By Sheikh Abdul-Muhsin ibn Muhammad al-Qasim - 01 Rajab 1437
His Eminence Sheikh Abdul-Muhsin ibn Muhammad al-Qasim, may Allah preserve him, delivered the Friday khutbah entitled, “The Best and Most Meritorious Deeds,” in which he talked about the best places, times, words, and deeds. He mentioned the superiority of Makkah, al-Madinah, and al-Aqsa Mosque. He also showed the virtue of certain months, days, and nights and went on to talk about the best words and deeds, in a comprehensive Khutbah about many of the most virtuous acts.
Praise be to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil within ourselves and from our wrong deeds. He whom Allah guides, none can misguide, and he whom Allah sends astray, none can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone, Who has no partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. May Allah bestow his bountiful peace and blessings upon him and upon his family and Companions.
Fear Allah, O Servants of Allah, as He should be feared, and be mindful of Him in secret and in your private conversations.
Allah alone, Glorified be He, chooses and favours whatever He wills from among His creation, just as He alone creates and disposes all affairs in the right way.
"And your Lord creates whatsoever He wills and chooses: no choice have they (in any matter). Glorified be Allah, and exalted above all that they associate (as partners with Him)." (Al-Qasas: 68)
By virtue of His perfect knowledge, Allah bestows His grace on whoever and whatever He wills. The fact that Allah, alone, Glorified be He, chooses and favours whatever He wills testifies to His Lordship, Oneness, perfect wisdom, and infinite ability.
Allah has favoured His angels over the rest of His creation. He created them from light and assigned them the duty of running the affairs of His dominion. These angels: "... disobey not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded." (At-Tahrim: 6)
He has also honoured the children of Adam. He chose from them prophets and messengers, and from these, He chose our Prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and made him the master and the most honourable of all Adam’s progeny, as well as the best of all prophets and messengers. His Companions were the best of all companions and their generation was the best of all generations. They were so unique that none has ever been, or will ever be, like them. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The best people are those of my generation, then those who will come after them (the next generation), and then those who will come after them” (Agreed upon). Ash-Shafi‘i, may Allah have mercy on his soul, said about them, “They are superior to us in every aspect of understanding, knowledge, religion and guidance, as well as in every means by which knowledge is gained and guidance is attained. Their opinion is better for us than our opinion for ourselves.” The Muslim Ummah is the completion of seventy nations, of which it is the best and the most honourable in the sight of Allah. The people of Paradise are a hundred and twenty rows, eighty of which are from this Ummah, while the remaining forty are from the rest of other nations.
The most honourable of all people in the sight of Allah are those who fear Him most. Once two men, one a poor Muslim and the other of the noblest of people, passed by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said about the former, “This [poor man] is better than so many of the other filling the earth” (Reported by al-Bukhari).
Paradise is the abode of honour that Allah has prepared for His believing servants. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A place in Paradise as small as that occupied by the whip of one of you is better than the world and all that it contains” (Reported by al-Bukhari). The best part of Paradise is al-Firdaus. “It is the best and the highest place of Paradise. From it the rivers of Paradise gush forth, and above it is the Throne of the Most Gracious.” The best form of bliss for the dwellers of paradise will be the sight of Allah, Glorified be He. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “... Then He (i.e. Allah) will lift the veil, and of all the things given to them nothing will be dearer to them than the sight of their Lord, Might and Majesty be to Him” (Reported by Muslim).
Allah has created all places and has made some of them better than others. The best places are those in which the servants get nearer to their Lord and in which they are closer to attaining His good pleasure and His Paradise.
Makkah is the best and the most beloved of all places to Allah. It is a sacred city and the home of the qiblah, which Muslims face in their prayers, as well as the first mosque that was built on earth. One single prayer in the Sacred Mosque in Makkah is better than one hundred thousand prayers elsewhere. Allah has chosen Makkah for His servants to perform the pilgrimage rites. People’s hearts are inclined to it, and they make journeys to it through deep and distant mountain highways.
Al-Madinah, to which the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, migrated, is also a sacred city. Blessings in it are double those of Makkah. Offering one prayer in the Prophet’s Mosque in al-Madinah is far better than offering one thousand prayers in any other mosque (with the exception of the Sacred Mosque in Makkah). Whoever performs ablution (wudu’) at home and then goes to the Quba’ Mosque and performs a prayer there will be granted the reward of performing ‘umrah.
Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was the Muslims’ first qiblah and the place to which the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was taken on his night journey (al-Isra’).
No Muslim should undertake a journey to visit any mosque other than these three: the Sacred Mosque in Makkah, al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and the Prophet’s Mosque in al-Madinah.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The most beloved places to Allah are the mosques, and the most detestable places to Allah are the markets” (Reported by Muslim). Gatherings where Allah is remembered are gardens of Paradise. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No group of people assemble in one of the Houses of Allah to recite and learn the Book of Allah but tranquillity descends upon them, mercy engulfs them, the angels surround them, and Allah makes mention of them to those who are with Him” (Reported by Muslim).
Time is the means to the hereafter, and a sensible person is one who takes advantage of the most precious periods to do good deeds. The best month of the year is Ramadan, which Allah has commanded us to fast and in which He revealed the Qur’an. The Sacred Months are honoured in the sight of Allah, and wrongdoings during them are even more abominable than wrongdoings at any other time. The best of all days is the Day of Nahr (the day of offering sacrifice during ‘Eid al-Adha) and the second best is the Day of ‘Arafah (the day on which pilgrims performing hajj stand on the Mount of ‘Arafah). There are no days in which doing righteous deeds is more beloved to Allah than the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
Friday is the best day on which the sun has risen, and there is a time in it when Allah grants a Muslim standing in prayer whatever good he asks Him for. The last ten nights of Ramadan are all blessed, and the best night in the year is the Night of Decree (Lailat al-Qadr), which is better than a thousand months. The last third of the night is the most precious part of it. During this time, the Lord descends to the lowest circle of the heavens and affectionately asks His servants, “Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I will grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I will forgive him?” (Agreed upon).
Allah is Good and accepts only words and deeds that are good:
"... To Him ascend (all) the goodly words, and the righteous deeds exalt it (i.e. the goodly words are not accepted by Allah unless and until they are followed by good deeds) ..." (Fatir: 10)
Allah’s servants save with Him their good deeds, by virtue of which they will attain happiness, success, and deliverance. Allah has also favoured some good deeds over others. A servant does not draw nearer to Allah with anything more beloved to Him than the religious duties He has imposed upon him, and a servant will continue to draw nearer to Allah by doing supererogatory deeds until Allah loves him. The greatest of all religious duties is to have true belief and firm faith in Allah. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was asked, “What is the best deed?” He said, “To believe in Allah” (Agreed upon).
The best of hearts are those that are clean and sound, for the other parts of the body can only be good if the heart is good. In the hereafter neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who brings to Allah a clean heart. The early generations of Muslims were foremost in doing good deeds only due to the soundness of their hearts. Bakr al-Muzni, may Allah have mercy on his soul, said, “Abu-Bakr as-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, was better than them (i.e. the other companions) not due to excessive prayer or fasting, but due to something which settled in his heart.” Scholars have explained this statement, saying, “That which settled in Abu-Bakr’s heart was his love for Allah and the sincere advice he gave to His creation.”
Sincere worship of Allah alone is the source of all good and success. The best guidance is that of our Prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and following in his footsteps will bless our deeds and cause them to be accepted by Allah. The testimony of the Oneness of Allah is the motto of Islam and the key to Paradise. It combines all aspects of the religion, from beginning to end. It is the best and the uppermost branch of faith. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Faith has over sixty branches, the uppermost of which is to say ‘La ilaha illa Allah’ (There is no god but Allah)” (Agreed upon).
Loyalty to the believers and disavowal of the disbelievers and polytheists are a shield for Islam and Muslims. The strongest bond of faith is to love for the sake of Allah and hate for the sake of Allah. Those who love for the sake of Allah and hate for the sake of Allah have indeed perfected their faith. It is only through this that one can win Allah’s protection and taste the sweetness of faith.
The prayer is a bond between the servant and his Lord, and it is the best and the purest act of worship. It is the second pillar of Islam and one of its greatest foundations, and its performance or otherwise sets the believers and the non-believers apart. Performing prayers in congregation in the mosque is a religious duty, and the prayer performed in congregation is twenty-seven times more meritorious than the prayer performed individually. The person who will receive the highest reward for prayer is the one who goes to perform it in the mosque from the farthest distance. The best row in prayer for men is the first one, and the best row for women is the last one. The best type of prayer is that performed with long standing, with the exception of the cases in which the Shari‘ah texts recommend shortening it. The servant is closest to his Lord when he is prostrating himself to Him. The prayer a woman performs in her home is more meritorious than the prayer she performs in the mosque.
Apart from the prescribed prayers, the best prayer is that which one performs at home. The best prayer after the prescribed prayers is the voluntary night prayer, which the angels witness in the last third of the night. The best type of voluntary night prayer is the one performed by Prophet Dawud (David), peace be upon him. He would sleep half the night, stand in prayer one-third of it, and then sleep one-sixth of it. The two supererogatory rak‘ahs before the dawn prayer are better than this world and what it contains.
Charity extinguishes sins just as water extinguishes fire. It is one of the best deeds and a sign of true faith. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was once asked, “Which act in Islam is the best?” He replied, “To provide food [for the poor and the needy] and to greet those you know and those you do not know” (Agreed upon). The type of charity that is the greatest in reward is that which you give while you are healthy and close-fisted, haunted by the fear of poverty, and still hoping for wealth. As the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, do not delay giving to charity “until such a time when you are about to die, and you would then say, ‘This amount is for so-and-so, and that is for so-and-so,’ when the money is not yours anymore, but has already become the property of others (i.e. the inheritors)” (Agreed upon).
The best charity is that given out of surplus. The upper hand, the hand that gives, is better than the lower hand, the hand that takes. Concealing charity when giving it is better than revealing it, as this will keep one away from showing off, unless doing so brings about a predominant benefit, such as setting the good example of giving to charity. Allah, Glorified be He, says: "If you disclose your Sadaqat (alms-giving), it is well, but if you conceal it, and give it to the poor, that is better for you. (Allah) will expiate you some of your sins ..." (Al-Baqarah: 271)
Among the seven types of people whom Allah will shade under His Shade on the day when there is no shade but His is “a man who gives charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given” (Agreed upon). Easing the burden on debtors in difficulty is a form of charity. If anyone borrows money from others intending to repay it, Allah will help him repay it. Among the best of you are the best in repaying their debts.
Fasting is a shield from Hellfire, and the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allah than the fragrance of musk. The best month for fasting after Ramadan is Allah’s sacred month, al-Muharram. The most beloved type of fasting in the sight of Allah is the fasting that was performed by Prophet Dawud (David), peace be upon him. He would fast during one day and not fast the next.
Performing two ‘umrahs is expiation for the sins committed between them. There is no reward for a hajj that is accepted by Allah except Paradise. The best type of hajj is tamattu‘ (performing the rituals of ‘umrah and then hajj) as long as the pilgrim has not taken a sacrificial animal. Also shaving the head (in ‘umrah or hajj) is better than cutting the hair short. No man does any deed on the Day of Nahr (the day of offering sacrifice in‘Eid al-Adha) than slaughtering a sacrificial animal.
Striving in the cause of Allah in the evening or in the morning is better than the world and all that it contains. Guarding the frontiers for one day and one night is better than fasting a whole month and performing voluntary prayer during its nights, and even better than the world and all that it contains.
Seeking knowledge precedes and has priority over doing good deeds, for one has to seek knowledge first and then act on it. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “When Allah wills good for a person, He gives him sound understanding of the religion.” Allah does not equate those who know with those who do not know. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the moon over the stars in the light it emits.
People are of different natures. The best among people in al-Jahiliyyah (the days of ignorance before Islam) are the best among them in Islam, provided they have sound understanding of the religion. The best among people are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it. Sufyan ath-Thauri, may Allah have mercy on his soul, said, “No deed is better than seeking knowledge as long as one has good intention.”
Words of remembrance of Allah are the best words the tongue can utter. The best type of remembrance is the Great Qur’an, the Words of the Lord of the Worlds, which it is the best of the revealed scriptures. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If anyone says, ‘There is no god but Allah alone, Who has no partners. To Him is the dominion and all praise is due to Him. He is Powerful over all things,’ a hundred times on one day, no one will have done anything better than him except for someone who has said more than that” (Reported by Muslim). The most beloved words to Allah are Subhan Allah (Glorified be Allah), al-hamdu lillah (Praise be to Allah), la ilaha illa Allah (There is no god but Allah), and Allahu akbar (Allah is the Greatest). The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said about these words, “They are more beloved to me than anything over which the sun rises” (Reported by Muslim). The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, also said, “There are two statements that are light on the tongue, heavy on the scales (of weighing one’s deeds on the Day of Judgement), and beloved to the Most Gracious: ‘Subhan Allah wa bi hamdih’ (Glorified be Allah and praise be to Him) and ‘Subhan Allah al-‘Azim’ (Glorified be Allah, the Most Great)” (Agreed upon).
Calling to Allah is the mission of messengers. None can say anything better than calling to Allah. It is the reason behind this Ummah’s superiority and honour. If Allah guides a single person to the truth through you, this will be better for you than a whole lot of red camels, i.e. better than the best property in this world. Whoever calls people to guidance will have a reward equal to that of those who follow him until the Day of Judgement. In calling to Allah, priority should be given to the most important matters, and then to the next in importance. The most important and essential of all matters is to call people to believe in the Oneness of Allah and worship Him, and to save them from associating partners with Allah and from His wrath.
Putting things right between people is a religious act that draws one closer to Allah. It also leads to spreading love and compassion between people. Allah, Glorified be He, says:
"There is no good in most of their secret talks save (in) him who orders Sadaqah (charity in Allah’s Cause), or Ma‘ruf (Islamic Monotheism and all the good and righteous deeds which Allah has ordained), or conciliation between mankind; and he who does this, seeking the good Pleasure of Allah, We shall give him a great reward." (An-Nisa’: 114)
Because of its great benefit, conciliation between people helps one to attain the reward of fasting, praying, and charity. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Shall I not inform you of something more excellent in degree than fasting, performing the prayer, and giving to charity?” The Companions replied, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah!” He then said, “Putting things right between people” (Reported by at-Tirmidhi).
Allah’s servants are commanded to worship Allah and deal properly with His creation, and the most deserving of kindness and fine treatment among all people are one’s parents. The most mandatory rights are theirs, and the best deed after having faith in Allah is to honour them. After that one should deal well with the relatives closest in kinship.
A believer who mixes with the people and patiently endures their harm is better than one who does not mix with the people or endure their harm. The best among people is the believer who benefits people and does good to them. He is the one who deals with them as he wants them to deal with him, likes to them what he likes to himself, provides advice to them, and patiently endures their harm. The best among the believers in matters of faith are those with the best manners. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Among the best of you are those with the best manners” (Agreed upon). The heaviest thing to be placed on the scales of a believing servant on the Day of Judgement will be good manners.
The best among friends is that who is best to his friend, the best among neighbours is that who is best to his neighbours, the best of your rulers are those whom you love and who love you, and the best of people are the best to their families. The most beloved deeds to Allah are those that are regular and continuous, even if they are little. A little regular deed becomes so fruitful that it exceeds an irregular big act in reward many times over. The most beloved religion to Allah is tolerant Islamic monotheism (al-hanifiyyah).
Whenever the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was given a choice between two matters, he would always choose the easier of them, as long as it was not sinful. A strong believer is better and is more beloved to Allah than a weak believer. When the evil gets stronger, firmness in truth becomes all the more important. Among the people whom Allah shades under His Shade when there is no shade but His is “a man who was seduced by a beautiful, influential woman, but he said to her, ‘I fear Allah.’”
A good-doer who holds on to his religion in times that require endurance will have a reward equalling that of fifty of the Prophet’s Companions, yet the reward of companionship exceeds that. Similarly, the reward of worship in times of turmoil is equal to the reward of migration to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him (i.e. to al-Madinah). Times of turmoil are trials of one’s faith. During them, the sitting person is better than the standing one, and safety lies in avoiding them.
This world is an abode of toil and struggle. The best earnings are those made by one’s work with his own hand. Nobody has ever eaten better food than that earned by the work of his own hands. The best food that a man and his children can eat is that which he earns through his own work. It is better for a man to take his rope and collect firewood than to beg from people, who may give him something or not give him anything at all.
This world is but a passing enjoyment, and the best enjoyment of the world is a pious and virtuous woman. The best marriage is the easiest and the most blessed marriage is the least in expenses.
The names most beloved to Allah are Abdullah and Abdur-Rahman and the truest ones are Harith and Hammam. The best things to dye the grey hair with are henna and katam (a herb used for dying hair), and the best treatment you get is cupping. The best water is the blessed water of the Well of Zamzam, for it serves as food and a cure from diseases.
Now then, O Muslims!
A true believer seeks to accomplish the highest, most virtuous, and best acts. He has great hope in Allah, and Allah never disappoints those who implore Him and have good hope in Him.
He who does various good deeds and manages to perform the loftiest of them will have more bliss in this world and the hereafter. Surely, the reward and pleasure of one who performs every act of obedience and seeks the best of them will not be equal to the reward and pleasure of one who confines himself to one type of these acts and deprives himself of doing the best of them. I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Devil:
"And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqun (the pious)." (Al ‘Imran: 133)
May Allah bless you and me with the Great Qur’an and make us benefit from its verses and wise words. I have said what you have heard and I ask forgiveness of Allah for myself, for you, and for all Muslims, for any sin that we have committed. Ask Allah for forgiveness. He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.