Why is Sincerity essential to Islamic Work?
Working for the triumph of Islam and its return to the lives of people, complete with its laws, morals, and way of life, is worship in and of itself. It is essential that intentions are dedicated solely to God because an intention that is mixed with other desires spoils the action, stains the soul, and weakens the ranks of Islamic workers. In contrast, a sincere intention strengthens willpower, lights up the road, and makes obstacles seem minor.
Allah promises in the Quran that He will reconcile between disputing spouses if they truly desire peace, "...if they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation." The previous verse emphasizes the importance of a pure intention when working to achieve a goal, because that is what will bring about the help of God. Salim Ibn Abdullah sent a letter of advice to Umar ibn Abd Al-Azeez in which he wrote: “Know that the help of Allah is offered in proportion to the purity of the intention.” Thus, whatever an intention lacks in sincerity is how much the Help of Allah will be withheld.
Imam Al-Bukhari began his book Al-Jami’ As-Saheeh (Saheeh Al-Bukhari) with the hadith that scholars consider either one-third or one-fourth of the religion:
Actions are but by intention and everyone shall have that which he intended. Thus he who migrated for Allah and His Messenger—his migration will be counted for Allah and His Messenger. He whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his migration will be for whatever aim he migrated for.
In the explanation of this hadith, the scholars told us that a man emigrated to Madinah in order to marry a woman named Um Qays. The man was thereafter called “the migrant of Umm Qays” because it was known that his emigration was not for the sake of Allah.
The Muslim worker must delve into the corners of his heart to make sure that there is no flaw in his intentions. If he finds fault with his sincerity, then he should strive to purify his heart and to devote himself completely to Allah. The mother of Maryam, the grandmother of Prophet Eesa, is an example of someone who devoted her actions completely to Allah. The Quran tells us her story,
Behold! A woman of ‘Imran said, ‘O my Lord! I do dedicate to You what is in my womb completely to Your service [muharrara]. So accept this of me, for You hear and know all things.
The mother of Maryam used the word “muharrara,” understanding that God only accepts the purest of actions.
Truth, justice, and goodness will not return to this world at the hands of people who work so that they may benefit from this world. Nor will such righteousness be restored by people who work so that others might admire them or for social status. Rather, truth, justice, and goodness will come at the hands of sincere people, who prefer to give rather than take and to sacrifice rather than gain personal benefit.
Sincerity, the Crest of Islam’s Soldiers of Justice
The true carriers of the message, the soldiers of justice, and inheritors of the Prophets are those who seek to please only Allah through their actions and look beyond any personal benefit. They are the people who will accompany the dawah to its success, though they might be poor, weak, and unknown. Such people are mentioned in the hadith: “Perhaps a man who is disheveled and ignored upon entry is overlooked—but were he to call upon Allah, Allah would respond."
Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqas, the great companion who accepted Islam early on and shared a blood-relationship with the Prophet, related that one day he felt superior to some of the other Companions. The Prophet, sensing this, turned to him and said, “It is by the supplication and sincerity of the weak that God will bring victory to Islam.”
The Prophet was commanded to be patient and content with the humble, sincere people. He was ordered not to run after the popular personalities who have wealth and rank, who think that the dawah will be advanced through their abilities and status in society. Allah says in the Quran,
And keep your soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not your eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this life; nor obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Allah—one who follows his own desires and whose case has gone beyond all bounds.
A person who works sincerely for the sake of Allah is not tempted by the lures of worldly prominence. The world is not his biggest worry or interest; in fact, it does not weigh much more in his eyes than the wing of a fly. His sole desire is that Allah includes him among the righteous, committed, and successful soldiers of Islam. This goal should be clear to all those who work for the return of Islam. While the landmarks along the journey might be an Islamic state, a new civilization, or a Muslim society, the ultimate objective of every Islamic worker is one and only one: to win the pleasure and reward of Allah.
Beware the False Front
In the midst of the Islamic workers, there are individuals who behave like parasites in a healthy body. These intruders use dawah as a personal vehicle to their own ambitions. A bystander would think them well-meaning, dedicated individuals—their words are sweet and their appearances charismatic. However, their hearts are empty of all but their desires. They are a people who the Messenger of Allah described in a hadith:
There will come at the end of time men who will deceive the world—they will wear clothes of sheepskin and their words will seem sweeter than honey, but their hearts will be the hearts of wolves. Allah will say, "Are you deluded or do you brazenly defy me? I swear by Myself to afflict them with a calamity that will leave the wise bewildered."
The Messenger of Allah divided people into two types. The first is a person who lives for herself and her desires—a slave of wealth and worldly splendor. If her goals are achieved, she is pleased, and if she is deprived, she is angry, hopeless, and depressed. The second type of person one who lives for the truth, prepared to sacrifice whatever needed, expecting no worldly payment or status. She works productively without attracting attention to herself.
Portraits of these two contrasting individuals are painted in the following hadith,
Perish the slave of the dinar, dirham, qatifah, and khamisah for if he is given, he is pleased—otherwise he is dissatisfied! Joy to the slave who grasps the reins of his horse for the sake of Allah! With disheveled hair and dusty feet, it is the same to him whether he is in the rear or in the forefront.
Early Arab units of currency
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A luxurious garment