Should We Do Everything for the Sake of Allah?

Answered by Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Question:Assalamu alaykum,

Some people who want a good job, and a good life for themselves but then feel bad that they aren’t doing it for Allah.

Should we do everything for the sake of Allah?

Answer: Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem.

Ikhlas (roughly translated as sincerity and determination) is the highest level of worship. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said in the Qur’an, speaking about the people of Bani Israel: “And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, in absolute sincerity…” (Surah Al-Bayyinah, 5)

In Surah Az-Zumar (2), Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said: “Indeed, We have sent down to you the Book, [O Muhammad], in truth. So worship Allah, with absolute sincerity…”

In addition, in relation to our state of being, our human fitra (innate nature) and conscience are connected to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

So what is a good deed or action?

Good deeds and actions are what Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) described in Surah Al-Mulk (2), when He said: “[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 –“ ; good action and deeds are the best of actions and deeds available to us.

However, in doing good deeds or actions, you do not always have to explicitly say you are doing this for the sake of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), particularly because our conscience is connected to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

As a corollary, in speaking of increasing the likelihood of the acceptance of actions, the secret of acceptance of every action is when it is done for Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

To illustrate this further, we know the word Bismillah means ‘in the name of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)’; and in actual terms, for example, if you are writing, your actual intention is to write in the name of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala); if you are eating, your intention is to eat in the name of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala); if you are riding, your intention is to ride in the name of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala); and if you are transacting, your intention is to transact in the name of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). In these examples, even if you do not say the words explicitly, the intention of the actions forms the basis for the goodness of the deed, without having to say ‘in the name of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).’

Generalizing this understanding, the action or deed that is most desired is that of, or which brings about, khair (blessings).

Examples

In the story of the woman who gave the dog water, she showed her care for this animal when it was thirsty, and she did something good not expecting anything in return; this in it of itself is something that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) loves! She is not doing it to show off, to be praised or to gain any benefit in this dunya!

In a Hadith Qudsi, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) said whoever does an action, and he or she has thought of someone other than Him in doing such action, the action will be for whom it was intended.

However, what the women did, no one knew about or narrated, and although she did not do it specifically for Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), she did it for the creation of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala)!

In offering help, we should never judge whether or not the person deserves that help, as Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam), when a Jewish funeral procession passed, stood up. Upon seeing this, the Sahaba brought it to the attention of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) that the procession was that of a Jewish man, to which Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi

wasalam) said: “But is it not a soul?”

In Sahih Muslim, it is narrated that Qays ibn Sa’d (Radiallah anhu), while he was in Qadasiya, saw the funeral procession of a non-Muslim passing by, and he stood up, narrating and emulating the Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) when he stood up for the Jewish man.

So when you do a good deed or action, you should not look at whether the person deserves it or not and hence do the action without expecting anything in return. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is Al Karim (the Most Generous), and He rewards you for your actions.

It was narrated that Syedina Uthman ibn Madh’un (radiallah anhu) was passing by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) and was carrying a baby on his shoulder, and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) asked if the baby was his son, which he affirmed. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) then asked if he loved his son, to which Uthman (radiallah anhu) responded “very much so.” Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) then asked if He should tell him something that would increase his love for his son even more, to which Syedina Uthman (radiallah anhu) replied, “Yes! And may my mother and father be ransomed for you!” Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) then said “Whoever tries to please a child until the child is pleased with him or her, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) will bestow upon them His Generosity.” (Kanzul Amal)

In this example, the child is being pleased for one’s own benefit, but yet Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) rewards you, because He is Ar-Rahman!

Hence, we do not necessarily have to say we are doing an action for the sake of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), as long as we are doing good with good intention, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) will reward us.

In a Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said to have intercourse with one’s wife is sadaqah. So the Sahaba said that we do this for our own desire and we get rewarded for it? Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) replied:

“Do you not see if you were to do the same in an impermissible manner you would be sinful and punished? [The Sahaba responded in the affirmative.] So when someone does it in a permissible manner, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) will reward him.” (Sahih Muslim, 1674)

Our understanding is that whatever you do, if you do good, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) is the Most Generous, Al Karim and Al Jawad, and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) was the most generous as well, as narrated by Abdulllah ibn Abbas (radiallah anhu) when he said that the generosity of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) was like the wind. Hence all that is good will be rewarded.

That being said, we should still maintain a level of introspection whenever we do anything, and we should question ourselves as to whether or not we are doing it for the sake of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

Ikhlas is the greatest form of ibadah, and Sufyan at-Thauri (rehmatullah alaih) said that whatever he set out to do he has completed except for ikhlas which took him 20 years!

As such, there are attributes of Ar-Rahman that we should strive to emulate, and from among them is forgiveness, being merciful, being kind and generous. In a Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) said that those who are merciful to others, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) will be Merciful with them.

May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) grant us ikhlas in all that we do.

Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Photo: Nevit Dilmen