In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Verily, all praise is for Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, He is alone without any partner, and I bear witness that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His servant and Messenger.

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” [Ali Imran: 102]

“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship) Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” [Al-Nisa :1]

“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth). He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hellfire and made to enter Paradise).” [Al-Ahzab: 70-71]

Dear brothers and sisters! After doing all acts of obedience and worships, whether it be the Umrah, Hajj, Fasting, Sadaqah, or any good deeds, we repeat the whisper of Khalifah Ali (RA) when he said:

“If I knew, that my deeds belong to those that are accepted, then I say congratulations to them, or those that are rejected, then I say condolences to them.”

And after performing every act of obedience and worship we also repeat the words of Ibnu Mas’ud (RA) when he said:

“O accepted ones, congratulations to you, O rejected ones may Allah change your misfortune.”

Indeed, Ali (RA) had said:

“Don’t you mind about the little deeds, but mind about whether the deeds are accepted”, haven’t we heard the verses of Allah Azza wa Jalla which says: “Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear Him].” [Al-Maidah: 27]

Respected brothers and sisters! Do not be like some Muslims who do not care whether their acts of obedience would be accepted or not, because indeed the conferment of tawfiq and convenience to do righteous deeds is a great gift, but it will not be actualised except with an even greater gift, namely the gift of the acceptance of the deeds.

If a servant of Allah knows that most of the deeds could be rejected from the doers due to many reasons, then the important thing is to know the reasons for the acceptance of the deeds, if he finds it in himself then let him praise Allah Ta’ala, and keep upon it by doing good deeds firmly and consistently, but if he does not find it then let the first thing he pays attention to from now on is: to practice them wholeheartedly, and for Allah alone.

So now what are the reasons and signs for the acceptance of the deeds?

1. Not returning to sin after doing acts of obedience

Because, the return to sin is a sign of destruction and loss. Yahya Bin Mu’az said:

“Whoever did istighfar (seeking the forgiveness of Allah) with his words, while his heart was determined to engage in immoral acts, and his intention was to return to vice after a month and he returned, then his fasting is rejected from him, and the door to the acceptance of the deeds is shut before him.”

Most people repent while he always say:

“Indeed I know that I’ll return…”

Do not say like that…but say:

“In Shaa Allah, I will not return.”

And plead for help from Allah and intend never to return.

2. Fearing if their righteous deeds are not accepted

Allah The Most High, The Most Rich, free from (in need of) our acts of obedience and Ibadah, Allah Azza wa Jalla says:

“Whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever denies [His favour] – then indeed, Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy.” [Luqman: 12]

And Allah Ta’ala says:

“If you disbelieve – indeed, Allah is Free from need of you. And He does not approve for His servants disbelief. And if you are grateful, He approves it for you.” [Az-Zumar: 7]

And for a Mu’min (the believer), although he wholeheartedly performs acts of obedience, and draws himself closer to Allah with various taqarrub (the acts to bring one near to Allah), he feels very sorry for himself, he is afraid if his righteous deeds will not be accepted. From Aisha (RA), she says:

“I asked the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) about the verse: “And they who give what they give while their hearts are fearful.” [Al-Mu’minun: 60] “Are they those who drink khamr or steal?” He said: “No, O Bint As-Sidiq! But they are those who are fasting, praying and giving sadaqah, while they are afraid that those deeds will not be accepted, they are the people who hasten in doing good deeds.”

Even though they are really wholehearted in performing the noble deeds, but they do not rely on their efforts or show them to their Lord, but they underestimate their righteous deeds, and make visible their perfect indigence for the forgiveness of Allah and His mercy, and their hearts are full of fear if their deeds would be rejected, Wal Iyazu Billah, they plead to Him so that their deeds would be accepted.

3. Being given tawfiq to carry out good deeds thereafter

Indeed, a sign of the acceptance of a servant’s acts of obedience is that he is given tawfiq (Allah-granted ability) for the following acts of obedience, and among the signs of the acceptance of goodness is: he is doing more goodness thereafter, because those goodness are saying: “more goodness…more goodness.” And this is among the graces of Allah Ta’ala and His gift, that He honours His servant with, if he has been doing good deeds and did them sincerely for Allah, then Allah opens for him the doors to other goodness, so that he becomes closer to Him.

So the righteous deeds are like a good tree, it needs to be watered and taken care of, so that they will grow and become strong, and provide fruits, and the most important thing we need is to always take care of the good deeds which we have done, and maintain them, and add to them little by little, this is the true meaning of istiqamah.

4. Underestimating their righteous deeds, not ujub (having self-conceit) and be deceived by them

Indeed, for a believing servant of Allah, no matter how much he has been doing righteous deeds, his entire deeds do not make him grateful for such gift, like how grateful he is for the gifts of the hearings, seeings or speeches and others, and he does not feel like he had fulfilled the rights of Allah Ta’ala, because the rights of Allah are beyond our mental imagery, due to that, among the characteristics of sincere people is that they underestimate their deeds, so they are not amazed with it, and not affected by the disease of ghurur (fascinated or amazed by own selves to the extent of contempt for and looking down to anything that is from others) which will wipe out the rewards and makes him feel in sufficiency and lazy to do righteous deeds again.

Among the things that can help us think small of our deeds are: knowing Allah Ta’ala, observing His gifts, and remembering our sins and nonperformance.

Let us reflect on how Allah Ta’ala advised His Prophet with it, after commanding him with great things:

“O you who covers himself [with a garment]. Arise and warn! And glorify your Lord. And purify your clothing. And avoid uncleanliness. And do not confer favour with the intention of acquiring more.” [Al-Muddaththir: 1-6]

Among the meanings of this verse is as explained by Hassan Al-Basri:

“Don’t you bring up the deeds in front of your Lord to obtain more rewards.”

Imam Ibnu Qayyim said:

“Each of you is witnessing the Haqiqah of Rububiyyah (having the conviction that Allah have the attributes of being the One, the Creator, Sustainer and Master of all the worlds) and the Haqiqah of Ubudiyyah (making Allah the Almighty alone as Lord to be obeyed), and knowing Allah, and knowing your own selves, and it becomes clear to you that the merchandise that you carry is not worthy for the King who is Haq, even if you come with the deeds of the entire jinns and mankind, you fear the consequences, and He only accepts them due to His Magnificence, Generosity and Grace, as well giving rewards for them due to His Magnificence, Generosity and Grace.” [Madarijul Salikin, 2/439]

5. Loving the acts of obedience and hating the acts of disobedience

Among the signs of the acceptance of the deeds is that Allah gives in our hearts the love for the acts of obedience, so we love it, become calm and peaceful with it. Allah Ta’ala says:

“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” [Ar-Ra’d: 28]

And among the signs of the acceptance of the deeds is that we hate the acts of disobedience and to be near them and we pray to Allah so that He distances us from them.

6. Being hopeful and supplicating a lot

Indeed, just by fearing Allah is not enough, because it has to be with its pair, i.e. being hopeful, as fearing without being hopeful leads to the despair for the mercy of Allah, whereas being hopeful only without the feeling of fear causes a sense of security from the punishment of Allah and all the disgraceful things that corrupt one’s Aqidah (creed) and Ibadah (worship).

And hoping for his deeds to be accepted, accompanied by the feeling of fear if his deeds would be rejected, makes him a human who is in tawadu’u (in humility) and khushu’ (having the softness of the heart) towards Allah Ta’ala, so that his Iman increases.

And when a sense of hope has been realised and then the man raises his hands towards the heaven asking Allah so that his deeds would be accepted, because only Him has the Power to do it, and this was what had been done by our father, Prophet Ibrahim, the beloved of Allah and his son, Prophet Isma’il (AS) as told by Allah Ta’ala when they built the Ka’abah, as He says:

“And [mention] when Ibrahim (Abraham) was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Isma’il (Ishmael), [saying], “Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah: 127]

7. Being given the ease to do acts of obedience and stay away from immoralities

Subhanallah! If Allah accepts our acts of obedience, He will make it easy for us to do other deeds which previously was not in our estimation, in fact He distances us from sins even though we are close to them. Allah Ta’ala says:

“As for he who gives and fears Allah, and believes in the best [reward], We will ease him toward ease. But as for he who withholds and considers himself free of need, and denies the best [reward], We will ease him toward difficulty.” [Al-Lail: 5-10]

8. Loving the righteous people and hating the sinners

Among the signs of the acceptance of the acts of obedience is that, Allah gives our hearts the feeling of love for the righteous people and gives our hearts the hatred for the perpetrators of corruption and vices.

Imam Ahmad narrated from Barra’ Bin Azib (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:

“Indeed, the most powerful tied knot of Iman is that you love for Allah and hate for Allah.”

9. Doing a lot of Istighfar

If we contemplate on most Ibadah and acts of obedience, then we should close it with istighfar, because no matter how much the humans are perfecting their righteous deeds, surely there would be deficiencies and errors, just like when we perform the rituals of Hajj, Allah the Most High says:

“Then depart from the place from where [all] the people depart and ask forgiveness of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Al-Baqarah: 199]

And after Salah (Prayer) the Prophet (Peace be upon him) taught us to do istighfar three times. And the people who perform Qiyamul-lail (Night prayers) end it with istighfar at the time of sahur (dawn). Allah Ta’ala says:

“And in the hours before dawn they would ask forgiveness.” [Az-Zariyat: 18]

And Allah Ta’ala advised His Prophet (Peace be upon him) in His verse:

“So know, [O Muhammad], that there is no deity except Allah and ask forgiveness for your sin and for the believing men and believing women.” [Muhammad: 19]

And Allah also commanded His Prophet to end his life with Ibadah to Allah, jihad in His cause with istighfar, as He says:

“When the victory of Allah has come and the conquest, and you see the people entering into the religion of Allah in multitudes, then exalt [Him] with praise of your Lord and ask forgiveness of Him. Indeed, He is ever Accepting of repentance.” [An-Nasr]

And he used to say in his Ruku’u and Sujud:

“Glory be to You O Allah, our Lord and by praising You, O Allah forgive me.” [Al-Bukhari]

10. Consistent in doing good deeds

Among the instructions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) is to be consistent in doing good deeds, like in the following Hadith:

“And Aisha (RA) said: “Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), when performing a certain deed, he made it consistent.” [Muslim]

And the most beloved deed by Allah and His Messenger is the consistent one, even if only a little.

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

“The most beloved of deeds to Allah are the most consistent of them, even if they are few.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

I pray, may Allah Ta’ala accept all our deeds, especially the Sawm (Fasting), Qiyamul-lail, Tilawah (Reading of Qur’an), Sadaqah (Charity) in the month of Ramadan. Ameen.

One of my scholars used to say:

“How strange are the Muslims, they see one moon (Ramadan) and the Mosques (Masaajid) are filled. And they see another moon (Shawwal) and the Mosques (Masaajid) are empty again…”

Lastly I pray, O Allah, You have created our souls and it is for You to take them in death. Their death and their life is for You. If You cause them to live then preserve and protect them and if You cause them to die then forgive them. O Allah, we ask You for physical well-being.

The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah the Almighty. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet, his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.

Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusaumurtada@gmail.com or +2348038289761.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today Friday, Shawwal 11th, 1440 AH (June 14, 2019).