Imam Malik [May Allah be pleased with him] said, “It was related to me that Qasim the son of Muhammad used to say: “I met a group of people who were not impressed with words.”
Commenting on this Imam Malik said, “What he means is that their actions [were what impressed them]. For, indeed, they would only look towards ones action and not his/her words.”
Fiqh of the Hadith
Imam al-Baji wrote in al-Muntaqa: “A group of people means the Companions [may Allah be pleased with them]……what Malik meant by their actions was: statements that are not coupled with actions were not impressive to the virtuous people. On the contrary, what impressed them were the actions of the scholars. Allah says, “Oh you who profess faith. Why do you say what you do not do? Most despicable to Allah is that you say what you do not do.” (al-Muntaqa 4/462)
It is interesting to note that this important point of advice was placed, by Imam Malik, under the chapter heading “al-Taqwa.” This would indicate that balance between words and deeds is a sign of this important quality.
The callers to Islam are faced with the dubious task of being sincere, humble and self scrutinizing. The latter, in the face of a tidal wave of adulation and self intoxication, can flee like sand from one’s hands. Self introspection is the key to maintaining one’s sanity in a time when being a caller to Islam has many fringe benefits. For that reason, in the same chapter, we find the narration of Anas the son of Malik who states that he was walking and there was a wall between him and a person. Suddenly he heard that person say, “Oh Leader of the Faithful! Good job! Good Job! You must fear Allah ‘Umar or, for sure, He will punish you.” Ibn al-Qudamah mentioned that one should make a list at night of all of his/her deeds. Those done for Allah should bring about one’s praise of Allah and those done for something else, or sins, warrant seeking forgiveness and mercy.