Ep. 26 The Forties – Seeking Contentment of People in Religious Acts

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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 26 – Seeking Contentment of People in Religious Acts

عَنْ زُرَارَةَ وَ حُمْرَانَ عَنْ أَبِي جَعْفَرٍ ع قَالَ: لَوْ أَنَ‏ عَبْداً عَمِلَ‏ عَمَلًا يَطْلُبُ بِهِ وَجْهَ اللَّهِ وَ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ وَ أَدْخَلَ فِيهِ رِضَى أَحَدٍ مِنَ النَّاسِ كَانَ مُشْرِكا

Hadith #25: Imam Baqir (a) – if a servant does an act which requires the intention of seeking proximity to Allah (swt) and a dwelling in the hereafter, but brings the contentment of one of the humans, he is considered to be a polytheist.

This narration is saying that any act of worship, an act which requires one to maintain their intention for the sake of Allah (swt) only, if it is done while also considering the contentment and satisfaction of people, then such a person has committed a polytheistic act. They have taken a partner with Allah (swt) in their worship.

Every single act of one’s worship needs to be done sincerely, it isn’t enough that most of the worship is done sincerely, but one part of it or a certain period of it is done for people – no, it needs to be done completely for Allah. Now what is interesting is that if a certain specific act within one’s worship is done without any intention, that act needs to be repeated again and with the right intentions. But if a certain part of one’s worship is done with the intention of riyā’, then the whole worship is invalidated, and they need to repeat it again.

Let us give an example: consider someone is in their third or fourth unit in prayers, and they want to begin reading the four-tasbīḥs or Surah al-Ḥamd, but they become heedless for a moment and just start reciting it without the intention of it being an actual part of the prayers. But before they go into Rukū’, they realize they recited the surah or the tasbīḥ without the intention of it being as part of the ṣalāt. In this case they need to repeat the tasbīḥ or surah al-ḥamd so that it can be considered part of the ṣālāt.

Now if this same person instead, reads the four-tasbīḥs or Surah al-Ḥamd with the intention to show-off, and then before rukū’ realize they should have just recited it sincerely for the sake of Allah (swt) – they won’t be able to do that, they’ll have to repeat the whole ṣālāt again, because they invalidated their ṣalāt with the intention of riyā’.

In other words, not having any intention in a certain part of a worship does not harm the rest of the parts of that worship, and so by repeating that part again with the right intention, the worship can be validated. But, if one performs a certain part with the intention of riyā’, this will impact all the parts of the worship, the whole worship will be invalidated and ruined. They will need to begin the act of worship from the beginning.

In the next episode, we’ll read a tradition in which Imam ‘Alī (a) describes how one needs to ensure sincerity even in the way they use their limbs and body parts.

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