Ep. 30 The Forties – Saving Your Deeds by Keeping Them Concealed

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Al-Salam ‘Alaykum, this is Syed Ali Imran – and you are listening to the Forties podcast, brought to you by Mizan Institute.

This is episode 30 – Saving Your Deeds by Keeping Them Concealed

الإختصاص عَنِ الْعَالِمِ ع قَالَ: الْمُسْتَتِرُ بِالْحَسَنَةِ لَهُ سَبْعُونَ ضِعْفاً وَ الْمُذِيعُ لَهُ وَاحِدٌ وَ الْمُسْتَتِرُ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ مَغْفُورٌ لَهُ وَ الْمُذِيعُ لَهَا مَخْذُول‏

Hadith #29: Imam Riḍā (a): One who conceals their good deeds, they are deserving of 70 rewards, and one who announces it, deserves one good reward. One who conceals their sins is deserving of being forgiven, and one who announces it, is forsaken.

What can be understood from this narration is that both good deeds and bad deeds can have a public and concealed nature, and that in both cases the concealed nature is relatively better. Meaning a good deed which is kept hidden from the sight of public is better and given more reward, and although all sins are evil, a hidden sin is relatively better than a sin that is committed in public.

This is because a hidden good deed is more prone to being a sincere act, while a public good deed is more prone to being done out of riyā’. Likewise, a publicly committed sin gives other the courage to also commit the same sins and it also weakens the faith of the community of believers.

Its for this reason that a concealed good act has a greater reward, and a concealed sin is easily forgiven because its impacts and consequences are fewer, as only the sinner themselves is affected as opposed to the rest of the society. When a sin is done in secret, even though the sinner has torn the veil of shame between them and their Lord, but at the very least they maintained a distance, a veil between themselves and people, and Allah (swt) is the Most Forgiving.

It should be noted here, and Sayyid Zanjānī also makes a note of this, and that is, concealing good deeds is preferred when it comes to acts that are not obligatory and by deeds which by their very nature have a public and communal aspect to them. For example, there is no such thing as concealing the performance of Ḥajj, this by its very nature is going to be a public act. Likewise, the performance of the congregational prayers, which is highly recommended and encouraged in Islam – this has to be done in public in the eyes of the community so that society can benefit, these things actually strengthen the society, especially when done in a masjid. Of course, even these acts have to be done with sincerity, as we’ve already mentioned numerous times so far – and if they aren’t, there are repercussions for that as well, such as a person having to repeat their act again – you can refer back to episode 26 for this discussion.

In the next episode, we’ll read another narration from Imam Riḍā (a) in which he speaks about individuals who seek fame and popularity through their worship.

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