All praise is due and belongs to Allâh. We praise Him, seek His help and forgiveness and repent to Him. We seek refuge with Allâh from the evils of ourselves and from the wickedness of our own deeds. Whomever that Allâh guides, none can mislead him, and whomever He sends astray, none can guide. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allâh alone with no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
( يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ )
(O you who believe, fear Allâh as he should be feared and die not unless you are Muslims) [Al-Imran: 102]
( يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالاً كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاء وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءلُونَ بِهِ وَالأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا )
(O people fear your Lord, who created you from a single soul. From it, He created its spouse, and from both of them scattered many men and women. Fear Allâh, by whom you ask one another, and (fear) the wombs (lest you sever its relationship). Allâh is ever watching over you.) [An-Nisa: 1].
( يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا * يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَن يُطِعْ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا )
(O you, who believe, fear Allâh and say sound statements. He will mend your deeds for you and forgive your sins. Whosoever obeys Allâh and His Messenger shall win a great victory) [Al-Ahzab: 70-71].
Assemblies of Muslims! As food spoils if you do not put salt in it, so do good deeds spoil; if it is not accompanied by sincere devotion for the sake of Allâh. Nevertheless, there exist two differences between salt and sincerity.
The first is that when salt is increased it spoils, but sincerity reforms the deed more whenever it increases.
The second is that some food may dispense with the salt, but there is no good deed that can ever dispense with sincerity.
What is sincerity? We say: It is the purification of deed with good intent from all impurities of polytheism, such as seeking beautification in the hearts of the creation, or seeking their praise and escaping from their defaming, or seeking their glorification, or money or service, love and for them to meet his needs … Allâh the Almighty said,
( وَمَآ أُمِرُوٓاْ إِلَّا لِيَعۡبُدُواْ ٱللَّهَ مُخۡلِصِينَ لَهُ ٱلدِّينَ حُنَفَآءَ )
And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allâh, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him) [Al-Bayyinah: 5].
Slaves of Allâh! The fortunate one is he that sincerely devotes his deeds to Allâh, and wins the blessings of sincerity, including the following:
- He gains the reward of a deed even though he could not complete it. Allâh the Almighty said,
( وَمَن يَخۡرُجۡ مِنۢ بَيۡتِهِۦ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ ثُمَّ يُدۡرِكۡهُ ٱلۡمَوۡتُ فَقَدۡ وَقَعَ أَجۡرُهُ ۥ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ )
And whosoever leaves his home as an emigrant unto Allâh and His Messenger, and death overtakes him, his reward is then surely incumbent upon Allâh [An-Nisaa: 100]
Whosoever sincerely intends to do an act of obedience to Allâh but could not accomplish it, Allâh would write down its reward for him in full.
Even more, the sincere person receives the reward for that deed even if he did not do it at all. When the Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) returned from the Battle of Tabuk, he said: “There are some people in Madinah who were with you all the time, you did not travel any portion of the journey nor crossed any valley, but they were with you. They (i.e. the people) said, “O Allâh’s Messenger (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him)! Even though they were at Madinah?” He said, “Yes, because they were stopped by a genuine excuse” (Agreed upon).
In Sahih Muslim: “Who sought martyrdom with sincerity will be ranked by Allâh among the martyrs even if he died on his bed”…
However, everyone got the reward due to his or her true dedication.
- He receives the reward of his deed even if he errs in performing it. It is reported in the Sahihain (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim): that a man gave out something in charity for three nights, but he gave them to those who do not deserve them; to a prostitute, the rich, and a thief! “He said: O Allâh, praise be to You for the prostitute, the rich, and the thief! Then the message came to him: As for your charity, it is accepted. As for the prostitute, perhaps it will keep her from committing Zina. As for the thief, perhaps it will stop him from stealing. And as for the rich man, perhaps he will learn a lesson, and will spend from that which Allâh, the Mighty and Sublime, has given him”.
- Transforming habits into acts of worship. The Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) said to Sa’d: “Surely, you will be rewarded for whatever you spend for Allâh’s sake even if it were a morsel which you put in your wife’s mouth” (Agreed upon).
Even the urine and excrement of the horse turns to good deeds due to sincere intention: “He who keeps a horse for the cause of Allâh, having faith in Allâh and relying on His Promise, will find that its fodder, drink, droppings and urine will all be credited to him in his Scales on the Day of Resurrection” (Al-Bukhari).
- Relief of distresses: In the story of the three who sheltered to the cave and a big rock rolled over and blocked the mouth of the cave, all of them said, after having made a good deed: “O Allâh! If You regard that I did it sincerely for Your sake, then please remove the rock,” So the rock was drifting every time a bit until they came out (Agreed upon).
- Achieving much reward for a little deed: It is reported in the Sahihain (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim): that Allâh forgave a man because he gave water to the dog to drink. He even forgave a prostitute also: ” While a dog was going round a well and was about to die of thirst, an Israeli prostitute saw it and took off her shoe and watered it. So Allâh forgave her because of that good deed” and “While a man was walking along a path, he found a thorny twig lying on the way and put it aside. Allâh appreciated it and forgave him”.
In Sahih Muslim: ” I saw a man going about in Jannah (and enjoying himself) as a reward for cutting from the middle of the road, a tree which was causing inconvenience to the Muslims”.
It is understood that not all who serve water to a dog or remove a harmful thorny twig from the road are forgiven or admitted to the Paradise, but this little deed elevated them to attain such reward because of their sincere intentions.
- Most important is that sincere devotion is the basis of deeds. No good deed will be accepted without it. The Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) said, “Indeed, Allâh does not accept any deed, except that which is purely for Him, and seeking His Face” (An-Nasaei).
Even the word of Tawhid is not accepted without sincerity: “No doubt, whosoever testifies that there is no true god except Allâh, seeking by so professing the pleasure of Allâh only, Allâh will safeguard him against (Hell) Fire” (Agreed upon), and “The luckiest person who will have my intercession on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who said sincerely from the bottom of his heart “None has the right to be worshipped but Allâh” (Al-Bukhari).
Moreover, it is related that a man agreed with a painter to paint for him the front of his house from the outside, and to give him his wages when he returned from his travel. They agreed, and he showed him the house and its façade. Weeks later, the man returned from his trip to be surprised to find that the front of his house was as it was unpainted! Suddenly, the painter appeared panting: “Come on give me my wage”, but the man turned to him surprised: What wage do you ask for when the front of my house has not been painted?! The painter replied: I came after you have traveled, looked at the front of your house but it was not imposing to me, so I painted the front of your neighbor’s house at the beginning of the street. Thereupon, the man made some effort to curb his emotions and said in a hidden rage: go then and get your wage from my neighbor, whose front of the house you have painted; for you did not work for me to earn the wage from me!
Such is the heartbreak of one who did good deeds for others beside Allâh on the Day of Resurrection, and such will be Allâh’s answer to them. The Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) says, ” When Allâh gathers the people on the Day of Judgement – a Day in which there is no doubt in – a caller will call out: ‘Whoever committed Shirk in any of his deeds he did for Allâh – then let him seek his reward from other than Allâh. For indeed Allâh is the most free of the partners from any need of Shirk “(At-Tirmidhi).
O believers! The pressing question arises: How do I know that I am sincere? We answer thus: Verily, there are signs of sincerity, if you find them in yourself, then you are among the sincere and devout people, otherwise check yourself. These signs include the following:
First sign: Conceal whatever you can of your acts of worship and obedience. Az-Zubair bin Al-Awwam says, “Whoever among you can have a hidden good deed, let him do so”.
Al-Hasan says, “We have met some people that never allowed to be known (in public), any deed upon the surface of the earth, which they could do in secret”.
This is a practical model narrated by Al-Asma’ei, who says, Maslamah bin Abdul Malik besieged a fortress, in which they suffered a great tension. Therefore, he called the people to pry it, but no one entered it. A man among the soldiers came, entered it and Allâh granted them victory. So, Maslamah’s crier cried: Where is the prier? Nobody came until he cried out twice or thrice or four times, and then a man came in the fourth time, and said: I am the prier, O Commander! I undertake three covenants: Do not inscribe my name in the newspaper, nor order that anything be given to me, nor distract me from my affair. Then Maslamah said to him, we have already done so to you. He (Al-Asma’ei) said, the man disappeared after that and was never seen again. He (Al-Asma’ei) said, thereafter, Maslamah used to say at the end of his prayers, “O Allâh, join me with the prier”.
- People among the inhabitants of Madinah used to subsist not knowing where their livelihood came from, and they never knew, until after the death of Ali bin Al-Hussein, when they lost what they used to receive at night, and found on his back traces of the bags of food he used to carry in the night to the poor.
- Dawud bin Abi Hind fasted for forty years but no one knew about it. He would take his food, go out to the shop and give it out as charity on his way and the people would think that he has already eaten at home, and his family would think he has eaten in the market.
Second sign: Accusing oneself: Allâh the Almighty has commanded us:
( فَلَا تُزَكُّوٓاْ أَنفُسَكُمۡۖ هُوَ أَعۡلَمُ بِمَنِ ٱتَّقَىٰٓ )
So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best him who fears Allâh and keeps his duty to Him [An-Najm: 32].
Here is Umar al-Faruq asking Hudhaifah: “Did the Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him), mention me among the hypocrites? And he replied: No, and I will not commend anyone after you.
Moreover, Ibn Abi Mulaikah says: “I met thirty of the companions of the Prophet (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him), and all were afraid of hypocrisy for themselves”.
The third sign: To work for the sake of Allâh anywhere: This is our Prophet (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) saying: “Paradise is for him who holds the reins of his horse to strive in Allâh’s Cause, with his hair unkempt and feet covered with dust: if he is appointed in the vanguard, he is perfectly satisfied with his post of guarding, and if he is appointed in the rearward, he accepts his post with satisfaction “(Al-Bukhari).
May Allâh bestow mercy upon Khalid bin al-Walid, whom Umar deposed from being the army chief at the height of his victories, but he listened and obeyed, and he was the best assistant to the newly appointed commander, Abu Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah.
Fourth sign: Doing good deeds continuously: It has been said that: “What was meant for the sake of Allâh lasts long and endure, and what was meant for other than Allâh is short-lived and discontinues”. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Allâh’s prophet Nuh, who remained preaching to his people, nine hundred and fifty years!
The signs also include offering the deed that is more pleasing to Allâh and not the one that is dearest to oneself. He should not seek to be praised by the people. His main concern after the deed should be that Allâh accepts it from him. He should rejoice with everyone that works for the sake of Allâh, and should seek Allâh’s satisfaction not that of the people.
All praise is due and belongs to Allâh alone. May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon the last Prophet.
Slaves of Allâh! As there are signs of sincerity, there are also three grades of sincerity, namely:
Grade one: That you demean your deed, and think that you do not deserve any reward for it. The reason is that all grace belongs to Allâh in every action:
(وَلَوۡلَا فَضۡلُ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَرَحۡمَتُهُ ۥ مَا زَكَىٰ مِنكُم مِّنۡ أَحَدٍ أَبَدً۬ا)
And had it not been for the Grace of Allâh and His Mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure from sins [An-Nur: 21].
All are the blessing, grace and bounty of Allâh.
Grade two: To be ashamed of one’s deed. When Aisha, may Allâh be pleased with her, asked concerning Almighty Allâh’s saying:
( وَٱلَّذِينَ يُؤۡتُونَ مَآ ءَاتَواْ وَّقُلُوبُہُمۡ وَجِلَةٌ )
And those who give that (their charity) which they give (and also do other good deeds) with their hearts full of fear (whether their alms and charities, have been accepted or not) [Al-Mu’minoon: 60],
Whether he is the one who commits adultery, steals and drinks alcohol?’ The messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) replied, ‘No, O daughter of As-Siddiq – rather they are those who fast, give charity and pray, but they fear that those deeds will not be accepted from them” (At-Tirmidhi).
Some person said: “Indeed, I pray two rak’ahs, but I stand up having finished the prayer like a thief, or an adulterer, that people can see, out of shyness from Allâh, the Almighty”.
Grade three: Deliverance from the deed just as Allâh the Most Glorified and Exalted said,
( وَمَا تَشَآءُونَ إِلَّآ أَن يَشَآءَ ٱللَّهُ رَبُّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ )
And you cannot will, unless (it be) that Allâh wills, the Lord of the ‘Alamîn (mankind, jinn and all that exists). [At-Takweer: 29].
Allâh is the true One Who wills. Allâh is the Actual Doer. In reality, the entire creatures are but mere traces of His ability, the Almighty. Therefore, it appears as if you did not do anything.
O slave of Allâh! Be sincere, so that you can be victorious, be acceptable at the sight of Allâh, and be immortal in His Al-Jannah… And be sincerely devoted until you cannot ascribe to yourself any grace, nor deed, nor action, but to Allâh belongs the command, grace and deed…
O Allâh! Send your peace and blessings upon Prophet Muhammad.