Ep. 15 The Forties – Sincerity Correlates with Perfection in Faith

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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 15 – Sincerity Correlates with Perfection in Faith

عَنْهُ عَنِ الْحَسَنِ بْنِ مَحْبُوبٍ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ رِئَابٍ عَنْ أَبِي عُبَيْدَةَ الْحَذَّاءِ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع قَالَ: مَنْ أَحَبَّ لِلَّهِ وَ أَبْغَضَ لِلَّهِ وَ أَعْطَى لِلَّهِ وَ مَنَعَ لِلَّهِ فَهُوَ مِمَّنْ كَمَلَ إِيمَانُه‏

Hadith #14: Imam Ṣādiq (a) says: Whoever loves for the sake of Allah, hates for the sake of Allah, gives for the sake of Allah, and prohibits for the sake of Allah – then he is someone whose faith is complete.

ابْنُ مَحْبُوبٍ عَنْ مَالِكِ بْنِ عَطِيَّةَ عَنْ سَعِيدٍ الْأَعْرَجِ عَنْ أَبِي اللَّهِ ع قَالَ: مِنْ أَوْثَقِ عُرَى الْإِيمَانِ أَنْ تُحِبَّ فِي اللَّهِ وَ تُبْغِضَ فِي اللَّهِ وَ تُعْطِيَ فِي اللَّهِ وَ تَمْنَعَ فِي اللَّه‏

Imam Sadiq (a): From the signs of strong faith is that one loves for the sake of Allah, hates for the sake of Allah, gives and prohibits for the sake of Allah.

Īmān – belief or faith in its very simple definition means to affirm and acknowledge something. In our context, it means to affirm that God is one and the Prophet Muḥammad is His messenger.

When a person affirms the existence of God and the prophethood of His Messenger, they are considered a mu’min – a believer. But īmān has different levels and degrees, and this tradition we read tells us that the perfection of īmān is dependent on your degree of sincerity. How sincerely do you act and carry out your responsibilities? Whether it is an internal act such as love and anger, or an external practical act such as giving charity or even at times not giving charity.

This narration indicates that all of our acts can be tied to sincerity since all of our acts need a cause – we don’t just do an act for no reason, in fact when we really think about it, and dissect the reason for why we do anything, we can always pin it down to a reason. If that reason is not vertically aligned with doing an act for the sake of Allah (swt) then that act is of a lower degree of sincerity or in fact, it may not be sincere at all like in the case of showing off.

This narration tells us that one who loves and hates for the sake of Allah their faith is more complete – this is a reference to those internal acts of the self. When Allah (swt) tells us to love and hate for His sake, the reason is very clear. It is because loving for His sake, loving His friends, loving the believers because Allah (swt) has asked us to do so, opens the room for obedience and hating for His sake, hating His enemies, hating disbelief and polytheism for Allah’s sake breaks down the opportunities for sinning, and cuts off the path to disobedience. The more sincerely you do this, the greater your testimony to the faith is, the greater your affirmation of Allah and his Prophet is.

The Hadith then says, one who gives and prevents, or does not give for the sake of Allah, their īmān is also complete. This is an indication of practical and external acts of the body. Sayyid Ahmad Zanjani cites an example regarding paying the Zakāt since it entails giving and taking. The view of the scholars is that zakat needs to be given to the poor and those who are in need, even though for many contemporary jurists, you don’t have to investigate if the person is actually ‘ādil or just, it isn’t a condition for per se. You not only don’t have to investigate, but in fact, in many cases, it is very difficult to investigate. For example, one of the people you can give the zakat to is a traveler who is a stranger in a city and knows no one. So you give zakat to them for the sake of Allah (swt) because He has told us that the poor are generally the righteous recipients of it.

But if you know there is a poor person, but they are not just, you come to learn of this through whatever means, maybe they are known for their sins in the city, you know that certain poor people will take this zakat money and use it on haram, will use it to harm themselves and also society, they will use it on gambling and alcohol, then some scholars have said it is not allowed to give these people zakat even if they are poor.

In both cases though, you are giving and not giving for the sake of Allah. When you give zakat or any other charity to the poor, you are doing it because you know they are poor and a servant of Allah (swt) – by lifting them up through financial assistance and paying them the zakat you allow for the individual and society to flourish and the opportunities for obedience are granted. But when you decide not to give charity or zakat to a certain poor person because you know they are not just, they are an alcoholic and will use your money for that, then even in this case you preventing this money from reaching them is for the sake of Allah (swt), by doing so the opportunities and paths of disobedience are not opened and people are not pushed into further sinning.

In both scenarios, your acts are for the sake of Allah (swt). In the next episode we will see how Imam ‘Ali (a) considers showing off or riyā’ as one of the greatest threats to our sincerity in actions.

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