I understand very well what Shaikh Ibn Atta2 Allah meant when he said, “A sin that causes humility is perhaps better than an act of obedience that causes arrogance and pride.” It might appear that the Shaikh is saying something wrong by preferring a sin over an act of obedience. However, we should understand that this statement should be considered after the action not before. What difference does it make? A huge difference. Before pursuing any action, one should evaluate the action on the basis whether it gets him closer to Allah or otehrwise abstain. The Shaikh’s statement is actually something you would think of after the deed. Here is how we should think about it.
- The good thing about doing a good deed is that it increases our Iman. It get us closer to Allah. Allah wants us to obey him and get closer to him. However, we must know that all these good deeds and acts of obedience are ‘our best’ and by no mean we can satisfy Allah’s rights upon us. Therefore, it makes no sense to feel proud or arrogent about what we do. We tend to feel that we are something and/or we did something great that no one else can do when we do an act of obedience to Allah. We might hide this feeling but most of the time it shows in our actions and in our interaction with others. Talking about our good deeds for no reason but to brag, looking down to others who do not do as much as we do, and thinking that we are doing Allah and Islam a favor by doing what we are doing are verily very bad sins. These sins will get us farther from Allah and would outweigh the reward of the original deed. Ibn Ataa2 is not telling you not to do the good deed in the first place. Rather his only objective is to warn us from these bad feelings that come to our hearts after the deed. So, be careful!
- On the other hand, sins take us away from Allah, diminish our Iman, and harden our hearts and cover them with rust. However, following the sin with a sincere tawabah (repentence) with all what it entails from regret and humility reverses the effect. “The one who repents is the beloved of al-Rahman.” The prophet said. “Humility is the spirit of Salah.” He declared. As a matter of fact, one of the ultimate form of obedience and worship is to create those heart deeds mentioned here. One of the doors to Allah is the door of humility before him. If your sins make you know how insignificant you are compared to His Glory and how disobedient compared to His Favors, then you will hasten to repentence and come back to the straight path with a heart of a better believer. Again, the Shaikh never suggested doing sins for that purpose. He only portrayed the picture of the believer’s heart after commiting a mistake. This picture he drew is what makes the sin works to your favor and it would become a step closer to Allah.
I went through an experience in the past few days and I can tell that my heart aquired a lot of Iman because of a mistake I did, an amount of Iman that was never achieved by any of my good deeds I claimed doing in the past.
May Allah protect us from doing any sins and mistakes. May he allow us to fill our record of good deeds. I also ask him to follow our deeds good or bad with the due humility and repentence. Amin!