As narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said about faith,
“Iman (faith) is some seventy (or some sixty) branches, the highest of which is (to testify that) there is no god but Allah, and the lowest is removing (any source of) harm from the road. And modesty is a branch of Iman.” (Muslim)
Although concise, this statement states a few important concepts Muslims should know. Firstly, Iman is not just something that resides in our hearts. It is not simply faith or belief that one must embrace. It includes many things in addition to faith or belief, and it has many branches and elements encompassing faith, action, and character.
Furthermore, branches of Iman are not of the same level. They have different priorities and different importance. Therefore, several companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked him this question: “Which of the deeds is more beloved to Allah?”
The Prophet acknowledged the validity of the question by giving specific answers that sometimes differ from one person to another and even from one time to another.
It is extremely important for us as Muslims to be able to answer the following questions:
“What is the most important deed? Which deeds are more beloved to Allah? Which deeds Allah rewards for the most?”
Ibn Al-Qayim shared a deliberate answer to this question by his teacher Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah be pleased with him) by conducting a virtual debate in his book Madarij As-Salikeen. In this article, we will try to help the reader to understand this concept and be able to select deeds that are most important, most rewarding, and most beloved by Allah.
This 2-part series does not give an answer to the questions, for these questions do not have specific answers. Rather, it tries to equip the reader with the necessary knowledge to prioritize and decide for himself.