ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلْمَوْتَ وَٱلْحَيَوٰةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۚ وَهُوَ ٱلْعَزِيزُ ٱلْغَفُورُ
[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving – (Surah al Mulk: 2)
Allah did not crate us in vain, because He is far above making or creating anything aimlessly. This world has been created with a purpose. We are here with a purpose. And the purpose is to test us to see who is best in deeds.
The intelligent person is the one who recognizes his Lord and worships Him. He does what his Lord commands him to do, and he stays away from all that is forbidden. He recognizes his faults and weaknesses, so that he can reform himself before he meets death. But above all, the intelligent person is the one who strives and spends his life doing ahsan amal (best of deeds), in preparation to meet his Lord in the Hereafter.
Ahsan means ‘better’. It is to do with quality, not quantity. If a deed is not loved or approved by Allah, then it is not ahsan, not matter how great in number it may be. So when it comes to deeds, it’s not about doing a lot or doing everything. Rather, its about doing something in the best way.
And there are two conditions that need to be met in order for a deed to be considered ahsan:
a. The reason why it is done – which is sincerity. That you do a good deed for the sake of Allah. The foundation of any good deed needs to be strengthened with Ikhlas (sincerity). And if there is no sincerity, then that deed will not be accepted near Allah.
b. The way it is done – which is conforming to the Sunnah. The deed needs to be executed with excellence and in accordance with the law of Allah.
So whatever we do in life, it should be done with excellence and sincerity. Every single moment of our lives is spent in doing some deed, so we need to be very conscious of our actions. Do we make ahsan choices? Do we deal with people in an ahsan way? Because only if our deeds are ahsan, can we present them before Allah on the Day of Judgment, for it to be accepted and rewarded by Him.
So we should live our lives consciously and not waste it by doing things that are contrary to Ahsan Amal. Any work that we do, we should do it in the best possible way, to the best of our ability and with sincerity – whether it is in worship, in our dealings with others or in our conduct:
‘Uthman narrated, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘No Muslim attends a prescribed prayer and performs its ablution, reverence, and bowing in the best manner, but that it will be an expiation for his previous sins as long as he did not commit a major sin, and this applies at all times.’” [Muslim]
A man demanded his debts from Allah’s Messenger ﷺ, so the Prophet ﷺ told his companions, “Buy a camel and give it to him.” They said, “The camel that is available is older than the camel he demands.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “Buy it and give it to him, for the best among you are those who repay beautifully.” [al-Bukhari]
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Verily, the most beloved and nearest to my gathering on the Day of Resurrection are those of you with the best character.” [al-Tirmidhi]
The people who do Ahsan Amal are the best of people as we learn from the following hadith:
Abu Bakrah narrated, “A man said, ‘O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, which of the people are best?’ The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘One whose life is long and his deeds are good.’ The man said, ‘Which of the people are worst?’ The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘One whose life is long and his deeds are evil.’” [al-Tirmidhi]
Allah has also legislated Ihsan in everything:
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, Allah has prescribed proficiency in all things.” [Muslim]
There is also best reward for best deeds:
لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا فِي هَذِهِ الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةٌ وَلَدَارُ الْآخِرَةِ خَيْرٌ وَلَنِعْمَ دَارُ الْمُتَّقِينَ
“[That which is] good.” For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous – [al-Nahl:30]
The reward is multipplied many times over for every good deed:
The Prophet ﷺ said, “If any one of you improve (follows strictly) his Islamic religion, then his good deeds will be rewarded ten times to seven hundred times for each good deed and a bad deed will be recorded as it is.” [al-Bukhari]
So the more excellence there is in a good deed, and the more sincere it is, then the reward is also greater. So beautify your dealings, beautify your deeds, beautify your worship and beautify your character. Strive to live a life of ahsan amal.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Verily, Allah is Beautiful and He loves beauty.” [al-Mu’jam al-Awsat]