Continuing from Part 1, we move on the topic of a believers’ actions and the corresponding effects:
4) The link between actions and reward:
There are three types of reward that result from our actions in this world:
a) Subjective reward – a lack of real connection between an action and its reward, put in place by someone and can be removed just as easily; it can be avoided and is usually temporal, like a traffic fine or jail sentence.
b) Real reward received after the action – there exists a real and existential connection between the action and reward, like eating unhealthy food and the resulting bad health after some time.
c) Real reward received at the time of the action – the resulting reward is the action itself, insofar that it is the hidden reality of the action, and the time of occurrence of the reward is at the time occurrence of the action, like the cutting of the hand with a knife or burning ones fingers.
When contemplating the Qur’anic verses and the narrations of the Ahlul Bayt (‘as), the Holy Household of Muhammad (saw), on dealing with the subject of action and reward, we find that they unequivocally state the real, existential and link, and instantaneous result, of our actions and the rewards of the hereafter, and not as most people imagine receiving the result of their actions at a later date.
لَّقَدْ كُنتَ فِي غَفْلَةٍ مِّنْ هَـٰذَا فَكَشَفْنَا عَنكَ غِطَاءَكَ فَبَصَرُكَ الْيَوْمَ حَدِيدٌ
(And unto the evil-doer it is said): Thou wast in heedlessness of this. Now We have removed from thee thy covering, and piercing is thy sight this day.
This verse indicates that the result of our actions becomes a reality with the action, even if we were heedless of this fact in this world, since heedlessness is only of a known presence, and the removing of the covering over our heart’s eye is only of a reality that is hidden (due to said heedlessness).
وَإِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ لَمُحِيطَةٌ بِالْكَافِرِينَ
Lo! hell verily is all around the disbelievers.
Grammatically this verse indicates that Hell is a reality existing at this moment, and that it is the hidden reality of this world, and that the disbelievers are engulfed by this hell in their earthly life.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَىٰ ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًا ۖ وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًا
Lo! Those who devour the wealth of orphans wrongfully, they do but swallow fire into their bellies, and they will be exposed to burning flame.
This is but one example of the hidden reality of an evil action, with many more given in the verses of the Holy Qur’an, which I’ll touch upon in later posts.
Therefore, if we conclude that all our actions have a hidden reality, the question arises: why are we not aware of the reward of our actions in this world? Why can’t feel this hell that the Qur’an talks about? Or the sweetness of paradise when committing a good deed? The answer to this can be established from the first verse mentioned above, which clearly states that we are in a state of heedlessness in this world, preoccupied with the daily routines of our lives, and unaware of the realities of our deeds, not because there is a cover on THEM, but a cover on OUR souls.
Abu Abdullah (‘as) said in a narration:
تاه من جهل، واهتدى من أبصر وعقل، إن الله عزوجل يقول: فإنها لا تعمى الابصار و لكن تعمى القلوب التي في الصدور وكيف يهتدي من لم يبصر؟ وكيف يبصر من لم يتدبر؟
Stray those who are ignorant and find the right guidance those who think and understand. Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High, has said, "It is their hearts in the centre which are blind, not their ears." (22:46) How can one does not see find guidance and how would one understand without thinking?
From the above another question arises and that is: Is it possible to see the hidden reality of an act? How can we establish the link between burdensome things like fasting or jihad in the way of Allah (swt), and the great rewards that these actions produce? And the question that precedes that is: Who is the one with the capacity to see the actions for what they really are? The answer: Nobody except the infallibles. They are those individuals for whom the difference between visible and hidden does not exist.
To summarize, that all the deeds Man does, and his habits, morals and beliefs are all visible in external action, and that these actions have a hidden reality, which is the penalty resulting from it, even though we do not feel it. The Holy Qur’an has pointed to this fact in several verses, referring to the visible to ‘Dominion’ or ‘Revelation’ and to the hidden as ‘Exalted Governance’ or ‘Interpretation’, as in the verse:
وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُرِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ مَلَكُوتَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلِيَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُوقِنِينَ
Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he might be of those possessing certainty.
 Al Kafi, H451, Ch.5 (english); Vol.1 pg 183 (arabic)