How Good Deeds fix Wrongs [fasting on Arafat day]

In the name of God, compassionate & merciful بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ Peace be with you السلام عليكم

Image: nevil zaveri
In Islamic principles, good deeds amend and replace bad deeds.  This principle clears up some of the difficulties which have been questioned in the Prophet’s saying (hadith):
‘Fasting on the day of Arafat amends the sins of two years, and (fasting) on the day of Ashura amends (the sins of) one year.’[i]

Some have asked about this saying, ‘If someone always fasted on the day of Arafat and the day of Ashura, then how could three years of sins be amended every year?’ To this others responded, ‘whatever is added beyond amending that person’s sins, raises him in rank (piety).’  If only that were entirely true!

We cannot make amends like that for all of one’s wrongs, from the first to last sin. Making amends is bound ot have vertain conditions and depends on the removal of certain obstacles both within and without the actions itself. If the servant could be certain that he had met every condtion and eliminated every obstacle, then certainly such an act would atone for the sin.

But what about an action which is itself entirely or mostly enveloped in negligence, lacking in the sincerity which is its core and spirit, and performed without respect for its requirments or value? What can this action restore? He could hope for atonement if in carrying out the devotional act the servant were sure its outward and inward requirments had been fulfilled. There should be no obstacles to the act’s stoning quality, and that that person did not annul it afterwards with feelings of self-importance, ostentations, or the expectation of something in return.

People would gain atonement from God if they did not try to win people’s esteem so much, honouring those who recognised his rang but scorning those who didn’t, treating them as if they had personally offended him. Otherwise, what could such a deed really benefit? In fact, there are countless things which invalidate or spoil devotional practise. It is not so much the action as the effort to keep it pure of the things that spoil  and annul it.

Here is a brief list which we should try to follow when performing good deeds:
  • Avoid ostentation in worship. Boasting after you’ve prayed or flaunting your virtues or generosity doesn’t really give of humble vibes. Be sincere, keep it to yourself in humility. “O you who believer, do not render your charity vain by reminding others of your generosity or by injury." (Qur’an, 2:264)
  • Learn to refrain from places and situations where prohibited things are. And learn to get angry when God’s sanctity is being broken. Stand in the middle ground and keep your moral compass steady in every act.
  • Avoid extremes.The inner reality of worshipping God is be neither excessive in application nor obsessively strict. With every command of God, there are two paths of Shaytaan (devil): one by deficiency, the other by excess. So be aware of laziness which leads to spiritual inactivity, and the dillusional hope that makes one leave the commandments entirely.

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya,
The Invocation of God


[i] Muslim, chapter of fasting #1977

More by Ibn Qayyim:
Turbo Protection Against Shaytaan
Two Two Wings

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