Hadith
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Do not Delay Good Deeds

Abu Sirwe'a Ukbe Ibni Haris reported: "Once in Medina I was praying afternoon prayer (‘asr) behind the Prophet. The Prophet made his salaams and finished his prayer; he quickly stood up and passed through the ranks, going into one of his wives' rooms. The congregation was worried by this haste on the part of the Prophet. He returned shortly afterwards and seeing that his hurried behavior had concerned the people there, he said: ‘I remembered that I had a little gold with me and I wanted to rush to do a good deed and not delay it, so I ordered that it immediately be distributed.'"

(Bukhari, Ezan 158)


Islam is centered on time. What Muslims do, including our daily prayers, gains more meaning if it is done on time. Good deeds that are not done in the right place at the right time can lose the meaning and benefit that they are expected to provide. It is necessary to hold the hand that is stretched out to us for aid, not when it is convenient for us, but when the other party is in need. Otherwise, all our good deeds and efforts that we do later on might distance us from the spirit of the edict "Then strive together (as in a race) towards all that is good".(1)While the Prophet was praying, an action that he described as "light of his eye", he was preoccupied with doing a good deed and this is the reason that he acted in a way that was contrary to the etiquette of the masjid, hurrying to do what was necessary to fulfill the good deed as soon as it had occurred to him.

The greatest handicap that can occur when delaying the fulfillment a good deed, the thing that makes one act slowly and with negligence, is the procrastinating illness that occurs due to the reassuring thought of "well, it'll get done anyway, what's the rush?" The mind that perceives time as something that will never end can be prevented from seeing that another has a need at a particular moment. When a friend calls to share their troubles, you must think about what the benefit will be from any assistance given at a later date, that is, what will happen if we don't "get back to them"?...Thus, the necessary steps must be taken to ensure that the good deeds are performed at the necessary time, and thus we will be freed from carrying this responsibility in our hearts. It must not be forgotten that carrying this responsibility is more difficult than performing the deed.

The identification of priorities in the life of the individual and that of society, the determination of what is "more urgent", is as important as the immediate performance of good deeds. In other words, the principle of hurrying good deeds puts the responsibility on a Muslim to understand the priorities and learn where the good deeds are necessary.

This responsibility, like the necessity to perform more actions that lead to personal maturation, make us aware that not delaying good deeds, to the best of our ability, in the social dimension is not a luxury and that those who are in need of such acts deserve them. This awareness is a means of keeping alive the consciousness of "And know ye that your possessions and your progeny are but a trail; and that it is God with whom lies your highest reward."(2)

As long as there are people who are in need in society, people who are fond of possessions and collecting may be distanced from their true blessings (infaq) through an over-preoccupation with goods. In order to prevent such a distancing, a mind/heart that is full of worldly avarice and worries should commemorate Allah and try to eliminate everything that prevents them from being His servant.

Only when irresponsibility and procrastination are seen to be the greatest problem in individual and social life can we understand why Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ran through the ranks of praying Muslims.


1) Al-Baqara 2/148

2) Al-Anfal 8/28

 

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