Hadeeth 37 : The Grace of Allaah ta’aalaa and His Mercy
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by Imâm an-Nawawî
On the authority of Ibn ‘Abbaas, radiAllaahu anhu, from the Messenger of Allaah, sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam, from what he has related from his Lord, tabaaraka wa ta’aalaa, that He said :
Verily Allaah ta’aalaa has written down the Good deeds and the Evil deeds, and then explained it [by saying] : Whosoever intended to perform a Good deed, but did not do it, then Allaah writes it down with Himself as a complete Good deed. And if he intended to perform it and then did perform it, then Allaah writes it down with Himself as from ten Good deeds upto seven hundred times, upto many times multiplied. And if he intended to perform an Evil deed, but did not do it, then Allaah writes it down with Him as a complete Good deed. And if he intended it [ie. the evil deed] and then performed it, then Allaah writes it down as one Evil deed.
It was related by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim in their two Saheehs in these words.
Imaam An-Nawawi then said :
So look [at this], my brother, and may Allaah grant us the ability to recognise the immense benevolence of Allaah ta’aalaa, and to contemplate these words. And His statement “with Himself” indicates His interest and concern for it. And His statement “a complete [Good deed]” is for emphasis and expressing the strength of His concern. And He said regarding the Evil deed that one intends to do but then leaves acting upon it : “Allaah writes it down with Him as a complete Good deed”, so He emphasised it with completeness. And if he acts upon it : “then Allaah writes it down as one Evil deed”, so He emphasised its smallness by mentioning it as a single deed, and He did not describe it with ‘completeness’. So for Allaah is all Praise and Grace, subhaanahu, and we cannot enumerate His Praises. And from Allaah is the tawfeeq [ability] for attaining His Pleasure.
Explanation of Hadeeth Number 37
The explainers of this hadeeth have said : This is a noble and great hadeeth in which the Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) has explained the measure of the Grace of Allaah, ‘azza wa jall, upon His creation, as He has made the intention to do a Good deed, without actually performing it, equal to the reward of a Good deed. And He has made the intention to do an evil deed, which one then does not perform, as equal to a complete Good deed [also], and if one were to act upon it then it is deemed as a single evil deed. And if one performs a Good deed then Allaah writes it down as ten, and this is an immense Grace, as He has multiplied for the slaves their Good deeds, but has not multiplied their evil deeds against them.
And He has made the intention to perform a Good deed like a [complete] Good deed because the intention to do good is an action of the heart, due to the resolve of the heart upon that. And if it is then said : “This statement then requires that the one who intends to perform an Evil deed, and does not do it, must also have an Evil deed written for him, as the [evil] intention is also an action from amongst the actions of the heart”, then the answer to this would be that this is not the case, as the one who stops short from performing an evil, then he has nullified his resolve to do evil, and has changed it for another resolve to do good, and has thus disobeyed his evil desires, and so he is rewarded for this with the reward of a Good deed. And it has been related in another hadeeth that “Verily he has left it [the evil deed] because of Me”, that is “for My sake”, and this is similar to his (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) statement “Upon every Muslim is the giving of charity”, so some people asked “What if they do not do so ?”, so he replied “Then let them withold from evil, and that will be their charity”. This was mentioned by al-Bukhaaree in his Book of Manners. However, if he leaves an evil deed unwillingly, or because he is unable to perform it, then a good deed is not written for him, and this does not enter into the meaning of this hadeeth.
Imaam at-Tabaree, the famous mufassir, said that in this hadeeth is evidence for the statement that the Two Recording Angels, [assigned to each person to write down the good and bad deeds of that person], write down not just the actions but also what the person intends to do of good or evil, and they know what he resolves to do in his heart. And thus, this hadeeth is a refutation of those who wrongly think that the Two Angels only write down that which is apparent from the outward actions of the person, or from what they hear him say. And so this all means that the Two Angels know all that which a person intends in his heart, and it is conceivable that Allaah ta’aalaa has granted for them a means to attain this knowledge [which is from the Knowledge of the Ghayb or Unseen], just as He has granted a means to many of the Prophets to attain knowledge of many things from the Unseen. And Allaah has said regarding ‘Eesaa (alayhi as-salaam) that he said to the Banee Israa’eel “And I inform you of what you eat, and what you store in your houses” [Soorah Aal ‘Imraan, 49].
And our Prophet Muhammad (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) was informed of many things from the Matters of the Unseen, and hence all this shows that it is possible that Allaah has granted to the Recording Angels a means to attain the knowledge of what is in the hearts of mankind, from good or evil, and so they write down whatever he resolves to do. And it has been said that this is through a smell or fragrance that they are able to detect emanating from the heart. And hence the Salaf [ie the Early Righteous Scholars] have differed over which form of Dhikr [Remembrance of Allaah] is better : the dhikr of the heart or the dhikr made out loud.
And all of this [that has been narrated from Imaam at-Tabaree] is the statement of Ibn Khalf, who is better known as Ibn Buttaal. And the author of al-Ifsaah, Yahyaa bin Muhammad al-Hanbalee [d. 560 H], said in some of his writings : When this Ummah had its life spans reduced [as compared to the people of the previous Nations who had much longer life spans], it was compensated for this reduction with a multiplication of the reward of its actions. [ie. Since the life span of our Ummah is shorter, we have less time to do good deeds; so Allaah multiplied the reward for our good deeds to compensate for this.] So whoever intends to peform a good action, it will be counted for him as a complete good deed. And Allaah has declared it as being a ‘complete’ deed so that none may think that since it is only an intention [and not a complete action] it is somehow deficient. And thus, Allaah has raised the intention to the level of being included amongst the complete actions. So He wrote down the intention as a complete good deed and then multiplied that according the degree of sincerity of the performer, and according to the appropriateness of the action to the time and place.
Then he (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said after that “or many times over”. This is mentioned, in the Arabic, in the indefinite form which is more comprehensive than the definite, and this implies that the multiplication may be counted upto the most that is possible. Then, it is possible that this generous promise includes that one says that when a man spends in charity a single grain of wheat, then it will be counted for him, from the Grace of Allaah ta’aalaa, as though he sowed that grain in the most pure and fertile land, and attended to it and protected it and watered it, according to its needs, until it ripened, so he harvested it; and then he threshed that harvest in that pure fertile land, so the grains were sown again in it, and were looked after in the same manner as has preceeded; and then the same as this in the second year, and then the third and fourth years, and the years that followed that; and this continues until the Day of Resurrection, and so that single grain of wheat or mustard or couscous will come that day like a mountain. And if the charity was a tiny action from amongst the actions of Eemaan [ie. a good deed] then one may compare it to the profit that may be attained through the purchase of a commodity during that time. And so it is possible that if he sold a commodity in the best market of the greatest nation, and that commodity were the most profitable for trade, then that profit were multiplied [through successive trades] until it returns to him on the Day of Resurrection such that its magnitude is like that of the entire world. And similarly all the actions of righteousness will be treated by Allaah ‘azza wa jall in a similar manner, as long as they are performed with a pure and clean intention.
And from this also is that the Grace of Allaah multiplies with the transfer of charity from one person to another. So, for example, consider if a person gives a dirham in charity to a poor man, and then that poor man in turn passes the dirham on to another poor man who is in greater poverty than he, and then this third person passes it onto a fourth, and the fourth to a fifth, and this goes on to a great extent. Then, Allaah ta’aalaa will count for the first person, who originally gave the dirham, ten times the reward. But when this dirham is transferred by the second person to the third, then the second person gains ten and the first person’s reward is multiplied to ten thousand. Then, when the third transfers it to the fourth, the second person gets one thousand, and the first gets a million. And so this continues until they attain rewards that may only be counted by Allaah ta’aalaa.
And from this also is that when Allaah – subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa – accounts His Muslim slave on the Day of Resurrection, and his good deeds are of varying and disparate levels, some of them of a high level and others not so, then He – subhaanahu – from His immense Generosity and Grace may count all of his good deeds by the measure of the best and highest amongst them; for verily His Generosity – jalla jalaalahu – is far greater than that He should dispute with his slave, who is pleased with Him, about the disparity in the measure of his good deeds. And no doubt Allaah jalla jalaalahu has said :
“We shall certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do” [Soorah an-Nahl, 97]
And similarly, the Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) has informed us that if a Muslim declares aloud in a market from amongst the markets of the Muslims : “laa ilaaha illaa Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lahu, lahu al-mulk wa lahu al-hamd, yuhyee wa yumeet, wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shayin qadeer [There is none worthy of being worshipped except Allaah, Alone without any partner; for Him is the Dominion and for Him is all Praise; He gives life and He gives death; and He is All-Powerful over all things]” then Allaah will write for him due to that a million rewards, and will wipe away from him a million evil deeds, and will build for him a house in Paradise [narrated by at-Tirmidhee].
And all this that we have mentioned is according to only that which we have knowledge of, and not according to the true level of the Grace of Allaah subhaanahu wa ta’aalaa. For verily He is far greater than what anyone may deny for Him, or what any of the creation may try to estimate of Him.
And Allaah knows best.
- That whatever is classed as a Good deed, or an Evil deed, has already been written down as such by Allaah, ie. Good and Evil deeds are what He has specified them to be
- Therefore, what Allaah has given us in The Qur’aan and Sunnah is from His knowledge of what is Good and what is Evil, as defined and accepted by Him
- That whatever we are going to do is known by Him
- That if we intend to perform a Good deed [as defined by the Sunnah], but do not actually perform it, then we are still rewarded for one full Good deed
- That if we intend to perform a Good deed, and actually perform it, then Allaah will record it as though it were done ten to seven hundred times over, or more than that
- The actual merit of a Good deed is determined by Allaah according to our sincerity
- That not doing a bad deed which one intended to do, obtains for one a reward equal to a complete Good deed
- That if one actually performs a bad deed that one intended to do, then it is written down only as its worth, ie a single bad deed
- That if one ends up in the Fire then he only gets that which he deserves, as he was indeed a very bad person
- That good actions are not all of equal merit, nor are bad actions. Hence, it is not possible to calculate how much good or bad one has accumulated each day
- That one must not forget that it is still possible to destroy all the good deeds we have been doing
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