Faith and enlightenment are the basis for self's perfection and journeying towards God-Almighty. Before starting this journey a wayfarer must decide about his final destination, must know where is he going, and which path he must select, otherwise he would get lost and would never reach to his final destination.
Faith in God-Almighty induces courage for movement, search and endeavor, as well as clearly demarcates his path and final destination. Those who lack faith are helpless to walk upon the straight path of perfection. The Holy Qur’an said:
وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ عَنِ الصِّرَاطِ لَنَاكِبُونَ
“And Lo! those who believe not in the Hereafter are indeed astray from the path. (23: 74)
بَلِ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ فِي الْعَذَابِ وَالضَّلَالِ الْبَعِيدِ
“Nay, but those who disbelieve in the Hereafter are in torment and for error. (34:8)
An unbeliever who does not believe in the existence of God-Almighty and Hereafter becomes absolutely cut off from the world of perfection and his activities are limited to follow his material and animalistic requirements. Therefore, his arms and objectives for movement could not be any thing else other than material world.
He is not journeying on the straight path of perfection and therefore, can never attain God's Nearness .The direction of his movement is world and therefore, continuously becomes farther away from the straight path of human exaltation.
Even if an unbeliever performs a righteous deed it would not become a means for his self-perfection; because, he has not done it with the intention for God and his Nearness (Taqarrub), so that it becomes beneficial for him, rather has done it for the sake of this world and, therefore, will see the result in this world but nothing will be left for him in the Hereafter. God-Almighty said in Holy Qur’an:
مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ ۖ أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَمَادٍ اشْتَدَّتْ بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي يَوْمٍ عَاصِفٍ ۖ لَّا يَقْدِرُونَ مِمَّا كَسَبُوا عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الضَّلَالُ الْبَعِيدُ
“A similitude of those who disbelieve in their Lord: their works are ashes which the wind bloweth hard upon a stormy day. They have no control of aught that they have earned. That is the extreme failure. (14:18)
Anyway, faith is the foundation of deeds and bestows upon them merit. If, a believer's soul gets intermingled with faith (Iman) and the phrase of Monotheism (Kalma al-Tawhid) would become illuminated and would ascend towards God-Almighty. Of course, righteous deeds too helps him in this ascent. The Holy Qur’an said:
مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعِزَّةَ فَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ
“Whoso desireth power (should know that) all power belongeth to God-Almighty. Unto Him good words ascend and the pious deed doth He exalt. (35:10)
The righteous deeds carry a human soul upward enabling him to attain the exalted position of God's Nearness and providing him a sacred and beautiful existence subjected to his possessed with the faith (Iman). An unbeliever's soul is dark and does not have the decency of possessing God's Nearness and delightful existence. The Holy Qur’an said:
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً
“Whosoever doth right, whether male or female and is a believer, him verily we shall quicken with good life. (16:97)
Therefore, a wayfarer from the very beginning must strive and endeavor to strengthen his faith because the stronger and superior will be his faith the higher will be his ascent and rank. Holy Qur’an said:
يَرْفَعِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ
“God-Almighty will exalt those who believe among you, and those who have knowledge, to high ranks, God is informed of what you do. (58:11)