I would like to know what is a correct definition of “Neiki” (pious act). People normally quote a Hadith in its answer that says Neiki is what makes your heart content (I am not quoting the Hadith wording, just the essence) I don’t know what was the status of the person to whom this answer was given by Holy Prophet PBUH. The thing is here we have agnostics, atheists, liberal humanist and so many others who lead a very content and comfortable life. So this definition appears to me very subjective.
Further I am confused over a thing that if something becomes our habit just by virtue of our environment then does that constitute a neiki. For instance I often meet people who just offer Friday prayer whole year. they do it just because they have become habitual of doing it over the years. They don’t do it out of any spirit to fulfill an obligation. Similarly we have many other cases where we do an act of piety just because we have become habitual of doing it or it has become a trait of our personality or it becomes a part of our taste or appetite owing to the environment we live in.
Then very often we come across situations where we have options to choose from more than one paths. Some people say that the right path is only one and others are the shades of darkness. They place this understanding on another Hadith that says Holy Prophet PBUH drew one straight line on the ground and then some other lines besides and said that straight line is my path and rest belong to devil (this is just an essence not actual wording). Similarly I remember an opinion in this regard of respectable Imam Shafi who say (not actual wording) when you have options to choose then choose one which is most against your “nafs”. So I want to know when situation poses more than one paths or options then how should we decide and in such circumstances what would be the true definition of neiki and could it be different for different persons facing the same situation.
Same is the case of “Badi” (evil act) there could be lots and lots of evil acts that I know but they all don’t tempt me equally. Like drinking does not temp me at all but viewing a romantic film does tempt me. So here again I am confused as to what is my actual trial. Normally what I see in the society that every person does bad acts and evil acts that tempt him and simultaneously he feels satisfaction that he is not into some heinous acts (that just don’t tempt him) so what is the trial and what is actual definition of Badi. Is it different for different person.
So this is my humble query. I can guess this is confusing too like previous one but I think you can understand what I am asking for
I thank in advance for entertaining my grotesque and fickle mind.
My answers to your questions follow:
It may apparently seem intriguing but the fact is that the Shari`ah does not give a definition of what constitutes good or evil deeds. The reason for this lack of definition of the Shari`ah is simply that according to the Qur’an, man is naturally bestowed with the inherent ability to distinguish between good and evil. The Qur’an says:
The human soul and the way it has been adorned – with the inspiration of what is right for it and what is wrong – bears witness that whoever purifies it, shall succeed and whoever corrupts it, shall fail. (Al-Shams 91: 6 – 9)
The verse tells us that the knowledge of good and evil is inherent to man and is in itself a great indication of the fact that man’s creator is not indifferent towards good and/or evil and will, therefore, hold man responsible for all the evil that he has done and will reward him for all of his good deeds.
In its essence, it is the same fact, as explained above that the Prophet (pbuh) is ascribed to have pointed out in his cited explanation of what ‘good’ deeds are. Good deeds include all those deeds that we naturally know to be good and, therefore, doing these gives elation and contentment to our heart.
It is true that some people perform some good deeds habitually. This is so because no society in the world is ever devoid of all good. Good deeds in one form or the other continue to exist and are strongly promoted in every society. A child growing up in the traditions of that society develops a habit of performing those deeds and, subsequently, is required to build upon these good deeds as and when his practical realization of these deeds improves and as and when he is faced with circumstances requiring various responses from him. As regards the rewards in the Hereafter, Islam very strongly promotes the belief that only those good deeds shall deserve reward from the Almighty, which are performed for earning His pleasure. Deeds that are done for gaining any other benefit or satisfaction shall not carry any weight in the balance of the Hereafter.
It may, however, be added that when an individual consciously opts for the membership and ascription of a particular social group, which he considers to be pious and, as a result, develops habits of performing good deeds, then not only will he be greatly rewarded for his initial decision of ascribing to the pious social group, but will also be fully rewarded for each of the good habits that he develops by being a part of that pious social group.
The point that there is only one straight path that is right is true with reference to the foundations of God’s religion. These foundations include the basic beliefs propounded by God’s religion. In contrast to these foundations, there can be a difference of understanding of the situation and, therefore, a difference regarding the perceived expected response from an individual, with regard to deeds. This, however, does not affect the definition of what ‘good’ is.
As the cited verse of the Qur’an clearly states, like good, man is also fully aware of what is evil. All of man’s excuses in this regard may sound philosophically agreeable, yet the fact remains that man will be held responsible for intentionally doing whatever he – according to his own understanding – held to be evil.
This also gives us a clear picture of what our trial precisely is in this life. In simple words, in the life of this world, man is faced with the trial of being willing to pay the price for all that he understands to be good deeds and not to hold himself back from doing these deeds, on the one hand; and, on the other, from refraining himself from whatever he understands to be evil and to be willing to sacrifice the temporal pleasures entailed in them.
I hope this helps.
October 28, 2004