In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
Allaah (The Most High) said:
And those foremost [(in Islamic Faith of Monotheism and in performing righteous deeds) in the life of this world on the very first call for to embrace Islam,] will be foremost (in Paradise).
These will be those nearest to Allah.
فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ
In the Gardens of delight (Paradise).
ثُلَّةٌ مِنَ الْأَوَّلِينَ
A multitude of those (foremost) will be from the first generations (who embraced Islam).
وَقَلِيلٌ مِنَ الْآخِرِينَ
And a few of those (foremost) will be from the later time (generations).
Those foremost in the performance of good deeds in this worldly life will be the foremost to enter paradise in the afterlife. The ones described as such – the nearest to Allaah and dwellers in the Gardens of delight (Paradise) – are the ones who will be recorded as those of the highest position amongst the doers of good and will be in the loftiest stations. They are the ones mentioned as being a multitude of those who are (foremost) from the first generations (who embraced Islam) – a numerous group from the early generations of Muslims- and a fewer number of those (foremost) will be from the later generations. This shows the excellence the early generations of this Ummah has over the later generations due to the fact that the early generations will be a greater number in paradise than the later generations. [Ref 1] The people of Ihsaan of the early generations are greater in number – until Yawm A-Qiyaamah- than the people of Ihsaan of the later generations. [Ref 2]
[Ref 1: Abridged and paraphrased. Source: Tafseer Surah Al-Waaqi’ah Aayaat 10-14 -(Tayseer Al-kareem Ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer Kalaam al-Mannaan’ by Imaam Sadi (rahimahullaah)]
[Ref 2: Sharh Al-Arba’een An-Nawawiyah’ lesson number 5’ by Sh Abdur-Razzaaq al-Badr’ at 31-33mins]