وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ طَرَفَيِ ٱلنَّهَارِ وَزُلَفٗا مِّنَ ٱلَّيۡلِۚ إِنَّ ٱلۡحَسَنَٰتِ يُذۡهِبۡنَ ٱلسَّيِّـَٔاتِۚ ذَٰلِكَ ذِكۡرَىٰ لِلذَّـٰكِرِينَ
Thus ˹O Prophet˺ duly establish the Prayer at both ends of the day, and at the near hours of the night. Indeed, good deeds remove misdeeds. This is a reminder for those who would be mindful and reflect on this admonition.
(Surat Hud, Verse 114)
(Translation from Ahmad Zaki Hammad)
The most virtuous nights of the year have passed. That is, of course, the last ten nights of Ramadan. The most virtuous days of the year have recently concluded. That is, of course, the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah. Just like that, with the blink of an eye, the most blessed Islamic months have concluded. With the blink of an eye, our Eid celebrations of the fasting and Pilgrimage, have ended.
For many Muslims, the conclusion of these holy months means the return to our old ways. We return to our normal life of working, school, bills to pay, family to take care of, and other stressors. To put it into simple terms, we return to the life of the dunya. Unfortunately, for some people, this also means the return of our Qurans to their spots on the bookshelves and allow the dust to collect upon it until the following year, as if it is just a normal item on display as decoration. Allah ﷻ tells us through the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of our beloved Messenger ﷺ words of wisdom that can truly make you a successful believer in this world and the afterlife. Allah ﷻ graciously provided us with a “reminder for the mindful.”
Surat Hud, Aya 114 is truly powerful. There are two important messages that Allah ﷻ is trying to convey to us and his Messenger ﷺ. The first message is about As-Salah (prayer). Allah ﷻ says to his Prophet (ﷺ), to establish prayer at the beginning of the day, evening, and the night. We know that Salah is very important in our religion, so it is not surprising to hear Allah ﷻ stating this. However, there is something different about it in this verse. Allah ﷻ is connecting Salah with the cleansing of our evil deeds. Salah is a virtuous act. Perhaps, it is the most virtuous act that a Muslim can do. So, when our Lord ﷻ is advising us through his Messenger ﷺ that each time we establish the prayer, our evil deeds are wiped away and even replaced with good deeds.
The second message that Allah ﷻ is conveying to his slaves is that indeed, the good deeds wipe away the bad deeds. Allah ﷻ created mankind as sinners. It was narrated by Anas, may Allah ﷻ be pleased with him, that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Every son of Adam is a sinner.” (Tirmidhi)
We must first admit to ourselves our faults and that is simply that we are going to fall into sin. It is how we react and what we do to make up for those sins that truly counts. We know that the first and most important task to complete after sinning is Tawbah (repentance). However, it does not end there! Allah ﷻ says that the act of performing good deeds cleanses us of our bad deeds! SubhanAllah, through His glory and mercy, our Lord ﷻ wants us to cleanse our sins by performing acts of goodness! What a beautiful commandment from Allah ﷻ that is. Allah ﷻ gives us this advice because Muslims are people of true virtue. Muslims are people of honor, faith, humility, and strength.
It was narrated by Muadh Bin Jabal, may Allah ﷻ be pleased with him, that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Have taqwa (fear) of Allah wherever you may be, and follow up a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out, and behave well towards the people.” (Nawawi)
My brother and sisters, these two messages that Allah ﷻ is relaying to us through His Messenger ﷺ are very concise and simple: Establish the prayer, as it is an act of virtue that cleanses you of your sins. Perform as many acts of good as possible, as indeed the good deeds wipe away your bad deeds. Following these gracious pieces of advice will lead you down the path of virtue. These are reminders for the mindful.
By Ahmad Salah