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Quranic Terminology: Being (Un)Thankful to the Lord God (1)
"...The Good Deeds Remove away the Bad Deeds. This Is a Reminder for Those Who Remember." (Quran 11:114)

 

"...The Good Deeds Remove away the Bad Deeds. This Is a Reminder for Those Who Remember." (Quran 11:114)

 

Published in April 21, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

He said to us: God says the following in the Quran: "...The good deeds remove away the bad deeds..." (11:114); does this means that sinners are allowed to commit as many sins as they like and then atone for them by performing good deeds?! I mean, would a thief who has stolen one million US$ donate 10 thousand US$ to ease his conscience?! Would a fornicator indulge in the carnal lusts and appetites and then donate money to the poor people?! Would the verse 11:114 then encourage sinning and disobedience? Would the filthily rich ones donate for charity from their ill-gotten money and assume to enter into Paradise in the Hereafter?! Would this mean that the impecunious sinners who cannot afford atonement by charity donations will enter into Hell?!

We said to him: Indeed, you misunderstand the verse 11:114.

He said: How?!

We said: You should ponder on the whole of it first to discern its meaning: "Perform the prayer at the borders of the day, and during the approaches of the night. The good deeds remove away the bad deeds. This is a reminder for those who remember." (11:114).

He said: What do you mean exactly?!

We said: The phrase (the good deeds remove away the bad deeds. This is a reminder for those who remember) is a direct result of the preceding one (perform the prayer at the borders of the day, and during the approaches of the night).

He said: What is the link between both phrases in you view?

We said: The verse 11:114 begins with the command to perform prayers...

He said (interrupting): This is what I mean; sinners pray daily and commit their sins simultaneously while assuming their good deeds would wipe or remove the sins or bad deeds! 

We said: This is a gross misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the command to perform prayers in 11:114.

He said: What does it mean, then, in this Quranic context?

We said: To perform prayers differs from merely kneeling and prostrating.

He said: How?

We said: Hypocrites in Yathreb, for instance, used to pray ostentatiously and they never performed prayers truly and sincerely, because their prayers lacked piety; they deceived people around them but they could never deceive the Omniscient Lord: "The hypocrites try to deceive God, but He is deceiving them. And when they stand for prayer, they stand lazily, showing off in front of people, and remembering God only a little." (4:142). This is why God never accepted their good deeds; prayers should lead to adherence to piety within one's deeds all day long; they should not be the means to deceive others; this is the bad habit of disbelievers and hypocrites: "What prevents the acceptance of their contributions is nothing but the fact that they disbelieved in God and His Messenger, and that they do not approach the prayer except lazily, and that they do not spend except grudgingly." (9:54); "So woe to those who pray. Those who are heedless of their prayers. Those who put on the appearance. And withhold the assistance." (107:4-7).

He said: What is the right manner to perform prayers as per the Quran, then?

We said: This is to observe piety as the fruit of performing prayers piously, regularly, on time, on a daily basis.  Real believers adhere to piety all day long within all their deeds during their lifetimes as a direct result of all acts of worship.  

He said: Please explain this further to me!

We said: The first 9 verses of the Quranic Chapter 23 show to us what performing prayers within piety means and how they should lead to piety.

He said: Let me read them: "Successful are the believers. Those who are humble in their prayers. Those who avoid nonsense. Those who work for charity. Those who preserve their chastity. Except from their spouses, or their dependents - for then they are free from blame. But whoever seeks anything beyond that - these are the transgressors. Those who are faithful to their trusts and pledges. Those who observe their prayers." (23:1-9). What is the point you are trying to make about prayers in this Quranic context?

We said: The verses 23:1-9 assert that not all believers would be successful or winners in the Hereafter; the winners among them are those who observe piety within their prayers and their adherence piety makes them, of course, adhere to the commands mentioned in 23:1-9.

He said: You mean to tell me that to pray within piety should be reflected in observing piety within all my deeds and behavior as long as I live; I agree with that, but what is the meaning of wasting prayers, then?

We said: It means to perform its movements without concentration and piety and without the fear of the Lord God inside one's heart. This means that such empty prayers will never lead to adherence to piety within one's demeanor.

He said: Is this your own personal viewpoint?!

We said: No, indeed; this is what the Quran, God's Word, mentions about the meaning of wasting prayers; for instance, the following verses are about the generations which emerged after the death of prophets and messengers and they wasted the fruit of prayers (that is, the resulting piety) because they followed their lusts, whims, and desires; they will enter into Hell, with the exception of those who sincerely repented before their death by correcting their faith/belief and performing good deeds: "But they were succeeded by generations who wasted the prayers and followed their appetites. They will meet perdition. Except for those who repent, and believe, and act righteously. These will enter Paradise, and will not be wronged in the least." (19:59-60).

He said: The conclusion is that prayers are the means to avoid sinning, right?

We said: Exactly; prayers performed within piety result in making one avoid sinning and this applies to all sincere acts of worship performed within piety and fear of the Lord God: "...and perform prayers. The prayers prevent grave sins and evil deeds..." (29:45); "O people! Worship your Lord who created you and those before you, that you may attain piety." (2:21).

He said: You have digressed, my dear fellow; what do such details have to do with 11:114?!

We said: We have not digressed; 11:114 has two phrases and the second one about the good deeds remove away the bad deeds is linked to the first one about performing prayers.

He said: I need more explanation, if you please.

We said: The believers who desire to be among the successful ones or winners on the Last Day who will enter into Paradise should perform prayers within piety and adhere to pious behavior all the time. 

He said: How? What do you mean exactly?!

We said: The pious ones who perform prayers regularly within piety avoid sins and acts of disobedience (that is, they never disobey God's commands in the Quran) and they get busy all the time within performing good deeds and acts of worship. Of course, they are not infallible; like all human beings, they are liable to err, to sin, and to disobey sometimes, but they readily repent and atone for their sins and return to God. This is why the Quran mentions among the description of the pious believers that they often repent. Within sincere repentance and atonement by performing the best good deeds (in terms of quality and quantity) as much as they can, their good deeds cover or remove away the bad deeds or sins. This pardon and reward occur on the Last Day, of course, to those who deserve and have earned this.   

He said: The Quran contains repetitions: "We have given you seven of the pairs, and the Grand Quran." (15:87), and this means that the meaning you say is repeated elsewhere in the Quranic text. Would you quote another verse with the same meaning about performing prayers?

We said: Of course; God says in the Quran: "Perform the prayer at the decline of the sun, until the darkness of the night; and the Quran at dawn. The Quran at dawn is witnessed." (17:78); this means that piety, which is the result of prayers, should be observed as long as we are awake.

He said: I mean that you should quote another verse about the meaning of the good deeds that remove away the bad deeds.

We said: OK; this verse is about pious monotheistic believers in general: "And those who patiently seek the presence of their Lord, and pray regularly, and spend from Our provisions to them, secretly and openly, and repel evil deeds with good ones. These will have the Ultimate Home." (13:22); this verse is about believers among the People of the Book: "These will be given their reward twice, because they persevered; and they counter evil deeds with good ones; and from Our provisions to them, they give." (28:54). This means that pious believers perform good deeds and this makes them avoid the evil results of  the bad deeds and sins they have committed.

He said: What are the evil results of  the bad deeds and sins?

We said: Those who die without repentance are disobedient sinners and disbelievers who will see how their evil deeds and sins will turn into fire-torment for them inside Hell for eternity. This is why atoning for bad deeds in Arabic means literally to cover them with good deeds; this makes one avoid the evil/danger of making sins turn into fire-torment, as repentant ones will enter into Paradise.

He said: What are the Quranic verses that assert what you say now?

We said: The angels implore and supplicate to the Lord God in this manner: "Those who carry the Throne, and those around it, glorify their Lord with praise, and believe in Him, and ask for forgiveness for those who believe: "Our Lord, You have encompassed everything in mercy and knowledge; so forgive those who repent and follow Your path, and protect them from the torment of the Blaze. And admit them, Our Lord, into the Gardens of Eternity, which You have promised them, and the righteous among their parents, and their spouses, and their offspring. You are indeed the Almighty, the Most Wise. And shield them from the evil deeds. Whomever You shield from the evil deeds, on that Day, You have had mercy on him. That is the supreme achievement."" (40:7-9); thus, those who are shielded from the evil/dangerous results of sins are those who attain God's mercy because of their repentance and good deeds within monotheism.

He said: Let me pose this question which is linked directly to what you say now; a charitable man who avoids evil deeds and sins and builds mosques and helps the poor with money, etc. is at the same time performing pilgrimage to visit and worship at 'holy' tombs or mausoleums, such as the one ascribed to Muhammad in Yathreb, and he also believes in hadiths of Al-Bokhary and he prays regularly; what is his fate in the Hereafter?

We said: This man will enter into Hell for eternity; this is because God will nullify his good deeds on the Last Day because of his polytheistic beliefs and acts of worship; this is why God has warned all prophets/messengers against polytheism: "It was revealed to you, and to those before you, that if you embrace polytheism, your works will be in vain, and you will be of the losers." (39:65).

He said: Do you mean to tell me that nullifying the good deeds because of polytheism will make this man enter into Hell?

We said: Exactly, if he dies without repentance and returning to monotheism; polytheists will feel remorse – after it is too late for them – when they see that they will never get out of Hell and that their good deeds are done in vain: "...Whoever associates others with God, God has forbidden him Paradise, and his dwelling is the Fire. The unjust ones have no supporters." (5:72); "...Thus God will show them their deeds, as regrets to them, and they will not come out of the Fire." (2:167).

He said: Thank you; you have made me realize the vital importance of making people remember this verse: "Perform the prayer at the borders of the day, and during the approaches of the night. The good deeds remove away the bad deeds. This is a reminder for those who remember." (11:114). All people must take heed of the Reminder; namely, the Quran: God's Word. The polytheists do not realize that they will lose their souls in Hell for eternity because of their adherence to mythical narratives, belief in hadiths/discourses, worship of tombs, and deification of mortals. They are rejecting Paradise because of their sticking to Sunnite, Shiite, and Sufi mythology of polytheism that will lead them to Hell for eternity! Does their mythology deserve this sacrifice?!

We said: You should say this to the polytheistic Muhammadans; you should remember that God says in the Quran: "God does not wrong the people in the least, but the people wrong their own selves." (10:44).

He said: Of course, as always, God says nothing but the Absolute Truth.


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