In the name of God, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.
I heard the following words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) several times before I understood their true meaning. This hadith is mentioned in Al-Bukhari and Muslim and was told by Abu Hurayrah.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "No one of you will be saved because of his deeds."
They (the companions) said: "Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?"
He said: "Not even me, unless Allah bestows mercy upon me. So do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and adopt a moderate course, adopt a moderate course (he said it twice) whereby you will reach your target (Paradise)."
In this hadith the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gives us some guidelines to attain our goal of reaching Jannah, Paradise, and being saved from the Hellfire. He tells us to do good deeds with a sincere intention and to perform our ibaadah, worship, during the day and the night and to attain a moderate course in practicing our religion. With these words, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) doesn’t tell us anything new.
But what struck me the most in this hadith is the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the Best of mankind, our True example, reminds us to be humble. He tells us that nobody will be saved from Hellfire and will be allowed to enter Paradise because of his deeds. But what does this mean? Does this mean that we shouldn’t perform any good deeds? That engaging in good deeds is not necessary? No, because he explains us further in the hadith, that doing good deeds paves the way to Allah. Good deeds with a sincere intention.
By doing good deeds we choose to follow the guidelines Allah has set for us, by doing good deeds we walk a road with Allah as our destination. But we will not reach that destination by our own accord. Shaytaan and our nafs have set up a trap in this road and if we don’t pay attention, we might fall into that trap. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) points one trap out in this hadith, he reminds us of our own humbleness and Allah’s greatness.
When we perform good deeds sometimes we tend to be arrogant. We become pleased with ourselves and our worship and think we’re better than others who are not able to pray 5 times a day, or wear the hijaab or study the Qur’an. We become selfrighteous and consider good things happening in our lives as a result of us being ‘good muslims’.
When we start to think like this, Shaytaan has caught us in his trap. When we feel like this, our nafs has tricked us.
Not a single good deed performed by us, should make us feel arrogant or should make us feel better about ourselves, because these good deeds are also from Allah. If we are able to perform these good deeds, if we are able to be ‘good muslims’ than this is a blessing from Allah. It’s a mercy from Allah. Not because X is better than Y, but because Allah’s mercy is greater than anything. There can be no room for arrogance in our hearts, only thankfulness towards our Lord, who has bestowed upon us the blessing of worship. Soubhan’Allah.
Having understood the wisdom hidden in these words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) I learned a great lesson in humility. I saw my own smallness and His greatness. I understood that I will only be able to enter Jannah by His Mercy, not by my good deeds.
For my good deeds are nothing more than a gift from Him.
Even the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who performed more good deeds than any of us, understood that he would only enter Jannah by Allah’s Mercy, so how than could we?