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 Sincerity and How to Develop It (1)

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PostSubject: Sincerity and How to Develop It (1)   Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:34 am




The Concept of Sincerity (Ikhlas)

Assalamualaikum,

Today's sermon was about sincerity in our actions. It is somewhat the continuation of last week's sermon though presented by different khatib. It was started with related Quranic verses and ahadith abouth sincerity.

The khatib lined up several points for us how to inculcate sincerity in our actions:
1) Always be wary of fame - do not do something to gain fame, but if we become famous out of doing anything, then it is the will and grace of Allah
2) Always feel inadequate - meaning that always feel that we have not done enough for Allah
3) Avoid doing something to seek praise
4) Do not seek leadership. Remember the story of Khalid ibn Walid when he was asked by Khalifah Umar to be replaced by Abu Ubaidah ibn Al-Jarrah during the Battle of Maraj-al Debaj against Byzantine army. What he said afterwards was, I was following the command of the God of Umar, not Umar. Observe here how he accepted the decision sincerely. (The only one known reason for Khalid's dismissal, was that the Khalifah Umar feared his soldiers might rely on Khalid for victory, and not Allah - again here the concern of early Muslims about sincerity and reliance to Allah - which reminds me to write about a sermon a few months ago about the concept of reliance to Allah)
5) Do not seek title or promotion in anything that you do. As students, we should revise our real intention to study. Are we doing PhDs just to get Dr. title on our name? Or are we doing them for the sake of Allah? We need to cleanse our intention in any matters that we are doing.

A hadith related to sincerity:

The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu 'Alaihi Wasallam ) once said:

"Certain categories of people will be called first of all for reckoning on the Day of Judgment. A martyr will be asked by Allah, "Did I not bestow such and such favors on you?" He will admit those boons and favors. Then Allah will ask him; " How did you make use of My favors? He will answer: " I went to the Holy War to please You, and was killed therein." Allah will say " You lie; you participated in the Holy War to be called a Hero by people, and this has been done." Then he will be thrown headlong into the fire of Hell.

Next a Scholar will be called and the same questions will be put to him. In reply he will admit the favors of Allah. Then he will be asked; " How did you make us of My favors?" He will answer, " I acquired knowledge of Islam and taught it to others, simply to please You" Allah will say: You lie; you attained knowledge in order to be called a scholar and recited the Holy Qur'an to be called a "Qaari." Then he too will be thrown headlong into the fire of Hell.

Thereafter a rich man will be called, and the same questions will be put to him. He will say: " I always spent money to please You. Allah will say: you lie; you spend money in order to be called a "generous" man, and this has been said." Then he will also be thrown headlong into the fire of Hell."

Therefore we should always avoid show and vanity, and should render our actions to only please Allah.

Allahu 'alam and may Allah grant us all sincerity in our actions. Amin.

http://great-friday-sermons.blogspot.com/2008/06/concept-of-sincerity-ikhlas.html


In The Name of Allah

..:: DEVELOPING AND PRACTICING SINCERITY OF INTENTION (IKHLAS) ::..

By: Huma Hasan

Quran and Etrat Internet University

Islamic Ethics 1– Fall 2009


Abstract:

Allah (SWT) has created man for His worship and servitude. [51:56] And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me. And He (SWT) created the entire universe for the service of mankind. [2:29] He it is, Who created for you all that is in the earth.

Hence, to serve the true purpose of his creation, man has to develop his person in such a manner, that his every breath is taken with the intention of gaining Divine Pleasure.
The only thing that can help man develop sincerity of intention, and save him in this situation is the acquisition of knowledge, and its conscious application in every action that he takes.

Devotion and submission involve surrender of ego, self-control and discipline; so that, he acts only in consonance with the expressed will of Allah (SWT), by abiding with His commands. The whole life-activity of the individual should be nothing, but the fulfilment of the will of his Creator. This is true liberty, when he is not bounded by desires and ego, when external influences are not giving direction to his actions, and he is free to submit to innate call of his nature. [6:163] Say: Verily my prayer and my sacrifice, and my life and my death (all) are for the Lord of the worlds.

For the guidance of man towards this state of purity and sincerity, Allah (SWT) has appointed guides, who are at the highest level of sincerity (Ikhlas)! Initially they came amongst mankind, in the form of Prophets (AS) and Messengers (AS). But now they are amongst us, in the position of Imam (ATFS) (Guide) and Wali (Supreme and Spiritual Authority). They are the Ideal Beings, and man must obey and follow them absolutely, to achieve salvation.

Keywords:

Acquisition of Knowledge; Cleansing heart of Impurities; Purity and Sincerity of intention; Following Ideal Beings!

Introduction:

Allah (SWT) has created man for His worship and servitude. [51:56] And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me. And He (SWT) created the entire universe for the service of mankind. [2:29] He it is, Who created for you all that is in the earth.

When Almighty Lord created Father of Humanity, Prophet Adam (AS), He informed angels that He has given man the elevated status of Divine Vicegerent. [2:30] I am going to place in the earth a vicegerent.

There is no sense in submission and servitude if it does not result from freedom of will. In his role as the vicegerent of Allah (SWT) too, man needs to implicitly obey Divine Commands on the one hand, and on the other hand needs to have free will, to make appropriate decisions and apply them, for the betterment of other Divine Creations.
He has to purge his heart of every other thought, but servitude and worship of his Lord and Master. He has to believe with certainty that his every success is a Divine Blessing, and not his own achievement. He has to distance himself from the call of his carnal desires, which pollute the purity of intention! This is the greatest challenge in life that he faces. His ‘ego’ (Nafs) plunges him into hidden polytheism (Shirk-e-Khafi), by his seeking praise for the actions, which he initially performed for the Pleasure of Allah (SWT).

Imam Jaffer-as-Sadiq (AS) said, "To persevere in an action, until it becomes sincere, is more difficult than (performing) the action itself, and sincerity of action lies in this that, you should not desire anyone to praise you for it, except God Almighty, and intention supersedes action. Lo, verily, intention is action itself."

[62:2] He it is, Who raised among the Unlettered, a Messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were before certainly in clear error!

The above verse clearly states the steps, which a man has to cover, to reach the perfect level of sincerity of intention (Ikhlas). The Creator knows what is best for His creations. In few words He has presented an ideal programme to be pursued. He has also made it clear that without the Chosen Ones, who are a link between the Creator and the created, it is not possible to achieve the set target.

Man is born with a pure and submissive nature. As he grows up, his upbringing and surroundings decide whether he stays loyal to his inborn instinct of sincerity (Ikhlas), or he plunges into the sea of material pollution, which encompasses him from all sides. Matter is found all around the world in different forms. It is a necessary part of existence. It is needed for achieving the true goal of life. But unconsciously man becomes dependent on it. He starts becoming its slave. Instead of matter being used for the service of man, it takes shape of materialism, and starts dominating man’s life.

To save man from this state of darkness Allah (SWT) sent Prophets (AS) and Imams (AS). If one accepts that real guidance is coming from the Creator, only He knows what is good for His creation, man will not only save himself from annihilation, he will also salvage other Divine Creations, by using them appropriately and for the true purpose of their creation. He will work for the Unification of the Universe, which is the real purpose of creation. All this is possible if he accepts the leadership of Divinely Appointed Guides, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom!

In other words he should gain knowledge from the Fountain-Heads of information and awareness, follow in their foot-steps, and develop true purity and sincerity of intention (Ikhlas)!

1- What is Sincerity of Intention (Ikhlas)?

The root of Ikhlas is Kh-Lam-Sad (Khals), which means to be pure, genuine, unmixed, or clear, to be safe, secure; free from embarrassment, away from difficulty or destruction, free of hypocrisy, freedom from any kind of taint!

The gist of these meanings is that, man has to move forward with purity of heart. He has to follow in the foot-steps of Genuine Guides, who have Divine Blessings. His safety and security is dependent on his correct allegiance! His sincerity of intention will safeguard him from difficulty and destruction, his temporary life will not be steeped in hypocrisy, and on the Day of Judgement he will not face embarrassment. His Book of Deeds will be free of any kind of taints!

2- Journey towards achieving Sincerity of Intention (Ikhlas)!

Verse [62: 2] presents a clear guideline for the travellers of the Right Path. It is in present continuous tense, thus is an everlasting message, which has been sent through the Eternal Quran. This verse appears four times in the Quran with a little change of wording. The first mention is verse [2:129], which is a supplication of Prophet Abraham (AS). He is the Father of all those Faiths, which are considered Divine Communications, and are being practiced today in the world. This indicates the universality and eternity of the message!

An important word used in this verse is ‘Unlettered’ (Ummi). Ummi can be used for unlettered or uneducated, it also describes people of Makkah, because Makkah is called ‘Umm-ul-Qura, and it also applies to a person who is as pure as he was when he left his mother’s womb. Prophet (SAW) was called Ummi because he did not acquire knowledge from worldly sources. His tutor was Allah (SWT), and he was born with the highest level of knowledge.

Initially, the ‘Unlettered’ Makkans, who were plunged in the State of Jahilaya (Absolute Ignorance), are being informed that Prophet (SAW) is a Divine Messenger, and his first duty is, to recite to them His communications, then whosoever accepts the message of communications, and starts living it, will become eligible for purifies them.

The Holy Quran is a universal message. In which ever era it might be, if man is leading a life, which is not based on Divine Communications, he will earn the title of ‘Unlettered’, he will be considered as steeped in ignorance. Thus, the first step in the right direction is to try and comprehend the message of Divine Communications, through attaching oneself to the Purified Ones [33:33], because only they have the ability to Yuzakkihim (purifies them). Logic says, only someone, who is thoroughly pure himself, can be handed over the task of purifying others.

As established, Prophet (SAW) received tutoring from Allah (SWT). Hence he has complete knowledge of Divine Communications. This knowledge he passed on to His Holy Progeny (AS), who are the Guardians of Divine message, and also share the status of Purified Ones mentioned in verse [33:33]. They all are the descendents of Prophet Abraham (AS); initially the Divine Command was presented by him, in the form of verbal supplication, [2:129].

The second and the third mention of this message is in verses [2:151] and [3:164]. In both these verses, Allah (SWT) has conferred it as a favour for mankind, that He has send a Message, which if adapted as Code of Life, can not only purify one, but will also develop sincerity of intention (Ikhlas)!

Just before informing mankind about the duties of Messenger (SAW) in verse [62:2], Allah (SWT) says, [62:1] Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, declares the Praises and Glory of Allah,- the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

Man is reminded about the Divine Attributes of Allah (SWT). He is being told to consider, Who has the Absolute Master-ship! He is being informed that Almighty Lord does not need worship and servitude! But every other creation still submits to the Lord, and is busy in Glorifying Him. It is man alone, who has been given free-will, who forgets this essential duty, which is for his own benefit!

It is highly recommended to regularly repeat Divine Attributes mentioned in the Quran. One should dwell on the Attributes, and try to comprehend their essence. Man is capable of inculcating the essence of these Attributes into his life, because he has been blessed by Divine Spirit. [15:29] And breathed into him of My spirit. Remembering these Traits, makes one realise that whatever he has is a Divine Blessing. Man starts appreciating his helplessness and his absolute dependence on the Creator of all. He develops the realisation that whatever he has is the Munificence of his Lord, and has to be shared with others. Thus it purifies his soul. It helps develop sincerity of intention (Ikhlas).

After mention of His Attributes, the Sovereign (Malik), the Holy One (Qudus), the Exalted in Might (Aziz), the Wise (Hakim), Allah (SWT) continues, it is He, Who has sent amongst the Unlettered a messenger. Hence making it clear that appointment of the leader and guide is a Divine Prerogative! It is also a reminder that the Chosen Ones are a reflection of Divine Attributes. That is why they have been sent as Role Models, because though their level of piety is of highest stature, but they are extremely humble in adoration and servitude of their Lord and Master.

Therefore, first of all Prophet (SAW) recites Divine Communications, which is the genuine knowledge and awareness; only the one, who heed the message of these communications, can hope to move forward and purify his soul. But the message does not end here. It moves forward and says, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom.

Quran is the Word of Allah (SWT). It is the Creator talking to His creations. It is the Absolute Purity communicating with man, whose origin is from impurity. Thus to reach its depth, man has to purify his heart of all impurities. Quran is the Manual of Life. It is Divine Jurisprudence (Shariah). After receiving its message, man has to adapt it in deeds. He has to base his life on its message. This is the stage of purification. It is the stage where man starts moving towards the sincerity of intention (Ikhlas). But as verse [62:2] shows, he still has to go a long way. It is a lifetime journey, and he has to dig deeply into the Book.

The Book was revealed in Arabic language, in Arabia, but still Prophet (SAWW) is being told to recite the message, purify the listeners, teach Book, and then wisdom. If Arabs were not able to comprehend the message thoroughly, which was revealed in their mother tongue, how others can hope to do it, without help! Messenger (SAWW) is being told to teach them the Book and wisdom, therefore the coming generations too will need someone, to teach them the Book and wisdom! Thus, even today there is someone amongst us, who has the true knowledge of the Book, and the ones, who purify themselves by gaining awareness of Divine Communications, who develop sincerity by constant remembrance, hope to benefit from His (ATFS)’s teachings!

[2:256] There is no compulsion in faith, is a very important message. Belief has to be inborn, and nurtured through acquisition of information and awareness. Its implementation and strengthening depend on practices. But the initial call has to be from one’s soul, only then it is possible to develop it into sincerity, through adaption of prescribed rites.

Without knowledge, man's worship (Ibadat) of Allah (SWT) has no real worth. His action will never have purity and sincerity (Ikhlas). The actual meaning of worship and servitude is not the performance of rituals, or a few prescribed formal prayers, recited by the mouth.

The final task of the Messenger (SAW) is teaching of wisdom (Hikmat). Its root word is Hukm (Haa Kaf Miim), which means to restrain, prevent, and withhold a person, from acting, in any evil or corrupt manner. That is why the camel halter is called Hikmah, because it keeps the camel steadily moving on the straight path.

Wisdom brings balance in life. It prevents one from tilting in either direction. It helps man tread the Straight Path; the Path of Monotheism, where there are no diversions, no impurities, no pollutions!

[2:269] And whosoever is granted wisdom, has indeed received abundant good.

Khayrāan Kathīrāan (Abundant good) covers every Divine Blessing, be it intellectual, spiritual, visionary, or any other. Wisdom can only be achieved by thoroughly purified, because it is a Divine Favour, given to those, who can be trusted with Divine Secrets and Mysteries, who will not misuse the knowledge, which they have been blessed with. It is gifted to those, whose entire life is based on sincerity of intention (Ikhlas). This was the level of devoted and trusted companions of Prophet (SAW), and true friends of Imams (AS), and now, it is the state of highly practicing scholars, who dedicate their entire lives to purifying themselves, and devote themselves to learning Book, and strengthening Wisdom.

Conclusion:

The most important belief and core of existence is firm belief in Monotheism. It is the focal point of existence. One, who has grasped this concept, has found the right direction, and now with diligence and sincerity of purpose can hope to reach the ultimate goal.

If a man makes efforts to bring his intellect, spiritual functions of the soul and strength of character, in harmony with the will of the Lord, he can absorb the Divine Attributes, and can rise towards zenith of perfection, where his will dominates over matter. All material things become subservient to his commands. The sincere servant of Allah (SWT) is such an individual, whose will manifests wonders, to astonish the world. His every deed in life is founded on purity and sincerity of intention (Ikhlas).

Allah (SWT) has given man the ability to distinguish between what his egoism or greediness wants from him, and what his pure nature demands. When he works with purity of intention (Ikhlas), he also safeguards the interests of other creations. Almighty Lord has created humans in such a manner that, when they truly and sincerely serve themselves, then they automatically serve all other creations too. They fulfil the purpose of creation, and justify their designation of Divine Vicegerent. But if man is selfish, and only serves the call of his desires, then he not only damages himself, but also harms other creations.

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said that Allah (SWT) said: “Ikhlas is a secret from my secrets, and I place it in the heart of my servant who is my beloved.”

References:

(1) Quran, Commentary by Amir Ali/Mirza Agha Pooya
(2) Compilation of Lectures, in Urdu, Delivered by Maulana Syed Ali Naqi al-Naqvi of India
(3) Forty Hadith, by Ayatollah Khomeini.

http://university.etrat.net/file.php?file=/1/Articles/Ethics/Developing_and_Practicing_Sincerity_of_Intention.htm



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