The best actions are those that benefit others. The Prophet (p) emphasized many acts of selflessness, like feeding others, bringing a smile to someone, going out of your way to help someone with their challenges.
Islam has always placed a significant emphasis on acts of worship that benefit others. While solitary acts of worship are, no doubt, rewarded, the deeds that impact those other than yourself are given more weight. Many hadith and religious traditions focus on communal deeds. While spiritual seclusion is sometimes necessary, it can’t be our norm. Prior to revelation, Prophet Muhammad (p) would seclude himself in the cave of Hira to contemplate creation and to be away from the idolatrous practices of his people. After revelation started, he did not return to Hira. Instead, he expended his efforts to not only call his people to Islam, but also to help people in his society. He was already known as Al-Ameen—the Trustworthy. But now he was An-Nabi—the Prophet. His message and his actions were one and the same.
Some of his sayings include:
- “The most beloved dish according to Allah is that which most hands feed from.” [Ibn Hibban, Hasan]
- “The best of people are those who are best in fulfilling [rights].” [Ibn Majah, Sahih]
- “The best of you is he from whom good is anticipated and safety from his evil is assured; the worst of you is he from whom nothing good is expected and one is not safe from his evil.” [Tirmidhi, Sahih]
- “The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind.” [Daraqutni, Hasan]
- ““The best dinar which a man can spend is a dinar which he spends on his children, a dinar which he spends on his riding beast for the sake of Allah, and a dinar which he spends on his companions for the sake of Allah.” [Muslim]
The effects of a good deed to others have effects beyond yourself. That’s why we were encouraged to do so, even if it’s just greeting someone with a smile. That smile can brighten someone’s day, and their smile can reach others. We sometimes neglect the small gestures, thinking them to be trivial. A good deed ripples around you, and you may not know how far it will reach or where it will end.