Waquli-‘malū fasayarallāhu ‘amalakum warasūluhu wal-mu’minūn
And say, ‘Go on working. Allah will see your work, and His Messenger and the believers.
(Sūratut Tawbah, No.9, Āyat 105)
This verse encourages believers to do good deeds and be mindful that their deeds are being seen by Allah ‘azza wa-jall, the Holy Prophet (s), and a group of believers. No-one should think that something they do in privacy will not be known to anyone else. Not only is Allah subhānahu wa-ta‘āla all aware of it, the Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wa-sallam and a group of believers will also be informed about it. This reminder motivates believers to do more good deeds and also be careful of the quality of their good deeds as it will be seen by others.
A few questions arise here:
– What does ‘seeing’ our actions mean?
– How does the Messenger of Allah (s) see our actions?
– Who are the believers mentioned in this verse?
Seeing our actions by Allah is easy to understand. He is with us at all times. He watches us as we go through life, and every small and big action is witnessed. As the Quran says: Indeed Allah knows the unseen of the heavens and the earth, and Allah sees all that you do (Q 49:18). Tafsīr Majma‘ul Bayān says it also means He knows and is aware of all we do.
Regarding the Messenger, we believe that our deeds are presented to the Holy Prophet every day. A Hadith of Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq (a) says: The actions of people are presented to the Holy Prophet (s) every morning, actions of the virtuous ones and the evil ones, so be careful. That is what Allah refers to when He says – Allah will see your work, and His Messenger and the believers. (Al-Kāfī, v.1, p.171). In another Hadith Imam Muhamad al-Bāqir (a) says: The deeds are presented to your Prophet every Thursday night so you should be ashamed that an ugly deed is presented to him. (Tafsīr Burhān, v.2, p.158). Āyatullāh Nasir Makārim Shirazi explains that this could be similar to an organizations that receives daily reports, weekly reports and perhaps monthly/yearly reports of its workers and their progress.
Shi’a Muslim exegetes believe that the Imams are also presented with our deeds. The believers in this verse refers to them. They are made aware of what their followers are doing. A man once came to Imam Ali al-Ridhā (a) and asked him to pray for him and his family. Imam told him that he was praying for him. ‘By Allah’ said the Imam ‘your actions are presented to me every morning and night’. Then Imam said, ‘Have you not read the Book of Allah where He says ‘Allah will see your work, and His Messenger and the believers.’ surely that is Ali bin Abi Tālib (and the Imams after him). (Al-Kāfī, v.1, p.171)
Conviction in this verse can have an amazing effect on our deeds. Normally if we are conscious of others watching us we strive to act appropriately. What would then be the case if we truly believed that Allah, the Holy Prophet and the Imams are all aware of what we do? We would undoubtedly purify our actions and do more good. Recite this verse to remind yourself that your actions are part of the reports being sent to the Imam of our time. They give him a glimpse of how ready his followers are for his coming.
Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma‘ul Bayān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh