For those who have done good [ahsanu] is the best and even more…
From this short part of an ayah, comes a super important core message for all Muslims:
Don’t settle as you are right now, strive hard to be a Muhsin!
Allah s.w.t. says, “For those who have done good, is the best, and even more.” Scholars said that the ‘best’ refers to the best reward, i.e. Jannah and all the treasures that it contains; while the word ‘even more’ means that on top of all the immensely beautiful treasures that Allah will give the believers in Jannah – He will grant the honor of looking at His Noble Face – and this is the increase that is far greater than anything that had ever been given.
Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullah wrote in his Madaarij as-Saalikeen that one of the greatest joys of Jannah is that of gazing upon the Countenance of Allah, hearing His Words, the delight of being close to Him, and attaining His Pleasure. There is no comparison between what Jannah contains – the delightful food, drink, clothing and images – than this sublime joy. The least of His Good Pleasure is far greater than Jannah and all that it contains. This should be our aim – that we want to be granted the honor of looking at the Countenance of our Rabb.
We learn in several ahadith that the believers will be granted this honor, but the ayah above specifically highlights a special type of believer. Allah s.w.t. says:
“For those who have done good [ahsanu] is the best [al-husna] and even more…”
From the word [ahsanu], we learn that this specifically refers to the Muhsin. Allah s.w.t. is saying: For the Muhsin, is the BEST, and EVEN MORE! Allah s.w.t. honors the Muhsin in this ayah, granting them with the best of THE BEST rewards – because the Muhsin is THE BEST of all Muslims.
Jibril a.s. asked: “O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam.”
Rasulallah (ﷺ) replied: “Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger (ﷺ), that you should perform salah, pay the zakah, fast during Ramadhan, and perform Hajj to the House (the Ka’bah) if you can find a way to it (or find the means for making the journey).”
He went on to ask: “Inform me about Iman.”
He (ﷺ) answered, “It is that you believe in Allah, and His angels, and His Books, and His Messengers, and in the Last Day, and in fate (qadr), both in its good and in its evil aspects.”
He went on to ask: “Inform me about Ihsan.”
He (ﷺ) answered, “It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, although you cannot see Him, He can see you.”
From this hadith, scholars consider Islam, Iman, and Ihsan as the three stages in the path towards Allah s.w.t.:
The first level is Islam – becoming a Muslim, by pushing and bringing ourselves to do the actions that Allah s.w.t. has commanded us to do. When the word Islam is used in conjunction with the word Iman, as per this article, it refers to outward / physical actions and words – i.e. the physical actions conform to what Allah s.w.t. has commanded us to do.
The second level is Iman – becoming a Mu’min, where we are not only doing what has been commanded by Allah, but we’re beginning to taste the sweetness of faith. When the word Iman is used in conjunction with the word Islam, it refers to inward beliefs, and actions of the heart.
The third level is Ihsan – becoming a Muhsin, which is to worship Allah as if we see Him, and even if we cannot see Him, then know that He sees us. [Al-Ihsan] means to perfect something and complete it. It is derived from al-husun which means al-jamaal (beauty). When it is used in conjunction with either the words Islam and/or Iman, Ihsan means perfecting one’s outward and inward deeds. Remember that a Muslim might not be a Muhsin; a Mu’min might also not be a Muhsin; but a Muhsin is definitely both a Muslim and a Mu’min – encompassing all three qualities. This is the highest degree of Islam.
Note: When the word Islam, Iman, or Ihsan is used alone, there is no difference between them, rather each of them, when used alone, refers to the entire religion.
The ayah says that the Muhsin will be granted to see the Noble Face of Allah s.w.t. in the akhirah, because they are those who truly strive to serve Allah as though they could see Him in this dunya.
“(Ihsan) is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him,
although you cannot see Him, He can see you.”
Rasulallah ﷺ taught us that Ihsan has two degrees:
The first and the highest degree of Ihsan is [mushahadah] – worshipping Allah as if you can see Him. Whoever worships Allah with awareness of His nearness, and acts as if he is before Allah, and looking at Him, is bound to fear Him and venerate Him. This is a very difficult station to reach but it is attainable.
The second position is [muraqabah] – having sincerity and awareness that Allah is always watching. This person acts with an awareness that Allah sees him. He truly understands that Allah knows all his deeds, hidden and visible, inward and outward, and that nothing is hidden from Him. And this is the minimum station we all should try to achieve, because Allah s.w.t. says:
“For the people of ihsan [Muhsin] – is the best
and even more (the honor of looking at His Noble Face).”
With this in mind, let us reflect our lifestyle.
How often do we remember Allah and that He is watching us? How many times do we hide in our room sinning, whilst forgetting that Allah is Al-Basir? How many times do we backbite, lie, and curse someone, whilst forgetting that Allah is As-Sami’?
How truly far are we from reaching this station?
This is something that we should try to rectify every single moment in our lives. This should be our everyday resolution.
So I remind myself and then to others: Do not think that this station is beyond our reach. Do not aim so low that we think:
“I’m happy if I can get a spot in the entrance of Jannah.”
“Kalau dapat belakang pintu syurga pun cukuplah.”
We need to realize that this is a completely wrong attitude of a believer. Rasulallah (ﷺ) himself said:
“Paradise has one-hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the Mujahidin who fight in His Cause, and the distance between each of two grades is like the distance between the Heaven and the Earth. So, when you ask Allah, ask for Al-Firdaus which is the best and highest part of Paradise.”
Believers always aim high! Because our goal is not just to sneak by the gates of Jannah – but it’s about getting in and at the highest place – for all eternity. And for the Muhsin, who are foremost in doing good, they will be the ones who will be closest to Allah, and in the highest degrees of Jannah. May Allah s.w.t. help us and our loved ones become a Muhsin, Allahumma ameen!