Imam al-Qushayri (q.s.) on Sincerity

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from Imam al-Qushayri’s (q.s.) “Principles of Sufism”, and translated by Dr. Barbara R. von Schlegell.

Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due? ... (Surah az-Zumar:3)

Anas ibn Malik (r.a.) related that the Prophet (s.a.w.) declared, “Rancor will not invade the heart of the Muslim if he conforms to three things: sincerity toward Allah in actions, giving honest counsel to those in command, and keeping to the community of Muslims.”

Sincerity is having Allah (s.w.t.) as one’s sole intention in worship.  It means that one desires nearness to Allah (s.w.t.) by one’s worship, to the exclusion of all else, whether it be making a show before man, trying to earn their praise, or loving to receive glory from them — anything other than desire for nearness to Allah (s.w.t.).  It is said correctly, “Sincerity means purifying actions of any awareness of fellow creatures.”  It is also said, “Sincerity means protecting oneself from the regard of men.”

A hadits states that the Prophet (s.a.w.) related, on the authority of Jibril (a.s.), who related about Allah (s.w.t.) that He Said, “Sincerity is a secret taken from My Secret.  I have Placed it as a trust in the hearts of servants I Love.”

Shaykh Abu ‘Ali ad-Daqqaq (q.s.), the teacher of Imam al-Qushayri (q.s.), stated, “Sincerity is guarding oneself from the opinions of men and truthfulness is cleansing oneself of awareness of self.  The sincere one is not hypocritical, and the truthful one is no conceited.”

Shaykh Dzu an-Nun al-Miswri (q.s.) commented, “Sincerity is complete only by being truthful in it and having patience for it.  Truthfulness is only by sincerity in it and constancy throughout.”

Shaykh Abu Ya’qub as-Susi (q.s.) observed, “When they perceive sincerity in their sincerity , their sincerity is in need of sincerity.”

Shaykh Dzu an-Nun (q.s.) explained, “There are three signs of sincerity: one sees praise and blame from men as being equal; one loses the awareness of doing good works while doing them; and one forgets the claim to reward in the afterlife for good works.”

Shaykh Abu ‘Utsman al-Mighribi (q.s.) remarked, “Sincerity is a state in which the self takes no pleasure.  This is the sincerity of common people.  As for the sincerity of the elect, it comes to them not by their own doings.  Good deeds come forth from them, but they are detached from them.  They neither experience awareness of the deeds nor have any regard for them.  That is the sincerity of the elect.”

Shaykh Abu Bakr ad-Daqqaq (q.s.) asserted, “The defect of sincerity of each one said to be sincere is his own awareness of his sincerity.  If Allah Wishes to Purify his sincerity, He Strips him of being aware of his sincerity, and he becomes truly sincere by Allah, not sincere by himself.”

Imam Sahl ibn ‘Abdullah at-Tustari (q.s.) said, “Only the sincere one knows hypocrisy intimately.”

Shaykh Abu Sa’id al-Kharraz (q.s.) declared, “The hypocrisy of the ‘arifn is superior the sincerity of the muridun.”

Shaykh Dzu an-Nun (q.s.) stated, “Sincerity is what is protected from corruption by the enemy.”

Shaykh Abu ‘Utsman (q.s.) noted, “Sincerity is forgetting thought of Creation through constant attention to the Bounteous Favour of the Creator.”

Shaykh Hudzayfah al-Mar’ashi (q.s.) commented, “Sincerity means that the servant’s actions are the same, outward and inward.”

It is said, “Sincerity is that by means of which Allah is desired and truthfulness is sought.”  It is also said, “Sincerity means blinding oneself to awareness of good deeds.”

Imam as-Sari as-Saqathi (q.s.) observed, “One who adorns himself in the view of men with something that is not his, falls from the Regard of Allah (s.w.t.).”

Imam al-Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyadh (q.s.) remarked, “To stop performing good works for the sake of men is hypocrisy, and to perform them for the sake of men is polytheism.  Sincerity is that Allah Cure you of both.”

Shaykh Junayd al-Baghdadi (q.s.) said, “Sincerity is a secret between Allah and the servant.  Even the recording angel knows nothing of it.  The Devil does know of it to corrupt it, nor is passion aware of it that it might influence it.”

Shaykh ar-Ruwaym (q.s.) explained, “Sincerity in good deeds is that the one performing the deed wants compensation for it neither in the world nor in the hereafter, nor does he seek goodly treatment from the two angels who question the dead.”

It was asked of Shaykh Sahl (q.s.), “What is the hardest thing on the self?”

He answered, “Sincerity, because it has no share in it.”

When asked about sincerity, one of the Sufis responded, “It means that you call upon no one other than Allah to be a Witness to your doings.”

One of the Sufis related, “I went to Sahl ibn ‘Abdullah in his house on Friday before the prayer.  There was a snake in the house, so I hesitated at the door.  He exclaimed, ‘Come in!  No one attains to the essential reality of faith while he remains fearful of anything on earth.’

Then he asked, ‘Would you like to attend Friday congregational prayer?’

He replied, ‘There is a journey of one whole day and night from here to the mosque before us.’  He took my hand, and after a moment there was the mosque.  We went in and prayed; then we came out.

Sahl stood there, watching the people, and said, ‘Many are the people of Laa ilaha illa Allah, but rare are the sincere.'’”

Shaykh Makhul (q.s.) declared, “Any servant who is sincere for forty days will experience wisdom springing forth from his heart and upon his tongue.”

Shaykh Yusuf ibn al-Husayn al-Hamdani (q.s.) commented, “The dearest thing on earth is sincerity.  How many times have I struggled to rid my heart of hypocrisy, only to have it reappear in another guise!”

Shaykh Abu Sulayman as-Sijistani (q.s.) said, “If the servant is sincere, the abundance of temptations and hypocrisy will cease.”


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