Sayings of the Salaf on Sincerity
The sayings have been taken from Ihyaa Uloom id-Deen of al-Ghazaalee, Mukhtasir Minhaaj il-Qaasideen of Ibn Qudaamah and Kitaab uz-Zuhd of Ibn al-Mubaarak.
1. It is reported about Bishr al-Haafee that he said: That I seek the world with a wind instrument is more loved by me than that I seek it with the deen.
2. It is reported from Ibraheem an-Nakha’ee that he said: When Shaytaan comes to you whilst you are engaged in prayer and says: You are showing off, increase it in length.
3. One of the salaf said: Direct me to an action by which I will never cease to be performing for Allaah the Exalted. It was said to him: (Always) intend good because you will never cease to be performing even if you do not do any actions. The intention performs even in the absence of any actions. Whoever intended to pray at night and then slept, the reward for what he intended will be written for him.
4. One of them said: I love that I have an intention for every single thing until my food, drink and sleep.
5. It was said to Sahl: What is the hardest thing for the soul (to achieve)? He said: Sincerity, when there is no other desire in it.
6. It is reported from Ya’qoob al-Makfoof that he said: The sincere person is the one who hides his good deeds just like he hides his evil deeds.
7. One of them wrote to his brother: Make your intention sincere in all of your actions and little action will suffice you.
8. It is reported from Ayyoob as-Sakhtiyaanee that he said: Purifying the intention is harder than all other actions for those who act.
9. It is reported from Yahyaa bin Mu’aadh that he said: Ikhlaas separates (good) actions from faults like the separation of milk from dung and blood.
10. It is reported from as-Soosee that he said: What Allaah desires from the actions of His creation is Ikhlaas and nothing else.
11. It is reported from al-Junaid that he said: To Allaah belong servants who understand, and when they understand they act and when they act they make (their action) sincere. Their recalling of Ikhlaas at the time of doing righteousness is what accumulates the greatest (good for them).
12. It is reported about Hawshab that he used to cry and say: My name has reached the large mosque.2
13. It is reported from as-Soosee that he said: Ikhlaas is to lose the vision of Ikhlaas (in oneself).
14. One of them said: 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.
15. It is reported from Abu Uthmaan that he said: Ikhlaas is to forget the vision of creation by constantly looking at the Creator.
16. It is reported from Ibraheem bin Adham that he said: He is not truthful to Allaah who loves fame.
17. It is reported from ath-Thawree that he said: They used to hate fame and reputation due to wearing nice garments so that eyes would stretch towards them.
18. Ibn al-Jawzee reports from al-Hasan that he said: I was with Ibn al-Mubaarak one day and we came to a watering place. The people were drinking from it and Ibn al-Mubaarak came closer in order to get a drink. The people did not know him and shoved and pushed him. When he came out he said: Life is but this, meaning we are not known nor are we respected.
19. It is reported from Na’eem bin Hammaad that he said: Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak frequently used to sit in his house for long periods of time so it was said to him: Do you not feel lonely and isolated? He said: How can I feel isolated while I am with the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).
20. It is reported from Ibn al-Mubaarak that he said: I heard Ja’far bin Hayyaan say: The foundations of these actions are the intentions. Indeed a man reaches with his intentions a position he does not reach with his actions.
21. One of the people of wisdom used to say: When a man is speaking in a gathering and his speech amazes him let be silent and when he keeps silent and his silence amazes him let him speak.
22. It is reported from Mutraf bin Abdullaah ash-Shakheer that he said: That I spend the night sleeping and wake up remorseful is more loved to me than that I spend the night standing (in prayer) and wake up in admiration.
23. It is reported from an-Nu’maan bin Qais that he said: I never saw Abeedah (radiya Allah ‘anhu) performing any voluntary prayers in the mosque of al-Hayy.
24. It is reported from Ali (radiya Allah ‘anhu) that he said: The one who shows off has three characteristics: He is lazy when by himself, he is lively and energetic when with others and he increases in his actions when he is praised and decreases in them when he is criticized.
25. It is reported from Al-Hasan (radiya Allah ‘anhu) that he said: The one who shows off desires to overcome what Allaah has decreed for him. He is an evil person who desires to inform the people that he is righteous in order to hear what they would say. He has obtained a position of vileness and wickedness from his Lord. It is therefore essential for the hearts of the believers to recognize him.
26. It is reported from Sahl bin Abdullaah (radiya Allah ‘anhu) that he said: There is nothing which is tougher upon the soul than (achieving) Ikhlaas. How many times have I tried to remove riyaa’ from my heart except that it sprouted in a different color (i.e. in a different form).
27. It is reported from Ibn Mas’ood (radiya Allah ‘anhu) that he said: Do not learn knowledge for three (things): To amaze and confound the foolish, to argue with the learned and to make people’s faces turn towards you. (But) seek what is with Allaah with your hearts and actions, since only that will remain and whatever is besides it will go.
28. It is reported from Abu Sulaimaan ad-Daarinee (radiya Allah ‘anhu) that he said: Toobaa (the tree in Paradise) for the one who took a single step desiring nothing but the face of Allaah by it.
29. Some of the salaf said: Whoever had a single instance in his lifetime which was purely and sincerely for the sake of Allaah the Exalted will be saved, and this is due to the greatness of Ikhlaas.
30. It is reported from Abu Sulaimaan ad-Daarinee (radiya Allah ‘anhu) that he said: When the servant is sincere, riyaa’ and the many whisperings (of the shayaateen) are cut off from him.
31. It has also been said: Ikhlaas is that the servants inward and outward actions are equal. Riyaa’ is when the outward appearance is better than the inner self and truthfulness in one’s sincerity is when the inner self is better cultivated and more flourishing than the outward appearance.
32. Some of the salaf have said: Ikhlaas is that you do not seek a witness over your action besides Allaah and nor one who gives reward besides Him.
33. It is reported from Makhool (radiya Allah ‘anhu) that he said: Never does a servant maintain sincerity for forty days in succession except that the streams of wisdom from his heart appear on his tongue.
34. It is reported from Adiyy ibn Haatim that he said: The people destined for the Fire will be ordered (to come) towards Paradise until they come close to it and smell its fragrance, see its palaces and what Allaah has prepared in it for its people. Then an announcement will be made (to the angels) that they be turned away from it. There will be no portion for them in it. They will return in loss and ruin just like the ones before them (who were also commanded likewise). Then they will say: O our Lord. If you had entered us into the Fire before You showed us what You have shown us from Your reward and what You have prepared for Your friends and allies it would have been easier upon us. Then the Exalted will say: This is what I intended with you. When you used to be alone you would combat me (or show boldness to Me) with grave sins and when you used to meet people you would meet them with humility. You would show to the people other than that which you used to give Me from your hearts. You feared people but you did not fear Me. You honored the people but you did not honour Me, you abandoned (actions) for the people but you did not abandon for Me. This day (therefore), will I make you taste a tormenting punishment along with your prevention from receiving that reward.
35. It has been said: The damage (caused) to every servant lies in his being pleased with himself. Whoever looks at his soul and sees something in it which he deems to be good has caused its destruction. And whoever does not suspect his soul at every single moment is one who is deceived.
36. Ibn al-Qayyim (radiya Allah ‘anhu) said: Ikhlaas is the Tawheed of one’s wish/intent.
Author: Hussain al-Awaaishah
Source: The Book of Sincerity
1- The sayings have been taken from Ihyaa Uloom id-Deen of al-Ghazaalee, Mukhtasir Minhaaj il-Qaasideen of Ibn Qudaamah and Kitaab uz-Zuhd of Ibn al-Mubaarak. [TN] The author said, “I have quoted these statements without knowing their authenticity and it is allowable for a Muslim to take from what has been narrated from the Salaf without verification if the particular statement is in agreement with the Book and the Sunnah.”
2- i.e. he disliked to be known out of humility and that people should mention him for fear of fame and repute.