Reflection No. 96 on Q 21:94 – Working Hard for Good Deeds

 فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَا كُفْرَانَ لِسَعْيِهِ وَإِنَّا لَهُ كَاتِبُونَ
Famay-ya‘mal minas-swāliHāti wahuwa mu’minun falā kufrānaa lisa‘yihi wa-inna lahu kātibūn.
Whoever shall do of good deeds and he is a believer, his endeavor shall not go unappreciated, and We will indeed write it down for him.
(Sūratul Ambiyā, Āyat 94)

The human being who believes in God and the last day is always trying to do good deeds. Sometimes he/she is able to do them successfully, and sometimes she/he fails and is unable to carry them out. Or at times the deed does not bear fruit as expected. In life some good deeds have amazing results while some fare not so well.

In this verse Almighty Allah gives an encouraging promise. It is not the greatness or the smallness of the deed that will be appreciated, nor the final results. It is the effort put into it which will be acknowledged and rewarded. The process to achieve the good deed is what really matters. That is what we have to work hard at, leaving the results to God.

This verse gives us the following insights:

  1. Good deeds have to stem from faith (īmān), otherwise there is not much value to them. Belief colors the deed and enriches it, gives it a glow that makes it last eternally. Without it the deed is colorless and transient.
  2. Believers may not be able to do many good deeds. The verse says whoever can do something of good deeds (minas-swaliHāt). According to Tafsīr-e Namune this means that even some good deeds based on faith will still be appreciated.
  3. It is the effort that is rewarded not the deed itself. That is highly encouraging. Rewarding effort rather than achievement creates motivation for more effort. There is growth and progress when you know that every effort you put in will be appreciated, not just the final result.
  4. All our efforts are being recorded, and nothing will be left out. Allah Himself guarantees in this verse that it will be written down. On the Day of Judgment the human being will be surprised at how comprehensive his record of deeds is. According to the Qur’an, he will exclaim: what a Book is this! It leaves out nothing small or great, but takes account thereof . . . (Q 18:49)
  5. Kufran (concealing) is the opposite of shukran (thanking). Allah thanks the believers, although He deserves so much more from the believer. He says in the Quran: And whoever desires the hereafter and strives for it as he ought to strive and he is a believer; the endeavors of such will be well-appreciated. (Q 17:19).  It is a lesson for believers to thank others in this world, and appreciate the efforts of others.

Work hard for the good deeds you want to achieve and know that every effort you put in is being watched, recorded, and most importantly, appreciated by God Himself.

Sources: Aytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirazī (ed), Tafsīr Namūne;
Aghae Muhsin Qarati, Tafsīr-e Nūr