What is sent up?
What is in a deed? Deeds: Acts that effect us in this life and the hereafter and connect us to the world of the unseen. In Surah Fatir verse 10, we learn of the ascension of deeds to Allah. More specifically, good speech and acts ascend upwards, above the seven skies and heavens, to Allah. What ascends are words of remembrance, recitation of the Quran, and supplications.
Ibn Jarir recorded that Al-Mukhariq bin Sulaym said that Abdullah Ibn Masood, may Allah be pleased with him, said to them, “If we tell you a Hadith, we will bring you proof of it from the Book of Allah. When the Muslim servants says, ‘Glory and praise be to Allah, there is no god worthy of worship except Allah, Allah is Most Great and blessed be Allah,’ an angel takes these words and puts them under his wing, then he ascends with them to the heaven. He does not take them past any group of angels but they seek forgiveness for the one who said them, until he brings them before Allah, may He be glorified.” Then Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, recited:
35| 10| إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ ٱلْكَلِمُ ٱلطَّيِّبُ وَٱلْعَمَلُ ٱلصَّٰلِحُ يَرْفَعُهُۥ
To Him ascends good speech, and righteous work raises it…
This ascension gives me pause on my daily actions and which of them will ascend. I ask, are they worthy of presentation to the Lord of the Worlds? I imagine buying a present for one of the many people I love, and the type of effort and time I put into presenting such a gift. The deeds we send are gifts to ourselves, gifts of benefits for our souls and beings. Through the gifts, we are sending ahead for ourselves as we live and breathe, in hopes to draw closer to the beloved in homes near Him.
54| 55| فِى مَقْعَدِ صِدْقٍ عِندَ مَلِيكٍ مُّقْتَدِرٍۭ
In a seat of honor near a Sovereign, Perfect in Ability.
On a given day, in purchasing the type of gift, I ponder over the likes and interests of that individual, the level of interest and benefit it would hold for such an individual. In the same way, I ask, will my actions please Allah? Will He approve? And through these deeds, will I draw closer to Him as a result? I draw from the numerous verses that begin with ‘Allah loves’ in His noble book and those highly recommended by our beloved Prophetﷺ.
Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him): “ I said, O’Messenger of Allah! ﷺ What is the best deed?’ He said ﷺ, ‘Performing the prayer on time.’ I said, ‘Then what?’ He said ﷺ, ‘Being kind to one’s parents.’ I said, ‘Then what?’ He said ﷺ, ‘Striving in the cause of Allah.’”
Pondering on the Greatness of Lord: The receiver
I imagine the position and meaning the person holds in my life as I prepare my gift. Perhaps it is a new friend, an old friend, my mother, my spouse. Depending on the recipient, the gift takes on a different meaning, a different feel, and unlocks and kindles a different type of love as our Prophet ﷺ and pious predecessors reminded us:
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Give gifts and you will love one another.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]
Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said to his son, Thabit, “My son, exchange gifts, it will bring about love between you.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]
Moreover, reflecting on what Allah represents in my life aids me in working to do deeds for His sake. Allah is Al-qalaqh (The Creator), His perfection and completion of heaven and earth before the creation of our father Adam (peace be upon him) and before the creation of me reminds me of His power. The detail and perfection placed into it, such preparation of the earth, reminds me of the Creator’s love and care shown to all of us.
7|54|إِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ فِى سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ ثُمَّ ٱسْتَوَىٰ عَلَى ٱلْعَرْشِ يُغْشِى ٱلَّيْلَ ٱلنَّهَارَ يَطْلُبُهُۥ حَثِيثًا وَٱلشَّمْسَ وَٱلْقَمَرَ وَٱلنُّجُومَ مُسَخَّرَٰتٍۭ بِأَمْرِهِۦٓ أَلَا لَهُ ٱلْخَلْقُ وَٱلْأَمْرُ تَبَارَكَ ٱللَّهُ رَبُّ ٱلْعَٰلَمِينَ
7|54|Indeed, your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne. He covers the night with the day, [another night] chasing it rapidly; and [He created] the sun, the moon, and the stars, subjected by His command. Unquestionably, His is the creation and the command; blessed is Allah, Lord of the worlds.
I recognize He is Tabarak, He is the source of all blessing, that from Him, is all sources of goodness. He is rich with good traits and many attributes, and all the good I see and feel is from Him, and when He is in charge of all of my affairs and provides for me in ways I’m unaware of, then how can I not present my best on these daily ascensions?
Guarding and protecting the ascending gift:
Whether obligatory or extra deeds, what preparations have we made for our ascending gifts?
As recorded in Ibn Majah, Ali bin Abi Talhah (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), said, “The good words is the remembrance of Allah, may Allah be exalted, which is taken up to Allah, and the righteous deed is the performance of obligatory duty…”
In the last two weeks, with Wasat gatherers, we have been delving into the verse of Al Baqarah v. 83 and the deeds we fulfill towards parents, close relatives, the orphans, and the needy. Each day as we work to fulfill those rights in our lives, we should examine the beauty and preparation put into our deeds. The receiver can detect the ingredients of love, mercy, and kindness in preparation.
Have I done the deed the best way I could? In facing difficulty, have I sought the help of Allah in the beginning, middle, and end? Have I poured out my words of sincerity to guide me and give me tawfeeq, forbearance, and perseverance in my efforts?
A gift box can get lost in the mail, content destroyed within, and outward ribbons tattered before arrival. Similarly, in the path to pleasing Allah, deeds done for others can be wasted by reminding the person of the favor, following up the deed with hurt, or showing off. We learn a good word is better than charity done but followed by harm.
Pray for its acceptance:
Despite Allah asking them to raise the foundation of the house of Allah, Ibrahim, and Ismael (peace be upon them), they asked Allah to accept the deed from them. Their actions remind us to be humble, hope for the mercy of Allah, remain positive, and picture the deeds’ acceptance.
As a reminder, as our deeds shoot up daily to the realm of the Divine, near a loving God, let’s reflect on the intent, beauty, and presentation of our deeds.