As believing and practicing Muslims, we have one goal in this life: salvation. We desire to live out our life in this world in a manner that will lead to our salvation in the next. We all know the shahadah (testimony of faith) is the core of our beliefs and we also know that belief alone is not sufficient and that action is required. At times, it may be difficult to figure out what we should focus on and that is where the Quran comes in:
وَالْعَصْرِ ۞ إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ ۞ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ ۞
“By time, ۞ man is [deep] in loss ۞ except for those who believe, do good deeds, urge one another to the truth, and urge one another to steadfastness.” [103:1-3]
Allah (swt) tells us EXACTLY what we need to do:
A beautiful progression is seen. In Al-tahrir wal Tanwir (exegesis of the Quran), Ibn Ashur discusses how each step is related to the one before it, the concepts build upon one another.
A true belief in Allah (swt) will naturally lead to worship and good deeds. Once you learn to love your Creator, you desire to please and obey Him. It may be a gradual progression but, slowly yet surely, your actions resemble your faith. One way to understand this is to think of your parents. If you tell them you love them but then are bad to them and disobey them, no one would believe you genuinely cared for them and, Allah (swt) is exalted from any analogy, a similar idea goes for our faith in Allah (swt).
The third criteria is to promote truth and goodness. This can be understood through the hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ): "Whoever sees an evil, he must change it with his hand; if he is unable to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is unable to do so, then in his heart; that is the weakest of faith" [Muslim]. There is a direct relationship between your faith and supporting truth and justice. As your belief grows, so does your disdain for injustice and displeasing Allah (swt). We must start first with ourselves, our family, and inner circle of friends before reaching outward to those outside the Muslim community.
The fourth may seem most abstract but once you are on a path for justice, you will be met with many road-blocks that can become very disheartening and even painful. We live in a time where, unfortunately, praying five times a day is seen as excessive by our own brothers and sisters. For this reason, we have to be there for each other. We need to have friends that will uplift us when the world (and shaitan) pushes us down and away from Allah (swt).
Once you start with sincere belief, it causes, God willing, a snowball effect: one step just leads to the next and also strengthens the one before it. We ask Allah (swt) to make us among those that attain His salvation.