere human nature].

This kind of reward and punishment, if contemplated by an in sightful person will realise the place of reward and punishment in this aspect.

Al-Fudayl Ibn ‘Iyad said, ‘When I disobey Allah I [instantly] find its effect on the behaviour of my riding animal and my servant.’

Abū ‘Uthman al-Naysaburi had his shoe cut while he was on his way to attend Friday praver, so it took him some time until he fixed it so he said, ‘It was cut because I did not perform the Friday ghusl (prescribed bath before Friday prayer).’

From the dazzling examples of punishment in this life is found in the story of the brothers of Yusuf, that is when their hands threw him in the well,

“And they sold him for a reduced price.” [Qur’an 12:201]

They were punished by having their same hands begging him and saying,

“and be charitable to us.” [Yusuf 12:881]

And when Yusuf was patient and overcame the temptation of the woman, which his innate nature inclined to, he was rewarded by having her eventually in a lawful manner. And when she wronged him by arguing before her husband,

“What is the recompense of one who intended evil for vour wife?” [Yusuf 12:25]’

Allah made her eventually utter the truth and admit,

“It was I who sought to seduce him.” [Yusuf (Qur’an 12:51)

When a person gives up a sin for the sake of Allah, Most High, or performs a good deed, then he will surely reap the fruit of his obedience. The Prophet () said, “When you are poor or lack funds trade with Allah by giving charity.”[4] Meaning perform good deeds so that He increases the profit you will generate in this life.

I have witnessed people who allowed themselves to partake in the forbidden only to seek instant comfort, but instead their circumstances and life condition become distressful and were not able to achieve what they intended.

An old man narrated that he once bought a female-slave when he was young, ‘After I bought her I desired her so much that I kept asking jurists hoping someone will permit me to be with her. But all of them said, you are neither allowed to look at her desirously nor touch her nor sleep with her until after she has her menses. So, I asked her about her menses and she told me that it was during her menses when I bought her, so I said, ‘It is not a long time then until it’s over.’

But when I asked the jurists they said, ‘That menses is not counted as she must have one menstrual cycle while she is in your possession.’ As I found myself extremely desirous to have her while I have the power to have her and she is next to me, I asked my ‘self’, ‘what do you think I should do [i.e. should I just do what I desire or wait until she becomes lawful for me]?’ My ‘self’ replied: ‘Faith’ is to be patient over ember [i.e. endure the hardships] whether you want it or not.’ So, I decided to be patient until all obstacles were removed and she was lawful for me to be with her. And Allah rewarded me for that patience by granting me what is better and higher in rank than her.

[Captured Thoughts by Ibn al-Jawzi, p. 152-157]


[1] Musnad Ahmad, 5/264, Hakim, 3/314 and Tabarani in al-Kabir, 10/173, on the authority of Hudayfah Ibn Yaman (radiyAllahu ‘anhuma). It is weak see Da’if at- Tarqib wa’l-Tarhib. 

[2] Zana’id Musnad Ahmad, 1/73, Haythami in al-Mujam, 4/62. It is very weak. 

[3] Ibn Majah, #4022, Ahmad, #531 and others on the authority of Thawban (radiyAllahu ‘anhu; see Silsalah al-Da’ifah, #3019.

[4] This appears to be a statement said by some of the righteous predecessors and its meaning is sound. However, as its authenticity is never established from the Prophet () no one is allowed to raises it to him. It is reported by Bayhaqi in Shu’b al-Iman.

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