Selections from the Discourses and Exhortations of the Promised Messiah

by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian

The Wisdom of Supererogatory Acts of Goodness

The Hadith tells us that those who do extra good in addition to the compulsory duties prescribed in the Law will gain closeness to Allah, Most High. Abu Hurairah reported Allah’s messenger as stating that Allah has said:

“If anyone is hostile to a friend of mine, I have declared war against him.

“No one draws near to Me with anything dearer to Me than what I have made obligatory for him.

“If My servant keeps drawing near to Me with supererogatory acts, I shall love him, and when I love him, I shall be his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he grasps, and his foot with which he walks.

“If he asks from Me, I shall certainly give him and if he seeks refuge in Me, I shall certainly give him refuge.

“I have not hesitated about anything I do as I hesitate about taking the soul of a believer who dislikes death, for I dislike grieving him, but he cannot escape it.”

From this we can see that there are two kinds of actions: obligatory (fard) which pertain to those commands of the Almighty which we are commanded to perform and supererogatory acts (nafl) meaning what we willingly do beyond the scope of the compulsory duties laid down by the Law (Shariah). These actions are performed so that if there is any deficiency in our obligatory duties, our voluntary deeds will make up for the shortfall.

Some people restrict the range of the nawafil, that is, voluntary duties, only to the prayer service. However, this is not correct, for every single action of man has something extra attached to it. For example, we pay zakat (compulsory tax) at the stipulated rate of two and a half percent (2.5%) but we should sometimes give a little more. Similarly, we observe the compulsory fasts in the month of Ramadan but outside of this month there are other fasts which we should perform. Again, we may take a loan from someone, but we should return more than the capital for this is an act of great kindness.

Voluntary acts of goodness complete and perfect our obligatory duties, for when performing some extra goodness, our hearts are filled with humility and fear which tend to compensate for any deficiency in our compulsory obligations. The secret of voluntary acts of goodness lies in bringing a person closer to the Almighty.  This state is engendered when the heart is filled with humility and meekness and has separated itself from everything besides Allah, Most High. This is why fasting on the 13th, 14th and 15th of the lunar month and the six extra fasts in the month of Shawwal are all grouped under the heading of supererogatory acts in a devotee’s striving to attain proximity to Allah, Most High.

Thus, we should be aware that voluntary acts of righteousness are a means of helping us to win Allah’s complete love. The result is that Allah, Most High, promises to such a believer that He will become the eyes by which he sees and that his glance will fall wherever he wills it to alight.

The hadith also says:

“I (Allah) shall become the hand by which he holds.”

In many cases, through his hands, man commits deeds that transgress the limit of what is permissible. Allah, Most High, says that a believer should not improperly exceed the bounds of what is legally allowed.

Again, the Almighty says:

“I become the tongue by which he speaks.”

An indication of this is given in the following Quranic verse which says in relation to the Holy Prophet [Muhammad] (sas):

وَ مَا یَنۡطِقُ عَنِ الۡہَوٰی ؕ﴿۳﴾

“Nor does he speak out of desire” (The Holy Quran, 53:3).

That is why whatever the Holy Prophet (sas) spoke was uttered only in accordance with the command of Allah, Most High, and as regards his hand, the Holy Quran states:

وَ مَا رَمَیۡتَ اِذۡ رَمَیۡتَ وَ لٰکِنَّ اللّٰہَ رَمٰی ۚ

“… and when thou threwest (a handful of dust) it was not thy act, but Allah threw …” (The Holy Quran, 8:17)

(at the battle of Badr). In other words, through voluntary acts of goodness, man attains a lofty spiritual rank and draws ever closer to his Creator until he is included in the company of the saints.

The hadith also says:

“Whoever becomes an enemy of My friend should get ready to do battle with Me.”

And it also states that Allah, Most High, will pounce on such an adversary just as a tigress would do in order to protect her young from being taken away. In short, man should always strive and labour to achieve this station. No one knows when death will suddenly strike. It is the duty of the believer never to become negligent and he should always entertain the fear of the Almighty in his heart.

[Source: Malfuzat, vol.2 (old edition), pp.198–200]