Urge others to do good and do good yourself

Imam Shamshad A. Nasir in front of Baitul Hameed Mosque, Chino, CA

By Imam Shamshad A. Nasir

According to the website www.USA.gov the ten most popular New Year’s resolution are: Drink Less Alcohol, Eat Healthy Food, Get a Better Education, Get a Better Job, Get Fit, Lose Weight, Manage Debt, Manage Stress, Quit Smoking and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Unfortunately, no improvement in one’s moral condition appears among the most popular resolutions. One should be ever mindful of his moral condition and try to improve it by doing good deeds and charitable acts.

Islam has a unique teaching that when one observes someone doing wrong, he should politely ask that person to refrain from it. Not only will he save the individual from committing a wrong, but he would also be rewarded for his good intentions. The Holy Qur’an states in 6:161 “Whoso does a good deed shall have ten times as much reward; but he who does an evil deed, shall have only a like reward; and they shall not be wronged.”

The Holy Prophet promised that some good deeds bring not only 10 or even 700 times the reward, but a number even greater. Prophet Muhammad also stated that a good deed can be as small as saying “As-Salaamu alaykum” (peace be upon you) to someone. He said that such a greeting (which is also a prayer) brings 10 rewards from God and if he adds the words “and the Mercy of Allah” it will bring 20 rewards, and if he adds “and the blessing of Allah” he would receive 30 rewards from God. On account of this great news, the companions of the Holy Prophet used to visit the marketplace just to greet people and reap the rewards.

Another good deed which is highly desirable is to help the poor and homeless in our communities. One does not have to earn millions to do so. If he cannot afford to donate money towards feeding and helping the poor, he may volunteer his time to help in food collection and distribution or in any other duties related to this service. The rewards for helping and taking care of the poor are great and very much liked by God. In the Traditions of the Holy Prophet, it is related that once a man asked Prophet Muhammad how to soften his hard heart. He was told that he should provide food to the needy, and that by doing so, his heart would soften.

Softness of the heart can also be attained through treating children with kindness and respect. The Holy Prophet used to greet young children first, even though it was a common practice for children to greet elders first. He used to have his grandson sit on his lap and he would affectionately kiss him and ask God to show mercy on him. He mentioned to one man who had ten sons but never kissed any of them, that if he did not show mercy to his children, then God would not be merciful to him, either. In another tradition the Prophet said, “Whoever fails to show mercy to our children and honor to our elders is not one of us.”

This sort of care and attention is also greatly desired by the orphans. Many blessings are promised for those who take care of orphans; feeding, clothing and housing them along with taking care of their additional needs. The Holy Prophet said, “I and the custodian of an orphan are like this in Paradise” and he joined his forefinger and middle finger together. In another tradition he said, “The best Muslim house is a house in which an orphan is well treated; and the worst Muslim house is a house in which an orphan is badly treated.”

Many people who lack financial means are sometimes unaware of other things they can do which are counted as acts of charity. The Prophet Muhammad shed light on this by saying, “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” to which he answered: “The doors of goodness are many — such as enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing obstacles from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with all the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms — all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.”

As this year progresses, let’s all do some self-reflection and add to our list of resolutions the promise to do some charitable acts on a daily basis for the sake of mankind. May God help us all such good efforts.

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