Sincerity or hidden Shirk? What do your intentions say? PART1: Importance of Sincerity and Purity of intention

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Question from Prophetic Path Student:
Assalamualaykum wa Rahmatullah,
Dear Mentor,
In relation to Level 1 sincerity is this to worship Allah ﷻ without Riya? Further, is it necessary to check the intention mid-way through the action and at its end?
Jazakallah Khair

Mentor Answer:
Bismillahi, ar-Rahman, ar-Rahim,
Waalaykum salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Baratuhu,

Dear Student,
Sincerity is a fundamental aspect of our religion and the foundation of true faith. It is the key to the validity of our acts of worship and in gaining the approval of our Lord. With every act that we do there is a motive or purpose hidden behind it. In this blog we will assess that hidden intent and explain why it is so vital to the acceptance of our good deeds.

So, what does sincerity actually mean?
In simple terms, sincerity is to do an act genuinely, with good faith and integrity. Sincerity in the spiritual context means to perform any good act with the intent and motive to only please our Lord ﷻ.

Insincerity is to perform an act for other motives and with different intentions. For example to perform a good deed to appear pious in the eyes of others. This is also known as Riya in Arabic and you may also come across the term ostentation which synonymously means the same thing.

Day-to-day example of sincerity…or lack of it?
So, imagine one day your friend asks you to lend him £500. In deciding to lend him that money you think that if you will lend him the £500 today perhaps he will lend you £600 in the future. Or you think that because of this favour he should now serve you and be forever indebted to you. Or perhaps you do this with the hidden mindset that perhaps your friend will think that you are a pious and righteous man.

Motive = Insincere
Why = Because your hidden motive behind lending this money is worldly gain and ostentation.
What do you think would have been the correct intention behind this good deed? Keep reading to discover below.

What does the Quran & Sunnah tell me about what my intention should be?
As human beings possessing intellect we hold an intent in every act that we do. That intent should be to do any good deed solely for the pleasure of Allah ﷻ devoid of any other purpose. Allah ﷻ informs us in the Noble Quran:

surah kahf

“… So whoever hopes to meet (the approval) of his Lord, he should do his deeds for His sake and join no one in the service of his Lord. (Kahf, 110)

Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

“All actions depend on their intention and purpose. And all actions are rewarded in accordance with their intentions. (Bukhari)

We also read from “The Path of Muhammad” by Imam Birghivi (RA):

“Sincerity means to undertake good deeds and behavior in harmony with our actual faith and religion, out of concern for salvation and peace in the Hereafter and a pure wish to come close to our Lord. The rewards for sincerity is the greatest gift of Allah in this world: the conviction that you are in the plain view of Allah while you are performing your worship. “If you are unable to see Him, certainly He sees you”. (Muslim, Ibn ’Umar)

What does the Quran & Sunnah tell me about what my intention shouldn’t be?
If a person does not complete the various stages (yes, there are different levels – novice to pro! More below) of purifying their intention there is a risk that they may possess incorrect motive which may result in major sins such as sanctimony, hypocrisy leading to the minor and hidden Shirk.

Sanctimony is an attempt to gain worldly means through one’s acts of worship or merely to worship for public show. In the Noble Quran Allah ﷻ says:

“So woe to the worshippers, who are neglectful of their prayers. Those who want to be seen (by men).” (107:4-6)

“Like those who spend from their wealth to be seen by men, and they do not believe in Allah and the Last Day. Their example is like the example of a hard rock on which is a little soil, then on it falls heavy rain which flows off it and they will not be able to do anything with whatever they have earned and Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.” (2:264)

showing off charity

And, this sort of corruption can be hidden and neglected by most people. It may have become so deeply instilled in us that is just an ordinary daily habit. The incorrect mindset has taken over your mind and you simply don’t even realise it.

That is why it is incumbent upon us to train our minds to modify the right purpose behind our actions.
If the vice of sanctimony is neglected for a long time in a person’s heart, it leads him to become a hypocrite and guilty of minor and hidden shirk (Shirk means to associate others in the worship of Allah ﷻ).

The Prophet ﷺ said:

“Shall I not inform you of what I fear for you more than the Masih ad-Dajjal? It is the hidden shirk. It is when a man stands up for prayer, then beautifies his prayer for another to look at.” (Ibn Majah)

Dahhaq related that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said Allah Most High tells us:

“I’m the best of your companions. If someone undertakes something that is not for My sake -even if it is for my sake and someone else- that person is attributing partners to Allah. And that action is considered as performed wholly for the sake of whatever was set up as a partner to Allah”

Consoling words of Imam Birgivhi (RA)

Alhamdullilah, all is not lost and in his blessed book “The Path of Muhammad” Imam Birghivi (RA) reassures us with warning that:

“According to general consensus, if there is hypocrisy mixed into our devotion and undertakings in the pursuit of our religion, the results of our efforts are not void. Allah in His Generosity only reduces His rewards. But if those acts have no religious motivation and are performed exclusively for worldly benefit, then Allah considers them null and void and they are in fact, sinful. Purity of intention in all one’s acts in the practice of one’s religion is an obligation.”

Interesting Video for you about the Pearl of sincerity

So, how can Prophetic Path help you to purify your intention? to be continued…

Read Part 2 of our blog to discover the solution to the insincere intention.

In the meantime don’t forget to download the mobile app or register on our website and start using the Prophetic Path site today.

prophetic path logo pp

“He will indeed be successful who purifies it. And he will indeed fail who corrupts it.” (91:9, 10)

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