Long ago, there was a religious sect among the Jews whose members tried to assert their righteousness by practicing the Sharia of Allah as given to Moses. This group, known as the Pharisees, not only had a Sharia, but they also had a Shahada, a Fast (Sawm), Salat, Hajj and Zakat seven hundred years before Muhammad was born.
In the Holy Injil (Luke 18:11-12), we hear one of the prayers of such a Pharisee:
"The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all I get.'"
By looking at this prayer, we can see what some of the practices of the Pharisees were. In addition, we will also consider verses from the Holy Tawrat to learn how the Pharisees carried out their rituals.
The Pharisees, with all the Jews, regularly proclaimed their faith by reciting the following verses:
"...The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." (The Holy Tawrat, Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
The Pharisees, as we saw in the prayer above, fasted twice a week. Thus they fasted on more than one hundred days each year.
The Pharisees prayed three times a day, following the example of David:
"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice." (The Holy Zabur, Psalm 55:17)
They also prayed facing toward al-Masdjid al-Aksa as their qiblah, just as Suleyman did:
"Yet have regard to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Thy servant prays before Thee today; that Thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which Thou hast said, 'My name shall be there,' to listen to the prayer which Thy servant shall pray toward this place." (The Holy Tawrat, 1 Kings 8:28-29)
Just as other Jews did, the Pharisees made their Hajj three times a year to the place chosen by Allah, Jerusalem:
"Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the LORD your God in the place which He choses..." (The Holy Tawrat, Deuteronomy 16:16)
After the example of Abraham, and as commanded by the Sharia given to Moses, the Pharisees (like other Jews as well) gave not just 2.5 percent, but 10 percent of their income to the cause of Allah:
"Thus all the tithe (tenth) of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's; it is holy to the LORD." (The Holy Tawrat, Leviticus 16:16)
From these examples, we can see that the Pharisees actually accomplished much more in the way of "good works" or ritual service toward Allah than is practiced in most other religions, including Islam.
But Jesus (Isa) made a very interesting comment on these "good works" in the Holy Injil (Matthew 5:20):
"For I say to you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."
One would think that for all of their "good works" the Pharisees certainly had enough to their credit to "outweigh" their sins at the Last Judgment, but Jesus said that to enter the kingdom of heaven, one's righteousness must be greater than theirs. Evidently, no one will be able to enter heaven by virtue of his or her "good works."
The Holy Injil tells us that, since every human commits sins, he is indebted to Allah. No matter how hard we try, we in ourselves cannot repay this debt, because everything we have has already been given to us by Allah and we can never pay Him back as much as He has given. So forgiveness of sins is also a gift of Allah. By sending Jesus, who was born of the Spirit of Allah and thus sinless, Allah sent down the sacrifice (kurban) for our sins. Only by our accepting this sacrifice provided by Allah can we be freed from our sins.
The apostle Paul, himself a former Pharisee, wrote about those who try to achieve righteousness by their own "good works." He says by the Spirit of Allah in the Holy Injil (Romans 10:2-4):
"For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ (Isa Masih) is the end of the law (sharia) for righteousness to everyone who believes."
Are you depending on your "good works" to enter the kingdom of heaven?