PREFACE TO THE TOPIC OF SINCERITY (IKHLAAS)
And they were not commanded but that they should worship Allaah, and worship none but Him alone
Narrated Ameerul Mumineen Umar bn Khattaab:
I heard the messenger (commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him) say:
Indeed actions will be judged according to intentions, and every person will only be rewarded for his intentions. So whoever his migration is to Allaah and His messenger (commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him) then his (reward is the reward of) migration to Allaah and His messenger (commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him) but whoever his migration is for the worldly life or a woman he wishes to marry then his (reward is his) migration to what he has migrated to.
Ibadah(worship) must satisfy two conditions otherwise it will be rejected and will be a source of regret. We ask Allaah for safety. These conditions are:
- sincerity (Ikhlaas) and
- Conformity with the Qur’an and Sunnah (mutaaba”ah).
This article will discuss the first condition which is Ikhlaas (sincerity): performing acts of worship for the sake of Allaah alone. We will mention some virtues of sincerity, some of the dangers of show-off and some of the ways shaytaan makes people fall into show-off, all from The Book and Sunnah then the words of our pious predecessors (in shaa Allaah). We ask Allaah to make it easy and blessed.
Definition of Ikhlaas (Sincerity)
Firstly, Ikhlaas (Sincerity) is that the servant intends to get closer to Allaah with his deeds. Ikhlaas is when you perform an act worship in order to get the love, pleasure and reward of Allaah and to be saved from the anger and punishment of Allaah especially in the hereafter. Acts of worship should be done to seek the pleasure of Allaah and to be saved from His punishment.
The opposite of ikhlaas (sincerity) is show-off, self-conceit, boosting and other vain aims which nullify sincerity in worship. We seek Allaah’s protection from evil intentions.
Dangers of not Being Sincere
Generally, there is one danger in not having ikhlaas (sincerity). Though this danger is only one, it is enough to make a servant’s lifetime and whole existence a waste and regret. We seek safety from Allaah.
The messenger of Allaah (commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him) said in a hadith narrated by Abü Hurayrah:
“Allaah, Blessed and Exalted is He, said:
I am the least in need of a partner. Whoever does any deed in which he associates someone else with Me, I will reject him and his deed.
If a person observes the five daily prayers, and fasts the month of Ramadan, goes to hajj and gives zakat it won’t be accepted from him if the intention behind his actions include seeking praise, acceptance, love from the people or other worldly and vain objectives. An example is when a person memorizes the Holy Qur’an and attends Madrasah (Islamic school) so that a particular sister or brother will accept his proposal or propose to her etc. We ask Allaah for safety.
The issue of sincerity is very dangerous and delicate it is obligatory upon the slave to always check and correct his intentions because his enemy (shaytaan) will spare no effort in finding ways to make his acts of worship futile. We ask Allaah for safety.
A Scary Hadith on the Danger of Being Insincere
Shufaiy Ash-Asbahi narrated that he entered Madinah and saw a man around whom the people had gathered. He asked: “Who is this?” They said: “Abu Hurayrah.”
(Shufaiy said): So I got close to him until I sat in front of him as he was narrating to the people. When he was silent and alone, I said to him: “I ask you in absolute truth if you would narrate to me a Hadith which you heard from the Messenger of Allaah that you understand and know.” So Abu Hurayrah said: “You want me to narrate a Hadith to you which the Messenger of Allaah narrated to me that I understand and know.” Then Abu Hurayrah began sobbing profusely. We sat for a while after which he recovered and said: “I shall narrate to you a Hadith which the Messenger of Allaah narrated in this House, while there was no one with us other than he and I.” Then again, Abu Hurayrah began sobbing severely. Then he recovered, and wiped his face, and said: “You want me to narrate to you a Hadith which the Messenger of Allaah narrated while he and I were sitting in this House, and no one was with us but he and I. “Then Abu Hurayrah began sobbing severely (for the third time).
Then he bent falling on his face but I supported (from falling and held) him for a long time. Then he recovered and said:
“The Messenger of Allaah narrated to me that on the Day of Judgement, Allaah (Most High) will descend to His slaves to judge between them. Every nation shall be kneeling. The first of those who will be called before him will be a man who memorized the Qur’an, a man who was killed in the cause of Allaah and a wealthy man.
Allaah will say to the reciter:
“Did I not teach you what I revealed to My Messenger?” He will say: “Of course 0 Lord!” He (Allaah) will say: “Then what did you do with what you learned?” He will say: “I stood (in prayer reciting) with it during all hours of the night and all hours of the day.”
Thereupon Allaah will say to him: “You have lied.” And the angels will say: “You have lied. “Allaah will say to him: “Rather, you wanted it to be said that so-and-so is a reciter. And that was said.”
The person with wealth will be brought, and Allaah will say to him: “Was I not so generous with you, such that I did not leave you having a need from anyone?” He will say: “Of course 0 Lord!” He says: “Then what did you do with what I gave to you?” He says: “I would nurture the ties of kinship and give charity.” Then Allaah will say to him: “You have lied.” And the angels will say to him: “You have lied.” Allaah, Most High, will say: “Rather, you wanted it to be said that so-and-so is so generous, and that was said.”
Then the one who was killed in the cause of Allaah will be brought forth, and Allaah will say to him: “For what were you killed?” He would say: “I was commanded to fight in Your cause, so I fought until I was killed.” Allaah (Most High) will say to him: “You have lied.” And the angels will say to him: “You have lied.” Allaah (Most High) will say: “Rather, you wanted it to be said that so-and-so is brave, and that was said.”
(Abu Hurayrah continues) “Then the Messenger of Allaah (commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him) hit me on my knees and said: “O Abu Hurayrah! These three are the first creatures of Allaah with whom the fire will be enflamed on the Day of Judgement.”
Plots of Shaytaan to Destroy Our Ikhlaas
In this section we will mention some plots of Shaytaan to strip the sons of Adam off sincerity thus filling their hearts with show-off and love of praise. Allaah alone we beseech to grant us safety from the plots of our greatest enemy. I will mention a few plots of Shaytaan.
Ways to Achieve Ikhlaas (Sincerity)
- Supplication to Allaah especially using the authentically reported prophetic supplications and also striving to increase in supplication at the recommended hours and places
- Seeking knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah as understood and practiced by the companions (Allaah be pleased with them)
- Pondering on the Verses and Hadiths that are related to Ikhlaas (sincerity)
- Always having in mind that Allaah has perfect knowledge of the concealed and revealed, and He will reward each person based on his intentions and actions
- Constant checkup on ones intentions and aims in every deed because a person might start a deed with sincerity but later deviate due to evil whisperings from the cursed shaytaan. We ask Allaah to save us from his evils.
- Reading aspects of seerah (prophetic biography) which are related to the topic of Ikhlaas (sincerity)
- Constant reading and listening to stories of our righteous predecessors such as the companions (Allaah be pleased with them) and those who came after them
- Reading some books written on the topic of Ikhlaas (sincerity)
- Always remembering that death can come suddenly and there is no way to make amendments once it strikes
This is what I have been able to compile in the works of our past and present scholars. I ask Allaah to forgive whatever shortcomings are found therein. Aameen.
If you benefited from this article please share as far as you can. Perhaps a person will read a statement and his heart will receive guidance through it by Allaah’s permission.
Notes and References
Bukhaaree:1 and Muslim:1907
 i.e. The Holy Qur’an
NurulIkhlas by Dr. Sa”eed Ali wahf Al-Qahtaanee. He is a contemporary scholar.
 This is an example of hadith Qudsi.
‘SoheehTargheebwaTarheeb’ (pg 13)
Tareequka ila al-Ikhlaas wal fiqhu fee deen by AbduLLaah bn DayfuLLaah ar-Ruhaylee