The Fruits of Sincerity
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Sincerity brings with it gifts that revitalize and soothe the soul. A few of them are described in this chapter.
A sincere Muslim is at peace with herself—her heart is at ease and her mind is composed. Her heart is neither anxious nor divided between opposing objectives because her purpose is only to please her Creator. Such clarity of vision relieves the soul from the stress of worrying about the opinions of others and choosing between divergent pathways. So much purpose and peace of mind lies in the one who is able to block out all of these distractions—the nerve-racking diversions that trouble so many others do not worry her, for she has but one harmonious, cohesive aspiration.
Allah described the sincere believer as a devoted servant who knows what pleases and angers his master, and thus commits his entire life to gratifying his master and doing what is beloved to him. On the contrary, a disbeliever is like a servant who answers to several querulous masters, each of them commanding contradicting orders. This servant’s mind is overwhelmed and his heart is torn. Allah says in the Quran:
Allah puts forth a parable: a man belonging to many partners at variance with each other, and a man belonging entirely to one master. Are those two equal in comparison? Praise be to Allah! But most people have no knowledge.
Sincerity gives the soul a tremendous store of endurance and strength, which springs directly from the loftiness of its purpose: the pleasure and reward of Allah. A person who seeks wealth, status, or power is crippled when the prospects for reaching his prize dim. He grovels in front of those who are able to give him what he wants and is helpless when the prize slips through his hands.
On the other hand, a person who serves Allah is connected to an energy source that never diminishes. His commitment and sincerity give him more strength than any worldly provision. The sincere Muslim is not tempted by false promises and does not long for what people offer him. He is not driven by his desires nor immobilized by fear.
His model is the Prophet Muhammad who, when he was offered power, status, and wealth, answered resolutely,
By Allah, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left so that I leave this matter, I would not leave it until Allah directs me or I perish upon it.
If the Prophet had the faintest inclination towards wealth or power, he would have given in to their offers. However, he knew his goal and devoted himself to it. The willpower of the Prophet in carrying out his mission stands out time and again throughout his life.
Among the fruits of sincerity is persistent, consistent, and steady action. When the objective is to please other people or to satisfy some desire, actions are suspended whenever people are not around or a desire is unattainable. When the motivation behind an action disappears, any further effort becomes tedious and pointless.
However, the one who strives purely for Allah will not slacken or become disheartened because the One for whom he works is always with him, always present. The Face of Allah will be there even when the faces of humanity are turned away or absent. Allah says in the Quran,
Everything that exists will perish except His Own Face. To Him belongs the Command, and to Him will you all be brought back.
This is why the pious have said, “Whatever is for Allah will be steady and constant, and whatever is for other than Allah will be broken and irregular.” Indeed, this is what we see with our own eyes and experience in our lifetimes. It will continue to be a paradigm that plays out in all places at all times.
An Entire Life of Worship
Sincerity is like a magic ingredient: added to any action, it transforms the action into an act of worship endearing to God. It transforms everyday tasks and permissible actions into worship. The Prophet described turning the everyday task of feeding your family into worship,
You do not spend anything seeking the pleasure of Allah except that it is counted as charity—even the morsel of food that you put in the mouth of your wife.
God described those who responded to the call to fight for His sake,
…Because nothing could they suffer or do, but was reckoned to their credit as a deed of righteousness in the Cause of Allah, whether they suffered thirst, fatigue, hunger; trod paths to raise the ire of the Unbelievers or received any injury whatever from an enemy. For Allah does not suffer the reward to be lost of those who do good. Nor could they spend anything for the cause—small or great—nor trek across a valley but the deed is inscribed to their credit, that Allah may return their deed with the best possible reward.
Their sensations of hunger and thirst, marching and spending all registered as good deeds with Allah, so long as their intention was for His sake. Also among the blessings and gifts of sincerity is that the sincere person can receive the full reward of actions he was unable to complete. Allah describes the reward of one who migrates for the sake of Allah, but is unable to complete his migration. Such a person still receives the full reward of migration, because of his intention and sincerity,
...Whoever leaves his home, migrating for the cause of Allah and His Messenger, and death overtakes him, his reward becomes due and sure with Allah, for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
In fact, the sincere Muslim can reap the full reward of actions he never even performed. Many ahadith confirm that this is possible. Anas ibn Maalik narrated,
“While we were returning from the Battle of Tabuk, the Prophet of Allah said, There are people who stayed behind in Madinah. We did not trek a mountain path nor cross a valley except that they were with us. They were only held back by a [valid] excuse.
In another hadith the Messenger of Allah said,
Whoever goes to sleep at night with the intention to pray the night prayer later on, but was overcome with sleep until the morning, his intention to pray will be recorded and his sleep is a gift for him from his Lord.
Sometimes, a sincere Muslim will try to complete an action, but will make a mistake in its performance. Because of his sincerity, however, the intention will intercede on his behalf, compensating for the error or deficiency. Another hadith tells the story of a man who gave charity three nights in a row. Unknowingly, he gave his money one night to a thief, the next night to a prostitute, and the third night to a wealthy man. When he discovered his mistake, he praised Allah and shrugged off his disappointment.
Yet Allah would further relieve the man’s heart. That night, the man saw in his dream someone who told him, “The charity you gave to the thief might persuade him to abandon thievery. The charity you gave to the prostitute might persuade her to abandon adultery. And as for the wealthy man, the charity you gave him might encourage him to give more for the sake of Allah.”
Allah accepted his charity and did not decrease from its value or importance in this life or the next. Indeed, that is the reward of the sincere.
An-Nasai, Ibn Majah