Now that this noble principle is established, it is known that deeds, in and of themselves, do not necessitate salvation from the Fire and entry into Paradise, let alone necessitating the ascension to the uppermost levels of Paradise: the levels of Those Brought Close, and seeing the face of the Lord of the Worlds, and it is known that this can only come to pass through the mercy of Allah, His grace and forgiveness. This then requires the believer to abandon thinking highly of his deeds and to look solely to the grace of Allah and His blessings.
One of the Gnostics was asked, ‘Which deed is best?’ He replied, ‘Realising the grace of Allah, Mighty and Magnificent.’ He then recited,
If quantities were able to aid in any way,
They would join the obtuse with the judicious.
When all of this is understood, it is obligatory upon the believing servant; the servant who desires salvation from the Fire and entry into Paradise, who desires to be close to His Master and to look on at His face; to seek all of this by taking to the means that lead to Allah’s mercy, pardon, forgiveness, pleasure and love. It is in this way that he will attain His munificence. The means are the various deeds Allah had appointed: only the deeds that He has legislated upon the tongue of His Messenger: only those deeds that His Messenger told us would serve to draw us closer to Allah: those deeds that he loves and lead to His pleasure and forgiveness. Allah, Exalted is He, says, “Allah’s mercy is close to the good-doers.” (al-Araf 7:56) “My Mercy extends to all things but I will prescribe it for those who have taqwa…” (al-Araf 7:156)
So it is obligatory upon the servant to seek out those traits of taqwa and goodness that Allah has legislated in His Book or upon the tongue of His Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and having done so, draw closer to Allah, Mighty and Magnificent, through enacting them. There is no other path that can lead to the gaol of the believing servant.
The Journey to Allah by Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali Pages 36-38