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 32 – Sincerity Dictates the Value of One’s Deeds
عَنْهُ عَنْ عِدَّةٍ مِنْ أَصْحَابِنَا عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ أَسْبَاطٍ عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ بَشِيرٍ النَّبَّالِ عَمَّنْ ذَكَرَهُ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ: مَنْ أَرَادَ اللَّهَ بِالْقَلِيلِ مِنْ عَمَلِهِ أَظْهَرَ اللَّهُ لَهُ أَكْثَرَ مِمَّا أَرَادَهُ بِهِ وَ مَنْ أَرَادَ النَّاسَ بِالْكَثِيرِ مِنْ عَمَلِهِ فِي تَعَبٍ مِنْ بَدَنِهِ وَ سَهَرٍ مِنْ لَيْلِهِ أَبَى اللَّهُ إِلَّا أَنْ يُقَلِّلَهُ فِي عَيْنِ مَنْ سَمِعَهُ
Hadith #31: Imam Ṣādiq (a): One who seeks Allah (swt) through a small act, Allah (swt) will make that act look greater than what the person initially sought; and one who seeks people with a lot of deeds by exhausting their body or staying up during the nights, Allah (swt) does not care for it, and makes it appear little in front of one who hears about it.
Yes, the value of deeds is not by quantity. In fact, this is a principle outlined by Allah (swt) in the Qurān itself when he says:
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا
[67:2] [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 –
Allah does not wish to see which one of us is most in deeds, who does the greatest number of acts in this life. Rather, the quality, the sincerity our acts is what matters. Which one of us makes sure that when we live our lives in servitude to Allah (swt), we don’t have others in our mind, we don’t give room to others in our heart. Doing a lot of deeds without sincerity is like carrying a large heavy bag of rocks which are of no value, as opposed to carrying a small bag of gold. The large amount of rocks is worth nothing in front of just one or two pieces of gold.
The opposition between a sincere and insincere act is like the opposition of existence and non-existence. A sincere act has value, but an insincere act has no value. Now if this insincere is further worsened because the insincerity was in-part due to riyā’ and showing off, then the opposition becomes that of good and evil, reward and punishment.
This is because we’ve already mentioned in previous episodes, that an insincere act only invalidates our worship, or that there is no reward to it, but we said that an insincere act that is comprised of riyā’ and showing off, then that not only invalidates the worship, there is in fact a punishment for it. This is why the opposition between sincerity and showing off is that of good and evil.
This narration compares the acts of two individuals, one who does a few acts but does them sincerely, while the other does a lot of acts but only to show off. The narration tells us what Allah (swt) will do with these two individuals in this world, how He (swt) will make their acts look different in the eyes of people, how the small deed of someone will be made to look great and of more value in the eyes of people, then the many insincere deeds someone may do – Allah will make it look very small n the eyes of people and people will not care much for it.
But what will happen to these individuals in the hereafter, we will see in the next episode when we read a narration from the Prophet (p).
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Sayyid Ali studied in the seminary of Qom from 2012 to 2021, while also concurrently obtaining a M.A in Islamic Studies from the Islamic College of London in 2018. In the seminary he engaged in the study of legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophy, eventually attending the advanced kharij of Usul and Fiqh in 2018. He is currently completing his Masters of Education at the University of Toronto and is the head of a private faith-based school in Toronto, as well as an instructor at the Mizan Institute and Mufid Seminary.