Allah (SWT) says in Surah Al-Jinn # 14
Whosoever accepted Islam has chosen very precisely the correct path.
Even after making such a realistic decision a muslim cannot say that he will go to Paradise just like the Jews and Christians claim. The entry into Paradise is only with the mercy of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) says about the people of paradise in Surah Al-Imran # 107
And for those whose faces will become white, they will be in Allah’s Mercy (paradise) therin they shall dwell forever.
Here the word mercy is used in place of Paradise reminding us that entry into paradise is due to the grand mercy of Allah (SWT).
Allah (SWT), however, guides us in the Quran about the various characteristics of people who would be good candidates for paradise. These characteristics are mentioned in Surah Al Mumenoon and Surah Al Ma’arij. We will follow the wording of Surah Al Ma’arij # 19-21
First of all Allah (SWT) makes a general statement about the mankind. Allah (SWT) says, “Most of the people are very impatient and when confronted with difficulty they are fretful. When Allah replaces this difficulty with good time they refuse to fulfill the rights of people and the rights of Allah (SWT).”
There is, however, an exception to this. There is a special group of people who do not behave like this and their characteristics are as follows.
Surah Al-Ma’arij # 22-25
They establish prayer and in establishing their prayers they do so with regularity and consistency. Secondly, they spend a definite portion of their wealth for those who are beggars and destitute.
It is interesting to note that Allah (SWT) could have only said that they acknowledge the right of needy and the poor. Allah (SWT), however, is saying that these believers spend a very precise, well defined and mathematically known portion of wealth for the needy and the poor. In other words they always pay Zakat which is fixed two and a half percent for all times. Abu Bakar (RU) understood the meanings of this verse the best. He sent forces to crush those who refused to pay Zakat even though they established Salat. It is said that the Salat of a person is not accepted untill Zakat is paid. That is why Allah (SWT) mentions Salat and Zakat together in the Quran most of the time. Allah (SWT) further guides us to pay charity in addition to paying Zakat in various verses of Quran. Surah Al-Muzzammil#20
And perform As-Salat and give Zakat and lend to Allah a goodly loan.
The next characteristic of this special class of people is that they believe in the Day of Judgement not by just lip service but with a sense of accountability on the Day of Judgement for their deeds. For example those people who will be given their account in their right hands on the Day of Judgement, will say that the secret of their success was as in verse 20 below. Surah Al-Haqqah # 20
Surely, I did believe that I shall meet my account.
Surah Al-Ma’arij # 26,27,28
And those who believe in the Day of Recompense and those who fear the torment of their Lord. Verily! The torment of their Lord is that before which none can feel secure.
Hence the next characteristic of these people is that they are always fearful of the punishment of Allah (SWT). When companions listened to this verse they asked Prophet Mohammad (SAS) “Oh Prophet (SAS)! Are you also fearful of the punishment of Allah (SWT)”. He replied, “Yes, even I am afraid of the punishment of Allah (SWT) since nobody can consider himself above the punishment of Allah (SWT).”
Hence, no practicing muslim can boast about his Islamic practices. He should rather act more and more humbly and be fearful of the punishment of Allah (SWT). Further Allah (SWT) says Al-Ma’arij # 29-31
The next characteristic of these people is: And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts from illegal sexual acts) except from their wives or the women slaves whom their right hands possess – for (then) they are not blame worthy. But whosoever seeks beyond that, then it is those who are trespassers.
Hence any other forms of sexual satisfaction will be totally out of line and unacceptable by Allah (SWT).
Allah (SWT) says in Al-Ma’arij # 32
Another characteristic of these people is that they keep their pledges and covenants. Betrayal of trust and breaking of a promise are big sins.
Prophet Mohammad (SAS) said, “Promise is a kind of loan which one must repay.” Al-Ma’arij # 33
And those who stand firm in their testimonise.
It also means that they keep in their minds the promise made to Allah (SWT) on acceptance of Islam. Al-Ma’arij # 34
And those who guard their Salat well.
Here Allah (SWT) says that these people are very attentive to their Salat and perform it with all Faraidh and Sunan.
It is interesting to see that Allah (SWT) started these characteristics with establishing of prayers and finished with the same. It becomes very clear that Salat is the most important in the eyes of Allah (SWT), That is why everybody will be first asked about Salat on the Day of Judgement and if they fail in this test nothing else will be accepted. Al-Ma’arij # 35
Allah is giving the verdict that people with the characteristics mentioned above will be honored in the gardens of Paradise. It appears that there are many things a person has to do to be a reasonable candidate for Paradise. In fact, if one does one of these things sincerely all others can be accomplished automatically and easily. If a person uses this total prescription he will, with the mercy of Allah, enter Paradise. May Allah give us strength to follow this prescription fully.
The most important gift from Allah (SWT) to mankind is to provide it with guidance which leads it out of various forms of darkness into light. Allah (SWT) is extremely happy if we make use of the guidance. Allah (SWT) says in Surah Al-Ahzab # 43,44
Allah (SWT) sends his blessing on you and His angels too so that He may bring you out from depth of darkness into light. And He is ever Most Merciful to the believers. They will be greeted with Salam when they meet Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) has prepared a very generous reward for them.
Allah (SWT) says to Prophet Mohammad (SAS) again in Al-Ahzab # 47
And announce to the believers the glad tiding, that they will have from Allah a Great Bounty.
May Allah (SWT) count us among those who will have this Great Bounty of Allah (SWT). Ameen.