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Purification Of The Soul- Sincerity

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Sincerity is the freeing of one's intentions from all

impurities in order to come nearer to Allah. It is to

ensure that the intentions behind all acts of worship and

obedience to Allah are exclusively for His pleasure. It is the

perpetual contemplation of the Creator, to the extent that one

forgets the creation.


Sincerity is a condition for Allah's acceptance of good

deeds performed in accordance with the sunnah of the

Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Allah has

commanded this in the Qur'an:


"And they have been commanded to worship only

Allah, being sincere towards Him in their deen

and true. (98:5)"


Abu Umama has related that a man once came to the

Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and

said, "What of a man who joined us in the fighting, his

intention being for fame and booty?" The Prophet said, "He

recieves nothing." The man repeated the question three times and

each time the Prophet said, "He receives nothing". Then he said,

"Allah only accepts actions that are intended purely for His



Abu Sa'id al-Khudri related that the Prophet (saw) said

in his khutba during the farewell pilgrimage, "Allah

will bless whoever hears these words and whoever understands

them, for it may be that those who pass on this knowledge are

not those who will understand it the best. There are three

things concerning which the heart of a believer should feel no

enmity or malice: devoting one's actions to Allah, giving

counsel to the Imams of the Muslims, and being loyal to the



What is meant here is that these three things strengthen

the heart, and whoever distinguishes himself in them

will have a heart purified from all manner of deceit, corruption

and evil.


A servant can only free himself from shaytan through

sincere devotion, for Allah tells us in the Quran that

Iblis said to Him:


"Except those of Your servants who are sincere.



It has been related that a rigtheous man used to say, "O

self, be devout and you will be pure." When any wordly

fortune, in which the self finds comfort and towards which the

heart inclines, intrudes upon our worship, then it impairs the

purity of our efforts and ruins our sincerity. Man is

preoccupied with his good fortune and immersed in his desires

and appetites; rarely are his actions or acts of worship free of

temporary objectives and desires of this kind. For this reason

it has been said that whoever secures a single moment of pure

devotion to Allah in his life will survive, for devotion is rare

and precious, and cleansing the heart of its impurities is an

exacting undertaking.


In fact, devotion is the purifying of the heart from all

impurities, whether few or many, so that the intention of

drawing nearer to Allah is freed from all other motives, except

that of seeking His pleasure. This can only come from a lover

of Allah, who is so absorbed in contemplation of the next world

that there remains in his heart no place for the love of this

world. Such a person must be devote and pure in all his actions,

even in eating, drinking and answering the calls of nature.

With rare exceptions, anyone who is not like this will find the

door of devotion closed in his face.


The everyday actions of a person who is overwhelmed by

his or her love for Allah and the akhira are

characterised by his love and they are, in fact, pure devotion.

In the same way, anyone whose soul is overwhelmed by love for

and preoccupation with this world, or status and authority, will

be so overwhelmed by these things that no act of worship, be it

prayer or fasting, will be acceptable, except in very rare



The remedy for love of this world is to break the

worldly desires of the self, ending its greed for this

world and purifying it in preparation for the next world. This

will then become the state of the heart and sincere devotion

will become easier to attain. There are a great many actions

where a man acts, thinking they are purely intended for Allah's

pleasure, but he is deluded, for he fails to see the defects in



It has been related that a man was used to praying in

the first row in the mosque. One day he was late for the

prayer, so he prayed in the second row. Feeling embarrassment

when people saw him in the second row, he realised that the

pleasure and satisfaction of the heart that he used to gain from

praying in the first row were due to his seeing people seeing

him there and admiring him for it. This is a subtle and

intangible condition and actions are rarely safe from it. Apart

from those whom Allah has assisted, few are aware of such

delicate matters. Those who do not realise it only come to see

their good deeds appearing as bad ones on the Day of

Resurrection; they are the ones referred to in Allah's words:


"And something will come to them from Allah

which they

had never anticipated, for the evil of their

deeds will become apparent to them. (39:47-48)"


And also:


"Say: Shall We tell you who will lose most in

respect of their

deeds? Those whose efforts were astray in the

life of this world, while they thought that

they were doing good works. (18:103-104)"


Yaqub said: "A devout person is someone who conceals

things that are good, in the same way that he conceals

things that are bad."


As-Sousi said: "True devotion is to lose the faculty of

being conscious of your devotion; for someone who

identifies devotion in his devotion is a person whose devotion

is in need of devotion." To contemplate devotion is to admire

it, and admiration is an afflication; and that which is pure is

whatever is free of all afflictions. This means that one's deeds

should be purified from any self-admiration concerning the

actions they entail.


Ayyub said: "It is much harder for the people of action

to purify their intentions than it is to execute any of

their actions."


Some people have said: "To be devout for a short while

is to survive for ever, but devotion is rare."


Suhail was asked: "What is the most difficult thing for

the self? He said: "Devotion, when the self does not

have the good fortunre of being endowed with it."


Al-Fudayl said: "Forsaking action for the sake of other

people is to seek their admiration. To act for the sake

of their admiration is to associate others with Allah. Devotion

is when Allah frees you from both of these states.



Notes: 1. Sahih, an-Nisa'i, Kitab al-Jihad, 6/25; al Hafidh ibn

Hajar, Fath al-Qadir, 6/28. 2. Sahih, Ibn Ma'jah; also Ibn

Hibban, Marwarid adh-Dham'an, p.47, on the authority of Zaid ibn


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