wamā taf‘alū min khayrin fainnallāha bihi ‘alīm
And whatever good you may do, Allah surely knows it.
(Sūratul Baqarah No.2, Āyat 215)
Virtuous deeds are a direct result of faith in Allah. They bring out the humane side of the human being and raise him to high levels. When done correctly they are a sign of inner purity and help towards perfection. Good deeds are the adornment of the soul, adding beauty to it both in this world and in the Hereafter.
When a believer performs a good deed Allah is very much aware of it. This short Divine sentence has a lot of depth to it. We can derive the following insights from it:
1) There is no need to tell others. He who will accept the deed and reward it is immediately aware of it. That is all that matters. Allah says: not an atom’s weight escapes Him in the heavens or in the earth, nor anything smaller than that nor bigger, but it is in a manifest Book (Q 34:3).
2) There is an urgency to do good deeds. Since Allah knows the good we do and there is the hope of earning His pleasure, the believer is strongly motivated to do good deeds. There is no time for apathy or hesitation. Allah talks in the Quran about those who are foremost in good deeds – and of them are those who take the lead in good deeds by Allah’s will (Q 35:32).
3) Every small good deed counts. We need not wait for huge opportunities. Small actions which Allah is aware of and is pleased with can have tremendous impact on our lives in this world and the Hereafter. Luqmān the wise advises his son: O my son! Even if it (a deed) should be the weight of a mustard seed, and it should be in a rock, or in the heavens, or in the earth, Allah will produce it. Indeed Allah is all-attentive, all-aware (Q 31:16).
4) Deeds are being recorded. Allah is aware of it and the angels record it such that it becomes part of the book of deeds, eventually coming to us on the Day of Judgment. There is accountability and responsibility. Allah says: these it is that have their reward with their Lord; surely Allah is quick in reckoning (Q 3:199).
5) We must reflect on the good deeds we perform. The deed must be of high quality in its intention (sincerity), its performance (how it is done), its follow up (not making people obliged), its recurrence (as often as possible) . . . etc. Allah says: And those who persevere, seeking the pleasure of their Lord, and keep up prayer and spend out of what We have given them secretly and openly and repel evil with good; For such will be the reward of the [ultimate] abode (Q 13:22).
Everyday there are abundant opportunities to do good deeds. All it requires is thoughtfulness and planning. Every person we meet and every place we go to is a field ripe for kind words, thoughtful gestures, and selfless actions. We need to think outside of ourselves and strive to impact the world around us through our good deeds.
The months of Muharram and Safar are filled with such opportunities. The lessons we learn from Karbala and the majālis we attend can be a driving force for good deeds. Some possible good deeds that we can perform in these months include:
– Standing up for justice and speaking up against oppression. This is an important part of the message of Karbala and we must try to spread awareness of the issues of truth and justice around the world.
– Being courteous and considerate to all those whom we meet, irrespective of their ethnicity, language or color, at various gatherings we attend. It is easy to overlook respect for others when in large crowds, or when managing various organizational details of the majālis.
– Feeding and donating to those who really need it apart from, or instead of, catering to those who are not needy in any way.
– Spreading love for Allah, His Messenger (s) and his Ahlul Bayt (a) through organizing and/or attending majālis, spreading the message of Imam Husayn (a) in verbal and written forms, through discussions, notes, social media etc. Each member of the community can play a role in this.
– Discussing and being aware of challenges and oppressions faced by Mu’minīn and Muslims all over the world especially in parts of Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia.
Remind yourself of this verse to motivate yourself to do as much good as possible. Opportunities are everywhere, we just need to think of how to make the most of them.
Source: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh