Except Those Who Have Faith and Do Good

Except Those Who Have Faith and Do Good March 26, 2019
except faith good
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

Someone recently asked me which was more important in attaining Jannah (Paradise): belief or good deeds? For example, if a person did a lot of good things while they lived, and they avoided sin and were a good human being but they did not believe in God, would they enter Jannah? Conversely, if a person believed in Allah, His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and the other prophets but did not offer any good works (for example, they did not pray, fast, or give charity), what would become of them?

The answers to these questions are simpler than you think.

In the Qur’an, Allah repeats many times that it is “allathina aamanu wa ‘amilu al saalihaat” (“those who have faith and do good”) that would enter paradise. He maintains the indivisibility between faith and good works. The mention of faith is almost always conjoined to good works. Faith should inspire righteous actions, which, in turn, should nurture a more profound experience of faith, which should incline one to greater acts of goodness, and so on.

The verb aamana means “to be faithful,” “to trust,” “to have confidence in,” and “to believe in”. It is derived from the Arabic root, amn, which is associated with the ideas of safety, security, and peace. Thus, amina means “to be secure,” “to feel safe,” “to trust”; amn means “safety,” “peace,”“protection”; amaan means “safety,” “shelter,” “peace,” and “security”.

The mention of faith is almost always conjoined to good works.

The verb ‘amila means “to do,” “to act,” “to be active,” “to work,” or “to make.” It implies exertion and effort. Thus, the associated noun ‘amal means “action,” “activity,” “work” or “labour,” as in the verse, “I waste not the labour (‘amala) of any that labours (‘amilin)” (3:195). The noun, al-saalihaat is the plural of saalih, which means “a righteous or a good act.” However, this definition does not bring out its full meaning. The verbs salaha and aslaha, which come from the same Arabic root, mean “to act rightly and properly,” “to put things in order,” “to restore,” “to reconcile,”and “to make or foster peace.” Hence the noun sulh means “peace,” “reconciliation,” “settlement” and “compromise.” Therefore, the phrase ‘amilu al saalihaat (“do good”) refers to those who persist in striving to set things right; to restore harmony, peace, and balance.

Hence, my answer to the questions in the first paragraph is: I don’t know whether those people will enter Jannah – nobody does – but Allah says to do both. To have faith and to do good. To find peace, security, and trust in Allah and to strive to set things right.

I try to be the best Muslim I can be, but I do sometimes get scared that I am not doing enough. That in the end, I might end up in the fire. Whenever I feel that way, I remind myself that as long as I believe in Allah, however little—which I do—and keep doing small good deeds (helping my kid sister with her school assignments, buying small presents for my mother, checking up on my friends), I am on the right track. And in sha Allah (God willing), everything will be fine.

The next time you start feeling doubts about how well you are practicing Islam, just reaffirm your belief in Allah, do some good, and go about your merry way. You are probably doing better than you think.

In order to boost our chances of seeing the face of Allah, that is what we must do. Have faith, whether it be the size of a grape, and do good, which is as simple as helping to pick something someone dropped or complimenting our spouses and family members. I also like to recite the following dua (prayer): O Allah, grant us good in this world, and grant us good in the hereafter, and save us from the fire. Ameen.

The next time you start feeling doubts about how well you are practicing Islam, just reaffirm your belief in Allah, do some good, and go about your merry way. You are probably doing better than you think.


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