Which Deeds Are Best Kept Secret In Islam?

Which Deeds Are Best Kept Secret In Islam?

In Islam, some deeds are best kept secret.

Some of you when reading that statement might think, “Shouldn’t we be honest in our dealings? Isn’t lying and deceitfulness wrong?”

‘Abdullah reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
It is obligatory for you to tell the truth, for truth leads to virtue and virtue leads to Paradise, and the man who continues to speak the truth and endeavours to tell the truth is eventually recorded as truthful with Allah, and beware of telling of a lie for telling of a lie leads to obscenity and obscenity leads to Hell-Fire, and the person who keeps telling lies and endeavours to tell a lie is recorded as a liar with Allah. Sahih Muslim

Of course, Muslims should strive to be honest and not deceitful. We should tell the truth wherever possible.

There are exceptions to this though.

There are some situations where Muslims should conceal certain deeds. After all, some things are best kept secret.

To find out which deeds are best kept secret in Islam, keep reading.

Sins

Best kept secret
Some deeds are best kept secret in Islam

Telling other people about your sins, or committing sins openly in public, is a major sin in itself.

Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying. “All the sins of my followers will be forgiven except those of the Mujahirin (those who commit a sin openly or disclose their sins to the people). An example of such disclosure is that a person commits a sin at night and though Allah screens it from the public, then he comes in the morning, and says, ‘O so-and-so, I did such-and-such (evil) deed yesterday,’ though he spent his night screened by his Lord (none knowing about his sin) and in the morning he removes Allah’s screen from himself.” Sahih al-Bukhari

Allah will forgive the sins of all believing Muslims, except for those who didn’t make any efforts to keep their sins private.

We all sin, but when we get that horrible feeling of guilt, we should make every effort to repent to Allah. We should promise not to do it again and keep it between ourselves and Allah. Then we can make du’a to Allah that He continues to screen our sins from the public.

Problems arise when we have no shame in making our sins public. You might not realise it, but publicising your sins can encourage the people you love and care about (or even complete strangers) to commit similar wrongdoings. It can also have a long-lasting negative impact on your own reputation.

Allah Will Conceal Sins

A hadith in Sahih Muslim describes the way in which Allah will conceal the sins of a Muslim believer on the Day of Resurrection.

Safwan b. Muhriz reported that a person said to Ibn ‘Umar:
How did you hear Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying something about intimate conversation? He said: I heard him say: A believer will be brought to his Lord, the Exalted and Glorious, on the Day of Resurrection and He would place upon him His veil (of Light) and make him confess his faults and say: Do you recognise (your faults)? He would say: My Lord, I do recognise (them). He (the Lord) would say: I concealed them for you in the world. And today I forgive them. And he would then be given the Book containing (the account of his) good deeds. And so far as the non-believers and hypocrites are concerned, there would be general announcement about them before all creation telling them that these (people, i. e. non-believers and hypocrites) told a lie about Allah. Sahih Muslim

On the Day of Resurrection, the believer will be made to admit their sins to Allah. Just think about that for a moment. At this point you’d be thinking that you’re doomed!

Allah will then say, “I concealed them for you in the world. And today I forgive them.” Then He will give the Muslim the book of his good deeds.

I shudder to think what the fate of a person would be if they’d made their sins public!

Good Deeds

Best kept secret
What is our intention behind giving in charity?

If you disclose your charitable expenditures, they are good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you, and He will remove from you some of your misdeeds [thereby]. And Allah, with what you do, is [fully] Acquainted. Qur’an 2:271

Giving in charity is a good deed, there’s no doubt about that. However, its important that we analyse our intention behind giving in charity. Is there an element of riya (showing off in front of others) at play?

One way of making sure that our intentions are pure is by giving in charity in secret. That way, we’re focusing on pleasing Allah alone by focussing only on assisting those who are in need of aid. Not on looking good to others or any other sort of worldly gain.

Purify Your Intentions

A Muslim’s actions are judged according to whether the intention behind it is good or bad.

‘Umar bin Al Khattab reported the Apostle of Allaah(ﷺ) as saying “Actions are to be judged only by intentions and a man will have only what he intended. When one’s emigration is to Allaah and His Apostle, his emigration is to Allaah and His Apostle but his emigration is to a worldly end at which he aims or to a woman whom he marries, his emigration is to that for which he emigrated. Sunan Abi Dawud

We need to avoid showing off good deeds to win the praise of others. Ideally our intention behind doing good should be to help others or inspire others to do the same.

Narrated Jundub:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He who lets the people hear of his good deeds intentionally, to win their praise, Allah will let the people know his real intention (on the Day of Resurrection), and he who does good things in public to show off and win the praise of the people, Allah will disclose his real intention (and humiliate him). Sahih al-Bukhari

There’s nothing wrong with publicising good deeds with the intention of inspiring other people. As long as its made sincerely for the pleasure of Allah and not for worldly gain.

The Reward For Inspiring Others

Narrated Abu Mas’ud Al-Badri:
that a man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) looking for a mount, he said: ‘Mine has been ruined.’ So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Go to so-and-so.’ So he went to him and he gave him a mount. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Whoever leads to good, then for him is the same reward as the one who does it – or – who acts upon it.'” Jami` at-Tirmidhi

Say someone made their good deeds public for a good purpose. As a result of their good example, someone else felt inspired and followed suit. The hadith above tells that the one who leads others to good is like the one who does it. Both parties receive the same reward.

If you’re afraid of showing off, its best to conceal good deeds. If you’re confident that your intentions are pure, you can show your good deeds.

Dreams

Good Dreams

The following two ahadith describe good dreams and bad dreams.

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“Dreams are of three types: Glad tidings from Allah, what is on a person’s mind, and frightening dreams from Satan. If any of you sees a dream that he likes, let him tell others of it if he wishes, but if he sees something that he dislikes, he should not tell anyone about it, and he should get up and perform prayer.” Sunan Ibn Majah

Abu Salama reported:
I used to see (such horrible dreams) that I fell ill. I saw Abu Qatada who also said: I used to see dreams which made me sick until I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Good dreams are from Allah, so if any one of you sees which he likes he should not disclose it to one but whom he loves, but if he sees something which he does not like he should spit on his left side thrice and seek refuge with Allah from the mischief of the Satan and its mischief (i.e. of the dream), and he should not relate it to anyone, then it would not harm him. Sahih Muslim

Good dreams are from Allah. If we see good dreams, we’re allowed to tell people about them if we like. That being said, we should make sure that they’re people we can trust as it may cause jealousy in people.

Yusuf’s (Peace Be Upon Him) Dream

Take these ayat from Surah Yusuf:

[Of these stories mention] when Joseph said to his father, “O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me.”
He said, “O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy. Qur’an 12:4-5

Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him), as a young boy, saw a dream in which eleven stars, the sun and the moon prostrated to him. The stars represented his brothers. The sun and the moon represented his parents.

His father, Yaqub (peace be upon him), warned Yusuf not to tell his brothers about this dream out of concern for him. The brothers of Yusuf (peace be upon him) were jealous of him to begin with. Yaqub (peace be upon him) feared that if they found out about this vision, they would plot against Yusuf (peace be upon him) out of jealousy.

Bad Dreams

Frightening dreams are from Shaytan. We should definitely not tell others about bad dreams. Otherwise we risk harm.

What we should do is get up, make wudu and perform nafl salah. We can also spit on our left side thrice and seek refuge with Allah from the mischief of the Shaytan.

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