Question: Someone was saying that if we do good deeds then we must be rewarded. I replied based on what I learnt from you that Allah is not obliged to do anything. We will go to Jannah by his mercy and not because Allah ‘has’ to do it. His response was Allah ‘has’ to do it based on the fact that He said so. He said there are abundant quotes regarding those who believe and do good deeds are rewarded with paradise. There is no quote in the Quran according to him that says whether you do good deeds or not all depends on God’s grace. So if Allah does not reward those with good deeds then there is a contra-diction and that cannot be so we have to be rewarded when we do good deeds.
Answer: The absolute rule of the religion is that Allaah is not obligated to do or leave out anything, because He has no needs. Scripture texts must be understood in light of one another. Yes, Aļļaah has promised those who do good deeds Paradise, but this is a truth with quite a few details attached. Below some of these details are mentioned, and at the end it is explained that all rewards from Allaah are a grace.
There are several conditions for reward of good deeds
First, one must be a Muslim to have one’s deeds accepted, as blasphemy invalidates all worship performed:
“وَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالإِيمَانِ فَقَدْ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ”
Meaning: “And whoever blasphemes against the correct belief – his deeds have been ruined.” (Al-Maa’idah, 5)
Blasphemy is to disbelieve in the Prophet Muĥammad’s teachings. Aļļaah says in the Qur’aan:
“وَمَنْ لَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَإِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ سَعِيرًا”
Meaning: “Whoever does not believe in Aļļaah and His messenger; verily Aļļaah has prepared for the blasphemers a fierce fire.” (Al-Fatĥ, 13)
We know from this statement that the blasphemer is anyone that does not believe in Aļļaah or His Messenger, and that this belief is an immediate obligation upon whomsoever does not have it. It is also stated in Al-Qur’aan:
“إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أُولَئِكَ هُمْ شَرُّ الْبَرِيَّةِ”
Meaning: “Those who blaspheme, among the People of the Book (the jews and the christians) and the idol worshipers, will be in the Hell-Fire and dwell there endlessly. They are the worst of creation.” (Al-Bayyinah, 98)
Second, besides being a Muslim, to have one’s deeds accepted one must also have the intention of doing them for the sake of Aļļaah, as the Prophet (şalla Aļļaahu ˆalayhi-s-sallam) said, “deeds are according to their intentions,” i.e. the reward of deeds are according to their intentions.
Third, one must meet any other criteria for having one’s deeds accepted besides being Muslim and having a valid intention, such as having wuduu for prayer, etc.
Fourth, one must avoid things that abolishes previous good deeds, such as making people feel small because of what you have done for them.
Who goes to Paradise?
Aļļaah has promised Muslims who do good deeds and avoid big sins Paradise, as He said in the Qur’aan:
“إِنْ تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ”
Meaning: “if you, as a Muslim, avoid big sins you have been forbidden from, then Aļļaah will forgive the small sins.” (Al-Nisaa’ 4,31)
Some of those who commit big sins will be in Hell for some time, before entering Paradise, as Muslim narrated that the Prophet said:
“فَيَمُرُّ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ كَطَرْفِ الْعَيْنِ وَكَالْبَرْقِ وَكَالرِّيحِ وَكَالطَّيْرِ وَكَأَجَاوِيدِ الْخَيْلِ وَالرِّكَابِ فَنَاجٍ مُسَلَّمٌ وَمَخْدُوشٌ مُرْسَلٌ وَمَكْدُوسٌ في نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ حتى إذا خَلَصَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ من النَّارِ”
“The complete believer <i.e. complete in practice> passes like the blink of an eye, and like lightning, and like wind, and like birds, and like strong horses and camels. So there are those that are saved, and those that are injured and then let go and then there are those that are thrown into Hell until all believers are out of the fire.”
Eventually all Muslims will be in Paradise, however, because Aļļaah said in the Qur’aan:
“إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ”
Which means: “Verily Aļļaah does not forgive shirk (that one has not repented from by entering Islam), but forgives what is lesser than that for whoever He wills.” (Al-Nisaa’ 4,48)
Shirk means literally: “associating partners with Him,” but it has been mentioned earlier that all non-Muslims will be in Hell forever. We know then that what is meant here by “shirk” is any blasphemy.
All of the rewards are a grace from Him and the punishments a justice.
That being said, one must not say, “Aļļaah has to do it,” because this phrase implies obligation, and Aļļaah does not have obligations, as He has no creator, and no judge. Instead one says, “Aļļaah is not obligated to do anything. The things mentioned above regarding who will be rewarded or punished must come true however, because Aļļaah said that they will be so, and it is impossible that He should lie. In other words, reward for some good deeds is both a grace and a must. It is a must because the future is already predestined, not because it is an obligation upon Aļļaah. It is impossible that what is predestined should change, because then it would not be predestined.”
Further to the fact that rewards are a grace from Aļļaah, Al-Bukħaariyy narrated through Abuu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: “Your deeds will not put you in Paradise.” They asked: “Not even for you, O Messenger of Aļļaah?” He answered: “No, not even for me, except that Aļļaah will cover me with grace and mercy.” (Şaĥiiĥ Al-Bukħaariyy No 5349, 5/2147; ˆUmdatu-l-Qaarii 21/227)
What this means is that Aļļaah is not obliged to do anything, and that your deeds do not influence Aļļaah or anything else. It does not mean that you do not need to do anything. It means that if you do not, then this indicates that Aļļaah has not willed good for you, and this is a sign that you are heading for loss in the Hereafter. Aţ-Ţaĥaawiy states: “the deeds of creation are created by Aļļaah and acquired (committed) by creation.” Aļļaah says in the Qur’aan: