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Doing Good In Secret

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“These people hid their deeds, so Allah the Most High hid for them that which no eye has seen and no ear has heard.” (Hassan Al-Basri)

Performing good deeds away from the scrutinizing eyes of people overwhelms a believer with an aura of a special kind, a thrill and an indescribable closeness to Allah swt. No words can ever describe such a feeling as words are limited yet, the proximity to Allah swt is the complete opposite of that. Only those who struggle to achieve this can experience it. An action done truly for the sake of Allah swt, with the intention of pleasing Him alone rather than awaiting the recognition and appreciation of other people, is what leads to the manifestation of contentment and absolute joy in the heart of a believer.

Moreover, in addition to the pleasure one feels when doing something solely for the sake of Allah swt, the solitude helps a believer rid themselves of a destructive heart disease that if not treated as soon as detected, could eventually decompose one’s eeman, hence leaving them with a hard heart, na’oothibillah.

And this heart disease is called Riya/Hypocrisy

It is when one pretends to be doing good but their intentions are actually evil and corrupt. It causes a person to perform an action for other people to see and applaud and not just for the sake of Allah swt.

Allah swt warns us in the Qur’an:

“He knows what is within the heavens and earth and knows what you conceal and what you declare. And Allah is Knowing of that within the breasts.” 1

Many a times, when we perform good deeds, we feel satisfied every time a person notices and complements. However, that should not be our attitude to praise. As scholars would always say, we have to learn to be uncomfortable with praise. Naturally, but not all the time, excessive praise causes our intentions to change, thereby leading us to perform a deed to please others and not just Allah swt. We become accustomed to it to the extent that future actions are done for more praise to be earned rather than for the pleasure of our Creator. To ensure that our intentions are always sincere and that our actions are solely for the sake of Allah swt, we should increase the number of deeds done in secret as that would result in truthful worship: that which Allah swt loves. Good deeds in solitude teach us that Allah swt is the only one worthy of our attention and that we should expect our reward from Him alone, and no one else.

Story Time!

Inspirational stories, especially from the time of the Prophet SAW, are absolutely important to refer to because not only are they informative, but also transformative.

1) During the funeral of Sa’d ibn Muath RAum, Prophet Mohammed SAW was seen to be lifting his thobe and walking on his tiptoes. When asked about it, he said he couldn’t lay his feet on the ground from the number of angels that have descended from the sky to attend the funeral – 70,000 angels they were. The reason behind that? He used to perform an action just between him and Allah swt. 2.SubhanAllah! It doesn’t matter what the deed was, rather the fact was that he maintained a private act with his creator and ensured that no one else was aware of it. What a heavenly honor!

2) A man by the name of Daood ibn Abi Hind fasted for forty years without the knowledge of his family. He would take some food with him in the morning and would distribute it to the poor whilst heading to work (family members thought he had breakfast at work while colleagues thought that he had already eaten at home). When returning home after maghrib, he would eat with his family, for him it was iftar while for them it was dinner. 3 

3) At the middle of the night, on a daily basis, Ali ibn Hussain (also known as Zayn-al-Abidin)ASused to collect food in a large bag. Having his face covered up, he would knock on the doors of the poor and needy and give them food. When they stopped receiving food from the generous stranger, the poor rushed out of their homes to see who had died, thus identifying him as Ali ibn HussainAS. When shrouding his body, a black mark was spotted at his shoulder from the heavy weight he used to carry every night.   4

4) Ibrahim Al Nikha’y was a man who used to hide the Qur’an if a person entered while he was reading from it. He wanted Allah swt to be the only witness of his action and to avoid people’s approving gaze.  5

How can we implement this in our daily lives?

1) If you visit some relatives or friends while fasting on Mondays and Thursdays and were offered some food, rather than announcing to them that you are fasting, try to say something else like: “I’m not feeling hungry” or “I’m bloated”. However, avoid lying and try to excuse yourself politely yet smartly.

2) At night, when all family members are asleep, collect the remaining food and give it out to those who are in need.

3) When making dhikr in a public place, hide your fingers from the sight of others so that it may be a secret action just between you and Allah swt.

4) Wake up at night and pray in solitude, even if it is just one rak’ah, but make sure that only Allah swt is aware of your action.

And the examples are endless… secret-deeds_blog-instagram2

The sareera (hidden action) does not necessarily have to be big or small. The only condition is that Allah swt is the only witness. The pleasure one feels when connecting with Allah swt is infinitely superior to the pleasure felt when receiving praise from other people. It is simply unfathomable!

*Important Note*

Do not confuse this with the concept of “enjoining in good.” When we find ourselves performing good deeds, it is wise to remind others of them and as Allah swt says in the Qur’an:

“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.” 6

However, what is highlighted in this article are the spiritual benefits of hidden good deeds: that is of  strengthening one’s eeman, purifying the intentions and establishing a connection with Allah swt as it is just between you and Him.

Please share your ideas and suggestions on the kind of good deeds we can perform in secrecy. We would love to read your ideas. :) Share the khair.

  1.  Surat At-Taghābun, 64:4
  2.  Reference 1
  3.  Reference 2
  4.  Reference 3
  5.  Reference 4
  6.  Surat Adh-Dhāriyāt, 51:55
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If you liked the article, do leave a comment down below

38 Responses

  1. shifayiya@yahoo.com'
    shifayiya maryam

    Assalamu Alaikkum Brother Bilal. This was an excellent article reaching me at the right time. I always had a doubt by keeping quiet about doing something good. I was uncomfortable when anyone praised me.. even if it was from their heart. Now I am totally convinced with my approach. May Allah Subhanuathala reward you and help you continue your services.. Do count me in your prayers, because I am going through a great deal of difficulties at professional and personal front!

    Fee Amanillah!

    1. Ibtihal Al-Khalifin

      Wa alaykum alsalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
      JazakiAllah khair for your feedback sister. May Allah help you get through your difficulties and may He make easy all your affairs, ameen.

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  3. Taylor7893@gmail.com'
    Abu Ru'ya

    As salaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu, well one deed that could be done in secret is leaving bread out for birds in the AM, Also give books to new reverts or prayer rugs, delaying Duha prayer just before dhuhr in ones home, Freeing someone of their debts, forgiving the loan, visiting the sick certain days if not every, and of course sponsoring orphans :). May Allaah grant us sincerity and accept all of our deeds. Ameen.

    1. Ibtihal Al-Khalifin

      Wa alaykum alsalam wa rahmatullahi wa baraktuhu,
      You’re absolutely right brother, jazakAllah khair for sharing your ideas.
      Ameen.

  4. paradisdenfant@yahoo.de'
    Nadia

    As salam aleikoum.wua rahmathoullah.

    I.liked your article very much. It is a great reminder for doing good. Ma sha Allah. I just wanted to ad,that fasting every day ( like the man did in secret) wasn’t pleased by Mohammed s.a.s. He said in a Hadith,that fasting every day is like you fid not fast at all. The best fasting ist the fasting of Dawood a.s. One day fasting and one day eating. May Allah s.w.t. help us to be good muslims. Amin

    1. Ibtihal Al-Khalifin

      Wa alaykum alsalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
      JazakiAllah khair for your feedback sister :)
      Ameen.

  5. atiyamus@yahoo.co.in'
    Atita

    Very good blog indeed,most of the time people praise us when we fast on Thursdays and Monday’s and I used to feel bad abt it ,as my intention was solely fr Allah .
    Ur blog has enlightened most of us.Praying fr others in secret can also be a good deed and an act of charity

    1. Ibtihal Al-Khalifin

      Alhamdulillah! All praise is due to Allah.
      Yes you’re absolutely right, jazakAllah khair for sharing.

  6. nidonaheed@gmail.com'
    ume ibrahim

    subhanAllah..an eye opening piece of writing.Allah subhanahu taaala give kazae khair to all of u to remind us of it.

  7. biorashed.ru@gmail.com'
    Rashed-রাশেদ

    SubhanAllah!!!! This article opened my eyes!!! I couldn’t stop my tears afters reading the story section & reminding my past days of doing good deeds!!!! I can’t remember what was my intentions!!! Allah, keep me in your mercy!!!! Doa for me!!!

    1. Ibtihal Al-Khalifin

      BarakAllahu feek. May Allah make it easy for you and us to serve His deen with pure intentions and may He forgive all our sins and misdeeds. Ameen.

  8. aihismail@yahoo.com'
    Hamid Ismail

    Very good article. I enjoyed reading it. Indeed I had the same opinion of doing good deeds. May Allah accept our good deeds and grant us wisdom to perform more good deeds in secret. But the question is when somone does a good deed to another’s benefit, though he/she wants it remain secret, the recipient reveals the donor’s identity and talks about him/her with others. Will such action by the recipient nullify the good intention of the donor in the sight of Allah.

    1. Ibtihal Al-Khalifin

      Apologies for the late reply brother. Alhamdulillah, I am glad you enjoyed the article, all praise is due to Allah.
      In this case, the donor is not to blame. Some scholars say that the good words said to a person are a proof of Allah’s acceptance, Allah knows best. However, it is very important to ensure that no matter how much a person is praised, they should not feel boastful from within, rather one must always remember that they could not have done good without the blessings and mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The initial intention should be for the sake of Allah and even after receiving praise one must fight any feelings of pride and remember that it is from Allah’s bounty, so that he may gain the reward.
      Hope this answers the question in sha Allah.

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    1. Ibtihal Al-Khalifin

      Wa alaykum alsalam :)
      It is a good thing to remind others of a good deed by doing it yourself and by being a good role-model, you get the reward for every person that does that good deed in sha Allah. However, one must ensure that their intention is always for the sake of Allah and not to be boastful or to appear religious in front of others. That would spoil the act of worship.

      May Allah bless you :)

  11. shafamumin@gmail.com'
    shafa'a

    Allahu akbar, this is a wonderful reminder, jazakumullah khair sister
    Doing good deeds secretely is fulfuling,one can donate to an orphange account,or buy food stuff and take it to themalone. Or even drop a sadaqah in a blind’s man bag. And so forth. Assalamu alaikum.

  12. phantombliss@yahoo.com'
    maryam

    assalamu’alaykum sister. masha Allah! This is such an important article because it helps us to avoid becoming one of the greatest losers according to our Prophet’s SAW hadith referring to those who thought they were piling up good deeds on earth however in the Hereafter the true intention for their good deeds would be revealed and they end up in Jahannam. may Allah SWT save us from such an evil end. keep them coming sister.

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