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On Ikhlaas (Sincerity)
  Correctness and Intention
Article ID : TZK010003  

The State of Affairs

From the fundamentals of Knowledge which have been neglected by many Muslims is how and when an action becomes righteous and acceptable to Allaah.

In fact, the matter has grown worse than that! We live in an age in which many Muslims assume that whatever actions they undertake as regards the Deen, then they must surely be acceptable to Allaah!

Such assumptions - arising from ignorance - have played a destructive role in the collective affairs of this Ummah - may Allaahh increase it in nobility - and may possibly being destructive to one's own salvation in the Hereafter, as Allaah says:(1)

Say! Shall we tell you of those who lost most with respect to their actions? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, whilst they thought that they were aquiring good by their actions.(2) [al-Kahf 18:103-104]

So "the people are of three classes: The righteous Scholar, the student of Knowledge being upon the path of salvation and the confused rabble who follow everyone who calls out - bending along with every wind - they are not enlightened by the light of Knowledge, nor do they lean upon a firm support."(3)

Two Essential Conditions

It is a must that two great and important matters be considered for actions to be acceptable:

Firstly: That the one undertaking the action must intend only the pleasure of Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic.

Secondly: The action must be in agreement with the Sunnah of His Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

If any of these two conditions are not fulfilled, then the action will neither be righteous, nor accepted by Allaah.The proof for this is in His saying:

Whosoever expects to meet His Lord, then let him work actions of righteousness and in the worship of his Lord associate no one as a partner(4) [al-Kahf 18:110]

In this noble aayah Allaah commanded that the action should be righteous - in agreement with the Shar'eeah - and it should be sincere - associating none with him.(5)

Similar to this is the saying of the Prophet - sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam:

"Indeed Allaah does not look at your faces nor your wealth. But he looks at your hearts and your actions."(6)

So, contrary to what many people think, sincerity alone is not sufficient for worshipping Allaah - but along with that it must be in conformity with the Sunnah.Thus the condition of the action must be such that it confirms.

Righteous Actions

Personal tastes, desires and perceptions - intellectual or otherwise(7) - are not the criteria for judging whether actions are righteous or not.Allaah says:

"Who is more astray tan one who follows his own desires without guidance from Allaah".[al-Qasas 28:50]

Rather, a righteous action is one "that is commanded by Allah and his Messenger - and that is obedience."(8) And this obedience must be upon the understanding of the companions - radiallaahu 'anhum. Since they are for this Ummah - after its Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam - the custodians of correct Knowledge ('Ilm), action ('Aml),, belief (I'tiqaad) and methodology (Manhaj).As the Prophet 'alayhis-salaam said:

"My Companions are the custodians for my Ummah, so when my companions go, that which has been promised to my Ummah will come to it."(9)

And the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam warned us about actions which have no basis from the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, by saying:

"Whosoever does an action that we have not commanded then it will be rejected."(10)

Sincerity - the Essence of Tawheed

Sincerity demands that one seeks to do actions which Alaah is pleased with, in way in which He is pleased with. The root of this is Knowledge, as one of the Imaams of the Taabi'een, az-Zuhree (d.124H) - rahimahullaah - said: "The people will not trust the action of one who acts without knowledge; and they will not be pleased with the saying of a Scholar who does not act."(11)

As regards sincerity, then it is "the stripping of ones intentions from all impurities in order to draw close to Allaah, ensuring that the intention behind all acts of worship and obedience are exlusively for his pleasure."(12)As Allaah - the One free from all imperfections - says:

They have not been commanded except to worship Allaah, being sincere and making the Deen for Him.[al-Bayyinah 98:5]

The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said that Allaah - the Blessed, the Most High - said: "I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having partners. Thus, whoever does an action for someone elses sake as well as Mine, will have that action rejected by Me to him who he associated with Me."(13)

Thus, if a person does an action, then even if he performs it according to the Sunnah, but he does it so that people may speak well about him, his action thereby becomes null and void. If the deed just became void then the following hadeeth would apply in such a case:

"How many fasting people obtain nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst and how many people stay up at night (praying) obtain nothing from their fast except sleeplessness and tiredness."(14)

However, this is not the case. For this person's action has turned into a sin, since he acted without intendenging to seek only the face of Allaah, thus associating partners Shirk along with Allaah in his action.(15)

Success for the Muslims - individuals and groups - will not be attained except when actions are carried out with Sincerity, following the Sunnah, upon the Path (Sabeel) of the Pious Predecessors (as-Salaf us-Saaliheen) as Ubayy ibn Ka'b (d.22H) - radiallaahu 'anhu - said:

"Adhere to the Sabeel and Sunnah - who remembers the Most-Merciful and his eyes swell up with tears due to the fear of Allaah - except that he will never be touched by the fire. Indeed moderation in the Sabeel and Sunnah is better than exertion in opposition to it."(16)

And our final supplication is that all praise belongs to Allaah - Lord of the Worlds.


(1)All quotes are translations of the meanings of the Qur'aan.

(2)Ibn Katheer - rahimahullaah - says in his Tafseer Qur'aan ul-'Adheem (3/112):

It (the aayah) is general regarding everyone who worships Allaah in an unacceotable way, thinking that he is correct in it and his action is correct in it and that his action is acceptable, wheras he is in error and his action his rejected."

(3)Part of a lengthy piece of advice by 'Alee(d.40H) radiallaahuanhu to Kumail ibn Ziyaad - as is reported by Abu Nu'aym al-Asbahaanee in Hilyatul-Awliyaa (1/79-80) From the principles of correction and reformation - O noble reader - as mentioned by Ibn al-Qayyim in ighaathatul-Luhfaan(p.397), is that:"The foundation of all good as knowledge and Justice and the foundation of all evil is ignorance and Oppression."Thus the one involved in Da'wah and reformation must have adequate Sharee'ah Knowledge, or else more harm will occur than good - as the saying of old goes: Sa'd brought the camels leading them. O Sa'd - that is not he way to bring in camels!

(4)Ibn Katheerr says in his Tafseer (3/114): "So - for an action to be acceptable it has to fulfil two conditions. Firstly: It must be sincere for Allaah alone. Secondly: It must be correct in accordance with the Sharee'ah.So if the action is sincere , but not correct, it will not be acceptable."

(5)al-Laalikaa`ee relates in his Sharh usool I'tiqaad Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah(18) that Sa'eed ibn Jubayr(d.95H) - rahimahullaah - said: "No word is acceptable except with action and no action is acceptable except with words and no word nor action are acceptable except with intention and no word, action or intention is acceptable except when it confirms to the Sunnah."

(6)Saheeh - related by Muslim (2564), Ibn Maajah (4143) and Ahmad (2/285) - from Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu 'anhu..The wording with Muslim is: " ... your bodies nor your faces ... "

(7)Imaam al-Barbahaaree (d.329H)- the Imaam of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah of his time - says in his Kitaab Sharh us-Sunnah(3): "And know - may Allaah have mercy upon you - that the Deen came from Allaah - the Blessed and Most High - and was not left to the intellect and opinions of men - and knowledge of it is with Allaah and His Messenger. So do not follow anything based upon your desires and so deviate from the Deen ... Since Allaah's Messenger sallallaahu 'alahi wa sallam explained the Sunnah to his Ummah and made it clear to his Companions that they are the Jama'ah and the Great Majority (as-Sawaad ul-A'dham); and the Great Majority is the Truth and its People."

(8)al-Hisbah fil-Islaam(p.82) of Ibn Taymiyyah.

(9)Saheeh - related by Muslim (16/82), Ahmad (4/398) and al-Baghawee in Sharh us-Sunnah (14/71-72) - from Abu Moosa radiallaahu 'anhu.

(10)Saheeh - related by Muslim (5/132), ad-Daaraqutnee (pp.520-521) and Ahmad (6/146, 180) - from 'Aaishah - radiallaahu 'anhaa.

(11)Iqtidaa ul-'Ilm il 'Aml (13) of al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee. Yet today, it is sufficient for one to be a speaker and that is enough credentials for him to be a guide for the Ummah - regardless of whether he has knowledge or not! So let the noble reader reflect upon the saying of the Companion Ibn Mas'ood (d.32h), related by at-Tabaranee in al-Kabeer (8066) and al-Bukharee in Adab ul-Mufrad (789) and declared to be Saheeh(authentic) by al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr in Fath ul-Baaree (10/510) that he - radiallaahu 'anhu - said: "You are in a time whose Scholars are many and its speakers are few. After you will come a time whose Scholars are few and its speakers are many." How yesterday's warning depicts todays action!

(12)Tazkyatun-Nufoos (p.4) of Ahmad Fareed.

(13)Saheeh - related by Muslim, Ibn Maajah (4202) and Ibn Khuzaymah in his Saheeh (8/223) - from Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu 'anhu.

(14)Saheeh related by at-Tabaranee in al-Kabeer - from Ibn 'Umar and also by al-Haakim and al-Bayhaqee - from Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu 'anhumaa

(15)Similar to this are actions based on party-spirit ('asabiyah) about which our Messenger sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said - as is related by Muslim in his Saheeh: "Whosoever fights under the banner of the blind, becoming angry for party-spirit, or calling to party-spirit, or assisting party-spirit, then if he dies, he dies a death of jaahiliyyah (pre-Islaamic ignorance)." And how damaging - O seeker of unity - has its modern counter-part, Partisianship (Hizbiyah), been in destroying the very fabric of comprehensive brotherhood. Such that the one immersed in this Hizbiyah loves and hates, builds and destroys - not due to the ties of correct faith (Eemaan) - but due to this vile Hizbiyah - thereby having enmity for the friends (awliya) of Allaah, competing thereby with the enemies of the Prophets!!! We seek Allaah's protection against this and only He guides to a way that is Straight.

(16)Related by Ahmad in az-Zuhd (p.196) and the isnaad is hasan.

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