Secrecy of Sincerity

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحـمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آلـه وصحبه ومن والاه

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Allah سبحانه و تعالى Said:

ادْعُوا رَبَّكُمْ تَضَرُّعًا وَخُفْيَةً ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ

“Invoke your Rabb with humility and in secret. He likes not the aggressors.”

Invoking and imploring Allah سبحانه و تعالى with humility and secretly is a cure for arrogance and aggression and all similar traits. Secrecy can’t be achieved except with sincerity, and sincerity is an attribute that requires an internal conditioning until one’s outwardly actions and speech is of the same quality as his inward state of being; keeping his conduct free from the any influence of other creatures. It is a blessing and a gift that Allah grants to anyone He loves among His servants.

Mentioning Zakariyyah عليه السلام, Allah سبحانه و تعالى Said:

إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُ نِدَاءً خَفِيًّا
“When he called out his Rabb, a call in secret.” [Maryam, 3]

‘Khafiya’ is something that is hidden or concealed, and this is how Zakariyyah عليه السلام made his call, in a humbled low voice in the middle of the night. And it is the only time this word has been used in this way in the Qur’an. Ibn Qayyim mentioned in his ‘Badaa’iul Fawa’id’ that this prayer in such a quiet manner reveals a number of benefits, amongst them is that it leads to sincerity.

In his ‘Madaarij al-Saalikeen’, he records Junayd al-Baghdadi’s amazing description about ikhlas when someone asks him ‘what is ikhlas?’:

الإخلاص سر بين الله وبين العبد لا يعلمه ملك فيكتبه ولا شيطان فيفسده ولا هوى فيميله

“It is a secret between Allah and His slave. Angels know nothing of it (so as) to record it, and Shaytan can’ corrupt it, and nor can desire affect it.”

This beautiful definition can be understood in light of the hadeeth that mentions how, on the Day of Judgement, Angels will present sealed records of deeds to Allah, and will then be told by Allah to strike out certain deeds and reject them. The Angels will say they did not know except the goodness of the (rejected) deeds. Allah سبحانه و تعالى will Tell them those deeds were not performed for His Sake – see  ‘Al-Ikhlas wal-Niyyah’ , p. 45

One of our Salaf said something of tremendous reflection, “whoever sees sincerity in his sincerity, his sincerity is itself in need of sincerity. The destruction of every sincere person lies in his sincerity to the extent that he sees sincerity in himself. When he abandons seeing sincerity in himself he will be sincere and purified.” From these profound words of advice is that we should invest in secret acts of worship in order to bring ourselves closer to Allah, and so that we can hope to reap the rewards when we meet Allah سبحانه و تعالى  – All too often we become wholly extrospective and lose track of examining our own spiritual development and means to strengthen our ikhlas and all the paths leading to it.

One of the paths is nicely explained by Dhu’n-Noon al-Misri (d.245H), when highlighting three known symptoms of sincere devotion:

1. Being able to show indifference to any praise or any blame that comes from the people.
2. Having lack of interest in the impression made by one’s good deeds.
3. Holding the reward for his actions as a matter to be decided in the akhirah.

‘Ali ibn Abi Talib رضي الله عنه said, “Charity is the righteous deeds that you do not want any praise for, except from Allah.” [‘Al-Ikhlas wal-Niyyah’ , p. 35]

Abu Bakr ad-Daqqaq Al-Shafi’i said about the shortcoming of those who try to be sincere, that he has, “the tendency to admire his sincere devotion. If Allah wishes to purify his sincere devotion, He will rid his sincerity of the tendency to admire his sincere devotion, so he will then be a mukhallas [one who has been made sincere through purification], rather than a mukhlis [one who tries to be sincere].”

Imam Nawawi said, “Know, that sincerity is often affected by the disease ‘ujub (self-conceit). Whoever has ujub with charity, then his charity is erased. Similarly, people who boast about being charitable, then their charity is erased.” [See Ta’theer al-Anfas’, p. 584]

May Allah grant us the tawfeeq to become constant in evaluating our intentions and weighing our intentions for His Sake alone.

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