All praise is due to Allah Who revealed the illuminating verses and guides with them, those whom He wishes from the darkness to Light. I thank Him for His blessings. I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship save Him and that Muhammad r is His Servant and Messenger. O Allah! Bestow peace and blessings upon the Prophet, his household and companions and all those who follow them.
Dear Muslims! Fear Allah for the fear of Allah is your provision for the hereafter and a guarantee of good life in this world. You should be aware that Allah is Self-Sufficient Who needs nothing from His creatures. He benefits not from the obedience of the pious ones among you, nor does the disobedience of the sinful ones hurt Him. He says:
Whosoever does a good deed, it is for his ownself, and whosoever does evil, it is against (his ownself). Then to your Lord you will be made to return.
Since man is created for the worship of Allah, Allah has explained all types of worship for him in the Quraan and Sunnah so that he can move closer to Allah by doing all that Allah enjoins and abstain from all that He forbids. Allah says:
O you who believe! Bow down, and prostrate yourselves, and worship your Lord and do good that you may be successful.
He also says:
And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it).
The Prophet saws also said:
Whatever I forbid you, abstain from it and whatever I command you to do, do what you are able to therefrom; for, those before you destroyed not but for their incessant questions for their Prophets and their disagreement with them.
(Al-Bukhari & Muslim).
Worship is a way of seeking closeness to Allah through recommended acts with love, humility and total submission to Allah. He says:
And turn in repentance and in obedience with true Faith (Islamic Monotheism) to your Lord and submit to Him, (in Islam), before the torment comes upon you, then you will not be helped.
Brothers in Faith! Pleasure of Allah cannot be attained except through worshipping Him and abstaining from sins according to His Light. The Messenger of Allah saws said:
Whoever performs a deed upon which there is no command from us will have it rejected.
The condition for accepting acts of worship is to be sincere in the act. It is sincerity that purifies a deed, increases it and makes it blessed. it is in fact, a trial that Allah test His servants with. He said:
Ibn Katheer said in his exegesis of the above verse:
(It is He) who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty The Off-Forgiving.
He also said:
Verily, We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (Mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds.
Allah did not say more in deeds but says: best in deeds. A deed can not then become good except when it is done sincerely for the sake of Allah alone and in accordance with the path of the Prophet saws. Whenever a deed losses one of these two conditions it becomes null and void.
Allah has enjoined sincerity when carrying out acts of obedience to Him and when abstaining from forbidding things when He said:
And they were commanded not, but that should worship Allah, and worship none but Him alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and perform As-Salat (Iqamah-as-salat) and give Zakat; and that is the right religion.
He also says:
So worship Allah (alone) by doing religious deeds sincerely for Allahs sake only, (and not to show-off and not to set up rivals with Him in worship). Surely, the religion (i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allah only.
Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab ra said: I heard the Prophet saws saying:
The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.
(Al-Bukhari & Muslim).
The meaning of sincerity is to purify ones intention and deeds from all things that can render it void like showing-off and innovations. Actions can have same form and shape but may differ in reality according to the truthful intention and sincerity and bad intention and insincerity. The one who is sincere in his actions will be among the nearest ones to the pleasure of Allah and the insincere one will be among the accursed and punished ones. Allah describes those who are sincere in their intentions and deeds and mentioned their rewards when He says:
But the Messenger and those who believed with him (in Islamic Monotheism) strove hard and Fought with their wealth and their lives (in Allahs cause). Such are they for whom are the good things, and it is they who will be successful.
As for those who are insincere He says:
Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them.
To further underline the importance of sincerity and the gravity of hypocrisy, Allah categorized those who do good to two groups. One will be in Paradise and the other will be in Hell. As for those who will be in Paradise, they are the ones who carry out their deeds in sincerity to Allah and the second group that will be in the Hell are those who show-off. The following Hadeeths give a vivid illustration of the importance of sincerity. The Messenger of Allah saws said:
Benefits of this world are for four men only. A servant of Allah whom Allah favoured with wealth and knowledge. He fears Allah, does good to his kin and recognizes Allahs rights in that wealth; this servant is of the best rank. The second one is a servants whom Allah favours with knowledge and does not give him wealth but he is sincere and says: If only I had money I would do like so and so. He and the first person will be equal in terms of reward because of his good intention. The third one is a servant whom Allah blessed with wealth without knowledge, spends his wealth uselessly, does not fear his Lord, nor do good to his kin and neither recognizes Allahs rights in that wealth. This one is of the worst rank. The fourth one is a servant whom Allah neither blessed with wealth nor knowledge and he says that: If only I had wealth, I would do like so and so; he and the third person will be equal in sin because of his mischievous intention.
The Messenger of Allah saws also said:
The first person to be judged on the day of Resurrection are: a man who was martyred; he will be brought to the presence of Allah, Allah will let him know his favour on him and he will know it, Allah will then ask him as to how he used the favour. He will reply that he fought in the cause of Allah until he was martyred. Allah will then say: You have lied. You only fought so that people might say: He is brave and it has been said. Then Allah will command that he be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. Then a man who learnt knowledge and taught it and read the Quraan will be brought forward. Allah will tell him -after making him recognize His favour on him-: What have you done with it? He will say: I learnt knowledge and I read the Quraan for Your sake. Allah will say: You have lied. You only learnt knowledge that it may be said: He is Aalim and you read the Quraan, so that it may be said: He is Qaaree and it has been said. He will then be ordered to be dragged on his face into Hell. Then a man whom Allah enriched with different kinds of properties will be brought forth. Allah will make him recognize His favour on him and when he recognizes it, Allah will ask him: What have you done on it? He will answer: I have not left a cause in which You like that a spending be made except that I have spent in it for Your sake. Allah will then tell him: You have lied. You only spent so that it may be said: He is generous and it has been said. He would then be commanded to be dragged on his face and thrown into the Hell.
Abu Hurayrah ra narrated that he said:
O Messenger of Allah! Who will be the luckiest person to win your intercession? He replied: He who says: Laa ilaaha illa Allah [There is no deity worthy of worship save Allah] from his heart with sincerity.
Dear brethren! If we continue quoting evidences on the importance of sincerity it will be exhaustive. Therefore let us be among the sincere ones for, they are those who enjoin the protection of Allah and His immunity. They are immunized from tricks and insinuations of Satan and they are really His prosperous party. Allah says of Satan:
He (Satan) said: O my Lord! Because You misled me, I shall indeed adorn the path of error for them (Mankind) on the earth, and I shall misled them all. Except them You chosen, (guided) slaves among them.
Further, the major requisite for accepting ones repentance is the actualization of sincerity in deeds. Allah says:
Except those who repent and do righteous good deeds, hold fast to Allah, and purify their religion for Allah (by worshiping none but Allah, and do good for Allahs sake only, not to show-off), then they will be with the believers. And Allah will grant to the believers a great reward.
Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab ra wrote a letter to Abu Moosa Al-Asharee ra in which he said:
Whoever gets his intention purified, Allah will suffice him in whatever is between him and people..
Alee ra said:
Do not be concerned with smallness of deed; rather be concerned with the acceptance of that deed.
One of the devotees said:
Indeed there are some servants of Allah who understand. They acted upon that understanding and they were sincere in their acts; then their sincerity summoned them to all the gates of good.
Dear Muslims! Hold fast to this great pillar and seek with your deeds the pleasure of Allah and the everlasting abode of hereafter. Purify your intentions and motives for Allah Alone and seek nearness to him only with acts that were done and recommended by your Messenger saws. Allah says:
Whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.