Ep. 10 The Forties – Sincerity is the Greatest Blessing

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Al-Salam ‘Alaykum, this is Syed Ali Imran – and you are listening to the Forties podcast, brought to you by Mizan Institute.

This is episode 10 – Sincerity is the Greatest Blessing

وَ عَنِ الصَّادِقِ ع‏ مَا أَنْعَمَ‏ اللَّهُ‏ عَزَّ وَ جَلَ‏ عَلَى‏ عَبْدٍ أَجَلَ‏ مِنْ أَنْ لَا يَكُونَ فِي قَلْبِهِ مَعَ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ غَيْرُهُ‏

Hadith #9: Imam Sadiq (a) has said: Allah (swt) has not blessed a servant with anything loftier than when there is nothing in his heart besides the presence of Allah (swt).

According to this ḥadīth, what we can derive is that even when it comes to our acts of non-worship, such as engaging in transactional interactions, buying and selling, or marriage and divorce, or renting and lending – basically all act that don’t legally require us to have an intention of seeking proximity to Allah (swt) for their validity – even when it comes to them maintaining sincerity and doing it for Allah (swt) only is ideal, expected and if one is able to do so it is from the blessings of Allah.

The only difference is that maintaining sincerity in acts of worship is a necessary condition for their validity – so you must pray with the intention that you are only doing this for Allah – or else the prayer is not even valid to begin with, let alone accepted.

But when it comes to acts of non-worship, sincerity is a condition for their perfection. So if you marry someone, let’s say you marry into a rich family and you are only marrying into a rich family because you want the community to be amazed at you, you want to induce jealousy in the hearts of your peers and friends, you basically want to show off. See, in this case, no one says the marriage contract was invalid, the marriage was wrong and that you have to re-read the marriage formula again. No – but was this marriage really done in the best of manners with the best of intentions? Was it really done with sincerity to please Allah (swt)?

Imagine you now marry someone, you haven’t completely prioritized their wealth and looks, but you looked at their piety and that was a significant factor in you choosing a spouse for yourself, because you know that is what God has asked us to seek foremost. You see, this marriage is valid just as much as the previous marriage that was done to show off – but can the two really be compared in value? One is definitely much better in its value and perfection than the other.

So now this narration says, that the best blessing is to not have the presence of anyone or anything else other than Allah in one’s heart. Does this now mean I can’t have love for my spouse and kids in my heart? I can’t have love for my parents and siblings? Because that seems to be giving space and room for someone other than Allah!

Well no, that’s not what this ḥadīth is saying. What this ḥadīth is getting at is that, even that love you have for your family members, it needs to be aligned with the love and pleasure of Allah (swt). It needs to be there in line with you seeking Allah’s satisfaction. The Prophet (p) for example, had not given room for anyone in his heart except Allah – but does this mean he didn’t have love for his daughter Lady Fatima (s) or Imam ‘Ali (a) or his grandsons Hasan and Husayn (a)? Of course not – he loved them dearly, but because this love itself originated from the seeking of Allah’s pleasure and approval, he has essentially not given room for anyone in his heart except Allah.

We can expand this to a lot of things. For example, someone likes the work and job they do. At times, they may love this job or career for the mere sake of it giving them worldly pleasures and contentment – well at this point you’ve given room for something in your heart other than Allah. But at another time, this love for your work originates from what Allah (swt) wants – you love this job because it’s a source of halal sustenance for you – this thought it self means he has not given room in his heart to anything other than Allah (swt), because such an intention originates in pleasing Allah (swt).

So someone who’s a real estate agent, he or she helps their client buy and sell property and the fact that they are not cheating their clients, because they know that is wrong and an act disliked by Allah (swt), in fact it is condemned, then that is them not giving room to anyone in their heart except Allah.

A husband who fulfils all the rights of his wife, and a wife who fulfils all the rights of her husband, or a person who maintains good ties with their family members, or neighbours – all because this know this is what Allah expects of us, then none of these are cases where a person is giving room to someone in their heart other than Allah.

In any case, this hadith tells us that being able to do deeds in such a way where we give no room to anyone except Allah is a blessing – in fact one of the greatest blessings. We ask Allah (swt) to bless us with this blessing so we can maintain the highest degree of sincerity in all of our actions.

But there is a question that may arise at this point, after these 10 episodes. Let’s say someone is able to maintain sincerity in their actions – of course such acts are accepted by Allah (swt) but are there any other consequences and any other benefit of it on the person themselves?

In the next hadith we’ll see what Imam Riḍā (a) has to say about a person who is able to maintain sincerity in their deeds for 40 straight days.

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