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  • Writer's pictureAiman

Sincerity is Quieting

After al-Fatihah, The Opening, what is the most memorized surah? Which encompasses one third of al-Qur'an? And who knows why? Surah al-Ikhlaas, The Sincerity, speaks to one of the two prerequisites to good, without which, all efforts are in vain: That we act in accordance with what was revealed, yes, but also truly only for Allah's Sake. Not our desires or the influence of anyone or anything else.

In a recent khutbah, Omar Suleiman retells the story of a man among the companions who fought bravely in defense of the Muslims, and yet the Prophet said that he is destined for the Fire because he had done that to be glorified by others, and not for Allah. He had already received a reward when the companions were so impressed with him.

Intention is trickier than we make it, unfortunately. Speaking it out loud doesn't help as those are mere words. It's a matter of the human heart, which can turn, and a desire that sometimes begs us to lie to our own selves about why we do what we do. So, it should take more of our focus, as compared with debating whether we wiggle our finger or keep it still during at-Tashshahud, for example. If we don't mean what we're saying, our worship is ruined, regardless which fiqh we follow or how carefully we fulfill external actions.

We have to constantly be asking ourselves why we're doing what we're doing, which will probably come out in the nuances of our decisions, timing, and the words we choose. Intension bears even upon permissibility, because there are exceptions built into Shari'ah, which open the test in front of us to the complications which test of our sincerity, at times.

Sincerity in Islam is balanced within the Mercy of Allah, to Whom our worship is directed. It isn't "sincerity" to sit in the sun while fasting or to make wudu on the eyeball, itself. Rather, that is extreme. It's not sincerity to avoid medicine, either, if you need it. It's not sincerity to publicly degrade sinners.

Sincerity doesn't call for anything more or less than what pleases Allah. Anything we add to what Allah wants from us is a misdirection, and a terrible one if we make it in the name of Allah's religion—much worse than mere fawahisah, itself, is to declare for others what is haraam and what is halaal, but from our assumptions, desires, or fears, not Allah's order.

I've only mentioned some of the reasons it's difficult to sort out and purify our intentions, but which are so vital to success in both this life and the hereafter. So, this summer, I'm hoping to write a fiqh series that looks at issues on the edge of our opinions as Muslims. The fuquhah among the scholars of Islam can sort out the details, but I plan to discuss how we discuss these issues . . . within ourselves and among each other . . . in a way that speaks to our sub-cultures and our personal intentions. And I'll use, as examples, in sha Allah: da'wah to non-Muslims, da'wah to Muslims, and medical permissibility of otherwise haraam. I'll also discuss how we talk about ways we should or should not moderate our attention to things that are always haram. And, lastly, I'll talk about how we think about how others see us (self-esteem) as a matter of religious duty. In sha Allah.

The goal of focusing on sincerity of intention is first for the same reason the prophets and companions of prophets did, which is, of course, so that our worship will be accepted. If Allah admits us to the Paradise, then it is by the Mercy of Allah, but the sign of that is acceptance of some good from us, even if it seems small like the woman who gave a drink to a dog.

But I also want to take myself—and anyone who feels inclined to read these posts—on a review of how we talk with each other and with our inner selves because the Ummah needs to unite, and upon something. And, so, we have to prioritize, and cut out noise. And I feel and hope we're already doing that, such that the opportunity to improve is there.

Lastly, though, I'm on this journey, myself, to purify, for myself, and I hope you for you. Allah says al-Qur'an is "a healing and a Mercy" (17:1). In an ayah about fasting, Allah "intends every facility to you; He does not want to put you in difficulties" (2:185). And, so, we have to continually sort out and refresh ourselves in what is coming from Allah, as opposed to the noise among the disorder in the world. May Allah guide us. Ameen.

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