All righteous deeds must contain the following two elements: that they be done solely for the sake of Allah, and that they be in accordance with the shari'a. This is for both statements and acts. It is one of the requirements of goodly speech and righteous action, in matters of knowledge and understanding, as well as matters of application, and of worship and devotion. It has thus been well authenticated in the sahih that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
"Verily, the first three (categories) for which hell is fired up are: A man who learned knowledge and taught it, and read the Quran and taught others to read it in order that the people might say: He is knowledgeable, and he is a good reciter. And a man who fought and struggled so that the people would say: He is courageous, and he is a good fighter. And a man who spent of that which he was given and gave charity so that the people would say: He is generous, and he is open-handed."
These three people desire eye service and reputation and credit. They are in opposition to the three which have been mentioned in the Quran after the prophets: the ever truthful and believing (As-siddiqeen), the martyrs in the cause of Allah (Ash-shuhadaa'), and the righteous doers of good (As-saaliheen).
One who learns the knowledge with which Allah sent His prophets and teaches it purely for the sake of Allah, is one of As-siddiqeen. And, whoever fights so that the word of Allah may be uppermost until he is killed is one of Ash-shuhadaa', while one who gives his property in charity desiring only the Face of Allah, is one of As-Saaliheen.
This is why the one who neglected the obligations upon in his property, will ask to be sent back at the time of death. Ibn Abbas said:
"Whoever was given property, but did not make Hajj, nor pay the Zakat due on that property, will ask to be sent back at death. Then he read the verse of the Quran which reads: [And spend of that which we have given you before death comes to one of you, and so he says: My Lord, if only you would give me respite for a short time so that I could give in charity, and be one of the doers of good.] Quran 63/10"
So, in these matters of knowledge and rhetoric, the enjoiner of good needs to make sure that all the information he passes on about Allah and the Last Day, and about things which were and are is completely correct. Also, he must be sure that everything which he enjoins on others and forbids them is just as it was delivered by the prophets from Allah. This is the right way which is in accordance with the Sunnah and the Shari'a, and it is the way of following the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam)
Just as acts of worship, which are taken as devotions - if they are of that which Allah has prescribed, and His Prophet has ordered us to do - are valid and correct and are in accordance with the message with which Allah sent the prophets. On the other hand, acts of "worship" which are not so (i.e. not part of what Allah and His Prophet have ordered) are falsehood, foolishness, and innovation which leads astray, even though its devotees may call it: knowledge, understandings, devotions, exercises, experiences, or stations.
He (the enjoiner of right) also needs to order only because of Allah's order, to forbid only because of Allah's forbiddance, and to inform only with that of which Allah has informed us, because this is the truth, the true faith, and guidance, as the prophets have informed us. This, just as true worship requires that the Face of Allah be the only thing intended with it. If any of this is done out of following of hawaa, and passion and fervor, or to make a show of one's dignity, or to seek reputation and eyeservice, this is like the situation of one who fights out of courage and passion, and in search of eyeservice of others.
From this, you can understand that into which many people of knowledge and influence and devotion in worship and well-being have fallen. So many such people speak many things which are in conflict with the Quran and the Sunnah, or that which contains some elements in accordance with the Quran and the Sunnah and other elements in conflict with them. And so many of them devote themselves in acts of "worship" with which Allah has never ordered them, and in fact, which He has forbidden, or acts of devotion which contain elements enjoined by Allah, and other elements which have been forbidden. And so many of them fight in wars which are not in accordance with the fighting which has been ordered by Allah, or which contains elements ordered by Allah, and other elements which He has forbidden.
Furthermore, within each of these three categories: ordered by Allah and His Prophet, forbidden, and a combination of elements from each type, are three possibilities of intentions on the part of the doer: a pure intention for the sake of Allah, following of one's own hawaa, or a mixture of these two. This makes a total of nine categories in the area of intention and validity of action.
As for the bad actions in these matters, it is possible that their doer may be mistaken, or merely forgot, in which case they are forgiven, just as in the case of the judge who exerts himself to arrive at the correct ruling, but is mistaken: he is rewarded for his effort, and his error is forgiven. Also, wrong actions may be minor sins (Saghaa'ir) which are expiated by avoidance of the major sins (kabaa'ir), or he may be forgiven through repentance, or by good deeds which wipe out the bad, or they may have been expiated through calamities in this life, or for other reasons. Nonetheless, the deen (way) of Allah with which He sent the revealed books and with which He sent the prophets is what we have said earlier: seeking Allah with righteous actions (i.e. obedience to Him).
This is the general concept of Islam, other than which Allah will not accept from anyone. Allah said:
[Whosoever desires other than Islam as his way (deen), that will never be accepted from him, and, in the hereafter, he is among those in abject loss.] Quran 3/85
[Allah bears witness that there is no deity other than Him, and the angels (also bear witness) and those having knowledge. He is complete in His justice. There is no deity but Him, the mighty, the wise. Verily the (one and only) way in the sight of Allah is Islam (submission).] Quran 3/18-19
Enjoining Right: Our Prophet And Those Before Him
This Nation Is The Best Nation For The People
What Is Maruf (right) And Munkar (wrong)?
Let Your Enjoining Of Good Be Itself Good
Benefits Must Outweigh Negative Consequences
Methodology Of Enjoining Right And Forbidding Wrong
Pitfalls Of Enjoining Right And Forbidding Wrong
Rebellion Against The Imam Of The Muslims
The General Principle Of Enjoining And Forbidding
It Is Obligatory To Measure All Things By The Criterion Of The Shariah
The Love Of Good Should Be In Harmony With What Allah Loves
The Love And Hate Of The Heart
What Exactly Is Hawaa
The Following Of Hawaa In The Previous Religions
What A Person Loves And Hates Must Be In Accordance With The Order Of Allah And His Prophet
What Are "good Works"?
Action Is Not Possible Except With Knowledge And Understanding
Compassion, Patience & Forbearance Are Required In Enjoining Right
The Difficulty Of These Requirements
Disobedience To Allah Causes Difficulty, Obedience Causes Ease
Allah's Punishment Of The Previous Nations For Their Disobedience
Punishment Of The Evil-doers In This World And The Next
Promises And Threats Of Punishment Were The First Part Of Revelation
Differences About Enjoining & Forbidding Are The Cause Of Division
Sins Are Desired By Human Nature
Greed Is The Cause Of Slipping Into Deviation
Types Of Sins
Success In Worldly Affairs Is By Justice
Human Nature: Tyranny, Envy & Oppression
Good Must Support Good As Bad Supports Bad
The Severity Of The Test Causes Elevation Of Rank
The Need For Certainty Of Belief
Human Affairs Will Not Go Straight Except With Courage And Generosity
A Return To Patience And Its Types
The Forbiddance Of Transgressing The Bounds
Fervour And Courage Which Is Praiseworthy
Fear Of Falling Into Temptation As An Excuse For Neglecting Enjoining Right
The Sons Of Adam Do Not Live Except In Societies
Pure Intention To Please Allah Is Required In All Righteous Deeds
The Meanings Of Islam
The Meaning Of Submitting One's Face To Allah
Definition Of Righteous Action
The Meaning Of The "sunnah" In The Discourses Of The Salaf