Ikhlas has been interpreted as being upright, sincere, and pure; being distant
from show and ostentation in oneís intention and conduct; and being closed to
whatever clouds or fouls the heart. Purity of intention, straightforwardness in
thought, pursuit of no worldly purposes in oneís relationship with God, and
loyalty in servanthood to God are also included here.
Ikhlas requires that one pursue nothing worldly while worshipping and obeying
God, that one fulfills the duty of servanthood only because God orders it, and
that one remains silent concerning any personal experiences of Godís special
treatment and special gifts and seek only His approval and pleasure.
Sincerity is one of the most significant qualities of those most faithful
or loyal to God; loyalty is regarded as a source, and sincerity as a sweet
water originating from it. The most eloquent of humanity, upon him be peace and
blessings, declared that one who drinks uninterruptedly from this water for
forty days will find channels of wisdom opened from his or her heart to his or
her tongue, and that such a person will always speak wisdom.
Loyalty or faithfulness is the primary attribute of Prophet-hood, and
sincerity is its most lustrous dimension. Sincerity is innate in the Prophets;
all other people try to obtain it during their lifetime. Among them, for
example, the Qurían describes the Prophet Moses as one made sincere (19:51).
Faithfulness and sincerity were as intrinsic and essential to the
Prophets as air and water are to the lives of those who communicate the
Prophetsí message to others in every age. In addition, they were the
Prophetsí most important sources of power. The Prophets were convinced that
they could not take one step forward without sincerity, and the representatives
of the cause of Prophethood must believe that they will be able to achieve
nothing without it. Faithfulness and sincerity are two wings or two deep oceans
extending from Divine Favor and Grace to an individualís heart. One who can
sail in these oceans or fly with these wings will reach the destination, for
they are under Godís protection. God values that which is done to please Him,
regard-less of its apparent size or importance, not the quantity of deeds.
Therefore, He values a small deed done with sincerity over many deeds done
Sincerity is an attitude of the heart, and God views an individual
according to his or her heartís inclination. The Prophet, upon him be peace
and blessings, declares: Assuredly, God does not consider your bodies, nor
your appearances. Rather, He considers your hearts. Sincerity is a
mysterious Divine credit granted to those who are pure-hearted in order to
increase what is little and to deepen what is shallow, and to give finite
(limited) worship infinite reward. One can use it to purchase the most valuable
things in the markets of this world and the next, for it is esteemed, welcomed,
and respected where others suffer great misery. This mysterious power of
sincerity caused Godís Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, to
declare: Be sincere in your religion; little work (with sincerity) is enough
for you, and: Be sincere in your deeds, for God only accepts what is
done with sincerity.
If we consider a deed to be a body, sincerity is its soul. If a deed
represents one wing of pair of wings, sincerity is the other. A body without
soul is of no worth, and nothing can fly with only one wing. How fine are
Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumiís words:
should be sincere in all your deeds,
So that the Majestic Lord may accept them.
Sincerity is the wing of the bird of the acts of obedience.
Without a wing, how can you fly to the abode of prosperity?
The following words of Bayazid al-Bistami are also very apt:
worshipped my Lord for thirty years with all my strength. Then I heard a voice
saying: O Bayazid! The treasures of God Almighty are full of acts of worship.
If you intend to reach Him, see yourself as small at the door of God and be
sincere in your deeds.
For some, sincerity involves hiding from others when per-forming
supererogatory deeds and avoiding all show and ostentation. For others, it
means that whether one is or is not seen while performing religious deeds is
not important. Still for others, it means being so involved in worship or
religious deeds in consideration of Godís pleasure that one does not even
remember whether one should be sincere or not.
Self-supervision is an essential dimension of sincerity, and a truly
sincere person does not consider any possible spiritual pleasure that may be
derived, or speculate upon whether it will ensure entrance to Paradise.
Sincerity is a mystery between God and a servant, and God puts it in the hearts
of those He loves. One whose heart is awakened to sincerity does not worry
about being praised or accused, exalted or debased, aware or unaware of deeds,
or being rewarded. Such a person does not change, and behaves in the same way
in public and in private.