General Islamic Topic

Understanding Reward and Sin

As Muslims, we are required to have certainty and Imaan (faith) in the Last Day, in which there will be absolute justice and recompense. We are certain and truly believe that all of our deeds in this worldly life will be accounted for, whether as good or bad, and it will all be recompensed with full justice. This is to test and gauge as to who is best indeed.

This is the actual purpose of life for mankind in this world, who will taste death, and then resurrected to a life that is everlasting in the Hereafter. This reality was mentioned by Allah in the 2nd verse of surah al-Mulk (which means):

“[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving.” [Al-Quran, surah Al-Mulk, verse 2].

Verily, a person’s deed is a depiction that manifests one’s true level of servitude to Allah, whether one performs a good deed and earns its reward, or committing disobedience and earns its sin. To comprehend the matter regarding reward and sin, let us scrutinize the hadith of Abu Hurayrah where Rasulullah said (which means):

“He who intended to do good, but did not do it, one good was recorded for him, and he who intended to do good and also did it, ten to seven hundred good deeds were recorded for him. And he who intended evil, but did not commit it, no entry was made against his name, but if he committed that, it was recorded.” (Narrated by Muslim)

Look at the vastness of the mercy of Allah upon the ummah of Nabi Muhammad. By just having the niyyah (intention) to do good, one is rewarded with full reward. If one actually performs the good deed, he will be rewarded ten times, which can go up to 700 times the reward. On the other hand, an evil deed intended will not be deemed as a sin. It is only when it has been performed that it is counted as one sin. Verily, Allah is the Most Gracious to His slaves for the rewarding of good deeds begins with the intention, as opposed to sins that begins with the action.

The question is, why are there still individuals that have failed to appreciate all of the blessings and favors from Allah? Surely it is due to the deficiency of Imaan and the failure to comprehend the actual reality regarding reward and sin in their worldly life. It must be remembered and given attention that perfect Imaan must be accompanied by righteous deeds, not just niyyah and false imaginations. However, it does necessitate niyyah and righteous deeds.

Al-Qur’an has clearly stated that the Muslim ummah must perform as many good deeds possible for it can expiate the minor sins committed. This means that righteous deeds will rescue a person from the punishment and torment of Allah. Allah mentions in verse 114 of surah Hud (which means):

“…Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember.” [Al-Quran, surah Hud, verse 114].

Indulging in sinful acts will actually incur calamity and the Wrath of Allah, as Allah mentions in verse 40 of surah al-‘Ankaboot, reminding us regarding this threat (which means):

“So each We seized for his sin, and among them were those upon whom We sent a storm of stones, and among them were those who were seized by the blast [from the sky], and among them were those whom We caused the earth to swallow, and among them were those whom We drowned. And Allah would not have wronged them, but it was they who were wronging themselves.” [Al-Quran, surah al-‘Ankaboot, verse 40].

Hence, the calamity that befell mankind from the past serves as reminder from Allah that it was all due to the sins and mankind’s disobedience to Allah. Sins will also interrupt the tranquility within our souls for the soul will become restless and agitated with the burden of sinning. An-Nawwaas bin Sam’aan reported that Rasulullah said (which means):

“Piety (al-birr) is a good manner, and sin (al-ithm) is that which creates doubt and you do not like people to know of it.” (Narrated by Muslim)

To conclude this, let us take several essential points as a useful guide in ensuring the wellbeing of our lives, among them:

  1. The Muslim Ummah must have a firm belief that all of its deeds, whether good or bad, will be accounted for in the Hereafter.
  2. The Muslim Ummah must have certainty that good deeds yield tremendous reward and will be rewarded with Paradise, while bad deeds will yield sins and rewarded with the Hellfire.
  3. The Muslim Ummah must always remain passionate in performing righteous deeds and always remain determined to increase its deeds, so as to ensure blissfulness in this world and the Hereafter.

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