One of our teachers said:
To get out of Hell one must die Muslim, so a Muslim may go to Hell.
What makes one totally avoid Hell is dying as a pious Muslim.
Piety requires 2 things: 1st knowledge, 2nd application. Sinning without knowing is still a sin counted against you on judgment day. Sinning while knowing is not applying one’s knowledge.
Two types don’t learn: the shy and the arrogant. Be shy, but not when it comes to religious knowledge.
Being pious is greater than being knowledgeable. This is because piety is only achieved through knowledge; without knowledge one will never be pious. Knowledge, however, does not prove piety. The pious layman is better than the sinful scholar. However, the pious scholar is better than the pious layman. so striving for both is the quest for perfection. Islam is a religion of knowledge and piety.
There are two levels one can reach. one is ‘taqwa’, which is doing all of the obligations and avoiding all of the sins. Dying like this will get one into Paradise without torture. however, the one who reaches this level could revert back to a major sinner. If he dies as a major sinner he deserves Hell.
The other is ‘wilaayah’, which is a status obtained by doing all of the obligations, avoiding all of the sins, and consistently doing even one optional deed. The pious Muslims who can walk on water or air, fly, heal people with a touch, talk with animals and inanimate objects, travel great distances in few footsteps, etc., are from this category. Once one reaches it, his heart stops flipping, and he stays straight and does not revert. Whoever dies like this is guaranteed Paradise without torture, and they have a high rank in the Afterlife. They will have the uncut drinks of Paradise, and they will have what no eye has seen- not even a Prophet or an angel, what no ear has heard, and what has never crossed anyone’s mind.
Extra note: It is harder for women to reach al-wilaayah than men, and there are more pious men than women. A woman can be more pious than a man, but it is usually harder for them to reach al-wilaayah. The Prophet, Sallallaahu ^alayhi wa sallam, told the women “Pay charity. (for I warn you) I have looked into Hell and have seen that most of the people of Hell are you (i.e. women)”.
This does not mean that the Prophet hates women or that women are bad in Islam. It is the Prophet telling what he saw and guiding the women who will take heed to protect themselves.
The Messenger of Allah, Sallallaahu ^alayhi wa sallam, also said:
<<كمل من الرجال كثير ولم يكمل من النساء إلا ءاسية امرأة فرعون ومريم بنت عمران و إن فضل عائشة على النساء كفضل الثريد على سائر الطعام>>
This means: <<Many men have become perfect, but among the women, none have become perfect except Aasiyah, the wife of Pharaoh, and Maryam Bint ^Imraan. Moreover, the merit of ^Aa’ishah compared to the women is like the merit of the meat broth compared to the rest of the food (i.e. she has a very high status).>>
May Allah make us pious and grant us al-wilaayah.