When reminding people of their sins, it is good to mention positive action as well, by emphasizing the value of performing good deeds. Allah says: “Surely, good deeds wipe away evil deeds.” [Sūrah Hūd: 114]
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has informed us of various kinds of good deeds that can atone for our sins. For instance, Abū Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
A prostitute was forgiven when she passed by a dog near a well. It was panting and dying of thirst. She removed her shoe and tied it to her scarf. Then she drew out some water for it from the well. Allah forgave her for that. [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (3321) and Sahīh Muslim (2245)]
Abū Hurayrah also relates:
The Prophet said: “One a man was walking and he was extremely thirsty. He descended into a well and drank from it. When he came out, he saw a dog panting and eating mud to relieve its thirst. The man thought to himself: This creature has reached the same state that I was in. So he went down the well again, filled his shoe with water, and gave the dog water to drink. Allah was grateful to him and forgave him.”
The people asked: “O Messenger of Allah! Do we receive rewards on account of beasts?”
He replied: “There is a reward for being charitable to anything with a living heart.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (2363) and Sahīh Muslim (2244)]
How much more can we expect the reward to be for helping our fellow human beings! Allah is most gracious and He never lets any of our good deeds come to naught. For this reason, being kind, generous, and magnanimous to others is one of the best ways to seek Allah’s forgiveness.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Once a man was walking down a road when he came upon a branch of thorns in the middle of the way. He moved it to one side and cleared the path, so Allah was grateful to him and forgave him.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (654) and Sahīh Muslim (1914)]
Instead of placing obstacles in other people’s paths, why do we not rather make it our business to remove those obstacles and make it easier for them to find happiness in life? We should make this part of our life’s mission.
A young lady once contacted me and complained about all the difficulties and tribulations she was facing in her life. I suggested to her that she should focus on helping others, like her parents, siblings, and elders. A year later, she called me up again to tell me how happy she was, and how much Allah has provided for her and blessed her with opportunities.
I said to her: “If people could only hear what you are saying, especially those who are coping with difficulties and sorrows in their lives. They could know firsthand a way out of their problems that is so easy to implement but so few every think to try.”