Doing Kind Acts to Those Who Deserve Them
By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
It is important to do kind acts and favors to those who deserve them only; i.e. the virtuous people, because it is unfit to do favors to unworthy people.
It is worth mentioning that this regulation is not in violation of the aforementioned advice of doing favors to all people, because this advice is applicable when the one to whom a favor is done is unknown. Generally, it is highly suggested to do favors due to love for favor, but when one discovers that the one to whom a favor is intended to be done is wicked and unworthy enough to receive such acts, then the favor done to him will be useless and, moreover, bring about negative results under certain conditions. One of these negative results is that such a wicked person, when denying or acting ungratefully towards the favorer, will cause cessation of doing favors to others.
In this connection, many traditions, confirmed by many others, have been validly reported from the Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a).
Sayf ibn ‘Umayrah has reported that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said to al-Mufadhdhal ibn ‘Umar, O Mufadhdhal, if you want to know whether someone is wretched or blessed, you should regard who receives his favor and act of kindness. If he does them to worthy people, then let it be known to you that he is heading for goodness, but if he does them to unworthy people, then let it be known to you that he will deserve no item of goodness with Allah.¯1
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) has said: Let him who has riches beware of extravagance, because to give out of that wealth unduly is certainly wastefulness and lavishness. Although it honors the giver among people, it disgraces him in the view of Almighty Allah. If man gives out his wealth improperly or to those who do not deserve it, then Almighty Allah will deprive him of their gratefulness, and their love, too, will be for others. Only slavish flatterers and liars will show him false gratitude and give him insincere advice.
Then, if he slips and needs their help and compensation, they will prove themselves as the worst comrades and the most ignoble friends. Yet again, anyone who gives out of his wealth unduly or to people who do not deserve it, will have no reward except praise of the lowly, commendation of the wicked—as long as he gives them munificently and benignly—and the ignorant will express their admiration of his generosity while he is regarded as stingy by Almighty Allah. Is there then any fate more ill-omened than this?
Is there a more profitless favor? He who has some riches must use it in fields like building good relations with relatives, receiving guests hospitably, releasing paupers, prisoners, and wayfarers. If he does so, he will then win good reputation in this world and honor in the Hereafter.¯2
Within his instructive words to Imam ‘Ali (‘a), the Holy Prophet (S) said: O ‘Ali, four matters go waste: to eat after satiety, to light a lamp in the moonlight, to seed in briny land, and to do favors to the undeserving.
Responding to Kind Acts
When Almighty Allah blesses one of His servants with gifts and blessings, the servant must undertake their responsibility through spending more and offering more acts of kindness. Naturally, people will betake themselves to those upon whom Almighty Allah has conferred open boons and disturb them with requests. As a result, much pressure and stress will be caused to these wealthy people.
Treating this situation, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have maintained, as a regulation, that wealthy people must undergo the burden of the graces they are enjoying and must endure such pressures by responding to the requests of people. If they do so, this will conduce to the permanence, stability, and continuity of these boons; otherwise, they will expose these boons to elimination. To this fact and inescapable norm that is applicable to all divine boons, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have called the attentions of the virtuous community from amongst their followers. Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is thus reported to have said: The more graces Almighty Allah confers upon someone, the more people move towards him with requests. Therefore, make graces permanent for yourself by means of bearing the burdens (caused to you by people). Do not expose these graces to elimination, because it rarely happens that graces, which have been removed from someone, are given back to him.¯3
Aban ibn Taghlib has reported that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) said to Husayn al-Sahhaf, O Husayn, whenever Almighty Allah abundantly graces someone, He overburdens him with requests of people. Hence, he who treats them patiently and responds to their requests will be graced more by Almighty Allah because of them, but he who neither treats them patiently nor responds to their requests, Almighty Allah will remove those graces from him.¯4
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported to have said: In each and every grace, there is a duty to be carried out towards Almighty Allah. If one carries out that duty, Almighty Allah will increase that grace from him, but if one fails to fulfill it, one will risk permanence of that grace.¯5
There are certain servants of Almighty Allah who are graced exclusively, in order to benefit other servants. He therefore makes these graces unwavering in their hands as long as they give generously. But if they refrain, Almighty Allah will deprive them of these graces and transfer them to other servants.¯6
Appreciation of Favors and Kind Acts
When Almighty Allah endues a servant of Him with a favor directly or through another servant who acts kindly towards him and does him a favor, then it is necessary for the servant to appreciate this boon and favor. Being thankful for favors makes their flow continuous for the grateful, while ingratitude causes favors to fade away. One of the best varieties of thanksgiving is to do favors to others, to act kindly towards them, to thank the Munificent Lord, and to thank His charitable servants.
Muhammad ibn ‘Ajlan has reported that he heard Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) saying: Remain in the neighborhood of blessings.
“How can we remain in the neighborhood of graces?” asked the reporter.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) answered, By thanking those who have favored you with those blessings and fulfilling your duties towards these favors.¯7
Dawud ibn Sarhan has reported that he, along with others, was in the presence of Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) when Sadir al-Sayrafi entered, offered a salutation, and sat down. The Imam (‘a) then said to him, O Sadir, the more riches one may hold, the stronger will be Almighty Allah’s argument against him. If you can, try to repel this argument against yourself.
“O son of Allah’s Messenger!” asked Sadir, “How can we repel it?”
The Imam (‘a) answered, You can repel it by means of spending your wealth to fulfill the requests of your brothers-in-faith. O Sadir, receive graces by means of remaining in their neighborhood. Thank those who have bestowed you with graces, and bestow upon those who have thanked you with graces, for if you do all that, then you will deserve increase of graces from Almighty Allah and sincerity from your brothers-in-faith. Hence, Almighty Allah says, “If you are grateful, I shall certainly give you more. (14:7)”¯8
Falling under the same regulation, to reward an act of kindness with a similar act or with even a doubly better act, or with a prayer of goodness and excellent reward for the doer of that act of kindness is another way of appreciating favors.
The Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have said: It is sufficient commendation to say to your brother-in-faith who has done you a favor, “May Allah reward you with goodness.” When a reference to him is made in a session from which he is absent, it is sufficient to say, “May Allah reward him with goodness.” If you do so, you will have rewarded him adequately.¯9
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have thus encouraged showing gratitude for favors and disapproved of ingratitude. In this respect, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said: May Allah curse the interrupters of the way to favors… This is when the one whom has been done a favor does not show gratitude. As a result, the one who has done the favor will stop doing any further favor to anyone else.¯10
He (‘a) is also reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Whoever receives a favor must return it. If he is incapable of doing so, he must then thank for it. If he does not, he has been ungrateful.¯11
‘Ammar al-Dahni is reported to have said that he heard Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘Ali ibn al-Husayn) (‘a) saying: Verily, Almighty Allah loves sympathetic people and His grateful servants. Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, will ask one of His servants on the Day of Resurrection, “Have you thanked so-and-so?” The servant will answer, “No, but I have thanked You, O Lord, instead!” The Lord will say, “As long you have not thanked him, this means that you have not thanked Me!” The most thankful to Almighty Allah are also thankful to people.¯12
1. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:532, H. 1.
2. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:532, H. 3.
3. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:549, H. 1.
4. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:549, H. 3.
5. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:550, H. 7.
6. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:550, H. 10.
7. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:552, H. 3.
8. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:552, H. 7.
9. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:537, H. 7.
10. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:539, H. 1.
11. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:539, H. 2.
12. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 11:539, H. 3.