"What is Iman? asked my reason to my heart. Whispering into the ear of my reason, my heart replied, Iman is but manners (adab)." [The Exemplar Beyond Compare: Muhammad Mustafa SAW by Osman Nuri Topbas]
In Islam, when you have Adab, like our beloved Prophet SAW, you attain progress. The term progress refers to a definite direction that is aligned to a final purpose - the Hereafter (not the illusionary 'progress' of material wealth or investing in the wordly life proposed by the Secular or Western Worldview).
Now, the Quran does not derogate the world itself; or dissuade one from contemplation and reflection of it and its wonders; rather it extols the world of creation and urges man to contemplate and reflect upon it and its wonders in order that he might be able to interpret and derive their practical and beneficial purpose:
رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Rabbana atina fid-dunya hasanatan wa fil 'akhirati hasanatan waqina 'adhaban-nar
"Our Lord! Give unto us in the world that which is good and
in the Hereafter that which is good, and guard us from the doom of Fire."
There is a difference between Ni'mah, Barakah and Hasanah:
Ni’mah means a specific blessing or bounty. It is a good situation or thing, which can be small or large, little or plentiful [Raghib al Isfahani, Mufradatul Quran].
It is only called a ni’mah when the receiver is an intelligent being. Allah SWT says we could not enumerate all of His ni’mah’s even if we tried to count them [Surah Ibraheem: 34].
When ascribed to Allah, it is also used in a general, singular sense to mean “the Divine Favor” which He has granted. It includes His signs, rewards, and beneficence that He has done to His creation.
Barakah means increase, growth and happiness. It is the establishment of divine goodness in something; from whence it exudes cannot be sensed by people, nor can it be outwardly quantified, nor is it limited by anything, but rather, something with barakah in it is called mubaarak, and has an unexplainable increase and benefit in it from Allah. Barakah is not the specific blessing (ni’mah) itself, but an increase in that given bounty. [al-Qushayri, Tafseer al Quran].
Hasanah comes from a root word which implies something pleasant and desirable to the intellect, fancies and desires, or the physical senses. It denotes every delightful ni’mah, or bounty, which a person can obtain for his body, mind and soul. Often translated as “the good” of this world and the hereafter, it also means good words or deeds (doing so beautifies one’s character and leads to a desired reward). The good of this world are Allah’s ni’mahs (bounties), and the good of the next world is His Paradise [al-Suyuti, Tafseer al Jalalayn].
What is hasanah in this world? Good in this world according to:
1. Ali RA is a pious wife
2. Qatadah RA is a peaceful existence and necessary livelihood
3. Hasan Basri RA is knowledge of Islam and prayer
4. Suddi RA is Lawful earnings
5. Ibn Umar RA is righteous children and goodwill of mankind
6. Jafar RA is ‘good health, honest living, knowledge of Qur’an, victory over Islam's enemies and the
company of the pious
We live in this dunya, we have needs, and we are allowed to ask for them. So in our prayer, we ask for “hasanah” (good) in this world. Then we say, “and good in the hereafter, which means Jannah, and all the steps that lead to it. We ask for protection from the punishment of the grave. We ask that when the trumpet is blown on the Day of Judgment we are not among those who are terrified:
“Whoever brings a good deed, will have better than its worth, and they will be safe from the terror on that Day.” [Surah an-Naml: 89].
We ask that our book will be given to us in their right hand:
“Then, as for him who will be given his Record in his right hand, He surely will receive an easy reckoning, and will return to his family in joy!” [Surah al-Inshiqaq: 7-9].
We ask that when our deeds are weighed, our good deeds will be heavier than our bad deeds:
“And the weighing on that day (Day of Resurrection) will be the true (weighing). So as for those whose scale (of good deeds) will be heavy, they will be the successful.” [Surah Al-A'raaf: 8]
We ask that when we have to cross the Siraat, we cross it with ease and quickness:
"There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell): this is with your Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished. Then We shall save those who used to fear Allah and were dutiful to Him, And We shall leave the wrong-doers therein (humbled) to their knees (in Hell).” [Surah Maryam: 71-72]
We ask to pass the Qantarah without any hardship. Abu Sa’eed al Khudree reports that the Prophet SAW said:
"When the believers cross the Hellfire, they will be stopped at a small arched bridge (Qantarah) before entering the paradise and will be given retribution for injustices between them until they become purified. (Then) they will be permitted to enter Jannah. So, by the One in whose hands is my soul, they will know their way to their homes in Jannah, better than they knews their ways to their homes in Dunya.” [Saheeh Bukhari]
Afternote: To ask to enter Jannah with ease, we should envision all these in our mind’s eye, acknowledging that there are steps to go through in the Akhirah when we make Dua. Knowledge of what we are asking for helps our dua come from the heart; when a person knows what he is asking for, he sincerely thinks about what the words include and know what a severe torment and punishment awaits those in the hellfire, nauzu billahi min zaliq.