Good Deeds And Pure Intentions





By way of explaining how the Prophet (peace be upon him) used every possible method to explain to his audience the concepts of Islam, its moral standards and values, and how people should conduct their lives in order to practice what they believe, we referred to his method of telling stories.

Any story the Prophet told was short, to the point and had an obvious lesson for us to learn.


We gave an example of a story the Prophet related to stress the importance of good deeds and how they benefit the person doing them. The story tells of three people seeking refuge in a cave, but as they were in, a large rock fell off the mountain and landed at the cave entrance, blocking it completely so that they could not even see the sky. They counseled each other to remember some of their good deeds and pray to God to help them in their difficulty.


The first one spoke of his dutifulness to his parents, the second mentioned how he refrained from committing adultery with the woman he loved so dearly, and the third spoke of how he took care of the wages of a laborer he had hired until they multiplied manifold and then he handed all the proceeds to the laborer who came back to demand his wages.


Each of these deeds was done purely for God’s sake. The first man, who came home late to find his elderly parents having slept before he could feed them, did not disturb their sleep and did not feed his children before his parents. He realized that dutifulness to parents was paramount. Had he fed his children, he would not have committed a sin, but he would have fell short of the standard of dutifulness he wished to maintain.


The second man loved the woman so much that he was prepared to go to every length in order to give her what she wanted so that she would yield to his desire and sleep with him. When she reminded him of God and told him to fear Him, he just left off, knowing that he could have had her and she could not have prevented him.


The third man invested the laborer’s wages and managed to achieve very high returns that instead of a small sack of rice, he was able to give the laborer several cows and their feed. He could have kept the wages safe until the man came back. When he achieved such a high rate of return, he could have retained some of it as his commission. But he wanted nothing of this. He gave it all up to the laborer.


In each of these stories, the moral is the purity of intention. The good deed was done purely for God’s sake. There was no immediate benefit for the person concerned. All that the men hoped for as a result was that God would record the deed as done for His sake. None of these acts involved any great sacrifice. None meant much effort, but the point is that they had that great element of purity of intention. Hence they were accepted by God.


We know that God rewards a good deed ten times its value. But this is the basic rate. The Prophet mentioned that it could be raised to 700 times the value of the deed. That is certainly a much higher return, but the Prophet also left the door open to any multiple God may choose to grant. In the case of these three men, it meant their safety from a situation that was bound to end their lives.


They could not remove the large rock no matter how hard they tried. Only an act of God could achieve that. To ensure it, they had to pray to Him on the strength of their good deeds. 







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