Those who do everything that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have asked them to do and stay away from everything that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam have prohibited, shall receive different ranks in terms of their deeds.
The foremost among them will be blessed with the highest stations of Paradise along with the noble prophets. They are known as the Siddiqeen, that is, the great Companions of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who came forward to believe in the initial stage without any hesitation or hostility, like Abu Bakr Siddeeq radhiAllahu ‘anhu. Then, there will be a third rank of people who will be with the Shuhada [the martyrs]. The Shuhada are the people who sacrificed their lives and wealth in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Then, those in the fourth rank will be with the Righteous. The Saliheen or the Righteous are the people who restrict themselves, outwardly and inwardly, to doing only what is good and right.
In short, all those who are totally obedient to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and His Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam shall be in the company of these who are the most exalted and the most favored in the sight of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and who have been identified here under four ranks: Prophets, siddiqeen, shuhada and saliheen.
The Company of the Prophet is Not Restricted to Any Color or Race
In al-Mujim al-Kabir al-Tabarani has reported from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radhiAllahu ‘anhu that an Ethiopian came to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said, “Ya Rasoolullah, may His blessings be upon you, not only that you are distinct from us in the beauty of your physique and the color of your skin but you also have the distinction of being a prophet and messenger of Allah. Now, if I were to believe in what you believe and do what you do, can I too have the honor of being with you in the Paradise?”
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Definitely yes (forget about your being black). I swear by the Power whose hands hold my life that all members of the black race will become fair and beautiful in Paradise radiating in their presence from a distance which might take a thousand years to cover. Then, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala takes upon Himself the success and salvation of a person who says and believes in la illaha il-Allah [There is no god but Allah] and a person who recites subhanAllahi wa bihamdihi [Pure is Allah and praised is He] has one hundred and twenty four thousand virtues written in his Book of Deeds.”
Hearing this, someone present there said, “Ya Rasoolullah, when Allah is generous in giving such enormous awards on such minor good deeds, how can we ever perish or be punished?”
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “(That is not the point), the truth is that some people will come up on the Day of Resurrection with so many virtues and good deeds, so many that, should all these be placed on a mountain, even the mountain would find their weight too heavy to hold. But, when they are compared to the blessings from Allah (bestowed on them in the worldly life), man’s deeds and virtues remain no match to them – unless Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala Himself elects to be generous and merciful to him.”
It was this question and answer with the Ethiopian brother which caused the revelation of the ayah 1 of Surah ad-Dahr. Surprised the Ethiopian gentleman asked, “Ya Rasoolullah, will my eyes be seeing the same blessing which your blessed eyed will be witnessing?”
He said, “Definitely yes.” Hearing this, the newly converted Muslim from Ethiopia started weeping and so much so that he died in that very state – weeping his heart out. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam performed his last rites, bathing and shrouding and offering salat-ul-janazah [the funeral prayer] and burial, all with his own blessed hands.