radiyallahu 'anhu, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu
'alayhi wasallam, related from his Lord (glorified and exalted be
has recorded the good deeds and the evil deeds." Then he clarified that:
"Whosoever intends to do a good deed but does not do it, Allah records it with
Himself as a complete good deed; but if he intends it and does it, Allah records
it with Himself as ten good deeds, up to seven hundred times, or more than that.
But if he intends to do an evil deed and does not do it, Allah records it with
Himself as a complete good deed; but if he intends it and does it, Allah records
it down as one single evil deed."
Each in his Sahih have thus related it in these
"So look! My brother, may Allah help us, and take note of how
great is the kindness of Allah - may He be exalted! Reflect on this, how that
His saying "with Himself" points to His great care with regard to it, and His
saying "complete" is for emphasis, not to point to the intensity of His care
with regard to it. With regard to the evil deed which one intended but then
abandoned, He says: "Allah records it with Himself as a complete good deed",
emphasising this by the word "complete" (kamilah); whereas if he performs
it, He records it down as "one evil deed", where by the word "one" He emphasises
its being made little of, since He does not emphasise it here by the word
"complete". So to Allah be praise and grace. Glory be to Him! Our praises to Him
we cannot count. With Allah is success."
hadith is considered as a Hadith Qudsi even though the text of the
hadith does not show that clearly or explicitly. The hadith with
this text is a clarification from the part of Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu
'alayhi wasallam, about the way of recording deeds. There are other versions
of this hadith that have been recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim in the
same form of Hadith Qudsi and in a very clear manner. One of these is the
following version that has been commented upon by Ibn Rajab:
Allah has said: "If My servant considers doing a sin, do not record
it against him. If he acts upon it, record it as one sin. If he considers doing
a good deed and does not do it, record it as one good deed, and if he actually
does it, record it as 10 good deeds." [Recorded by Imam
One may ask
how this is considered a Hadith Qudsi where its text does not explicitly
show so. The multiplication of good deeds and that the one who commits one sin
is recorded as only one sin, is a well-known principle in Islam that has been
emphasised in both the Qur'an and sunnah - Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 245 and
261; Surah an-Nisa', Ayah 40; and in Surah al-'An'am, Ayah 160. Allah
Whoever shall come before Allah with a good deed will gain 10 times
the like thereof, but whoever shall come with an evil deed will be requited with
no more than the like thereof.
What has been mentioned
above is a general rule. However, there are some exceptions because the sin is
sometimes considered greater due to certain reasons. One of these reasons is the
honour of time or place such as the four months (al-'ashhor al-hurum).
This is the view of Ibn Abbas (the narrator of the hadith) and Qutadeh. For the
month of Ramadhan there are two claimed hadiths but which are considered
not authentic according to Ibn Rajab who states that sins are considered greater
during Ramadhan and during the Hajj (pilgrimage). This is stated in Surah
al-Baqarah, Ayah 197.
In terms of place, for
example Makkah, Allah says in Surah al-Hajj, Ayah 25:
And whoever is inclined to evil action therein (in Makkah) or to do
wrong, him we shall cause to taste from a painful turmoil.
Because of this, a few of
the companions of the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, used to avoid
doing certain actions in Makkah.
Another criterion for
considering sins as great is the nobility of the person who commits the sin.
This is because, as Ibn Rajab says, since he is a person of knowledge of Allah
and His attributes, his closeness to Allah should prevent him from committing
sins. If he commits sins, his sins will be considered greater than normal
The hadith mentioned
four types of deeds:
- Doing good deeds - the result will be a multiplication of rewards.
- Doing evil acts - this will be recorded as one sin for one sin.
- The intention of doing good deeds - this will be recorded even if it is not
done as one deed. 'Intention' here means that we have a great eagerness and a
very strong determination to do a certain deed - and not merely thoughts of
Some examples of this type, as mentioned by Ibn Rajab, are:
So if any
Muslim intended to do any of the above and had a strong determination to do
them, it will be recorded as if he has done them. But this does not compensate
the obligation of doing them when there is an opportunity to do so.
- If someone has intended to wake up in the middle of the night to perform the
night prayer but he did not do so because he overslept.
- If someone intended to pray or fast.
- If someone intended to do jihad or umra.
- If someone intended to perform the Hajj (pilgrimage).
- The intention of doing a bad deed or committing a sin without actually doing
it. This means that one has made the decision to do it, as Ustaz Jamaludin
Zarabozo puts it. Other Muslim scholars relate it to the intention
(niyyah). And there is an overlap between intention and decision because
when we decide, we have the intention.
Wherever we have an issue or principle where there are many versions of the
hadith, scholars compare the text of the hadith. In another
version that is narrated by Abu Hurairah, Allah says: "He gave up committing the
sin for the cause and sake of Allah." Ibn Rajab says this implies that the
interpretation of this portion of hadith is that the one who has the
intention to do the evil act and is able to do it, refrained from doing so for
the sake and fear of Allah. Ibn Rajab says this person will be rewarded for
that. It will be considered a hasanah (a good deed) because refraining
from doing that evil act with this good intention is really a good deed by
Consequently, Ibn Rajab mentions other different situations:
- The one who decides or just has the intention to do the evil act but then he
refrains from doing it because of his fear of the people or does not like to be
blamed by them. Ibn Rajab says that some scholars say this person will be
- The person decides to do the evil act but was not able to perform it because
of external factors (qadar). For example, a person decides to break into
a house to steal, but he does not succeed and runs away because a police car is
driving around the area. Some scholars say that he will be punished though he
did not steal.
- Someone who decides and has the intention to do the evil act, makes the
effort but is not able to perform it because of his lack of strength or
capabilities. Scholars say this person will be punished. For instance, if two
Muslims fight each other with the intention of killing each other, as stated in
the well-known hadith, both the killer and the one who has been killed
will be in the Hellfire. The Companions asked: "O Messenger of Allah, this is
the killer - what about the poor person who has been killed?" The Prophet,
sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said he had the intention to kill his friend
or brother but was not able to because he was killed himself.
- Someone has the intention to do an evil act and talks to others about it but
does not do it. Some scholars say that he will be punished just because of his
bad intention. Other scholars say he will not be punished unless the sin itself
is the impermissible kind of speech like slander, backbiting or lying.
- Someone who has the intention to do an evil act but later on changes his
mind because his eagerness to do the evil act has weakened and decreased.
One may ask whether this person is subject to punishment or not. Ibn Rajab
says this situation can be classified into two categories:
- The intention to commit the sin was just a thought - it has not been placed
or committed in the person's heart - and he dislikes or regrets the thought
straightaway. Ibn Rajab says this person will be excused. For instance, if a
person sees cool water during the hot month of Ramadhan and he simply has a
thought of drinking but then refrains himself. This person will be forgiven
because the place of the sin is not in his heart.
- The evil thought has been placed in the heart and the person keeps thinking
about it. Scholars say that this can be classified into two categories:
- The action of the heart involves doubts about Allah's Oneness, the
Prophethood or the Day of Resurrection. Scholars say this person will be
punished. Ibn Rajab also says that there are other sins which are related to the
heart such as loving what Allah hates or hating what Allah loves, arrogance,
envy, and suspicions for no valid reason. All these are punishable.
- The actions of the limbs such as adultery, stealing, drinking wine, killing
etc. Ibn Rajab says in this category, if the person persists on doing such an
act and has the eagerness and willingness, he will be punished. There is another
view that says he will be excused because he has not actually done it. The third
view is the same as the second view in that he is excused, but with one
exception and that is if it is done in the al-Haram Mosque in Makkah.
- Someone committed a sin once and then has the intention of repeating it
whenever possible. That is this person is persisting on disobedience and is
subject to punishment because of his bad intention even if he does it years
In one version of the
hadith, Allah says that for the one who commits a sin, Allah might record
it merely as one sin, or He might omit the sin because of repentance by the
sinner, or because of the sinner performing good deeds - as mentioned in Hadith
18: "Fear Allah wherever you may be; follow up an evil deed with a good one
which will wipe (the former) out, and behave good-naturedly towards
In one of the
versions of this hadith it says that the one who fails to be saved is of
great loss. This means that the one whose bad deeds outweigh the good deeds is a
failure. Why? After all this mercy and grace from Allah where Allah multiplies
good deeds up to 700 times, after all the chances and opportunities that Allah
gives us, if a person still persists on disobedience and commits evil acts and
in the end his bad deeds outweighs his good ones, then he is truly a big sinner
and transgressor. He has no intention of doing good deeds. He has no one to
blame but himself.
There is a
saying for Ibn Mas'oud: "Woe to the one whose sins outweigh his good deeds". The
Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said to his Companions: "Whom do
you consider as a bankrupt?" They said: "The one who does not have a dinar or
derham (money)." The Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said: "The
real bankrupt is the one who comes with mountains of good deeds but he also
comes with many bad deeds that are related to attacking and harming the people."
In this case, the bad deeds are not easily omitted because they are related to
the rights of human beings. This person may wrong others by slander, backbiting,
killing, etc. As a result, his good deeds will be taken from him in the
Hereafter as a matter of just. In addition to that, the Prophet, sallallahu
'alayhi wasallam, says part of the bad deeds of the people whom he has
wronged will be added to his record and the result would be that he will be
thrown into the Hellfire.
We need to
imagine just how horrible the situation is. We need to reflect on this
hadith and not to wrong, belittle or fail other Muslims or non-Muslims in
the same way. We should also be kind to animals as the Prophet, sallallahu
'alayhi wasallam, said that a woman will enter Hellfire because of her
mistreatment of a cat. The Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, also
mentions about a woman who is very pious and did good deeds but she annoyed and
bothered her neighbours - she too is in the Hellfire.
to be careful when it comes to dealing with other people. Unless we receive
forgiveness from others, we will be held responsible for wrongdoings towards
others. This has to do with our akhlaq and values as Muslims. We need to
be concerned about this if we want to achieve any success in this life or the