11 Points about Sincerity from the Quran and Sunnah

(This article that I wrote was first published on the Quran Academy Blog: Quranacademy.io)

Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due? (Holy Quran 39:3)

Sincerity in Islam means to worship Allah out of true faith in Him. It means to do good deeds for Allah’s pleasure. Sincerity is about what is in your heart. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sincerity as: “honesty of mind: freedom from hypocrisy.”

Here are some quotes from the Quran and Sunnah about sincerity:

  1. Allah (swt) specifically uses the word sincere (mukhlaSeen) to describe His servants who will be rewarded:

 But the sincere servants of Allah—for them is a sustenance determined. (37:40-41)

Then see what was the end of those who were warned, except for the sincere servants of Allah. (37: 73-74)

2. Allah (swt) relates sincerity to prayers and charity:

And they have been commanded no more than this: To worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer, and to practice regular charity; and that is the Religion, right and straight. (98:5)

We are feeding you for the sake of Allah. We do not expect from you any compensation or thanks. (76:9)

3. Allah warns us about insincerity:

So woe to the worshippers who are neglectful of their prayers—those who want to be seen (of men), but refuse (to supply) neighborly needs. (107: 4-7)

O Believers! Do not make your charity worthless by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men and does not believe in Allah and the Last Day…(2:264)

4. The purpose of life’s hardships is to test our sincerity:

Do the people think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe,” and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false. (29:2-3)

5. Allah judges us based on sincerity:

Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts, and He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing. (2:225)

There is no blame on those who are infirm, or ill, or who find no resources to spend (on the Cause), if they are sincere to Allah and His Messenger: No ground (of complaint) can there be against such as do right: and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (9:91)

6. Religion is sincerity:

The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Islam is to be sincere.” The companions asked, “To whom?” He replied, “To Allah, His Book, His prophet, the ones in authority over you and the general public.” (Muslim, Tirmidhi)

7. Our inner reality is more important than our outer reality:

The Prophet (pbuh) said: 

“O God! Make my inside better than my outside, and make my outside (also) righteous.” (Tirmidthi)

and,

“Allah does not look at your bodies nor does he look at your faces, but He looks at your hearts.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

8. One proof of sincerity:

The proof of a Muslim’s sincerity is that he pays no heed to that which is not his business. (Tirmidhi)

9. Lack of Sincerity upset the Prophet (pbuh):

During the last ten days of (the month of) Ramadan, the Prophet used to retire (for prayer, fasting, and meditation); whereupon Aishah asked leave to do the same, and the Prophet gave her leave. She had a tent set up (for the purpose). Hafsah heard of it, and had another tent set up; Zaynab also had a tent set up. When in the morning the Prophet turned up, he saw four tents, and asked, “What is all this?” Being told of that, the Prophet said, “Piety has not carried them to do this. Pull them down, so that I may not see them again.” And they were pulled down. (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidthi)

10. Insincerity in worship is a form of shirk:

Even the least show (of piety) is associating (others with God). (Ibn Majah, Bayhaqi)

11. Insincerity leads to disgrace:

Whoso causes (others) to hear (of his virtues), God will disgrace him thereby. (Bukhari, Muslim)

Verily, the first to be judged on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who had died as a martyr. He will be brought forward. Allah will remind him of the favors He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. Then He will ask him: “What did you do to express gratitude for it?” The man will reply: “I fought for Your Cause till I was martyred.” Allah will say: “You have lied. You fought so that people might call you courageous; and they have done so.” The command will then be issued about him and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. Next a man who had acquired and imparted knowledge and read the Quran will be brought forward. Allah will remind him of the favors He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. Then He will ask him: “What did you do to express gratitude for it?” The man will reply: “I acquired knowledge and taught it, and read the Quran for Your sake.” Allah will say to him: “You have lied. You acquired knowledge so that people might call you a learned (man), and you read the Quran so that they might call you a reciter, and they have done so.” The Command will then be issued about him, and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. Next a man, whom Allah had given plenty of wealth, will be brought forward. Allah will remind him of the favors He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. He will ask him: “What did you do to express gratitude for it?” The man will reply: “I did not neglect any of the ways You liked wealth to be spent liberally for Your sake.” Allah will say to him: “You have lied. You did it so that people might call you generous, and they have done so.” The Command will then be issued about him and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. So these are the first of Allah’s creation the Fire will be kindled with on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim)

Final Thoughts and Advice

In order to be more sincere Muslims, we should remind ourselves about Allah’s attributes. Some people feel distant from Allah due to a lack of knowledge. Allah is the One who is nearer to us than our jugular veins. He sees and hears everything we do. He knows our deepest secrets. He is Generous, Merciful, and Forgiving. 

Making dua to Allah is a great way to increase our sincerity to Him. Another way to increase sincerity is to make a clear intention for everything we do. The Prophet (pbuh) taught:

“Actions are only (judged) by intentions. Each person shall be rewarded only for that which he intended.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidthi)

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