I’ve been asked to explain what people mean when they say they’re doing things “for the pleasure of Allah”. I’m not the best person to explain this, I better admit this outright, I am not an aalima (female scholar of Islam) or anything like that, but I will try my best to explain this based on the limited knowledge that I have, and Allah knows best.
So Marie brought up an important point when she commented on my previous post, saying that she always hears people say this, but she’s not really sure what they mean. The thing is that we tend to take things for granted, and sometimes we all need a reminder of what we’re actually talking about, we need to check if our intentions are sincere, so I am very glad that Marie brought this up.
For me, doing things for the pleasure of Allah is all about intention. See we do things for many different reasons. We go to work so that we can earn money, we do something nice for someone so that they can be happy, we buy things for ourselves because we like it, if we have children, we may look after them and provide for them because we love them, we may do things for our loved ones because we want to please them or because it makes us happy, but when we do things for the pleasure of Allah, then it does not involve a human being or human feeling at all, it is simply because we want Allah to be pleased with us.
When we do things for the pleasure of Allah only, then we do not seek reward from anyone else, this includes any form of reward. In this case, it won’t matter to us if people appreciate what we do, or if people are happy with us, all that matters in this case is that Allah Almighty is pleased with us. So when we make our intention, we do not consider how our actions will look to others, we only consider Allah. I’ll give you an example; If I say that I am doing a workshop with fellow Muslim sisters only for the pleasure of Allah, then I should not expect any reward from people for this. So I shouldn’t want to be appreciated by the group that I belong to, or I shouldn’t want the women we do workshops with to appreciate what I’m doing, or I shouldn’t expect to be paid for my work. If people do appreciate it and if it makes people happy, then Alhamdullillah (All Praise is for Allah), this is good, but this should not be expected by me. If people criticise me, then I should accept that without becoming disturbed, because I am not doing it for people, I am doing it for Allah Almighty only.
A friend of mine likes to use another example when she talks about this; one that we can all relate to more easily. Her example, is that for instance if you bake a beautiful chocolate cake and you take it to your neighbour and you say you’re doing it for the pleasure of Allah, then you can’t wait for your neighbour’s pleasure, you can’t expect your neighbour to praise you and tell everyone how good you are, or you can’t expect her to go on about how wonderful you bake or how great your cake is. If you do expect these things then you did not really do it for the pleasure of Allah. When you do things for the pleasure of Allah then you will not expect any praise or anything from people, you will want your reward from Allah only, because if you want your reward from people and if you get it from people, then this is not for the pleasure of Allah.
On the other hand, if you do bake a cake and take it to your neighbour for the pleasure of Allah because you know that Islam encourages building good relationships with your neighbours and if your neighbour then tells everyone that your cake was horrible, then this won’t bother you at all, because you’ll know that your reward lies with Allah. Since you did it for the pleasure of Allah, you won’t care whether your neighbour’s reactions are positive or negative.
It’s not a small thing to say that you’re doing something for the pleasure of Allah, because if you say so and your intention is not right then on the day of reckoning Allah will tell you to seek your reward from those that you aimed to please instead of Allah.
The best example of people who do things only for the pleasure of Allah is those who do things that they do not entirely want to do but they know that it will please Allah, so they do it anyway. SubhanAllah, these people can really be admired. For instance, if someone has a family member who is always nasty to them and they really could do without that person in their life, but they know that if they continue to be good to that person then Allah will be pleased with them because family ties in Islam is very important. So despite the continuous nastiness, that person still continues to humble herself or himself and continues to be nice to the family member, not because she or he cares about the family member, but because they know that Allah will be more pleased with them. This is an example of someone who does something only for Allah’s pleasure.
Another example of doing things for the pleasure of Allah is if someone doesn’t have a lot of money and a poor person asks them for it, even though they need it themselves, they give it to the poor person because they know that Allah will be pleased with them if they do this.
No one will ever know what our true intentions are, only Allah has the ability to know what’s going on in our hearts and minds all of the time and this is why Allah knows when we do things for Allah’s pleasure and when we do it for the pleasure of others.
So in a nutshell, doing things for the pleasure of Allah requires a pure intention, and it is required that you want nothing from anyone else (whether this is reward like praise or even a thank you) or other material reward (like money or a gift). Whether people react to your actions in a positive way or in a negative way, it won’t make a difference to you if you did it for the pleasure of Allah. When you do things for the pleasure of Allah then you will accept all that goes with it (whether good or bad) because your intentions and your actions are directed at Allah and that is all that matters.
I hope Inshaa-Allah (with Allah’s will) that I have managed to explain this in a way that will help others to understand. If I have then Alhamdullillah, All Praise is due to Allah, and if I haven’t then I apologise for my deficiency, all weakness is with me and Allah is All Powerful.
May Allah help us all to direct our actions to Him, so that we can all do everything only for the Pleasure of Allah. Inshaa-Allah Ameen.