Sincerity (Ikhlas) in Islam, Sincere Faith and Worship,
Allah (SWT), the Wise, has said in the Noble Qur'an: He is the Living, there is no god but He, therefore call on Him, being sincere to Him in obedience; (all) praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: As for anyone who works to Allah (SWT) sincerely for forty days, Allah (SWT) will make the springs of wisdom come out of his heart and tongue.
Imam Ali (as) said: Perform your deeds with sincerity, for (then, even) a slight of it shall be sufficient for you.
Imam Ali (as) said: This world is wholly ignorance except the situations of knowledge. Knowledge is wholly ignorance except that which is practiced. All the practices are showiness except those which are done heartily. Sincerity, likewise, is insecure before the end result is realized.
Imam Taqi al-Jawad (as) said: Sincerity is the best worship.
Doing things out of ones own free will tells as to the measure of intention one possesses. In this there is sincerity (ikhlas) in the action. Sincerity is the key to the acceptance of all deeds. A person whose deeds are accepted by Allah (SWT), however trivial they may be, is a sincere person and one whose deeds, in spite of being plentiful are rejected by Allah (SWT), is not of the sincere ones.
Sincerity stands for purifying one's deeds from blemishes of ostentation in order to make them purely intended to Allah (SWT). A sincere person strives to purify his soul from vices and exerts himself to perform (good) deeds and maintain (sincerity of) intention so that Allah (SWT) accepts his deeds.
It is related that a man said: "For thirty years, I used to offer my prayers collectively in the mosque in the first row. One day, I was late because of something and I had to join the second row. As soon as I stopped, I felt embarrassed. Only then, I discovered that my previous prayers had been my source of pleasure."
The level of intention, knowledge and deeds is related to spiritual purification and refinement, and if a sincere person were to pay due attention to his inner self, he would come to perceive the true concept of Unity of God (Tawheed). The lowest degree of sincerity is when a person exerts himself to the best of his ability, neither anticipating rewards for his deeds nor attaching any importance to them.
Sincerity Quote: The measure of Sincerity of a person is his devotion towards Allah (SWT). A person not Sincere to his creator can never be faithful to people.
Sincerity (Ikhlas) in Islam: Three Persons in a Cave (Sincere Faith and Worship)
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) has related: "Three persons from the tribe of Bani Israel got together and started out on a journey. On the way, clouds gathered above them and it started to pour with rain and so they sought shelter in a nearby cave.
Suddenly, a large boulder slipped and blocked the entrance to the cave, trapping the three inside and transforming the day into a dark night for them. They had no other alternative except to turn to Allahn (SWT) for help.
"Let us use our sincere deeds as a means to obtain deliverance from this predicament," suggested one of them. All the others agreed with the suggestion.
One of them said, "O' Lord! You are aware that I have an extremely attractive cousin and that I was infatuated and obsessed with her. One day, finding her alone, I took hold of her and wanted to satisfy my carnal desires, when she spoke out to me saying: O' My cousin! Fear Allah (SWT) and do not harm my chastity. Hearing this, I crushed my lustful tendencies and decided against the evil act. O' Lord! If that deed of mine had been out of absolute sincerity and only for the purpose of acquiring Your pleasure, deliver us from grief and perdition."
Suddenly they witnessed that the huge boulder had moved away a little, faintly brightening up the interior of the cave.
The second person spoke out, "O' Lord! You know that I had a father and a mother, so old that their bodies had bent over due to their excessive age, and that I used to tend to them regularly. One night, having brought them their food, I observed that both of them were asleep. I passed the entire night near them, the food in hand, without waking them up for fear of disturbing them. O' Lord! If this deed of mine had been only for the sake of Your pleasure and happiness, open up a way for us and grant us salvation."
As he completed his speech, the group noticed that the boulder had moved aside a little more.
The third person supplicated, "O' Knower of every hidden and manifest! You know Yourself that I had a worker who used to work for me. When his term had reached its termination, I handed over to him his wages, but he was not pleased and desired more and, in a state of dissatisfaction and displeasure, he went away. I used his wage to purchase a goat, which I looked after separately and very soon I had a flock in my possession. After a period of time, the worker again approached me for his wage and I pointed towards the flock of sheep. Initially, he thought I was ridiculing him, but later, realizing my seriousness, took the entire flock and left. O' Lord! If this act had been prompted by sincerity and had only been for Your pleasure, deliver us from this quandary."
At this point the entire boulder moved aside from the mouth of the cave and all three emerged from it, joyous and ecstatic, and continued their journey.
Sincerity (Ikhlas) in Islam: Shaitan and the Pious Worshipper (Sincere Worship and Faith)
In the tribe of Bani Israel, there once lived a pious worshipper. One day, the people informed him that at a certain location, there existed a tree that was being worshipped by a tribe. When he heard this, the man flew into a rage, picked up his axe and set out to cut down the tree.
Shaitan, appearing before him in the form of an old man, asked, "Where are you headed for?" Pious worshipper replied, "I intend to cut down the tree, which is being worshipped so that the people worship Allah (SWT) instead."
"Hold yourself till you hear what I have to say," said Shaitan to him.
The pious worshipper urged him to carry on. Shaitan continued, "Allah (SWT) has His own Prophets and if it had been essential to cut down the tree, He would have sent them to perform the task."
However, the pious worshipper did not agree with Shaitan and continued on his way.
"There is no way I shall let you do it," said Shaitan angrily, and he began to wrestle with the pious worshipper. In the ensuing contest, the pious worshipper hurled Shaitan onto the ground.
"Wait! I have something else to say to you", pleaded Shaitan.
"Listen! You are a poor man. If you could possess some wealth by means of which you could give alms to the other worshippers it would be much better than cutting the tree. If you refrain from cutting the tree, I shall place two dinars beneath your pillow everyday."
The pious worshipper said thoughtfully, "If you speak the truth, I shall give one dinar in charity while the other dinar I shall put to my use. This is better than cutting down the tree; in any case, I have neither been ordered to perform this task nor am I a Prophet to burden myself with unnecessary grief and anxiety."
Thus, pious worshipper acceded to the request of Shaitan who left him alone. For two days, he received the two dinars and utilized them, but on the third day, there was no sign of the dinars. Upset and distressed, he picked up his axe and set out to cut down the tree.
On the way, pious worshipper encountered Shaitan, who asked him: "Where are you headed for?"
"I am going to cut that tree." Replied pious worshipper
"There is no way you are going to do it," said Shaitan
Once again they began to contest, but this time Shaitan overcame him and hurling him to the ground, ordered, "Turn back or I shall sever your head from your body."
The pious worshipper said, "Leave me alone and I shall return, but tell me, how was it that I had managed to overcome you on the previous occasion?"
Shaitan answered, "On that occasion, you had set out only for Allah (SWT) and you were sincere in your intention as a result of which, Allah (SWT) subjugated me for you, but this time you were angry for your own self and for your dinars and so I could overpower you."
He (the Shaitan) said, 'By Your Glory, I shall seduce all of them (children of Adam) except Your sincere servants among them'. Noble Qur'an (38:82-3)
Lesson to learn from this Real Life Story, Sincere Worship and Faith:
Before any action we take, we must be clear in our minds that the action is in accordance with the commands of Allah (SWT). This can be done by constant thinking and true understanding of the aim of our life. We have to understand what Allah (SWT) really wants from us.
Say. Surely my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the worlds.