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 28 – Sincerity: A Necessary Condition for Interacting with God
النَّضْرُ بْنُ سُوَيْدٍ عَنِ الْقَاسِمِ بْنِ سُلَيْمَانَ عَنْ جَرَّاحٍ الْمَدَائِنِيِّ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع: فِي قَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى وَ لا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَداً قَالَ هُوَ الْعَبْدُ يَعْمَلُ شَيْئاً مِنَ الطَّاعَاتِ لَا يَطْلُبُ بِهِ وَجْهَ اللَّهِ إِنَّمَا يَطْلُبُ تَزْكِيَةَ النَّاسِ يَشْتَهِي أَنْ يُسْمِعَ بِهِ فَهَذَا الَّذِي أَشْرَكَ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ وَ قَالَ مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ أَسَرَّ خَيْراً فَتَذْهَبُ الْأَيَّامُ حَتَّى يُظْهِرَ اللَّهُ لَهُ خَيْراً وَ مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ أَسَرَّ شَرّاً فَتَذْهَبُ الْأَيَّامُ حَتَّى يُظْهِرَ اللَّهُ لَهُ شَرّا
Hadith #27: Imam Sadiq (a) says regarding the verse:
وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا
[18:110] …and let one not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone
It is referring to a servant who performs an act of obedience, but not for the sake of Allah – rather he only seeks the approval of people so they consider him pious, and that people can hear about his worship. This is a person who has associated in the worship of his Lord.
The Imam (a) then says: There is no servant who conceals a good act, but that some time will pass until Allah reveals the goodness of his, and there is no servant who conceals an evil act, but that some time will pass until Allah reveals an evil of his.
The point of this narration is that, even though Allah (swt) is sattār al-‘uyūb – One who hides and conceals our defects – and He (swt) tolerates us, but if we keep crossing the limits, then there will come a time where He will reveal our true conditions.
If you recall way back in some of our earlier episodes, we discussed how some servants worship Allah (swt) as a business transaction. We also said, that is not an invalid way of worshipping Allah, but only that its not the highest level of sincerity. Now if we just for a moment take the example of worship being a sort of transaction, a way to deal and interact with Allah (swt), then we can also give another example based on this metaphor and that is: in a business transaction, we know that one of the parties can put conditions on the transaction in order for it to be valid, and if the person getting into the transaction does not fulfil these conditions or breaks the conditions, then the transaction and deal can be invalidated.
Likewise, in the case that we are servants of Allah and are worshipping Allah, it is Allah who will set the conditions of what is expected in His worship. One of the main conditions He has put for all acts of worship is sincerity, that it should not be done for the sake of other people, and so if sincerity is not there, the worship is invalidated.
And it is for this reason why it says in the Quran:
فَلِلَّهِ الْحُجَّةُ الْبَالِغَةُ
[6:149] … The conclusive argument belongs to God alone.…
Allah has the final say in how He expects this worship to be, on what conditions He will accept our worship or reject them.
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Sayyid Ali studied in the seminary of Qom from 2012 to 2021, while also concurrently obtaining a M.A in Islamic Studies from the Islamic College of London in 2018. In the seminary he engaged in the study of legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophy, eventually attending the advanced kharij of Usul and Fiqh in 2018. He is currently completing his Masters of Education at the University of Toronto and is the head of a private faith-based school in Toronto, as well as an instructor at the Mizan Institute and Mufid Seminary.