The Meaning of Righteousness
Birr linguistically: is goodness and virtue. Barra, yabarru, birran - taking the same morphological root setup as `alima - such that one is barrun and barrun (with the long vowel - alif). Meaning: one is truthful or pious, and it is the antonym of wicked (fajir). From this comes the statement to the caller to the prayer: sadaqta wa barirta (you have said the truth and done righteousness).  al-Misbah al-Munir, al-Fayyumi (1/43).
Birr technically: is expansively engaging in acts of goodness, and sound spiritual practise to purify the self.  al-Tawqif, al-Manawi (p. 122). It is also said that it is affirming amicable ties, doing good, and being excessively beneficent.  Sayd al-Afkar, al-Qadi al-Mahdi (2/302). The Difference between Righteousness and Goodness (Khayr)
Righteousness refers to an act undertaken with the intention of receiving the benefit that it brings about. As for goodness, it is general. Even if a good deed is done unintentionally it still is referred to as good. The antonym of good is evil (sharr), while the antonym of righteousness is undutifulness (`uquq).Commandments of Righteousness and Encouragement towards it in the Qur’an and the Sunnah
❖ Allah, exalted, says: “Righteousness is not in turning your faces towards the east or the west. Rather, the righteous are those who believe in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Books, and the prophets; who give charity out of their cherished wealth to relatives, orphans, the poor, needy travellers, beggars, and for freeing captives; who establish prayer, pay alms-tax, and keep the pledges they make; and who are patient in times of suffering, adversity, and in the heat of battle. It is they who are true in faith, and it is they who are mindful of Allah.” al-Baqarah: 177.
❖ He also says, exalted: “Cooperate with one another in righteousness and piety, and do not cooperate in sin and aggression. Be mindful of Allah. Surely, Allah is severe in punishment.” al-Ma’idah: 2.
❖ al-Nawwas ibn Sam`an, Allah be pleased with him, said: “I asked Allah’s Messenger ﷺ about righteousness and sin, so he said: ‘Righteousness is good morals, while sin is that which causes you unease in your heart and you dislike that people become aware of.’”  Reported by Muslim (2553).
❖ Thawban, Allah be pleased with him, said: “Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: ‘Nothing increases one’s life but righteousness. Nothing repels divine decree but supplication. Surely, man is prohibited from some provision due to a sin he commits.’”  Reported by Ibn Majah (90) and this is his wording, as well as Ahmad (22386). It is graded as sound by al-`Iraqi as is the case in Zawa’id Ibn Majah by al-Busiri (1/13), and likewise al-Albani in Sahih Sunan Ibn Majah (90), except from, ‘Surely, man…’ It is authenticated by Ibn Baz in Hashiyat Bulugh al-Maram (778). Quotes from the Predecessors and Scholars on Righteousness
❖ Abu al-Darda’ said: “Worship Allah as if you see him and consider yourselves already among the dead. Know that a little that suffices you is better than a lot that distracts you. Know that righteousness never perishes, and that sin is never forgotten.”  Reported by Ibn Abi Shaybah in al-Musannaf (35722) and al-Bayhaqi is Shu`ab al-Iman (10664).
❖ Dawud al-Ta`i said: “The aspiration of the righteous is piety. Even if all his limbs are attached to the worldly life, his intention would someday return him to a sound intention. Likewise is the ignoramus but to the opposite effect.”  Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din, al-Ghazali (4/364).
❖ Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Righteous deeds awaken the slave, putting him upright, ascending to Allah with him. Depending on the intensity of his attachment to them is his ascension coupled with theirs.”  Tariq al-Hijratayn, Ibn al-Qayyim (p. 274). Virtues, Benefits, and Impacts of Righteousness
Righteousness: Is a path that leads to the Garden. Is one of the means to have increase and be blessed in one’s life. Is a cause of happiness in both this life and the next. Is a way to have a tranquil conscience, as well as having a stable, relaxed soul. Leads to one gaining the love of the people and having amiability among them, spreading care in society. Protects blessings and shields them. Categories of Righteousness
Righteousness is of two types: giving and doing good. As for giving, then it is to spend one’s wealth towards specific outlets without asking for anything in return. This instills large-heartedness and generosity in the self and prevents its miserliness and disobedience. Allah, exalted, says: “Whoever is saved from the selfishness of their own souls, it is they who are truly successful.” al-Hashr: 9. As for doing good, then it is also of two types: speech and action. As for speech: then it is the utterance of good words, speaking optimistically, and softening others’ hearts with beautiful statements. And as for action: then it is expending oneself in helping others, especially at their times of need. This incites the love of good for others, and selflessly seeking their wellbeing.
Among the Forms of Righteousness
The most prominent forms of righteousness are two: Spending one’s wealth in righteous causes. This extends one’s life and incites others’ love. It also shields one’s wealth from crises, brings happiness to the people, and grants the pleasure of the Creator. Righteousness to one’s parents. In the narration of Ibn `Umar, Allah be pleased with them both, attributed to the Prophet ﷺ: “Surely, among the best forms of righteousness is to upkeep kindness to those loved by one’s father after his passing.”  Reported by Muslim (2552). Maintaining good ties and relations with the close ones of a deceased is a perfected form of being righteous to him. Barriers to Righteousness
Being far from Allah, sanctified and exalted. Committing many sins is a barrier between one and his doing good. Stinginess and selfishness. The love of wealth and being overly attached to it. Malice, envy, and rancour all do not allow one to be good to others. Ignorance of the great reward of doing righteousness. Means of Righteousness
Seeking the pleasure of Allah, sanctified and exalted. Habituating oneself to do righteous deeds, even if one’s ego dislikes it. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Truthfulness guides to righteousness, and righteousness guides to the Garden.”  Reported by al-Bukhari (6094) and Muslim (2607) from the narration of `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, Allah be pleased with him. Love of others, caring for them, and seeking closeness to them are all facilitators to being righteous with and beneficent to them, until one reaches it. Treating the self from the maladies of selfishness and stinginess, and exerting effort in habituating it to give for the sake of good and in various righteous causes. Removing malice, rancour, and envy from oneself, and all other ugly traits which oppose being gracious to the people and being righteous with them. Adages, Proverbs, and Poetry about Righteousness  Tanbih al-Ghafilin, al-Samarqandi (p. 253); Zahr al-Akam, al-Yusi (1/180).
❖ “Righteousness is a disposition for the noble and a compulsion upon the stingy.”
❖ It is said: “Three are the treasures of righteousness: concealment of charity, concealment of pain, and concealment of calamity.”
❖ The poet says:
“From Allah is the most successful asking and
Righteousness is the best supply for travel.”  Sayd al-Afkar, al-Qadi al-Mahdi (2/304).
❖ Sabiq al-Barbari said:
“Piety is the best luggage you can carry and
Righteousness is the best thing man can attain.”  The previous source.