Sincerity of Intention

A reminder for myself and for you in sha Allah on our need for sincerity. One of our teachers Umm Eesa says that, “this is not just story time“.

Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam: Whoever seeks recognition from people, Allah will make them low before people.

One of the Salaf: Whoever sees sincerity in his sincerity, his sincerity is itself in need of sincerity. The destruction of every sincere person lies in his sincerity, (he is destroyed) to the extent that he sees sincerity in himself. When he abandons seeing sincerity in himself he will be sincere and purified.

Ibn al-Qayyim: Deeds without sincerity are like a traveler who carries dirt in his water jug. The carrying of it burdens him and it brings no benefit.

Yahya ibn Katheer: Study niyyah (intention) for its more important than deeds.

Ibrahim ibn Adhaam: When they gained knowledge, they acted upon it, and when they acted upon it, they became busy, and when they became busy, the people missed them, and when the people missed them, they inquired about them, and when they inquired about them, they escaped from them.

The slave of Rabi’ah (student of Ibn Masud) said that if someone came by while Rabi’ah was reading the Quran he would take his thobe and cover the mushaf so no one would see it. And the people only saw him pray a voluntary salaah once. He used to go away from the people to pray his extra salawat.

One night out in a battle with the Romans, ibn Mubarak pretended to be asleep waiting for his friend to fall asleep. And his friend also pretended to be asleep. When Ibn Mubarak thought his friend was asleep he got up quietly to stand in prayer until fajr. At fajr time, ibn Mubarak came to his friend, shaking him, and saying Ya Muhammad, Ya Muhammad get up. The man told him he hadn’t slept but had watched him pray the whole night. Abdullah ibn Mubarak avoided that man during all the battles until he died.

Imam Shafi’ee: If it were possible for me to give this knowledge in secret I would.

Ibrahim ibn Adhaam always feared fame. One day he came to a town and was relaxing in a garden. The people found out and they were making tawaf (circling in a halal way) the garden asking where is Ibrahim ibn Adhaam, where is Ibrahim ibn Adhaam? He joined them in their tawaf and was also saying, where is Ibrahim ibn Adhaam?

Malik ibn Dh?(didn’t catch the name) A man came after asr and found Malik sleeping and said, “Is this the time of sleeping”? Malik’s servant said, do you want me to wake him and the man said no and left. When Malik awoke he asked the servant to get the man.

When the servant returned, Malik asked what took him(the servant) so long as he didn’t return until after maghrib. The servant said the man that had left was too preoccupied and he wouldn’t have heard him. After leaving the home of Malik, the man went to the graveyard as a reminder and he rebuked himself for his question about sleeping after asr, by saying, sleeping after asr?, did you ask about sleeping after asr?, it doesn’t concern you.

Advice of Abdullah ibn Dawud – Try to find a deed (in secret is better) that you will do forever until you meet Allah.


  1. I wish all the scholars who love to pose rock-star like for Q-news et al would remember the hadith, “Whoever seeks recognition from people, Allah will make them low before people.” The best scholar/Imam I ever met was so humble, I didn’t realise he was the Imam of the mosque at first. He trained in the UK. A brother from the Middle East who spoke to him at a conference we both attended said his Arabic was impeccable. Sadly, he was just a temp, and they let him go and employed someone trained abroad with a face like thunder.

  2. Sincerity and reflecting on our intentions is a definite way to improve our moral character. I remember being attracted to the works of Khalil Gibran when I first came upon them in high school.

    A family friend once told me that she stopped going to a particular church after the pastor said he wanted to buy a Rolls-Royce and increased the frequency of passing around the collection plate and demanding of the tithe from his parishioners.

  3. mashaAllah…maybe the Malik whose name you didn’t catch is Malik ibn Dinar, one of the tabi’een. wa Allahu ‘alam.

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