Surah at-Taubah Ayah 19 says: “Do you make giving of water to the pilgrims and the maintenance of the Sacred Mosque equal to someone who believes in Allah and The Last Day, and strives in the way of Allah? They are not equal with Allah, and Allah does not guide the unjust people.”
One day, the Noble Messenger (s.a.w.a.s.)’s uncle Abbas, and Shayba, the custodian of the Sacred Mosque (Ka’bah), were boasting to each other. Abbas boasted of his job which was supplying water to the pilgrims of the Sacred House, and Shaybah boasted of being the custodian of Ka’bah. Imam Ali (a.s.) said that he gloried in the fact that they embraced Islam with the help of his struggle and his sword. Abbas was annoyed and complained of Imam Ali (a.s.) to the Noble Messenger (s.a.w.a.s.). Consequently this Ayah was revealed. Naturally, faith and the struggle in the way of Allah were superior to the services done in the Age of Idolatry which did not bring them spiritual enhancement. Therefore, a deed not accompanied by faith is hollow, like a mirage or a body without soul.
The message was further strengthened by the next Ayah 20: “Those believed and emigrated, and strove in Allah’s way with their properties and selves, have a greater rank with Allah, and these they are triumphant.”
This Ayah clearly emphasize that the triumphant people are those who had believe and faith, migrated from Makkah to Madinah and strove in the way of Allah by their properties and their selves. And their rank is greater.
Allah compensates their triumph in the next Ayah 21: “Their Lord gives them the good news of Mercy from Himself and (His) Good Pleasure and of Gardens wherein for them are lasting bounties.”
These traditions have been reported, with minor adjustments, in many books of our Sunni brothers like:
Tafseer-e-Tabri, Tha’labi, Ashab Nuzool-e-Wahidi, Tafseer-e-Khazan Baghdadi, Mua’lim al-Tanzil by Allama Baghvi, Manaqib ibne Maghazili, Ja’ma-al-Usul by Ibne Kathir, Tafsir Allama Fakhr-ud-Din Razi (Refer Ah’qaq-ul-Haq volume 3 pages 122 to 127)
The Glorious Qur'an (English Translation) by Ayatullah Agha H.M.M. Pooya Yazdi
The Glorious Qur'an (Urdu Translation) by Maulana Sayyid Farman Ali
Enlightening Commentary, Light, Holy Qur'an