July 19, 2009
Ikhlāṣ (purity and sincerity of intentions): It is the stripping (i.e. the purifying) of one’s intentions in order to draw closer to Allāh – the Mighty and Majestic – in all matters. It is also said that ikhlāṣ is intending to single out Allāh alone with acts of obedience. It has also been said that ikhlāṣ is to forget about the creation by constantly looking towards the Creator.
And ikhlāṣ (sincerity) is a condition for Allāh to accept those righteous actions that are done in accordance with the Sunnah (guidance) of Allāh’s Messenger ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam. So Allāh – the Most High – commanded us with His saying:
“And they have not been commanded except to worship Allāh alone, having ikhlāṣ (purity of intention) in their Religion and not setting-up partners with Allāh in the worship of Him.” [Sūrah al-Bayyinah 38:5].
Abū Umāmah radi Allāhu ‘anhu relates: Once a man came to Allāh’s Messenger ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said: What do you think about a person who joins us in the fighting only to seek fame and wealth? So Allāh’s Messenger ṣallallāhu ‘alalvhi wa sallam replied: “He receives nothing!” The man repeated the question three times, each time Allāh’s Messenger ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “He recieves nothing!” Then he said: “Indeed Allāh does not accept an action except if it is done with ikhlāṣ (i.e. purely for Allāh’s sake), seeking nothing but His Face.”
Zayd b. Thābit radi Allāhu ‘anhu relates: The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “May Allāh 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: Ikhlāṣ for Allāh in one’s action; sincere advice to the Muslim leaders; and clinging to the Jamāʿah.”
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 Shayṭān except by having ikhlāṣ, as Allāh – the Mighty and Majestic -said:
“Except those of Your servants who have ikhlāṣ.” [Sūrah Saad 38:83].
It has been related from one of the pious people that he said: “O my soul! Have ikhlāṣ 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 mars the purity and ruins the ikhlāṣ. 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 ikhlāṣ, seeking the Face of Allāh, he will be saved.” This is because ikhlāṣ is something very precious, and cleansing the heart from impurities is something difficult.
So ikhlāṣ is: Cleansing the heart from all impurities – whether large or small – such that the intention of drawing closer to Allāh is stripped of all other motives, except that. And this matter cannot be imagined, except from someone who truly loves Allāh; and who is so absorbed in thinking about the Ākhirah (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 ikhlāṣ in his actions and has correct intentions. However, whosoever is not like this, then the doors of ikhlāṣ will be closed to him – except in rare exceptions. Likewise, whosoever is overwhelmed with the love of Allāh and the love of the Hereafter, then the actions that he does will all be characterized with this ikhlāṣ. However, if the person’s soul is overwhelmed with this dunyāa (world), then the actions that he does will be characterized 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 ikhlāṣ will become much easier. For how many actions there are that a person does, thinking that they are done with true ikhlāṣ (sincerity), seeking only the Face of Allāh, 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 masjid. 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 Allāh – 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 Allāh – 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.” [Sūrah 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.” [Sūrah al- Kahf 18:103-104].
Some Sayings Concerning Ikhlāṣ
Yaʿqūb- raḥimahullāh – said: “A mukhlis (one who truly has ikhlāṣ) is someone who conceals his good actions, as he conceals his bad ones.”
As-Soosee – raḥimahullāh -said: “True ikhlāṣ is not to see your ikhlāṣ. Indeed, whosoever identifies ikhlāṣ in his ikhlāṣ, then he is in need of having ikhlāṣ in his ikhlāṣ!” And what this indicates is to purify one’s actions from being amazed with oneself. Since whosoever considers his ikhlāṣ, being amazed with it, has fallen into great danger. For ikhlāṣ is to be pure and free from such dangers of being amazed with one’s own actions.
Ayyūb – raḥimahullāh -said: “Having Ikhlāṣ (sincerity for Allāh) 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 ikhlāṣ even for a short time, is to be saved. However, ikhlāṣ is very rare.”
Suhayl – raḥimahullāh – was asked: What is the thing most difficult for the nafs (soul)? He replied: “To have ikhlāṣ, especially when the soul is not disposed towards it.”
Al-Fuḍayl b. ʿIyāḍ – raḥimahullāh – 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 Allāh, others along with Allāh). Indeed ikhlāṣ is when Allāh saves you from both of these states.”
 Tazkiyatun-Nufūs (pp.7-10).
 Ḥasan: Related by an-Nasāʾī (6/25). It was authenticated by al-Ḥāfidh al-ʿlrāqī in Takhrījul-lḥyāʾ (4/28).
 Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Aḥmad (4/80) and Ibn Mājah (no.230). It was authenticated by al-Albānī in al-Ṣaḥīḥahh (no.404).