Sincerity in Islam
All praise is due to Allah. We praise Him, and seek
His help and ask Him for forgiveness. We seek refuge from
the evil of ourselves and from the adverse consequences of
our actions. Whomsoever Allah guides, there is no one to
misguide him and whomsoever He misguides, there is none to
guide him. I testify that there is no deity except Allah and
I testify that Muhammed (S) is His servant and messenger.
The Prophet of Allah Muhammed (S) said: Actions are
only by intention, and every man shall only have what he
intended. Thus he whose hijra was for the sake of Allah and
His Messenger, his hijra was for Allah and His Messenger, and
he whose hijra was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take
some woman in marriage, his hijra was for that for which he
This hadith clearly indicates that ones actions are
accepted by Allah (swt) only if they are done with the right
intention, i.e. truly for the sake of Allah (swt). This brings
us to a very important aspect of the religion of islaam - the
concept of Sincerity. The arabic word used for this is 'Ikhlass'.
What is meant by sincerity in islaam, is to ensure that all of our
deeds of worship and other matters are solely for Allah (swt) and
to gain His pleasure. Hence, sincerity is a condition for the
acceptance of our deeds that are performed in accordance to the
sunnah of Prophet (S). Allah (swt) says in the quran in
sura Bayinah 5:
And they have been commanded to worship only Allah, being
sincere towards Him in their deen and true.
Thus we are commanded to perform our religious acts, what
compose our religion for us, based on sincerity. This is what Allah
has commanded us. This is the foundation of our faith. In one of
the statement of prophet (S), He (S) said, Whoever says 'La ilaha
ill aalah' will enter paradise. He made a general statement, but he
further clarified his statement by saying whoever says 'La ilaha
illaalah' sincerely from his heart will enter paradise. Hence, once
the true faith has entered your heart, it will never go. You may do
wrong, may go astray sometimes but once you have tasted the reality
of faith, it causes you to be sincere in all your deeds; and this
sincerity will inshAllah, ultimately make you attain paradise.
A heart that lacks sincerity is, from an Islamic point of view,
the worst of hearts. It is the heart of a hypocrite, or the heart of
the enemy of Allah.
Dear brothers and sisters in Islam, this sincerity is not an
easy thing to achieve. As someone said: It is much harder for the
people to purify their intentions than to execute any of their actions
In order to be truly sincere, one has to give up the worldly desires,
and devote himself to the love of Allah (swt). He has to contemplate
on the next world, that is to come and this would leave no place in
his heart for the love of this world. Such a person should be devout
in his actions, even in eating, drinking and answering the calls of
nature. Without that it is very difficult for a person to be really
sincere to Allah (swt).
Many a times, it so happens that we think that our actions
are for Allah (swt), but it reality, they are lacking sincerity.
Here is a story of a man who used to stand in the first row for
every salat. As the prophet (S) mentioned on one of the hadith that
if people knew the reward of standing in the first row and calling the
Adhan, they would fight one another to perform these acts. But once
it so happened, that this man was late for prayers and had to stand in
the second row. He felt embarrassed that people would see him in the
second row, and it was then that he realized that the satisfaction he
used to get from standing in the first row was from people seeing him
in the first row and his sincerity in doing this act was impure. This
is just a small example of how our sincerity towards our Lord is
unsafe from being impure.
It is very important that we realize the gravity of this
situation in this world. Because if we don’'t, then on the day of
Resurrection, these very deeds of ours ,that we thought to be good
will appear as bad deeds. As Allah says in the quran: ‘
And something will come to them from Allah which they had
never anticipated, for the evil of their deeds will become apparent
to them. (39: 47-48)
And also: ‘ Shall We tell you who will lose most in resect
of their deeds? Those whose efforts were astray in the life of this
world, while they thought that they were doing good works.’
Although these ayats are talking about the kuffars, we too
must evaluate our actions to make sure they are sincerely for the
sake of Allah (swt).
Brothers and sisters in Islaam, The Prophet mentioned that,
the Sahabah, the best generation of this ummah, were afraid of being
insincere and hypocrites. Imam Bukhari mentioned on the authority of
Abu Maleeka that he said: ‘ I met thirty of the companions of
Muhammed (S), every one of them fears for himself from hypocrisy.’
This was the state of the Sahabah then how about us? Hence,
we should check ourselves and be certain that we are doing our best
to be sincere to our Lord in whatever we are doing whether it includes
the religious acts or the acts which we do not consider as religious
per say. In Islam, principles cover everything and concept of
sincerity is required in all aspects of our lives. For example, there
is no way we can be sincere to Allah and not be sincere to out fellow
Muslims. Worshipping Allah sincerely necessitates dealing properly
and justly with other Muslims.
Now let us look at some examples from the seerah of Prophet(S)
and the Sahabah, as to how sincere they were. For example, during the
battle of Tabuk when the call for Jihad was made, some people came to
the Prophet (S) and wanted to join in the Jihad; however due to lack
of sufficient resources, there was no opportunity for them to join in
the Jihad. Hence, these people turned away by the Prophet (S). It is
described in the quran that they left with tears in their eyes. This
was the sincerity of these people, for their deen. They knew that
they are dealing with their Lord who was the owner of their lives and
wealth, for the ever lasting life in the hereafter. This is why they
had no problem in giving their lives for the sake of Allah (swt).
Who amongst us would cry because he could not go to Jihad, where his
life is in danger twenty four hours a day? When we look at the lives
of these people, it tells us where we really stand in terms of our
imaan, and informs us of the states of our hearts.
Another example is of a desert Arab, who when he became Muslim
went to Jihad. When, after the jihad he was offered some booty
gained from the war, he replied that he didn't make the oath of
allegiance for the booty, but to find an arrow in his heart and to
die to achieve Paradise.
Brothers and sisters in Islaam, it is due to this very sincerity
whatever a believer does, it becomes an act of righteousness. How can
we achieve this sincerity? By looking at the life of the Prophet (S)
and the Sahabah, and by reflecting on those ayaats and ahadith that
remind us of sincerity. For example, those ayaats in which Allah’s
attributes of being the All-Seeing, All-Knowing and All-Hearing are
mentioned. Whatever we do and whatever intention we perform those
deeds with, Allah knows it all. There is nothing that we can hide.
One important thing that will make us sincere to Allah is
keeping away from pride and arrogance. It is this sin of pride and
arrogance that was committed by Iblees, the shaitan. Although he knew
Allah better than all of us, he still disobeyed Him due to his arrogance
and pride. Pride is the thing that makes us perform deeds, to show off
to others rather than for the sake of Allah (swt). We should not only
try to avoid this pride in ourselves, but also, if we see it in others
we should advise them and inform them about its consequences.
Finally brothers and sisters in Islaam, we should seek know
-ledge of our religion of Islaam. The more we learn about Allah and
His deen, the more closer we will get towards our Lord. We will love
Him more, fear Him more, and will hope in Him to forgive our sins and
enter us into Paradise.
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Last Updated: May 01, 1998
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