There’s plenty of seemingly good people in the world.
They help others. They give in charity. They’re kind and sensible. May Allah guide them all to the truth. But just because you’re a seemingly good person doesn’t mean you really are.
Would we consider a person who gave millions in charity, but also weekly or monthly committed murder, as a good person? We wouldn’t. What about someone who treated others with respect, donated his time to help those in need, but purposefully didn’t take care of his own parents. We wouldn’t consider him a good person. So what about all the good people in the world who commit the worst crime of all, by denying their own Maker?
The question we need to ask is, how do we define what is good? If we define it by our own minds, and not by the Quran and Sunnah, then we’re way off track. Good is what Allah has made clear to be good, and bad is what Allah has made clear to be bad. Whether we understand the wisdom behind it or not. So when Allah makes the worst crime being denying Allah’s existence, then that’s it. It doesn’t matter all the “good” you might do, because you’re not doing it to please your Lord, but for material gain instead.
The Prophet PBUH said: “Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended.” [40 hadith nawawi]
The Prophet PBUH also said: “You have to follow my Sunnah (way) and the way of my rightly-guided successors (al-khulafa’ al-rashidoon); bite onto it with your eyeteeth (i.e., cling firmly to it).” [Tirmidhi Saheeh by Albani]
And whatever you gain, will not last. You’ll die, those you love will die, and the universe itself will die. Nothing will last except your deeds. And deeds can only be accepted with the right intentions and the correct method. Thus good is only those things that last, which will benefit you in the next life, and bad are only those things that last, that will harm you in the next life.
So now what about ourselves? Are we good? How can we find out? Simply ask yourself why you’re doing a specific act. Is it to make money so you can buy a nice car, because you like nice cars, or is it to please your Lord?
وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَيَتِيمًا وَأَسِيرًا ﴿٨﴾ إِنَّمَا نُطْعِمُكُمْ لِوَجْهِ اللَّـهِ لَا نُرِيدُ مِنكُمْ جَزَاءً وَلَا شُكُورًا
And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, (8) [Saying], “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude. [Quran 76: 8-9]
Is what I’m doing part of what the Prophet PBUH did, taught, or approved of? And when evil comes my way, do I fight against it (physically, verbally, or internally)? So now if your whole life revolves around pleasing Allah, the things you do for a worldly benefit are halaal, and you fight against evil, then insha Allah you are a good person.
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ
You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. [Quran 3:110]
May Allah help us all to be good people, accept our actions and intentions, raise our generation to be a generation that enjoins good and forbids evil, and forgive us our sins.
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