Wal-bāqiyātus-sālihātu khayrun ‘inda rabbik
The everlasting good deeds are better with your Lord
(Sūratul Kahf, No.18, Āyat 46)
The deeds that a human being performs last forever. Long after the action is done, the energy from it is engraved on the soul. Although human life is finite, the actions he does on earth remain. The Quran refers to these virtuous deeds as al-bāqiyātus sālihāt.
According to Imam Muhammad al-Bāqir (a): the good and bad deeds of man would accompany him and it would not be possible to be separated from them, till the scroll of his deeds is given to him in Qiyāmah (Bihār, v. 7, p. 312). In ‘Ilmul Yaqīn the author writes:
Everything a sane person can understand through his senses would leave an imprint on his soul and it would be stored in the treasure-trove of his perceptions. In the same way, every good or bad deed that he commits, no matter how small it is, its effect is recorded in the scroll of the soul; especially the acts, which become a habit and a second nature as a result of repetition.
Thus the deeds that are good and virtuous take on a positive form that lasts forever. This is the bāqiyātus sālihāt referred to in the verse above. These deeds please Allah ‘azza wa-jall and bring down reward and mercy for the doer. He is rewarded in full for the deed, even beyond his expectations. Unlike worldly expectations that often disappoint and are unfulfilling, expectations of reward from God are fully met.
There are Hadith that include tasbīhāt al-arba‘ and daily salāt as part of al-bāqiyātus sālihāt. Other Hadith mention the love of the Ahlul Bayt, or Salātul Layl. However these are specific examples of al-bāqiyātus sālihāt and does not limit to them. Any good deed done sincerely fits into this category and is preserved with Allah till the Day of Judgement. This includes any thoughts, ideas, words, actions, etc. that leave a positive impact on the individual and on society. The positivity and benefit continue even after the person dies.
Hadiths have specified certain good deeds that continue to bring great reward even after death. These are the ultimate examples of al-bāqiyātus sālihāt. Imam al-Sādiq (a) says:
The reward of a person who dies does not continue except for three things;
a. Charity that continues to benefit
b. Guidance and good conduct that he followed and encouraged others to follow
c. A virtuous child who seeks forgiveness for him
(Ibn Abī Jamhūr Ihsāyī, ‘Awālī al-li’ālī, v. 3, p. 260).
In another Hadith, Shaykh al-Sadūq narrates in al-Khisāl, v. 1, p. 323, from al-Sādiq (a):
Six things benefit a person after death:
a. A virtuous child that seeks forgiveness for him
b. A Quran that he leaves behind and others recite it after him
c. A well that he digs and people benefit from it
d. A tree that he planted
e. Water that he caused to flow and people use it
f. A good conduct that he initiated and people follow it
The goal of a believer is to perform good deeds as much as possible in this world. To leave behind al-bāqiyātus sālihāt is to leave an impact that continues to illuminate the world long after you are gone. Recite this verse to inspire yourself to amass The Everlasting Good Deeds. It is the only lasting thing you can leave behind.
Sources: Āyatullāh Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; www.islamquest.net/fa/archive/