being sincere in today’s world is a struggle. Constantly we are trained and honed to look out for ourselves first. We are encouraged to not do something unless it is to our own benefit, to become successful, to be happy. It is in our nature to want to satisfy our needs, before anyone else. Even harder it would then be to do something just for the sake of Allah, not necessarily seeing the benefit of it in this life.
Sincerity is a value that is of utmost importance especially to Muslims, as the the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and receive good news because one’s good deeds will not make him enter Paradise.” They asked, “Even you, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)?” He said, “Even I, unless and until Allah bestows His pardon and Mercy on me.” [Sahih Bukhari]
Sincerity according to the dictionary is the quality or state of being sincere, having or showing true feelings that are expressed in a honest way. It is honesty of mind and being free from hypocrisy. Sincerity comes from the Middle French sincérité which is derived from the Latin Sinceritatem. This in turn can be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European Sincerus, made up of *sin (sem) meaning whole, together and *ker meaning to grow. Sincerus therefore can be taken to mean, clean, pure, sound, uninjured, whole, genuine etc.
In Arabic there are a few words that can be used to denote sincerity. Sidq and Ikhlas are two of them. We had a discussion about sidq before, in the series be more truthful. Ikhlas (purity, sincerity, isolation etc.) linguistically means to separate or distinguish, thus Yahya ibn Mu’adh ar-Râzi said, “Ikhlâs is to filter the actions from every flaw, just as milk is filtered out from between blood and dung.” He was referring to the verse in the Quran:
We give you drink from what is in their bellies – from between excretions and blood – milk that is khâlis (pure), palatable to the drinkers.
[Surah An-Nahl, Verse 66]
It implies that one has to work to gain sincerity, it is an active process against our natural desires and need to benefit and fulfil our wants. Allah swt. calls the people that are sincere to Him, مُخْلِصِينَ Mukhliseen.
Say [Prophet], ‘God does not command disgraceful deeds. How can you say about God things that you do not know [to be true]?’ Say, ‘My Lord commands righteousness. Direct your worship straight to Him wherever you pray; Call on Him; sincere to your religion entirely to Him. Just as He first created you, so you will come back [to life] again.’
[Quran The Heights 7:28-29]
The Prophet saw. said in a hadith “Allah is Pure and He accepts only that which is pure” and in another “He accepts only that which is Pure and done solely for His sake alone.”
Imam Fudhayl ibn `Iyad said, “If a person abandons an act because of people, he is being ostentatious; if, on the other hand, he were to do it because of people then that is shirk (associating partners with Allah); ikhlas, therefore, is to be free of both of the above.
Wa Alaykum Salam,