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Al-Baqiyat al-Salihat

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Al-bāqīyāt al-ṣāliḥāt (Arabic: الباقیات الصالحات) (literally: lasting righteous deeds) is a Qur'anic term which refers to good deeds whose rewards endure in the Afterlife. The phrase, "al-baqiyat al-salihat", occurs in two verses of the Qur'an, and there are other verses in which related notions appear.

Examples for al-baqiyat al-salihat are mentioned in hadiths. However, Qur'anic exegetes believe that there is no reason to restrict them to those examples. In the commonsensical use of the term among Muslims, "al-baqiyat al-salihat" refers more restrictedly to public servicesو the effects and blessings of which endure after one's death. Some books have been written under "al-Baqiyat al-salihat".

The Quranic Notion

"Al-baqiyat al-salihat" refers to good human deeds, because the Qur'an makes it explicit that while all human actions (both good and bad) are recorded before God, the rewards of good deeds endure in the afterlife, contrary to good deeds that are only beneficial in this world.

The phrase, "al-baqiyat al-salihat", appears in two Makki suras of the Qur'an:

1. Qur'an 18: 46,

Wealth and children are an adornment of the life of the world, but lasting righteous deeds are better with your Lord in reward and better in hope.

2. Qur'an 19: 76,

Allah enhances in guidance those who are [rightly] guided, and lasting righteous deeds are better with your Lord in reward, and better at the return [to Allah].

Exegetes of the Qur'an interpret "al-baqiyat al-salihat" as the performance of divine commands and avoidance of sins, as well as righteous actions, worships, and good deeds.

The two suras in which the phrase, "al-baqiyat al-salihat", occurs also point to deeds whose benefits are limited to this world. Qur'an 19: 76 refers to the life of people who had a good worldly life but were destroyed, without leaving al-baqiyat al-salihat. Qur'an 18: 46 refers to wealth and children as adornments of the worldly life, and then points out that al-baqiyat al-salihat are better for reward and hope.

Although all believers know that good deeds—al-baqiyat al-salihat—are better, what the verse refers to is that they are better with respect to endurance of their rewards, as opposed to short-lived temporary benefits in this world.

Related Verses

Some other verses of the Qur'an have been associated to the notion of al-baqiyat al-salihat:

1. Verses concerning the rewards of one's good deeds, such as verse 110 of Qur'an 2[1], verse thirty of Qur'an 3[2], and verses seven [3] and eight[4] of Qur'an 99.

2. Verses concerning the regret of sinners after death because they failed to do good deeds, such as verse thirty nine of Qur'an 19 [5] and verse twenty four of Qur'an 89[6].

3. Verses concerning sinners who beg God to let them back to the worldly life in order to do good deeds, such as Qur'an 23: 99-100 [7]

According to some exegetes, Qur'an 11:86 [8], and according to a hadith from Amir al-Mu'minin (a), Qur'an 42:20 [9], are concerned with al-baqiyat al-salihat.

Examples in Hadiths

Exegetes of the Qur'an have cited exegetical hadiths in which numerous examples of al-baqiyat al-salihat are mentioned:

1. Al-tasbihat al-arba'a: Subhan Allah, wa l-hamd li-llah, wa la ilah-a illa Allah, wa Allah Akbar, (Arabic: سبحان‌الله و الحمدلله و لا إله إلاّ الله والله أکبر), (Exalted is Allah, and praise is for Allah, and there is no god except Allah, and God is the greatest).

2. The three dhikrs of "la ilah illa Allah", (Arabic: لااله الا الله), (There is no god but Allah), astaghfir Allah, (Arabic: أستغفرالله), (I seek forgiveness from Allah) and salawat, Allāhumm-a Ṣall-i Alā Muḥammad-in Wa Al-i Muḥammad O Allah, (Arabic: اللهم صل علی محمد و آل محمد), May you grant peace and honor on Muhammad and his family.

3. Any dhikrs

4. Testifying for the Oneness of God and avoidance of polytheism

5. Night Prayer and tahajjud (vigilance)

6. Daily prayers

7. Good words

8. Good intentions

9. Whatever is done for the sake of God

10. Love of Ahl al-Bayt (a)

11. Righteous daughters.

A great portion of these hadiths have interpreted "al-baqiyat al-salihat" as al-Tasbihat al-Arba'a.

Although the exegetes of the Qur'an cite these hadiths, they generally interpret "al-baqiyat al-salihat" as righteous deeds, taking the above examples to be certain applications of the notion.

The Commonsensical Notion

According to the Qur'anic definition, all good deeds of a person count as "al-baqiyat al-salihat". However, the term has a more restricted meaning among Muslims, that is, effects of public services of a person that endure after his death (such as the construction of a mosque or a school, and the like). This notion has found its way into the writings of some jurists and ethicists as well. Thus, every righteous idea, word, and deed that remains after one's death and affects people and communities count as "al-baqiyat al-salihat". Thus, "al-baqiyat al-salihat" refers to good deeds whose effects and blessings endure after one's death, and he is constantly rewarded because of those effects.

There are many hadiths about acts with posthumous rewards, without mentioning "al-baqiyat al-salihat", such as waqf (endowment), leaving a volume of the Qur'an which is recited, branching a stream of water, constructing a mosque or a caravan-serai, planting a seedling, and establishing a good tradition.

Books of al-Baqiyat al-Salihat

As a result of different interpretations of "al-baqiyat al-salihat", a number of works have been written under "al-baqiyat al-salihat" throughout centuries with regard to dhikrs and supplications, principles of beliefs, or virtues of Ahl al-Bayt (a). Al-Shahid al-Awwal wrote a brief essay under "al-baqiyat al-salihat" in which he interpreted the dhikrs as symbols for the five principles (monotheism, prophethood, resurrection, justice, and imamate). Ali b. Muhammad al-Bayadi wrote an exposition for the essay under al-Kalimat al-nafi'at.

The following works have also been written under "al-baqiyat al-salihat"; a book in Urdu written by Sayyid Hasan b. Dildar Lakahnuwi about principles of beliefs; a book about supplications and dhikrs by Shaykh Abbas Qummi, which was published in 1346/1927 and then frequently in the margins of Mafatih al-jinan and a diwan (collection of poems) by Abd al-Baqi al-Faruqi concerning the virtues of Ahl al-Bayt (a), which was repeatedly published, including in 1276/1859.

Notes

  1. And maintain the prayer and give the zakat. Any good that you send ahead for your own souls, you shall find it with Allah. Indeed Allah watches what you do.
  2. The day when every soul will find present whatever good it has done; and as for the evil, it has done, it will wish there were a far distance between it and itself. Allah warns you to beware of [disobeying] Him, and Allah is most kind to [His] servants.
  3. So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it,
  4. and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.
  5. Warn them of the Day of Regret, when the matter will be decided, while they are [yet] heedless and do not have faith.
  6. He will say, ‘Alas, had I sent ahead for my life [in the Hereafter]!’
  7. When death comes to one of them, he says, ‘My Lord! Take me back (99), that I may act righteously in what I have left behind.’ ‘By no means! These are mere words that he says.’ And before them is a barrier until the day they will be resurrected (100).
  8. What remains of Allah's provision is better for you, should you be faithful, and I am not a keeper over you.
  9. Whoever desires the tillage of the Hereafter, We will enhance for him his tillage, and whoever desires the tillage of the world, We will give it to him, but he will have no share in the Hereafter.

References