Islam came to aid the world and to make it a better place to live in. Be it countries, communities or individuals, this great religion provides them with clear guidance. Allah has guaranteed those who live by the rules laid down in the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet eternal paradise.

As Muslims we are commanded to perform righteous deeds and Allah says about those who perform righteous actions: “Verily, those who believe and do righteous good deeds, they are the best of creatures.” (Qur’an, 98:7)

Righteous actions will aid us in this world and in the hereafter. In the famous narration collected by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet (peace be on him) said, “The dead person is followed (to his grave) by three: His family, his wealth and his actions. Two of them return and only one remains. His family and wealth return, but his actions remain.

From this narration, it is understood that our good actions and their benefits will remain with us forever.

But we need to look at what constitutes a righteous action. How often people think they have performed a good action but in fact they have not. So what are the conditions that a Muslim must fulfill in order for the action to be righteous? This is shown in the statement of Allah:
Say (O Muhammad, peace be upon him): I am only a man like you. It has been inspired to me that your God is One God. So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.” (Qur’an, 18:110)

For our deeds to be rewarded by Allah, we must first have the proper belief in Allah. We must worship Him alone and not associate anyone with Him. This is Tawheed, the foundation of Islam.

For our acts of worship to be correct, they must fulfill two conditions:

1. Sincerity – for the sake of Allah alone, and not for show-off;
2. Sunnah – must be in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

So if any act of worship is done not in compliance with the Sunnah, then it cannot be a righteous action because it has not fulfilled the conditions of a righteous action. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever innovates in this matter of ours what is not upon it, it shall be rejected.” (Al-Bukhari, 5/301, and Muslim, no.1718)

If with our deeds we seek the pleasure and praise of people, and not the pleasure of Allah, then such deeds would be rejected on the Day of Judgment and we would be asked to get our reward from those for whom we did those deeds in the first place.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that Allah said, “I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having any partners. Thus, whosoever does an action for the sake of someone else as well as Me, will have that action rejected by Me, to him whom he associated with Me.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 2985, and Ibn Majah, no.4202)

Righteous actions can be categorized into three:
Actions of the heart
In reality, actions of the heart are the underlying foundation of the religion. If our heart is righteous then our deeds will be righteous. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Indeed, there is in the body a morsel of flesh, if it is sound and wholesome, then the whole body will be sound and wholesome and if it is corrupt, the whole body will be corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Actions of the tongue
Being constant in the remembrance of Allah, commanding the good and forbidding the evil, seeking forgiveness, sending salutations on the Prophet, reciting the Qur’an, and speaking kind words to our relatives, friends and neighbors are some of the righteous actions that increase our Iman. Allah says in the Qur’an: “...and for men and women who remember Allah much, Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.” (Qur’an, 33:35)

Actions of the limbs
Prayer, fasting, charity, Haj, Jihad, and serving parents, the elderly, the widows and other needy people are some of the righteous actions of the organs. The external deeds of the tongue and the limbs are connected to that of the heart. The external action cannot be correct unless our internal action is.

We should always remember that death is approaching and know that nothing will aid us in the grave except our deeds. All sources of good deeds will be cut off except three: A pious child, knowledge that benefits people or ongoing charity.

After understanding the comprehensive meaning of righteous actions, we should rush to perform them, as this will lead to success in this life and in the hereafter.

The similitude of this world is like good food and drink: its outcome is decay. The exceptions are those things which are done for Allah whether remembrance of Allah, (seeking) knowledge or even (eating) food because it helps to support the worship of Allah. These things are among the deeds of man that endure in this fleeting life. The goal behind these Ahadith is that a person should not be overly concerned about this world, except with which is sufficient to keep him alive and strong; and sufficient enough to be able to accomplish the worship of his Lord. For if a person has a lot of wealth, what will benefit him is only the amount of good that he does by helping others. Otherwise, he is going to leave the wealth behind and it will not benefit him at all. What will benefit him are the righteous actions that he has done.

– By Humza Mullick