By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
25 August 2017
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
Most Muslims regard the five pillars of faith as the essence of Islam’s message with salat as the key to Paradise.
When they meet each other, they generally ask ‘have you done your prayer’. But they never ask fellow Muslims or next of kin, have you done any good deeds.
‘Good deeds’ is central to practically all religions and probably there is no religion in the world that promotes evil deeds except the terrorists and nihilists. So why this reflection for the Muslims!!
This reflection is prompted by distinguished international scholar and celerity Akbar Ahmed’s interview of Kristaine Becker, once a top presenter on MTV Europe on what made her convert to Islam 
When Kristaine Becker, asked Cricketer Imran Khan what Islam was all about, his answer was "Believe in God and do good deeds, was the essence of Islam"- and this set her on course to explore Islam leading to her eventual conversion.
To most Muslims, Imran Khan’s answer may reflect a silver coating or simplistic reduction of Islamic message. He didn’t talk about the Prophet of Islam or the pillars of faith and singled out good deeds as the heart and soul of Islam.
But Imran Khan was true to the Qur’an.
This is what the Qur’an says:
Indeed! Whoever surrenders(asslama) his will to God, and does good deeds - will get his reward from his Lord. There will be no fear upon them nor shall they grieve.” (2:112).
“And who can be better in religion (din) than one who surrenders (asslama) his will to God, and does good deeds, and follows the way of Abraham, the upright one…. ” (4:125).
“And who is finer in speech than the one who invites to God, does good deeds and says: ‘I am of those who surrender to God (muslimun)’” (41:33).
Thus, the Qur’an testifies that all those, regardless of their religions and prophets, whose faith in God inspires them with a spirit of doing good will get reward from God.
Hence as stated by Imran Khan, "Believe in God and do good deeds, is the essence of Islam"
or the epitome of its message
This notion does not underplay or blot out the significance of the Pillars of faith – that is salat, fasting, hajj and zakat, but adds the superstructure to these pillars.
The din or code of life of Islam will be compromised if a Muslim simply conforms to the pillars of faith but refrains from doing good deeds by wayof helping each other. In the words of the Qur’an:
Do you see the one who belies the din (religion) (107:1)?. It is he who rebuffs the orphan (2), and does not encourage feeding the poor (3). So, woe to those prayerful (4), who are heedless of their prayer (5), who aim to be seen (in public) (6), but hold back from helping (others)” (107:7).
Accordingly, the Qur’an distinguishes Good deeds as the sole criteria for earning divine approval on Judgment Day that we will discuss in next reflection (Part-6).
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.
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