What deeds and favors cause a person to be forgiven? Are there examples mentioned in hadiths?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

First of all, it is necessary to know that the reason why it is stated in some hadiths that some deeds cause forgiveness is to attract attention to the importance of those deeds. It does not mean that such a deed will always cause a person to be forgiven. That is, it is contrary to the spirit of Islam to do a certain deed that will guarantee forgiveness and then relax.

Man is obliged to obey all orders and prohibitions of Allah. Allah’s consent is in question in obedience and His wrath in disobedience. Therefore, it is rational to do all good deeds that will enable man to attain Allah’s consent and to avoid all sins that will cause His wrath.

After this short explanation, we can give some examples from hadiths that lead to forgiveness:

The Prophet (pbuh) narrated the following:

“A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way; he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, "This dog is suffering from thirst as I did." So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and watered it. Allah was pleased with him for that deed and forgave him."

The people with the Prophet (pbuh) said, "O Messenger of Allah! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?" The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being)." (Bukhari, Shirb 9, Wudu 33, Muslim, Salam 153, Abu Dawud, Jihad 47)

“A prostitute saw a dog turning around a well on a hot day; it was panting due to thirst. She took off her shoe, filled it with water and gave the water to the dog. The woman was forgiven due to this deed.” (Muslim, Tawba, 155)

“There was a merchant who lived among the people before you. He would lend money to the people. When he saw a poor person among his debtors, he would say to his servants, 'Forgive his debts so that Allah may forgive our sins.' Indeed, Allah forgave his sins.” (Bukhari, Sulh, 10; Muslim, Musaqah,19; Tayalisi, 269)

“There was a man who did not do any good deeds. However, he lent money to people and he would say to his employee who collected his money,

‘Collect the money from those who can pay it easily but do not collect it from poor people. Thus, Allah may forgive our sins.’ When he died, Allah asked him if he did any good deeds. The man said,

“No. However, I lent money to people and I said to my servant who collected money, ‘Collect the money from those who can pay it easily but do not collect it from poor people. Thus, Allah may forgive our sins,” Thereupon, Allah said,

“I have forgiven your sins.” (Bukhari, Buyu, 18; Anbiya, 50; Muslim, Musaqah, 31)

“A person intended to visit his Muslim brother in another village. Allah sent an angel to wait for him on his way. When he arrived, the angel asked him where he was going. The man said,

‘I intend to go to my brother in this town.’ The angel asked,

‘Do you want to go there because you expect a material interest from him?’ The man said,

‘No. I am going to visit him just because I love him for Allah.’ The angel said,

‘I am a messenger to you from Allah. I have come to inform you that Allah loves you as you love him for His sake.’(Muslim, Birr, 38)

"If a person hides the mistake of another person in the world, Allah will hide his mistake on the Day of Judgment." (Muslim, Birr, 72)

"If a person forgives a person though he can punish him, Allah will forgive him on the Day of Judgment." (Suyuti, al-Fathul-Kabir, 3/212)

Let us summarize the issue with some verses:

“Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (az-Zumar, 39/53)

"And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins,- and who can forgive sins except Allah?- and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done. For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath,- an eternal dwelling: How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)." (Aal-i Imran, 3/135, 136)

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