The Meaning of Ikhlas (Sincerity)

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Ikhlas, an Arabic word, conveys the idea of purifying our motives and intentions, ensuring that our actions are solely motivated by seeking the pleasure of Allah. Sincerity is the key that unlocks the heart to receive the mercy of Allah Almighty. The acceptance of one’s deeds hinges on the purity of intention, which, in turn, is contingent upon the level of sincerity in one’s heart.

In a general sense within Islamic literature, ikhlas refers to sincerity and purity of intention in worshiping Allah. Allah emphasizes this in the Quran: “(They have been ordered no more than this: To worship Allah sincerely, being true (in faith), to establish the prayer, and to give zakah. And that is the worthy religion)” (Al-Bayyinah 98: 5).

Also, “Say: ‘I am but a man like yourselves but to whom it is revealed that your Lord is only One God. So whoever hopes to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and let him not associate anyone with Him in worship” (Al-Kahf 18: 110).

In a more specific sense, ikhlas involves purifying motives and intentions, ensuring that actions are untainted by anything other than seeking Allah’s pleasure.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) stated, “Allah is Pure, and He accepts only that which is pure.” He further emphasized, “He accepts only that which is pure and done solely for His sake alone!”

Imam Fudhayl ibn `Iyad clarified ikhlas, stating, “If a person abandons an act because of people, he is being ostentatious; if, on the other hand, he were to do it because of people, then that is shirk (associating partners with Allah); ikhlas, therefore, is to be free of both.”

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) cautioned against impious motives and intentions, warning, “Whoever fights in the way of Allah while aiming only for spoils of war, he gets that and nothing else!” He highlighted the hidden intentions, stating, “There are many who are slain between the two battle-lines, only Allah knows their intentions!” and “Whoever fights in order to hold aloft the Word of Allah, he alone fights for the sake of Allah!”

Imam Fudhayl ibn Iyad emphasized, “All good deeds, in order to be acceptable in Shariah, must satisfy two essential prerequisites. First, they must be approved or sanctioned by Allah; second, they must be done with the pure intention of earning the pleasure of Allah.”

In conclusion, ikhlas entails worshiping Allah and dedicating all good works wholly and entirely unto Him, seeking His pleasure. May Allah grant us all sound faith, pure hearts, and deeds that are acceptable. Ameen.