Reflection No. 223 on Q 16:97 – A good spiritual life

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنْثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ
وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُمْ بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

Man ‘amila ṣāliḥan min dhakarin aw unthā wa huwa mu’minun falanuḥyiyannahu ḥayātan ṭayyiba, walanujziyannahum ajarahum biaḥsani mā kānū ya‘amalūn
Whoever acts righteously, [whether] male or female, should he be faithful, – We shall revive him with a good life and pay him with a good reward by the best of what they used to do.
(Sūratun Naḥl, No. 16, Āyat 97)

With the completion of the holy month of Ramadan one week ago, Muslims have hopefully acquired or enhanced personal taqwā (piety and God-wariness) after fasting, praying, supplicating, reciting the Holy Quran, sharing the blessings with the needy, etc. for thirty days continuously. This must have enlivened their spirits which will be seeking new ways of leading their daily lives.

In the verse above, Allah promises a new life to those who have faith and do good deeds – irrespective of gender, race, color, ethnicity, financial status or language.  The only two conditions are faith in Allah and good deeds performed sincerely. According to Tafsīr Namūne, this new and pleasant life refers to life of this world. It will be a life that is positive and happy, not because circumstances are always comfortable but because faith gives patience and contentment. The quality of life improves tremendously, decreasing negativity and increasing mindfulness and focus in life.

The human ability to change and improve in all aspects of life is amazingly powerful. It can transform life. A fresh start allows this change.  The end of the month of Ramadan with all its spiritualties is an excellent opportunity to bring about changes for improvement in life.

Increase faith on a constant basis after the month of Ramadan. Each person is unique and needs different inspirations to bolster faith. There is no one method that works for everyone. The Holy Quran says: Everyone acts according to his own disposition (Q 17:84). It also says: O you who have faith! Have faith in Allah and His Apostle . . . (Q 4:136). Find out what inspires your faith and do more of it, be it reading, listening to others, joining a group, taking a class, etc. Make the intention to continue increasing faith during the year.

Good deeds are the natural result of faith in God and the hereafter. Faith waters good deeds and helps them bloom. Strong faith creates enhanced good deeds. Imam Ali (a) says: You should also know that every action is like vegetation, and vegetation cannot do without water while waters are different. So where the water is good the plant is good and its fruits are sweet, whereas where the water is bad the plant will also be bad and its fruits will be bitter. (Nahjul Balāgha, Sermon 154)
See how you can leave your mark on this world and make a difference? It doesn’t have to be something big. A small good deed, done regularly and sincerely, is big in the eyes of Allah. Imam al-Bāqir (a) says: The most beloved action with Allah is that on which the servant is consistent, even if small (Mīzānul Hikmah, H.13995). Offering Tasbīḥ al-Zahrā, for example, after ṣalāt takes about three minutes. If this is done regularly, it would have bring immense rewards.

Source: Amīrul Mu’minīn, Nahjul Balāgha; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (editor), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Muḥammad Rayshahrī, Mīzānul Ḥikmah.