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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

In Search of Sincerity
By Muhammad Al-Shareef




In one of the battles that the Muslims waged against the Romans, the Muslims – under the commandment of Maslamah (rahimahullaah) – surrounded a city that had a tall and well-fortified wall. The siege went on for months.

Then one night, one of the Muslim soldiers came to General Maslamah and told him of a hole that he had accomplished to bore through the wall. “It is only large enough for a slim soldier.” He knelt closer. “Quickly, send with me someone who can squeeze through and fight the army on the inside until he has opened the gates for all of us to enter.”

Maslamah sent out the news, and that night someone volunteered. In a sweeping assault, the gate was opened and the Muslims were victorious.

Maslamah, overwhelmed with happiness, sent out the word that the soldier that entered the hole should come forward. No one showed. A day passed and the request was repeated. Another day, then another. No one arrived to take credit.

On the fourth day, a soldier approached Maslamah, his face wrapped in a scarf. He said to him, “I have news of the soldier that entered the hole.”

Maslamah sat up sharp, “Tell me who it is?”

“First, however,” said the soldier, “he has three conditions before exposing himself. Do you agree to this?”

“Of course,” Maslamah said.

“The first is that you do not try to compensate him for what he did. The second is that you do not tell anyone who he is. And the third is that you shall not ask for his presence ever again. Do you agree to these conditions?”

“It is agreed,” Maslamah said.

The soldier, uncovering his scarf, said, “It is I. I went through that hole only for the sake of Allah.” Then, turning, he walked away.

After that day, Maslamah was often heard praying to Allah, “O Allah, (on the Day of Resurrection) grant me companionship with the soldier of the hole.”

Sometimes at any Islamic school, there are children who pray at the back, but the actions are better described as 'playing' (no, not with a lisp). Then when the head master or whoever they consider to have authority above them approaches, they all stand erect in complete devotion.

They are children and Allah will not take them to account. However, there are many adults that do this exact thing but on a more serious scale. The ingredient that we all need to work on throughout our lives as Muslims is Ikhlaas (sincerity) and, In sha Allah, that shall be our topic for today.

Sincerity in all we do is a commandment of Allah:

[Say, "Indeed my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first (among you) of the Muslims."] Surah Al-An'aam 6/162,163

[And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give Zakah. That is the correct Deen.] Surah Bayyinah 98/5

In defining Ikhlaas, Al-Jurjaani – rahimahullaah - said that it is to not seek any audience for your deeds other than Allah.

When one looks over the text of the Qur’aan and Sunnah, they will come to the realization that Allah ta’ala and His Messenger – sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam – speak about sincerity in different aspects: Sincerity in Tawheed of Allah and sincerity in our intentions. Sincerity in our worship, such as in Salah, Sujood, Fasting, standing in Ramadan, standing in the night of Qadr, sincere love for the Masjid, Zakah, Sadaqah, Hajj, Jihaad, repentance, supplications, recitation of the Qur’aan, and so much more.

The Qur'aan and Sunnah speak about sincerity in all our verbal statements, sincerity in our refined and upright AKhlaaq (character), sincerity in our Tawakkul (placing of our trust) in Allah, and sincerity in all actions.

Commenting on the verse: [He who created death and life to test you (as to) which of you is best in deed] Surah Al-Mulk 67/2, Al-Fudayl ibn ‘Iyaadh – rahimahullaah - said, “It is those deeds which are most correct and most sincere.” The students asked, “O Abu Ali, what are deeds that are correct and sincere?” He said, “If a deed is done sincerely, yet is not done correctly, it will not be accepted. And if a deed is done correctly, but not sincerely for Allah, it will not be accepted. It must be done sincerely and correctly. Sincerely, as in for Allah alone; Correctly, as in accordance to the Sunnah.

He then recited the verse of Allah: [So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.] Surah al-Kahf 18/110. (See Madaarij As-Saalikeen 3/93)

With Ikhlaas we can be saved from misguidance as Prophet Yusuf – alyhi as salam – was saved. Hear Allah’s words: [And thus (it was) that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our Mukhlaseen servants.] 12/24

With Ikhlaas the books can be turned in our favor in the last minutes of our lives just as what happened to the man that murdered 99 men. Allah ta'ala saved him in the end because of his sincerity in repentance.

With Ikhlaas one will be saved from Hellfire and granted a lofty position in Jannah. [And they give food out of love for (Allah ta’ala) to the needy, the orphan and the captive. (Saying) "We feed you only for the countenance of Allah, we wish no reward from you nor gratitude. Indeed, we fear from our Lord a Day severe and distressful. So Allah will protect them from the evil of that Day and give them radiance and happiness. And will reward them for what they patiently endured (with) a garden (in Jannah) and silk (garments).] Surah Ihsan 76/8-12

Dear brothers and sisters, we must understand that there are certain things that contradict our Ikhlaas to Allah. Of these things are three, Reyaa', Sum'ah and 'Ujb.

Reyaa' is to perform an act of worship with the intention of showing it off to people, seeking their praise or some other vanity. Thus this person is seeking to be glorified or praised or hoped for or feared through this action. An example of this would be such as donating a large sum of money in order that people may think the contributor is generous.

Sum'ah is similar to Reyaa', but as the Ulumaa' have said, it is those verbal statements that a person does for the sake of people. Such as someone making ballooned threats against the Jews in Philisteen just so others would think he is courageous.

Ibn Al-Mubaarak – rahimahullaah – said, "Perhaps a great deed is belittled by an intention. And perhaps a small deed, by a sincere intention, is made great."

'Ujb is the cousin of Reyaa'. It is when a person becomes impressed with himself for the 'great' deeds that he has done.

This and all the other types are viruses that can kill our actions and turn them against us on the day of Resurrection.

Ya’qoob al-Makfoof – rahimahullah – used to say, “The sincere one is he who hides his good deeds in the same way that he would hide his bad.”

From the Seerah, as Sa’d ibn Waqqaas narrates: … as for Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl, (after the conquest of Makkah) while escaping by sea, a terrible storm befell them. The owners of the boat shouted, “At this moment pray to only God and pray sincerely, for your gods cannot avail us in any way through salvation from this storm.” ‘Ikrimah said, “By Allah, if Ikhlaas can only save me on the sea, then on land nothing but it can save me.” (He then raised his hands and pronounced), “O Allah if you save me, you have upon me an oath that I shall not rest until I arrive at Muhammad – sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam – and place my hand in his."

He then came to Rasul Allah – sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam – became Muslim, and was later martyred in Jihaad.

Sincerity is a topic that is not only key to Islam, but it is also a subject that the Kuffaar and philosophers have pondered for centuries. The English have a saying that goes to the effect of: To hunt with the lantern of Diogenes.
Diogenes was a Cynic Greek philosopher who lived about 320 years before Prophet Eesa – alayhis salam. He believed there was no sincerity – no Ikhlaas – in any human being. To vividly prove his point, he was said to have gone about the streets of Corinth in broad daylight with a lighted lantern looking for a sincere man. From here the English coined the term To hunt with the lantern of Diogenes when speaking of a group of people whose sincerity is extremely absent.

Indeed insincerity in our actions is something very dangerous and can lead a person to ruin. Ibn Masood – radi Allahu ‘anhu – would advise his students, “If your intention is one of these three, do not seek knowledge: To shame the ignorant, or to argue with the Fuqahaa’, or to cause people to turn their faces in your direction. Intend with your actions and words that which is with Allah, for indeed that which is with Allah shall remain and everything else shall perish.”

In conclusion, Ibn Al-Qayyim – rahimahullaah – said, “Deeds without sincerity are like a traveler who carries in his water-jug dirt. The carrying of it burdens him and it brings no benefit.”

May Allah ta'ala make us all from those whose deeds are done in accordance with the Sunnah, deeds that are done sincerely for the sake of Allah.



On cinserity

By Sheikh Abdul Qadir al Jilani

It was in the schoolhouse, in the late evening of Tuesday, the 19th of
Shawwal, A.H. 545, that the Shaikh (may Allah be well pleased with
him) said:

The pious pretender [mura'i] wears clean clothes, but his heart is
filthy. He abstains from permissible things, and is too lazy to earn a
livelihood. He eats off his religion, and exercises no self-restraint
at all. He consumes things that are explicitly forbidden [haram]. His
game may be hidden from the common folk ['awamm], but it is not
concealed from the Elite [khawass]. His asceticism [zuhd] and obedient
worship [ta'a] are all superficial. His external facade is splendidly
fashioned, but his interior is a ruin.

Woe unto you! Obedient service to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He)
is performed by the heart [qalb], not the outer mold [qalab]. All
these things are connected with hearts, innermost beings and spiritual
qualities [ma'ani]. Strip yourself bare of what you now have on, so
that I may get for you from the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious
is He) an outfit that will never wear out. Get undressed so that He
may clothe you. Take off the garment of your indifference to the
rights [huquq] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He). Take off the
garment of your attachment to creatures and your idolization [shirk]
of them. Take off the garment of lust, frivolity, conceit and
hypocrisy, of your love of being acceptable to people and having them
approach you and bring you gifts. Take off the clothing of this world,
and put on the clothing of the hereafter. Divest yourself of your
power, your strength and your very existence [wujud], and throw
yourself down before the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He)
without power, without strength, without attachment to material means
[sabab], and without idolatrous worship of any created thing. Then, if
you do this, you will see His gracious favors all around you. His
mercy will come to join you, and His blessing and benefit will clothe
you and enfold you in their embrace. Flee to Him. Dedicate yourself
wholly to Him, naked, with no you and no one other than you. Move
toward Him in isolation, distinct from any other than Him. Move toward
Him separately, apart, until He joins and connects you to your inner
and outer forces [quwa zahirika wa-batinika]. Even if He were to close
the whole universe [al-akwan] against you, and make you carry all its
burdens, this would do you no harm; not at all, for He would protect
you throughout.

When someone blots out creatures by virtue of his realization of Unity
[tawhid], blots out this world by virtue of his renunciation [zuhd],
and blots out everything else apart from his Lord (Almighty and
Glorious is He) by virtue of his longing, that person is completely
prepared for righteousness [salah] and success [najah], and he will
enjoy the all the blessings of this world and the hereafter. You must
experience the mortification of your lower selves, your desires and
your devils, before you die. Experience the special death [al-mawt
al-khass] before the common death [al-mawt al-'amm].

O my people! Respond to me, for I am the crier of Allah (Almighty and
Glorious is He), calling you to His door and His obedient service. I
am not calling you to myself. The hypocrite does not call the people
to Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He); he is a self-promoter. He is
looking for favors and acceptance, seeking worldly gain.

O ignorant one, you give up listening to words like these, and sit
there in your cell, with only your own self and your passions for
company! What you need first is the fellowship of the Shaikhs
[shuyukh], and the slaying of the lower self, the natural instincts
and everything apart from the Master (Almighty and Glorious is He).
You must stay by the door of their houses, I mean the Shaikhs', then
after that you may go off by yourself, and sit in your cell alone with
the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). When this has been
fully accomplished by you, you will come to be a remedy for the
people, a rightly guided guide [hadi mahdi] by permission of the Lord
of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He).

As you are now, your tongue is pious [wari'], but your heart is
immoral [fajir]. Your tongue praises Allah (Almighty and Glorious is
He), while your heart resists Him. Your outer being is a Muslim, but
your inner is an unbeliever [kafir]. Your outer is a monotheist
[muwahhid], but your inner is a polytheist [mushrik].

Your asceticism [zuhd] is part of your facade. Your religion [din] is
part of your facade. Inwardly, you are a mess. It is like whitewash on
the water closet, i.e. the toilet, or a lock on the garbage can. Since
this is how you are, Satan has set up camp in your heart and made it a
place for him to live in.

The believer starts with the development of his inner being, then
tackles the development of his outer being. Someone who is
constructing a house will spend large sums of money on its interior
while the gateway is just rubble; he will leave fixing the entrance
until after he has completed the main building. One must likewise
begin with Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) and earning His good
pleasure [rida], and then pay attention to creatures with His
permission. The first stage is to acquire [tahsil] the hereafter, and
only then to obtain one's allotted shares [aqsam] in this world.

By Sheikh Abdul Qadir al Jilani qaddassa Allah sirrah

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