Courage Needed to do Good Deeds
One of the challenges a true believer may experience in carrying out good deeds, being compassionate, kind, caring and gentle towards others is a lack of confidence due to the environment he or she is in. He or she may have thoughts such as what will people think of me if I be kind or do this good deed for him or her.
The feeling of being perceived as doing a socially unacceptable good deed is the greatest challenge for a believer, rather than the challenge in overcoming his own soul's motivation. This is because the true believer has a naturally tender heart, a keen eye to spot areas where his help may be appreciated, identifying any opportunity to do good deeds - his eagerness is never in question.
Social acceptance plays a major role in determining whether or not any given person will carry out a certain good-deed. We mentioned above a term which most readers would not be familiar with - "Socially unacceptable good deeds". Most good deeds done in society today are those that society expects one to do - for example, giving up a seat on a train or bus, or helping a person who has tripped and fallen up on his feet again, or helping an elderly person cross a road. These are relatively straight forward to complete. No doubt, these are virtuous deeds indeed if done with the intention of earning the pleasure of Allah. But this is not enough for the true believer. The true believer identifies subtle opportunities to do good deeds which others may overlook, that goes beyond an obvious nature, and not understood by society - they find it difficult to comprehend such behaviour which can lead members of society to come up with cynical reasoning to why a believer is doing what he or she is doing.
"Allah will increase the guidance of those who are (already) guided. An excess of good deeds are better in your Lord's sight for reward, and better for recompensation." (Qur'an 19:76)
The true believer with the truest love for Allah and His creation is on a mission for doing good deeds. Understanding the Believer is impossible unless one himself surrenders to Allah and has received the light of the guidance of the Qur'an. Since almost all of society lead either a disbelieving or hypocritical lifestyle, it poses great challenges in the mind of a believer in overcoming the unseen forces that try to withhold him from taking advantage of an opportunity of a good deed he sees in front of him. The good citizens that make up the society at far go to lengths of doing those good deeds that society expects or understands.
"Serve Allah, and do not join any partners with Him. Do good to parents, relatives, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near and neighbours who are strangers, the friend by your side as well as the traveller, and what your right hands possess. Allah does not love the arrogant and proud ones."
The Vast Majority of People lack Sensitivity of the Soul
An aspect of the soul unique to believers is their sensitivity of the soul. What is meant here by the word "sensitive" is the heart's ability to sympathise and be kind with creations of Allah. People are sensitive only to those areas and aspects of life that governs and lies within their personal interests and stakes in life. An example will clarify this point. Suppose while journeying on a plane, a man with his family is concerned, only about the well-being of his wife and children. He without thinking identifies where he may be of help in holding his baby or help his wife where needed. But while journeying at other times by himself, he is totally oblivious to scenarios where he may be of assistance to others. For example, on such a journey, there may be a single mother with a baby on a seat next to him holding her baby for long hours. But he without guilt falls asleep on the entire journey or even watches movies. This is because the woman is not his wife, and she has no stake or credibility to command feelings, and thus his heart is devoid of true sensitivity. The barriers created by society, whether it be gender differences, race, language or class differences are as already stated, for the believer, more challenging to overcome. His weaknesses are certainly not a lack of sensitivity of his soul towards people who are not his personal stakes. Instead, love for Allah makes a believer's heart eager to help and protect Allah's creation. People thrive in social norms of behaviour as justifications to not do good deeds and close their hearts to sensitivity depending on these norms. Without love for Allah, they have no chance of gaining true sensitivity in any case. Indeed, they themselves determine and have pioneered all social norms.
"Spend in the cause of Allah, and do not let your own hands contribute to destruction; but do good; for Allah loves those who do good." (Qur'an 2:195)
The true believer's behaviour is supreme and significantly different. Firstly, his or her love and care for Allah's creation means he is able to identify every situation where he can be helpful to someone, opportunities no one else can see. Secondly, with great effort, he overcomes the society's perception of doing a "socially unacceptable good deed". In this case, helping the mother through the entire journey, like a father. He realises that if she was his wife, she would be in a level of stress which he would not like to endure seeing and thus offers to assist as much as possible. In the life of this world, the opportunity to perform good deeds goes just as quickly as it comes - once gone, the chance is lost forever while the infinite life of the Hereafter depends on it. Allah is watching a believer's every move to see if he or she does the best actions at any given moment. That is why the true believer immediately looks for the courage to do the good deed his conscience is telling him to do, regardless of those around him.
"And whatever good deed you do, Allah knows it."
In the course of completing a good deed, more opportunities to do good may present themselves. These extra opportunities can easily be lost if not taken up quickly. The believer finds the courage to do all arising good deeds, even to one person. There is no limit to goodness.
Sensitivity of the soul - a special attribute of the true believer. But are all people lacking complete sensitivity? Consider listening to a song. A person listening to his favourite romantic song, feels romantic, which is a gentle and loving feeling towards a person he has in mind. Love is a very sensitive emotion of the soul. Let us consider an insensitive person, who is rude, arrogant; selfish, who uses foul language and speaks degradingly of people - who has a hardened and toughened heart. He too listens to such songs for enjoyment, and despite being insensitive to others, he feels sensitive listening to this song. He immagines loving the girl of his dream but without the attitude by which he treats others in his life. Here we can conclude that although everyone is capable of sensitivity of the soul, the difference is 'where' they feel sensitive. To reiterate, people are sensitive only to those areas and aspects of life that governs and lies within their personal interests and stakes in life. In this example, the man's gentle feelings are only limited to his lover. The example in the above paragraph depicted how a man may be blind in being kind and considerate to another woman on a journey, while he would be very sensitive only if the person was his wife.
In this example of an arrogant and rude man listening to music and the subsequent feelings of sensitivity in him, it is important to also note that that too was not an achievement of his own. It is a feeling that arises primarily due to his primeval instinct to feel that way instilled by Allah when such sounds are presented to him. The gentle feelings he gets towards the girl he desires is a pure need for self-gratification, and none of it is due to love for her as a human, Allah's creation. This is proven by the fact that he generally never treats other humans with any respect or gentleness. People like this are in the majority, though they may not all at first seem so characterless as the person in this example. They all fail to demonstrate love, affection and sensitivity towards all human beings - they fail greatly.
"Abraham was tender-hearted and forbearing." (Qur'an 9:114)
Perhaps the best example of sensitivity is when a man and a woman fall in love. When they fall in love, they become the most sensitive human beings on earth. They display great love and affection and speak to their lover with passion and affection - yet their hearts are by default devoid and empty of such feelings. They usually never care for people out of affection towards human beings around them. During the day at their schools or workplaces, they commit many deeds towards others where they were insensitive, showed no compassion, or consideration and kept a smile-less face. Outside their love lives, there are plenty of examples of lack of patience with people, turning down of opportunities where they could have made life a little easier for someone, or helped a person in need. Yet interestingly, they morph into the most sensitive beings on earth when they need to be with their lover. When it satisfies their own greed in their souls, they can do all the good deeds imaginable, even sacrifice their lives. What can we say about such sensitivity? Such a man in love may say he will sacrifice everything for the girl whom he wishes to marry. This may woe most women on earth. However, assuming he was interested in a believing woman, such words are rather hollow to her ears as her Quranic wisdom has revealed the actual true insensitive nature of the man's soul. Other people around her may have no idea why she has turned down such an eligible proposal, but only true believers can understand her.
"People are sensitive only to those areas and aspects of life that governs and lies within their personal interests and stakes in life."
A believing woman greatly desires the heart of a true believing man who has earned a pristine quality of the heart that contains true sensitivity by the will of Allah. She is not emotionally swayed by hearing great words of love, devotion and commitment from the men of society who do not have true sensitivity due to their lack of true love for Allah. They do not have love or compassion towards all people and creation, where their self-stakes and interest do not lie. Rather, she is aware that the true believer's sign is a sensitivity to "neighbours who are near as well as neighbours who are strangers, the friend by the side as well as the traveller" (Qur'an 4:36). Such a believer is likely to display true loyalty, kindness and lasting-love for his entire life towards her, as he loves, respects and cares for her firstly as a precious creation of Allah.
"What will explain to you what the steep path is? It is to free a slave. To feed people in days of shortage. To bring the orphans near as well as the dust-ridden poor. Only then he would become one of the believers, who exhorts people to the truth and to kindness. These are the companions of the right". (Qur'an 90:8-15)
Social Barriers in Smaller Acts of Goodness
Social barriers do not only lie in doing large acts of goodness - a believer deals with obstacles that continuously makes him or her think, it reminds him of the disastrous state of people's souls. For example, smiling is a great attribute of a believer, he or she naturally smiles due to his or her beautiful state of the heart. Yet, he or she frequently finds situations where people will not comprehend it. For instance, in the orthodox Muslim community being courteous and smiling may be interpreted as flirting when dealing with members of opposite gender, when he only smiles due to his love and appreciation for them as creations of Allah - the sensitivity of his soul. In the traditional so-called Islamic rulings, it is religiously banned for a believing woman to act in a caring and sensitive way with a smile towards a man. Thus, what is Quranically a beautiful and good conduct representing the natural disposition of a true believer's heart, has been religiously forbidden. To understand all these restrictions and barriers in a society may pose stress on a believer.
"Allah is with those who are aware of Him and who are Good-doers."
The Determination of Reward for a Good Deed is Complex
Allah witnesses all deeds done by every person. When an individual does a good deed, the weighing of how that individual should be rewarded is not black and white. The criteria does not simply base itself on the deed itself. It also involves those issues of psycho-dynamics which are involved in doing the deed. So for example, a deed that required great deal of psychological forces to be overcome may be weighed more valuable in the sight of Allah than a deed which by the deed itself was greater but required less challenges to be overcome. For example, consider an example where a person walking on the road in a poor country, dropped some money into a pot held by a poor and malnourished begger. This scenario involves distressing visual cues to the doer of the good-deed that possibly motivated him more towards the deed. He experienced pangs of conscience which even hardened disbelievers experience without personal striving. However, another deed may require true mental effort to overcome, such as due to the social barriers we discussed, but is simpler to do. It may even be a smile or a word of compassion towards someone. Just like how Allah takes into account how a given amount of money donated by a poor man in charity when donated by a wealthy man requires less financial burden, and subsequently Allah's rewards adjusted to that, Allah also considers many deeper variables that may be beyond us including the psychological aspects of doing a good deed. For this reason, the believer, being aware of Allah's justice thus strives to overcome such mental challenges to do good deeds, to achieve the highest rewards.
"That day... when every self will be paid in full for what it did. They will not be wronged." (Qur'an 16:111)
The command to do good is spread throughout the Qur'an. The true believer is on a mission to do good deeds every day. With the knowledge that he or she is in a temporary and short-lived world, it is not worth holding onto momentary personal comforts and luxuries in exchange for good deeds. Once an opportunity to do good passes, no one can ever bring it back. The true believer tries to take advantage of all the chances Allah gives him to do good, sacrificing his own interests in the process. The sensitivity of his heart means he is able to identify subtle opportunities where he may be of help to someone, where others turn a blind eye.
"Then We have given the Book for inheritance to such of Our Servants as We have chosen: but there are among them some who wrong their own souls; some who follow a middle course; and some who are, by Allah's leave, foremost in good deeds; that is the great excellence." (Qur'an 35:32)
A believer cannot change the world, but Allah only holds him responsible for the situations he is shown and put under. However, it is true that in the world today, majority of the people will not appreciate nor understand such sacrifices. Here lies the actual challenges for the true believer, that is to overcome those barriers that surround deeds which are not expected by society. There are also those in society who do not deserve such sacrifices. These people are also to be known by a believer - those who will shun good deeds back due to their arrogance of seeing themselves as self-sufficient in the world. Unfortunately, overall, the world today is a very selfish one driven by monetary and personal gains, as well as ego and arrogance. The true believer is a rare gem in the billions of people on earth and he or she will face challenges in all his or her affairs which will demand considerable taxation on his or her mind - to do good, be just, honest and loyal on the face of others' dishonestly, insincerity and disloyalty. But as stated, Allah will reward all actions according to all the challenges needed to overcome them. Until he dies, the believer is on a continuous path of reflection and mission to complete as many good deeds as possible, with the intention of finding the best reward in the Hereafter.
"So give, as is due, to the relatives, the needy, and the traveller. That is better for those who seek the face of Allah - these are the ones who are successful". (Qur'an 30:38)
Copyright © , QuranicPath. All Rights Reserved.