First, to love the thing he/she hopes for.
Second, to know that his/her hope could slip away.
Third, to endeavour to obtain this according to his/her ability.
Abu Hurayrah (radiallaahu ‘anhu) said: The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “He who fears sets out at nightfall, and he who sets out at nightfall reaches the destination. Allaah’s commodity is dear. Allaah’s commodity is Paradise.” [Recorded by At-Tirmidhee in the book, “The Resurrection”, (chapter 18)]
Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) has placed the characteristics of hope and fear of Him within good doers; therefore, He (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) has made beneficial hope and fear related to action, saying: “Verily, those who live in awe of their Lord; and those who believe in the Signs of their Lord; and those who join not anyone as partners with their Lord; and those who give that (their charity) which they give (and also do other good deeds) with their hearts full of fear, because they are sure to return to their Lord (for reckoning); it is these who hasten in good deeds, and they are foremost in them.”[Suraat Al-Mu’minun: 57-61.]
‘Aishaah (radiallaahu ‘anha) said: “I asked the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) about this Verse, and said: ‘Are they the ones who drink wine, fornicate and steal?’ He (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied: ‘No, O daughter of As-Siddiq (Abu Bakr); they are those who fast, pray and give charity; yet they fear whether their alms and charities have been accepted or not; those who hasten in (doing) good deeds.” [Recorded by At-Tirmidhee, and this Hadeeth was also reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (ra)]
Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) described blessed people as people who act perfectly, fearing Allaah, and described wretched people as those who do misdeeds, disregarding the Punishment of Allaah.
When we reflect on the lives of the Companions (radiallaahu ‘anhuma), we discover how they endeavour to act righteously, out of fear and love for Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala). Abu Bakr as-Sideeq (radiallaahu anhu) was quoted saying: “I wish I were a hair in the side of the believing servant”[Recorded by Imaam Ahmad.]
He (radiallaahu ‘anhu) expressed the extent of his fear of Allaah, and how he would do anything to please his Lord.
He (radiallaahu anhu) used to weep a lot and say: “Cry and if you can’t, try hard to.”
When he (radiallaahu ‘anhu) stood for prayers, he would stand like a piece of wood, out of fear of Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala). When he was dying on his bed, he said to ‘Aishah (radiallaahu ‘anha): “I have obtained this cover, this milker and this slave from the Muslim treasury; so please take them quickly to Umar bin Al-Khattab.” He (radiallaahu ‘anhu) also said: “I wish I were this tree, to be eaten and bitten.”
Abu Qatadah said: “I was told that Abu Bakr (radiallaahu ta’aala anhu) said: ‘I wish I were herbs to be eaten by animals.’”
As for ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (radiallaahu ‘anhu), it was said that he was reciting Suraat At-Tur, and when he reached the Verse: “Verily, the Torment of your Lord will surely come to pass”, he cried so intensely that he fell ill, and was visited by his Companions.
He (radiallaahu ‘anhu) said to his son as he was dying: “Woe unto you! Place my cheek on the ground, in the hope that Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) might be merciful to me.”He (radiallaahu ‘anhu) would recite a Verse of the Qur’aan and stay indoors for days, receiving people who would come to visit him, because of his excessive fear of Allaah; he was extremely mindful of the Punishment of Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala); he even had two black lines on his face which marked the lines of his tears.
Uthmaan bin ‘Affan (radiallaahu ‘anhu) would cry as he stood before a grave, until his beard would become totally wet. He (radiallaahu ‘anhu) said: “If I were to stand between Paradise and Hell, not knowing where I would be taken, I would rather choose to be ashes before I should know my final destination.”
Ali bin Abi Talib (radiallaahu ‘anhu) used to cry because he feared two things: unfading hope, and following one’s desires. He (radiallaahu ‘anhu) said: “Having unfading hope makes on forget the Hereafter, while following one’s desires deviates from the truth. This world is retreating and the Hereafter is coming, so be among the sons of the Hereafter, but do not be among the followers of this world; because today there is action without reckoning, whereas tomorrow, there is reckoning without (anymore) action.”
Abu Dardaa’ (radiallaahu ‘anhu) said: “The biggest thing I worry about is that it may be said on the Day of Resurrection: ‘O Abu Dardaa’, you have received (true Islaamic) knowledge, so what have you done in respect to what you have known?’”
He (radiallaahu ‘anhu) used to say: “If you knew what you are facing after death, you would not eat your meal nor drink with any appetite…I wish I were a tree to be bitten and then eaten.”
Abu Dharr (radiallaahu ‘anhu) also used to say: “I wish I were a tree being bitten, and I wish that I were never born.” Charitable gifts were presented to him, to which he (radiallaahu ‘anhu) said: “We have goats to milk, camels to transport ourselves, a servant to serve us, a duvet to cover ourselves. So, I am worried about being questioned about all these blessings on the Day of Reckoning.”
Tamim ad-Dari (radiallaahu ‘anhu) was reciting Surat Al-Jathiyah one night, and when he read the Verse: “Or do those who earn evil deeds think that We shall hold them equal with those who believe and do righteous deeds”, and he kept reciting it and crying all night, until dawn.
Abu ‘Ubaydah ‘Amir bin Al-Jarrah (radiallaahu ‘anhu) said: “I wish I were a sheep, slaughtered and eaten by my family.” This is a long chapter to follow.
Al-Bukhaaree named a chapter in his Saheeh: “Chapter on: the Fear of a Believer that his Deed may come to Nothing while he is Unaware.”
Ibrahim Tamimi said: “Whenever I compare my word to my deed, I fear that I may be wronged.”
I have lived at a time where there thirty Companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam); they were all worried about hypocrisy, and none of them ever mentioned that the level of his belief was like that Jibreel or Michael .
Al-Hasan (radiallaahu ‘anhu) said: “Only a believer has fear of Allaah, and only a hypocrite feels safe from Allaah’s Punishment.”
Umar bin Al-Khattab (radiallaahu ‘anhu) went to Hudhayfah (radiallaahu ‘anhu), to whom the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) confided the names of the hypocrites in Al-Madinah, and said to him: “I adjure you, by Allaah. Has the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) named me?” (i.e. among the hypocrites). Hudhayfah (radiallaahu ta’aala ‘anhu) replied: “No, but I will not vindicate anyone else after you.”
I heard that our Shaykh (Ibn Taymiyyah) said: “Hudhayfah (radiallaahu ‘anhu) did not mean that he would not defend anyone else from hypocrisy, but that he did not want to give others the chance to come and ask whether they were named by the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), in the list of hypocrites.