Comment on: Why is "doing righteous deeds" not a pillar of Islam?
IMO it should definitely be considered as such. As the emphasize of Quran is in first place on good deeds while you find in the Hadith the statements of the five pillars either clearly mentioned in the Hadith of ibn 'Omar (which you'll find in about all hadith collections) or in another statement of ibn 'Omar or in the hadith of 'Omar ibn al-Khattab (about Islam, Iman and Ihsan) or explained as the basis of this religion in a hadith of Talha ibn Obaydallah. Of course the Quran also mentions all of those pillars. On the other hand we may find other definitions of Islam like the one of Jabir... which differ from those five apparently "given" and "fixed" pillars.
Some modern Muslim thinkers such as Farhan al-Maliky -who accepts ahadith that are similar to Quranic statements but is often quoted as a reference by Quranists- say the pillars should be 3 (Iqbaal or acceptance: as the opposite of rejection, tasleem or admission: as the opposite of kufr and hardened of hearts, and righteous deeds: as the opposite of wrongdoing and crime) or 8 (acceptance, admission, adherence (and unity), monotheism, justice, obedience, charity and the abidance of hearts). Righteous deeds in the 3 pillar view includes justice and obedience etc..
I'm afraid your question will end up with opinion based answers as I don't know about any clear statement answering it. What I'll try to do is to try to explain the relationship between the pillars and the righteous deeds from a Goals of Shari'a perspective.
Good and righteous deeds and the prayer
About prayer Allah says (29:45):
...and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.
This means a prayer performed in the way Allah expects from us should prohibit us from doing immorality and doing bad deeds and it should remain us of Allah as it's also said in (20:14)
... so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance.
And we know from (13:28)
Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured."
that remembrance of Allah is a comfort and rest for our hearts!
There are even a couple of ahadith which go ahead with this teaching like a statement which was narrated -in different variations- from sahaba such as ibn Mas'ud and ibn 'Abbas and tabi'yn such as al-Hassan al-Basry and al-a'Amash:
من لم تنهه صلاته عن الفحشاء والمنكر لم تزده من الله إلا بعدا
- - - (My own translation take it with care) - - -
The prayer of a person which doesn't prohibit him from immorality and wrongdoing would only take him further from Allah
This isn't considered by many scholar as a hadith however al-Hassan has stated it as a marfo' some even say it is weak or even rejected (monkar). The version of ibn Mas'ud for example is considered as not being a hadith of our Prophet by al-Albani according this fatwa (in Arabic):
Imam al-Qurtobi in his tafsir of (29:45) also quotes a hadith of Anas, about a young man who used to pray and steal, which apparently has also been narrated in a similar version by Abu Hurairah ... here a quote from tafsir ibn Kathir which also includes interpretations of the given verse:
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said: "A man came to the Prophet and said, `So-and-so prays at night, but when morning comes, he steals.' The Prophet said: (What you are saying (i.e., the Salah) will stop him from doing that.)"
Prayer also includes the remembering of Allah, which is the higher
objective, Allah says:
(and the remembrance of Allah is greater indeed.) more important than the former.
(And Allah knows what you do.) means, He knows all that you do and say.
Abu Al-'Aliyah commented on the Ayah:
(Verily, the Salah prevents from immoral sins and evil wicked deeds) "Prayer has three attributes, and any prayer that contains none of these attributes is not truly prayer: Being done purely and sincerely for Allah alone (Ikhlas), fear of Allah, and remembrance of Allah. Ikhlas makes a person do good deeds, fear prevents him from doing evil deeds, and the remembrance of Allah is the Qur'an which contains commands and prohibitions.'' Ibn 'Awn Al-Ansari said: "When you are praying, you are doing good, it is keeping you away from immoral sins and evil wicked deeds and what you are doing is part of the remembrance of Allah which is greater.''
There's also a hadith quodsi compiled by al-Bazzar in his al-Bahr az-Zakhir I've tried to translate the relevant part of it-in Bold letters-):
عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا ، قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : قَالَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى : إِنِّي لا أَتَقَبَّلُ الصَّلاةَ إِلا مِمَّنْ تَوَاضَعَ بِهَا لِعَظَمَتِي ، وَلَمْ يَسْتَطِلْ عَلَى خَلْقِي وَلَمْ يَبِتْ مُصِرًّا عَلَى مَعْصِيَتِي ، وَقَطَعَ نَهَارَهُ فِي ذِكْرِي ، وَرَحِمَ الْمِسْكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالأَرْمَلَةَ ، وَرَحِمَ الْمُصَابَ ذَلِكَ نُورُهُ كَنُورِ الشَّمْسِ أَكْلَؤُهُ بِعِزَّتِي ، وَأَسْتَحْفِظُهُ مَلائِكَتِي ، وَأَجْعَلُ لَهُ فِي الظُّلْمَةِ نُورًا وَفِي الْجَهَالَةِ حِلْمًا ، وَمَثَلُهُ فِي خَلْقِي كَمَثَلِ الْفِرْدَوْسِ فِي الْجَنَّةِ .
On the authority of ibn 'Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them): The Messenger of Allah (Peace and Allah's Blessings be upon him) said: Allah the Almighty said: I don't accept prayer except from those who humbled with it in front of My Majesty, and don't humiliate my creation, and who don't go to sleep insisting on a wrongdoing (or not rejecting my orders), and who takes times of his day for My remembrance, and is kind to the poor, the traveler and the widow, and who is kind to a person who is affected by a disaster. This persons light is as the sunlight I protect him with MY Glory ...
Or a similar statement from Ihya' 'ulm ad-Dyn (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) by Imam al-Ghazaly:
It is related that Allah revealed to Moses, “O Moses, whenever you make mention of Me, mention Me while you are shaking in your members, and while mentioning Me, be humble and composed, and whenever you mention Me, keep your tongue behind your heart, and whenever you stand before Me, stand as humble slave, and commune with Me with a timorous heart and a truthful tongue.” (source)
Note that most of these narrations are considered as weak, fabricated and rejected however they -at least partly- clearly go ahead with the teachings of the Quran!
Conclusion: A well done prayer should be a guidance for good and righteous deeds and it should guide us to leave bad deeds. Beside the fact it should comfort our hearts and souls with the remembrance of Allah! So those are the concluded goals of the prayer.
Isnt't Zakat itself a righteous deed?
Zakat as defined itself is a righteous deed as one could clearly see its benefit if it was applied as it should base on verses such as (9:60), (9:103 or (70:24-25)). Here a rough quote of some of those benefits:
- It takes us away of being grasping (64:16).
- It is a training on spending for the sake of Allah (it is the lowest level of it).
- It is a way to thank Allah for HIS gifts.
- It helps the receiver out of necessity, dependence and poverty.
- It cleans the receiver from envy and hatred towards "rich" people.
- It has huge impact on the society and economy...
Well one could also quote a list about the benefits of fasts however most of them wouldn't directly be related to righteous deeds.
Hajj includes some righteous deeds such get together with other Muslims -> unity of the Ummah and get know one another.
Leaving all comfort, realizing how poor we are in front of the greatness of our Creator and preparing oneself for meeting our Lord.