Islam always warns against superficial concepts and rituals, against lifeless formalities and non-effective beliefs. In one representative verse God explains the full meaning of righteousness as follows:
It is not righteousness that you turn your faces (in prayer) towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last day, and the Angels and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your wealth – in spite of your love for it – for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain and adversity and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God – minded (Qur’an, 2:177).
In this verse there is a beautiful and clear description of the righteous man. He should obey all the salutary regulations, and should make his sincere motive the love of God and the love of his fellow man for the sake of God. Here we have four elements: (I) our Faith should be true and sincere, (II) we must be prepared to show it in deeds of charity and kindness to our fellow man, (III) we must be good citizens by supporting charitable institutions and social organizations, and (IV) we must be steadfast and unshakable in all circumstances.
It is clear, that therefore, that righteousness is not merely a matter of void utterances. It must be founded on strong faith and constant practice. It must cover the person’s thinking and action and extend to his inside and outside life, to his individual and common affairs. When the Islamic principle of righteousness is established, it provides the individual with peace in all circumstances, the society with security on all levels, the nation with solidarity, and the international community with hope and harmony. How peaceful and enjoyable life can be when people implement the Islamic Concept of Righteousness! What can be more reassuring than faith in the Beneficent Creator and investing in such good worthy causes? What can be more humane than relieving the deep anxieties of the subjugated, alleviating the sufferings of the exploited, and responding to the needs of the helpless? What is more methodical and honest than the fulfillment of commitments, the preservation of clear conscience, and the maintenance of integrity? And what is more spiritually joyful than doing all this regularly, as a matter of course, and for the love of God?