Alhamdulillah… Infinite thanks and praises are due to Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. May His Peace and Blessings be upon the Complete Human; Habibi Muhammad, his household, his companions and all those who follow his guided path till the day of Judgement.
The fact that God is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful and the Most Loving and Caring for us, is enough to inspire us to appreciate why He matches every single good deed we carry out with tenfold reward, while on the other hand, a single wrongdoing entitles the doer to a single sin.
In addition to the above-mentioned understanding, the present article is a reflection on the concept of reward and punishment in Islam, from a different perspective, through which we look for more inspirations and motivations to work for the next life while enjoying the present.
Let me begin with a verse from Surah Al-Qasas, 28:84, where Allah says:
مَن جَاءَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ خَيْرٌ مِّنْهَا، وَمَن جَاءَ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَى الَّذِينَ عَمِلُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ إِلَّا مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
It means, “He who does good shall be rewarded with something better. But he who does evil shall be requited according to his deeds.”
In Surah Al-An’aam, 6:160, Allah says, and it reads:
مَن جَاءَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا، وَمَن جَاءَ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَى إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ
It means, “Whoever does a good deed will be repaid tenfold, but those who do a bad deed will only be repaid with its equivalent and they shall not be wronged.”
Every evil deed entitles its doer to a sin equivalent to the evil he committed. In doing so, Allah refers to that equivalence as fair and justice (they shall not be wronged). This is to say, there’s no way one could be accused for what he has done not, let alone getting punished for it.
As for the good doer, his reward for his righteous deeds is always better than the deed itself. The minimum of that ‘better rewards’ is tenfold. Allah could match a good deed with one reward, similar to one sin, which is matched to one every single evil deed. What is the possible wisdom behind this equation?
Wrongdoing Requires No Condition
Among the possible wisdom (Hikamh) of this equation is that, it takes no determination to commit a sin and invite the displeasure of God. Why? Everyone can sin; the believer may sin. The disbeliever sins. The pious person may sin. The non-pious does sin. Man sins. Woman sins. The young can sin, so is the adult. In short, it takes no effort to sin.
Also, part of the challenges man has to experience in this life, is that his soul incites him to evil. Thus, sinful things and deeds are desirable to him, while righteous things and deeds are undesirable to him. Because he is challenged not to fall victim to the desirables at his dispose, he is only awarded a sin (demerit point), whenever he fails the test. We understand this from the Hadeeth of the Prophet, reported by Imam Muslim:
حُفَّتِ الْجَنَّةُ بِالْمَكَارِهِ، وَحُفَّتِ النَّارُ بِالشَّهَوَاتِ
It meant, “Heaven is covered with the undesirables and Hell fire is covered with the desirables.”
What about good deeds?
Good Deeds Require Effort and Come With Conditions
Unlike doing sin, doing righteous deeds is challenging. There are three things you must do to in your way to righteousness. First, you have to walk out of the evil desires at your dispose. Second, you have to go for the righteous deeds and oblige yourself to them. Remember the Hadeeth of the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasallam (above) says:
حُفَّتِ الْجَنَّةُ بِالْمَكَارِهِ، وَحُفَّتِ النَّارُ بِالشَّهَوَاتِ
Which means, “Heaven is covered with the undesired and Hell fire is covered with the desired.”
The two things mentioned above are the effort we need to put in, to achieve righteous deeds. There is one more thing left, and that is the most important of all. Really? Yes.
The final step (third) is, you have to fulfil one condition for the effort you have put to be accepted. That one condition is that the doer must be a believer (Mu’min). In other words, Iman (belief in the One God) must fill his heart first. This is understood from various verses from the Qur’an. One of them is the verse of Surah Al-Nahl, 16:97, where Allah says:
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً، وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
It means, “To whoever does good deeds, man or woman, and is a believer, We shall assuredly give a good life; and We will bestow upon them their reward according to the best of their works.”
Also, in Surah Ghafir, 40:40, Allah says:
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَـئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ يُرْزَقُونَ فِيهَا بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
It means, “but whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, will enter the Garden; where they will be provided for without measure.”
Similarly, Allah also says in Surah Al-Anbiya, 21:94:
فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَا كُفْرَانَ لِسَعْيِهِ وَإِنَّا لَهُ كَاتِبُونَ
It means, “He who does good works while he is a believer, shall not see his efforts disregarded: We record them all.”
The three verses above, among other verses in the Qur’an not indicated here, emphasize on the requirement of Iman in order for our deeds to be validated. Thus, attaining rewards for righteous deeds is only confirmed only when one is in the state of Iman.
We have come to understand that the one who possesses Iman is a Mu’min (Believer). What does it mean to be a Believer?
What Does it Mean to Be a Believer?
Being a believer differs from being a Muslim. A Muslim does what people see and perceive to be correct (right[eous]). A believer lives what only God knows and sees. This means, every one can be a Muslim, even the hypocrites among us are Muslims. But only the righteous (the selected) can be believers (Mu’minun).
Believing in the existence of God alone doesn’t qualify one to be a complete Believer (Mu’min), but it sets the foundation for him to attain the remaining requirements of a complete Believer. It’s important to know that everything about Belief (Iman) is unseen. They are not measurable. Therefore, we need forgo our logic and reason, and listen to what God and His Prophet tell us.
We develop a proper Iman (belief) when we have believed in the six pillars of Iman. Knowledge about these six pillars is only attained through a divine revelation (Wahy) and the Prophet Muhammad has successfully conveyed that knowledge to his Ummah. The six pillars are:
- Belief in Allah (the One God)
- Belief in the Angels of God
- Belief in the Scriptures of God
- Belief in the Messengers of God
- Belief in the Last Day (Day of Resurrection)
- Belief in Fate and Destiny, the good and the bad
Now let’s briefly touch on the pillars of Iman. (You can alternatively read about Iman here).
Belief in Allah (the One God)
Although we are not meant to see God with our naked eyes in this life, the natural feelings in every human tells of the existence of the One God.
God is One. He is Self-Sufficient. He does not give birth, nor was He born. And there’s nothing like Him.
Belief in the Angels of God
Angels are creatures of God, whom He created to serve Him, and they fail not to obey His commands to them, and they are prompt as they are commanded.
God has used Angels to reveal all his commandments to mankind. Therefore they are only seen by those Prophets and Messengers, to whom they were sent. Only God knows their number.
The famous names among Angels known to us are Jibril (Gabriel), Mikaeel (Michael), Maalik, Ridwan, Israfeel, Azraeel.
Belief in the Scriptures of God
The Scriptures of God are those revelations descended to His chosen Prophets and Messengers. Those scriptures contain[ed] His commandments to us, and serve as our life manual.
Through such scriptures and the Prophets, we get concrete and undoubted knowledge about God, the Hereafter and the unseen world.
The Qur’an in our hands today, serves as an example and is the most authentic scripture of God, which is still in use. It’s going to remain as such, till the Last Day.
Belief in the Messengers of God
Messengers and Prophets are human beings chosen from among humans to communicate with God through Angels and revelations and then convey the message(s) of God to His servants, and to remind them of their ultimate purpose in this existence, and to guide them towards the His Pleasure.
Belief in the Last Day (Day of Resurrection)
In this life, everything is certainly temporal. In the next life (The Last Day) everything is shall be eternal. When the day starts, there shall be two destinations. Heaven will be for those who chose righteousness in this life, and Hellfire will be for those who chose infidelity and transgression. It’s for this day, that this article is written.
Belief in Fate and Destiny, the good and the bad
This world is meant to be the home for all trials and tests. That’s why not all incidents are is logical to human comprehension. We have the right of choice, but at the same times, we are obliged to believe in Fate and Destiny.
It’s important to indicate here, that of all the six pillars of Iman, belief in the existence of God is the easiest attained. Yes, God created the remaining pillars of Iman, but we have to believe in them equally as we believe in God, Himself. In fact, disbelieving in one of the pillars of Iman disqualifies one from Islam.
We are not able to measure the state of Iman in others’ hearts, but each of us knows what is in his heart. On that basis, each one of us can be certain about the strength of his belief when in trials. This means, although I mentioned earlier that Iman is not measurable, you can try to measure yours, just to know (or estimate) its strength, and the extent to which it has settled in your heart.
How Do We Measure Our Iman?
We know our Iman is solid and has settled in our hearts (for good) when we are tested and put to the “undesirables.” How we react and handle tribulations; whether with contentment, patience, anger or sigh tells our level of Iman. This is why the companions of the Prophet are the best of all generations; they’ve undergone all sorts of test for Iman, and all the them passed, save the hypocrites.
In times of desperate need, hardship and calamity, different people outsource different means to overcome their problems. But the believers always have one way in common to solve their problems, despite their geographical, economical, intellectual, cultural and language differences; they turn to the One God. Do you? If you do, you are safe. Of you do not, it’s not too late. So take action now, for you do not know when you will stop breathing.
Getting your faith/iman right may seem difficult, and indeed it is… but it is easy. It’s going to remain difficult so long as you keep your heart attached to worldly materials. And it is going to start to be easy once you start to detach your heart from the worldly gains. Then, start making your intention of all you do for God’s Sake alone. That’s it; all your endeavours become righteous, and you are rewarded in every step you make with tenfold reward, insha Allah.
Those were the feelings (faith) of the believers, which no one can ever take control over it, against their will, but God. What are their characteristics through which they are likely identified?
10 Characteristics of the Believers
There are various verses in the Qur’an that outline characteristics of the believers. Below is an outline of some of them. If you live them or most of them, I’m confident that you live a very high state of inner happiness. The believer…
- He believes in Allah and His Prophet
- He has no doubt in his faith
- His heart becomes fearful when Allah is mentioned
- His faith increases when the Qur’an is read for them
- He attend to his prayers on punctual basis
- He’s humble in his prayers
- He pays his zakat
- He safeguards his chastity
- He is faithful to his trust and promises
- He turns away from all frivolous
In worldly speaking, purposeful failure is a destination that requires no effort to reach. But success is a summit, which requires a lot of preparation, determination and sacrifice. The satisfaction attained after reaching the summit worth all the struggles and sacrifices. So is doing righteous deeds and evil deeds and the scale for reward and punishment that come with them, respectfully.
In human-to-human relationship, you are punished beyond your mistakes, and you are seldom (never) rewarded with equivalent to your achievement. This is total opposite when it comes to God-to-human relationship. Rewards and punishments take place in the day of resurrection. Thus, don’t lose focus in attaining such great rewards, as a result of the pains and inconvenience you experience, when you see the non-believers and the transgressors enjoying what you think is convenience and happy life. Always remember this:
أَمْ حَسِبَ الَّذِينَ اجْتَرَحُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ أَن نَّجْعَلَهُمْ كَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ سَوَاءً مَّحْيَاهُمْ وَمَمَاتُهُمْ، سَاءَ مَا يَحْكُمُونَ
It means, “Do those who commit evil deeds imagine that We shall deal with them in the same way as We deal with those who have attained to faith and do righteous deeds, that they will be alike in their living and their dying? How badly they judge!” [Surah Al-Jathiah, 45:21]
May Allah grant us Paradise and anything that will lead us to it. May He grant us the spiritual immunity that shall aid us out of the desires at our dispose, and empower us to commit to righteousness, so to attain His Ultimate Pleasure. Ameen.
I would like to hear from you. I welcome your comments, feedback, suggestions and questions. Remember to share this piece with your loved ones.
Allah knows best.
Allahu Hafiz 🙂