Belief and Uprightness
Sufiyan ibn ‘Abdullah ath-Thaqafi (radi Allahu anhu) once asked “O Messenger of Allah, tell me something about Islam which I won’t need to ask after you” – (in another narration: “other than you”.) The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) replied, “Say, ‘I believe in Allah,’ then be upright (remain steadfast).”
In the above Hadith Sufiyan ibn ‘Abdullah ath-Thaqafi (radi Allahu anhu) requested some special advice which would help him in the performance of his Islamic duties. He also wanted the advice to be so clear in its meaning that he wouldn’t have to ask anyone for any further explanation or clarification. So the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) advised him to confirm his belief in Allah and obey Allah’s commands in all aspects of his life. This advice is a practical translation of the conditions which Allah has placed for success in this life which are, Eemaan (correct belief) and ‘amal as-salih (righteous deeds), Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“By Time, certainly, Man is in a state of loss, except those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth, and recommend one another to patience.” [Al-Asr 103]
The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) in the above Hadith gave his companion the best possible advice that one could give, as it is the key to success in both this life and the next.
By combining correct belief in Allah with being and remaining upright (steadfast), the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) confirmed the fact that neither of the two by themselves is sufficient. Righteous deeds without the correct belief in Allah will gain for the individual a reward in this life only but no reward in this next life.
Having correct belief in Allah also means that one’s intention must be to please Allah Alone and that it be free from riya’ (showing off).
Righteous actions (deeds) are only those actions sanctioned by the Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) which means: they are in accordance with his Sunnah.
And Allah knows best!