Allah SWT says:
“And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives. And that his effort is going to be seen – then he will be rewarded for it with the fullest reward.”
– Surah An-Najm, Verses 39-41
In this khutbah, we explored a topic that is not often talked about, or at least internalised enough. In our life journey getting closer to Allah, we can often feel hopeless or despair that we are not seeing results, or the instant manifestation of our efforts. We sometimes become frustrated or impatient. But answering one simple question could help set our hearts at rest bi’ithnillah (with the Permission of Allah): what does Allah SWT really look at when it comes to our deeds? Here we try and answer the question by looking at the difference between efforts vs results, and the mindset we need to go in with.
- Take it easy but know your end goal: everyone is on their own journey; some people will improve quickly, others more slowly. Some make long strides, others take baby steps. The point is, everybody will make progress in their own way, and ultimately, if the intention in wanting to get better and closer to Allah is present, and the effort is put in, then the results don’t – and shouldn’t – matter. Why? Because of the next point:
- “There is not for man except that [good] for which he strives….” As indicated in the verses above from Surah An-Najm, Allah SWT won’t necessarily see who is number one on the results chart, but rather who used their maximum effort (in line with the correct intention for His sake). The human being will have nothing benefiting them except the efforts they made. Notice how Allah SWT never said ‘the perfect prayer or X or Y good deed’– he didn’t highlight the act itself – rather, he is highlighting the sa’ee (effort) – the striving, the struggle, the exertion.
- What better judge than Allah? Part of the perfection of Allah and His infinite mercy, is that by looking at our efforts (& of course, intentions!), He is rewarding us for the hidden just as much as the apparent. Unlike the interviewer who didn’t appreciate the days you spent preparing for the interview, or the examiner who never saw the countless nights spent in the library, Allah judges us by something that often goes unrecognised by the human mind. By others, we are judged by our results, but by Allah, we are judged in the unseen, and in the best and most just of ways. After all, “…who is better than Allah in judgement for a people who are certain [in faith].” (Surah Al-Maidah, Verse 50)
3 Practical Tips
And so, in order to try implement on the following topic insha’Allah, we must try and:
1) Trust in Allah regardless of our situation: success is a combination of two things: I have to put in my effort, and then Allah will make care of that and the rest. Whatever we get as an outcome, we must understand that The One taking care of us loves us more than our own mother, and is rewarding us, regardless of the outcome of our situation – so long as our intentions and efforts are pure!
2) Change our mentality and idea of success: our idea of success is so warped, in that it is only the ‘apparent’ or ‘by the numbers’ success e.g. how many people showed up to an event. Actually, you made all that effort not for the turnout or the numbers, but as an act of worship to Allah, so it’s already a success! Even if there’s only a handful of people in the lecture theatre hall for the talk you wanted to give, because you tried to do something for the sake of Allah, and nothing else, you’ve already been rewarded insha’Allah, in this life and the next!
3) Make dua’a for sincerity and acceptance: ‘apparent’ success is one thing, but acceptance by Allah is another. Remember, acceptance lies in the heavens, not on the earth! For “Whatever thing you have been given – it is but [for] enjoyment of the worldly life. But what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who have believed and upon their Lord rely.” (Surah Ash-Shuraa, Verse 36)
“But whoever desires the Hereafter and exerts the effort due to it while he is a believer – it is those whose effort is ever appreciated [by Allah].”