|The Messenger of Allaah (saws) was asked about that which mostly earns people entry to Paradise; he replied, "Taqwaa and goodness of character." He was also asked about that which mostly earns people entry into the Fire; he replied, "The mouth and the private parts."|
In a narration of a saheeh hadeeth from 'Abdullaah bin `Umar, the Messenger SallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said,
|"The most complete of the believers in eemaan is he who is the best of them in character."|
Hence, the Prophet told us that perfection of Eemaan lies in completeness of one's goodness of character; it is known that all of Eemaan is Taqwaa. However, this is not the place for a detailed discussion of the fundamentals and branches of Taqwaa, for that would cover the Deen in its entirety.
"You alone we worship and Your aid alone we seek. "
"... then worship Him, and put your trust in Him ..."
"... in him I trust, and unto Him I turn."
"... then seek sustenance from Allaah, and serve Him, and be grateful to Him."
This is done in such a way that the slave terminates his heart's connection with the created, whether with regard to benefiting from them or acting for their sake, but instead preoccupies himself with his Exalted Creator, the means of attaining which is to supplicate Him for everything required out of poverty, necessity or fear, etc., to carry out every beloved action for the sake of His good pleasure. If someone were to implant this type of Ikhlaas firmly and thoroughly, it would not be possible for him to be affected by any punishable trait.
|"The loners (mufarridoon) have taken the lead." The Companions asked, "O Messenger of Allaah! Who are the loners ?" He replied, "Those men and women who remember Allaah in abundance."|
Similar is narrated by Abu ad-Dardaa' radiAllaahu 'anhu in a report of Abu Daawood:
|"Shall I not inform you of the best of your actions, the most pure in the sight of your Master, the one which raises your ranks highest, that which is better for you than giving gold and silver (in charity), and better for you than your meeting your enemies, so that you strike their necks and they strike yours?" The companions urged, "Of course, O Messenger of Allaah! (Inform us!)" He replied, "It is the Remembrance of Allaah."|
The virtues of the Remembrance of Allaah are confirmed by proofs of insight, narration and analysis from the Qur'aan and Eemaan.
There are also those adhkaar which are unrestricted, i.e. they are not confined to some special time or occasion; of these, the most excellent is Laa ilaaha illa-llaah (There is no true deity except Allaah), but sometimes according to the situation, some phrases such as Subhaan Allaah (Allaah is Glorified), Al-hamdu li-llaah (All Praised be to Allaah), Allaahu Akbar (Allaah is the Greatest) and Laa Hawla wa laa Quwwata illaa bi-llaah (There is no power or movement except by Allaah) become more excellent.
Further, it should be known that everything that brings mankind closer to Allaah, whether it is the saying of the tongue or contemplation of the heart, for example in acquiring knowledge, commanding good and forbidding evil, this is all part of the Dhikr of Allaah. Hence, one who is occupied in seeking beneficial Knowledge after fulfilling the obligatory acts, or takes his place in a gathering where Fiqh (Understanding) - that which Allaah and His Messenger have named Fiqh - is read and taught, this is also an excellent Dhikr of Allaah. When you consider this, you will thus realise that there is no major controversy among the early people of knowledge regarding the most excellent of actions after the obligatory duties.