[40:14] Therefore, you shall devote your worship absolutely to God ALONE, even if the disbelievers dislike it.
[40:15] Possessor of the highest ranks, and Ruler of the whole dominion. ...
The Most Gracious represents His attributes in utmost perfection. When He states that He is the Possessor of the Highest Ranks (Rafeeu Al-Daragat), this means that His example is the highest, most superior of all ones, and therefore claiming these attributes for Himself, by all means, is owning their definitions and their infinite and divine sources. He is the source of justice (Al Haq) and His mercy encompasses all things (7:156 - Al-Raheem). He is the source of all grace which is the meaning and definition of Al-Rahman- a proper name He has exclusively given to Himself. He is the source of compassion (Al-Rauf), clamency (A--Haleem) and forgiveness (Al- Afuw, Al-Ghafoor) and all dignity belongs to Him (4:139, 35:10).
Along these lines, God is the perfect and absolute reverence (living by all divine laws & ethics in complete love, awe, dedication, sincerity and devotion as a result of an unshakable belief). He calls Himself the source of reverence (Ahal Al-Taqwa). His kingdom defines the beauty and the perfect peace associated with righteousness out of reverence; no nonsense is heard in it. Such divine righteousness is all that a believer would pray for:
[74:56] They cannot take heed against God's will. He is the source of righteousness; He is the source of forgiveness.
[2:201] Others would say, "Our Lord, grant us righteousness in this world, and righteousness in the Hereafter, and spare us the retribution of Hell."
God has explained in Quran that not only righteousness is one required element for salvation (5:69, 2:62, 2:82, 4:124) but also is a condition for accepting our repentance (20:82, 66:8) and forgiving & remitting our sins (5:65, 29:7, 11:114). Reverencing God is the criterion that distinguishes among all people (49:13).
The Most Merciful did not leave us in the dark not knowing what righteousness is. He has set for us, explicitly, its standards. We could NEVER reach His absolute righteousness, but we are to stick to His standards that He authorized. Upholding God's teachings in His fully detailed scripture and following His examples of righteousness fulfill His expectations and represent the REAL righteousness for us.
[2:189] .... righteousness is attained by upholding the commandments and by being straightforward. You shall observe GOD, that you may succeed.
Those who know God, love Him, and fully grasp His attributes would never settle for any standards but His. They have the sincere conviction that it is not up to them or others besides Him to establish and proclaim their own righteousness based on personal judgments and preferences or based on shortsighted selectivity in implementing His teachings. They NEVER entertain the idea of setting any standards or examples for God because they fully comprehend the context of the following prohibition and they do not underestimate the loss of promoting the human's flawed and fallible logic:
[16:74] Therefore, do not cite the examples for God; God knows while you do not know.
The following verse outlines ONLY SOME important standards of righteousness according to God:
[2:177] Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east or the west. Righteous are those who believe in GOD, the Last Day, the angels, the scripture, and the prophets; and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveling alien, the beggars, and to free the slaves; and they observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat); and they keep their word whenever they make a promise; and they steadfastly persevere in the face of persecution, hardship, and war. These are the truthful; these are the righteous.
However, there are more detailed attributes and commands scattered all over Quran that add to the definition of those who are righteous and love God the most and those whom God loves. Such commands and standards of righteousness are equally vital to our souls and our communities. Some of these standards are that the righteous avoid all gross sins, and they never pollute their souls with idol worship or hypocrisy. They honor their parents. They are trustworthy. They are just and honest when they judge among people or when they offer a testimony. They uphold God's laws when they resolve any kind of disputes. They avoid bad language except for when they react to aggression. They are equitable even in self defense situations. They treat people with kindness and respect and they stand for their rights when they face injustice. They proclaim and promote God's truth and they never conceal it or compromise it. They verify information and investigate rumors. They avoid harmful suspicion, spying and backbiting. They do not commit or appreciate any kind of corruption. They are not arrogant, show offs. They do not mock, ridicule or make fun of others. They do not conspire except for righteous purposes and they do not prohibit lawful things or attribute to God what He has never authorized. They do not kill except in the course of justice, and they do not commit fornication, evil or vice. They ally themselves with the believers, and never ally themselves with or defend the disbelievers. They are not betrayers and they never side with betrayers. They give to charity from their favorite possessions during bad and good times. They commemorate God and meditate with Quran at night and at dawn. They utter peace to the ignorant and enlighten and remind with God's words. They suppress their anger and strive to forgive when angered. They fight oppression. They remember God when they sin and they ask Him for forgiveness, repent and reform. They are neither stingy or extravagant. They reverence the meeting of their Lord, heed the guidance and appreciate the reminders. They never hesitate to strive in God's cause with their lives and their money without any fear of blame. They cooperate and compete in matters of righteousness. They fully trust God, His attributes, and His systems. They love all that God loves and abhor all that He abhors and therefore they highly value His standards and examples of integrity and righteousness.
It is our ego that deceives us into preferring our own standards over God's or blinds us to selectively apply certain verses that conform with our own wishes. Gradually, we start to waver and compromise God's measures of righteousness and sense the convenience and the comfort of our self-proclaimed ones. It is the righteous who are able to recognize and reject this FALSE righteousness. They know that it is not going to be pleasing to God. They understand it would only let its advocates, individuals or communities, down because it is lacking the infallible judgment of the Almighty.
[18:103] Say, "Shall I tell you who the worst losers are?
[18:104] "They are the ones whose works in this life are totally astray, but they think that they are doing good."
[35:8] Note the one whose evil work is adorned in his eyes, until he thinks that it is righteous. GOD thus sends astray whoever wills (to go astray), and He guides whoever wills (to be guided). Therefore, do not grieve over them. GOD is fully aware of everything they do.
[38:26] O David, we have made you a ruler on earth. Therefore, you shall judge among the people equitably, and do not follow your personal opinion, lest it diverts you from the way of GOD. Surely, those who stray off the way of GOD incur severe retribution for forgetting the Day of Reckoning.
May God guide us to pursue the real righteousness as defined by Him ; the righteousness that would please Him, and may He protect us from ever falling into the comfort zone of our personal standards, traditions and preferences.
[46:15] We enjoined the human being to honor his parents. His mother bore him arduously, gave birth to him arduously, and took intimate care of him for thirty months. When he reaches maturity, and reaches the age of forty, he should say, "My Lord, direct me to appreciate the blessings You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. Let my children be righteous as well. I have repented to You; I am a submitter."
[46:16] It is from these that we accept the righteous works, and overlook their sins. They have deserved Paradise. This is the truthful promise that is promised to them.
Peaceful Friday, Salaam and God bless.