"Hold tight to the Rope of Allah (His covenant that is our allegiance to "la ilaha ill Allah Muhammad ar-Rasulullah"), all together and be not disunited among yourselves..." -Surah Ali-Imran ayah 103
Bismillah wa-salaatu wa-salaamu 'ala Rasulullah wa 'ala alihi wa sahbihi ajmaeen
Inna walhamdulillah! Indeed all praise rightfully and naturally goes to Allah, the Mighty and Majestic; the Creator, Cherisher, Sustainer and Evolver of the heavens and the earth and all they contain. Our Lord who created us on these testing grounds to determine who among us is best in piety and conduct. For even the most presumably righteous in conduct means nothing if not done for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala; for the love of Him, in fear of His punishment and in hope of His Mercy and Reward.
If otherwise enacted only for the sake of attention, reputation or to earn the pleasure of the people is insignificant in the all-encompassing Sight of Allah who is Al-Kabeer. Even if that good is done simply on the basis that it's something good is a wasted deed. Of no value is any good act if not performed in knowing this is something Allah ta'ala tells us is good and knowing it is something He, azza wa jall, is indeed pleased with. The reward from Allah is not by righteous deeds alone, the formula throughout the Qur'an is always 'those who believe and do righteous deeds'. Allah ta'ala says what means:
"And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer -those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged even as much as a speck on a date seed. And who is better in religion than one who submits himself to Allah while being a doer of good and follows the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth?" -Surah an-Nisa' ayat 124-125
Allah, our Rabb, Glorified and Exalted is He, Al-Qayyum (the Self-Sufficient), Who is above having a son, partner, comparison, equal or opponent, from His Mercy tries us all according to the strength of our religion. As such there hasn't been any nor will there ever be any who is tested to the degree of the anbiya (Prophets). Taqwa is our key to responding correctly to the trials of this life and gaining success here and salvation in Akhirah. Taqwa, literally a shield protecting one against the displeasure and wrath of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, is aquired not merely through having iman (faith), but in constantly struggling to increase it. It's acquired not merely through seeking and gaining 'ilm, but in striving to properly implement it. And there is no better way... better yet, there is NO OTHER WAY to attain, nuture and guard these qualities than by sticking to the Sunnah of our beloved and noble Rasulullah salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam. It's just as he, salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, has commanded us:
"Hold tight and cling on to my Sunnah with your molar teeth and keep far away from newly invented matters in the deen..."
With true taqwa one easily abandons and abstains from sins and works diligent to even avoid suspicious matters and matters, like the footsteps of Shaitan, that are most likely to lead the individual to sin or altogether astray. Iman and 'ilm are dependent upon one another, but each must constantly be elevated. Thus faith withers away if the knowledge Allah ta'ala granted you is not implemented. The true religion, ad-Deen ul-Haqq, Deen ul-Islam, is not a hobby, rather it is a full time commitment. Just as the Sahabah were strong in ibadat, strong in seeking knowledge, strong against the enemies of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, strong in their religion, this deen of Islam... we too, as Muslims, must be strong and commited sincerely and wholeheartedly with every limb of our jasad (body) and every portion of our ruh (soul) while Allah grants us, the mature and sane, with such an opportunity. It is impossible and foolish to think we will die in a state of al-Islam if without a full time commitment to al-Islam. How can we assure a death in a state of "la ilaha ill Allah" if we don't even live in a state of "la ilaha ill Allah"? The correct belief is cursed if the actions are not correct. And the correct actions are meaningless if the belief is incorrect. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says:
"Ya ayyuha al-ladhina amaanu attaqu Allaha haqqa taqatihi wa la tamootuna illa wa 'antum Muslimoon." (O you who believe, fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in a state of Islam) -Surah Ali-Imran ayah 102
Our aqeedah, our methodology; our iman, our ways; our belief and practice must be in accordance to the same understanding and example of Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam, the Sahabah radiallahu 'anhum and as-Salaf us-Salih (the pious predecessors) rahimutuallah. This is the methodology or path of those whom Allah says He favors and is pleased with in Surah al-Fatihah that the mukhallaf (morally responsible) recites, at minimum, 17 times a day. This righteous and victorious path is that of Ahl as-Sunnah wa'l Jama'ah, the path of which we call to Allah that He keep us firmly upon when we say: "sirataal ladhina anamta 'alayhim!"
To learn, stick close and be persistent upon such a path truly is a struggle, but it's a struggle fisabillah (for the Cause of Allah). When living in the core, the belly and epicenter of a dunya-oriented society and the symptoms manifested and overflowing from such a corrupt and deluded orientation, without a solid foundation to support our iman, it can quickly be swept away. Our goal is to return to our Rabb happily. Among the many names Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has given the Last Day is Yawm ul-Hasra, the Day of Regret. So let us be among those who regret having not doing more and not of those who regret having never doing anything at all. O Allah remind us to remember You at times of weakness and vulnerability. May we as Believers love each other and advise each other in righteousness and stand firmly against all forces and matters oppossing our unity, our allegiance to "la ilaha ill Allah" and our path to Jennah al-Firdous. Ameen.