By Shaykh Ahmad Fareed
Al Istiqaamah Issue No 4 November 1996
Ikhlaas (purity and sincerity of intentions): It is the stripping (i.e. the purifying) of one's intentions in order to draw closer to Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic - in all matters. It is also said that ikhlaas is intending to single out Allaah alone with acts of obedience. It has also been said that ikhlaas is to forget about the creation by constantly looking towards the Creator.
And ikhlaas (sincerity) is a condition for Allaah to accept those righteous actions that are done in accordance with the Sunnah (guidance) of Allaah's Messenger . So Allaah - the Most High - commanded us with His saying:
"And they have not been commanded except to worship Allaah alone, having ikhlaas (purity of intention) in their Religion and not setting-up partners with Allaah in the worship of Him." [Soorah al-Bayyinah 38:5].
Abu Umaamah radiallaahu 'anhu relates:
Once a man came to Allaah's Messenger and said: What do you think about a person who joins us in the fighting only to seek fame and wealth? So Allaah's Messenger replied: "He receives nothing!" The man repeated the question three times, each time Allaah's Messenger said: "He recieves nothing!" Then he said: "Indeed Allaah does not accept an action except if it is done with ikhlaas (i.e. purely for Allaah's sake), seeking nothing but His Face." 2
Zayd ibn Thaabit radiallaahu 'anhu relates:
The Prophet said: "May Allaah brighten whosoever hears my words, memorises them and then conveys them to others. Many a carrier of knowledge does not understand it, and many a carrier of knowledge conveys it to one who has better understanding. There are three things which the heart of a Believer has no malice about: Ikhlaas for Allaah in one's action; sincere advice to the Muslim leaders; and clinging to the Jamaa'ah." 3
The meaning of the above being that these three matters strengthen the heart. And that whosoever adopts them, then his heart will be purified from deceit, corruption and evil. And no servant can be free from Shaytaan except by having ikhlaas , as Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic -said:
"Except those of Your servants who have ikhlaas ." [Soorah Saad 38:83].
It has been related from one of the pious people that he said: "O my soul! Have ikhlaas and then you will be purified." Thus, whenever any share of this world - in which the soul takes comfort and the heart inclines towards, either greatly or slightly - enters into our actions, then it marrs the purity and ruins the ikhlaas . For man becomes preoccupied with his portion of the world and becomes immersed in his desires; and very seldom are his action, or acts of worship, free from temporary objectives or desires of this kind. That is why it has been said: "Whosoever secures in his lifetime even a single moment of ikhlaas , seeking the Face of Allaah, he will be saved." This is because ikhlaas is something very precious, and cleansing the heart from impurities is something difficult.
So ikhlaas is: Cleansing the heart from all impurities - whether large or small - such that the intention of drawing closer to Allaah is stripped of all other motives, except that. And this matter cannot be imagined, except from someone who truly loves Allaah; and who is so absorbed in thinking about the Aakhirah (Hereafter), that there remains no place in his heat for the love of this world to settle. The likes of such a person - even when he is eating, drinking or answering the call of nature - has ikhlaas in his actions and has correct intentions. However, whosoever is not like this, then the doors of ikhlaas will be closed to him - except in rare exceptions. Likewise, whosoever is overwhelmed with the love of Allaah and the love of the Hereafter, then the actions that he does will all be characterised with this ikhlaas . However, if the person's soul is overwhelmed with this dunyaa (world), then the actions that he does will be characterised with this love, such that no act of worship - whether it be Pasting or Praying, or other than these - will be accepted from him, except in a few cases.
The cure for loving this world is to break these worldly desires that the soul has, curing-off the greed it has for this world and purifying it for the Hereafter. This will then become the overwhelming trait of the heart and with this state achieving ikhlaas will become much easier. For how many actions there are that a person does, thinking that they are done with true ikhlaas (sincerity), seeking only the Face of Allaah, but he is deluded, for he does not see the defects in them!
Thus it has been related about someone that he used to always pray in the first row of the mosque. One day he was delayed in coming to the Prayer, so he had to pray in the second row. Feeling embarrassed at praying in the second row, the man realised that the satisfaction and pleasure of the heart that he gained from praying in the first row was due to him seeing that the people used to admire him for it. This is a very fine and subtle point and actions are seldom safe from it. Indeed, very few are there who realise such subtleties - apart from those upon whom Allaah - the Most High - has blessed and helped. Rather, those who are negligent of such matters will see their good deeds appearing as evil ones on the Day of Resurrection, and they are the ones who are referred to in Allaah - the Most High's - sayings:
"And there will become clear to them that which they were not expecting. For the evil of their deeds will become apparent to them." [Soorah az-Zumr 39:47-48].
"Say: Shall We inform you about those who will lose most in respect to their actions? Those whose efforts have been wasted in the life of this world, whilst they thought that they were doing good actions." [Soorah al- Kahf 18:103-104].
Some Sayings Concerning Ikhlaas
Ya'qoob- rahimahullaah - said:
"A mukhlis (one who truly has ikhlaas ) is someone who conceals his good actions, as he conceals his bad ones."
As-Soosee - rahimahullaah -said:
"True ikhlaas is not to see your ikhlaas . Indeed, whosoever identifies ikhlaas in his ikhlaas , then he is in need of having ikhlaas in his ikhlaas !" And what this indicates is to purify one's actions from being amazed with oneself. Since whosoever considers his ikhlaas , being amazed with it, has fallen into great danger. For ikhlaas is to be pure and free from such dangers of being amazed with one's own actions.
Ayyoob - rahimahullaah -said:
"Having Ikhlaas (sincerity for Allaah) in the intentions for any action, is much more harder than performing the action itself."
One of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) said:
To have true ikhlaas even for a short time, is to be saved. However, ikhlaas is very rare."
Suhayl - rahimahullaah - was asked: What is the thing most difficult for the nafs (soul)? He replied: "To have ikhlaas , especially when the soul is not disposed towards it."
Al-Fudayl ibn 'Iyyaad - rahimahullaah - said:
"Abandoning action for the sake of people, is to seek their admiration. To do an action for the sake of people is to commit Shirk (to associate in the worship of Allaah, others along with Allaah). Indeed ikhlaas is when Allaah saves you from both of these states."
1. Tazkiyatun-Nufoos (pp.7-10).
2. Hasan: Related by an-Nasaa'ee (6/25). It was authenticated by al-Haafidh al-'lraaqee in Takhreejul-lhyaa (4/28).
3. Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (4/80) and Ibn Maajah (no.230). It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.404).