“Righteous deeds” (A‘maal ’Saale’hah) are one of the key concepts of the ’Qura~n.
In Arabic, the word “righteousness” comprises the meanings of good, beneficial and right. In Arabic, the verb “to amend” (I’slaa’h) is also derived from the same root.
Consequently, in English, every type of beneficial and good work or action done for the good of religion is expressed by the word “righteous deed”.
In terms of the ’Qur a~n, on the other hand, each act and all behaviour designed to seek the favour of Allaah is a “righteous deed”.
The salvation of an individual is not attained only through faith; righteous deeds, the signs of sincere faith, also save the soul.
Saying “I believe” yet failing to comply with the commandments of religion does not lead man to salvation. In the ’Qur a~n Allaah states the following about this issue:
“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allaah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.” [Chapter of Al‘ankaboot: 2-3]
The way a believer does righteous deeds proves his mettle. His deeds indicate his perseverance, stability, determination and loyalty-in other words the depth of his faith.
In the ’Qur a~n Allaah informs us about the various kinds of righteous deeds. Communicating the message of Islaam to people, striving for the prosperity and the benefit of the all human kind, trying to attain a better understanding of the ’Qur a~n, solving every kind of personal and social problems of the Muslims; all these are important righteous deeds.
The fundamental Islaamic forms of worship, such as saying prayers to Allaah, fasting, spending for the cause of Allaah, and the pilgrimage to Makkah are also among the important righteous deeds:
“Righteousness does not consist in whether you turn your faces towards the east or the west; what is righteous is to believe in Allaah and the last day, and the angels, and the Book, and the messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practise regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and in times of war.
Such as do so are people of truth. Such are the Allaah-fearing.” [Chapter of Alba’qarah: 2-177]
Yet there is another point that deserves mention: what makes an act a righteous deed is not its result but the “intention” behind it.
That is why for an act to be a righteous one, it should be done purely to seek the approval of Allaah.
This is what really distinguishes a “righteous deed” from “charity”, a concept prevalent in the ignorant society.
A righteous deed is done to seek the approval of Allaah; on the other hand, the concept of charity, in an ignorant society, is based on a spirit of social solidarity and/or a personal desire to make a reputation as a “charity lover.”
The verses below explain why the deeds of believers are by no means similar to alms-giving. “They perform (their) vows, and they fear a Day whose evil flies far and wide. And they feed, for the love of Allaah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive, (Saying) ”We feed you for the sake of Allaah alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks. We only fear a day of distressful wrath from our Lord.” [Chapter of Alinsaan: 7-10].
If any acts ostensibly complying with the definition of “righteous deeds” are not intended to seek the good pleasure of Allaah, they cease to be “righteous deeds.” This is simply because they are done to please other people.
This is, in terms of the ’Qura~n, “associating partners with Allaah”, which is a great sin. In the following verse, Allaah explains how an act of worship done to attain not the approval of Allaah, but other people loses its value and becomes an ordinary act. “Woe to the worshippers, who are neglectful of their prayers; who only want to make a show of piety.” [Chapter of Almaa‘oon: 4-6]
Similarly, spending, which is a righteous deed in the presence of Allaah, becomes an ordinary act if done to demonstrate one’s generosity in order to impress people. So does the pilgrimage to Makkah.
Allaah describes the difference between spending to gain His approval and to satisfy one’s own desires:
“O you who believe! Do not cancel out your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury,- like those who spend their substance to be seen by others, believing neither in Allaah nor in the last day. They are in parable like a hard, barren rock, on which there is little soil: on it falls heavy rain, which leaves it just a bare stone. They will be able to do nothing with anything they have earned. And Allaah does not guide those who reject faith. Those who spend their substance, seeking to please Allaah and to strengthen their souls, are like a garden, high and fertile: heavy rain falls on it, and makes it yield a double harvest, and if it does not receive heavy rain, light moisture suffices it. Allaah sees well whatever you do.” [Chapter of Alba’qarah: 264-265]
Hence, the result of each deed always rests with Allaah. Each task should be done solely to please Him. A devoted believer who perform righteous deeds all throughout his life, carries out the regular prayers and makes the pilgrimage to Makkah will surely attain the gardens of heaven and will be rewarded most generously by Allaah in the hereafter.
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