Ep. 4 The Forties – Sincere Worship & Cleansing our Intentions

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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 4 – Sincere Worship and Cleansing our Intentions

عَلِيُّ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِيسَى عَنْ يُونُسَ عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مُسْكَانَ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع‏ فِي قَوْلِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ- حَنِيفاً مُسْلِماً قَالَ خَالِصاً مُخْلِصاً لَيْسَ فِيهِ شَيْ‏ءٌ مِنْ عِبَادَةِ الْأَوْثَانِ.

عَنْهُ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ يُونُسَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مُسْكَانَ عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ ع‏ فِي قَوْلِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى‏ حَنِيفاً مُسْلِماً قَالَ خَالِصاً مُخْلِصاً لَا يَشُوبُهُ شَيْ‏ء

Hadith #3: Abu ‘Abdillah was asked about the words of Allah, the Majestic, the Glorious, ‘…humble and submitted.’ (3:67), the Imam said, ‘It (humble and submitted) is one purely sincere who has not worshipped any idols.’”

In another hadith: Purely Sincere and their sincerity is not polluted by anything else

This narration is explaining the meaning of a verse of the following Quran:

مَا كَانَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ يَهُودِيًّا وَلَا نَصْرَانِيًّا وَلَٰكِن كَانَ حَنِيفًا مُّسْلِمًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ – 3:67

[3:67] Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah]. And he was not of the polytheists.

Prophet Ibrahim (a) had never been on the path of the polytheists and rather he was always someone who was inclining towards the truth and he was not corrupted by anything.

We may rightfully believe that sincerity – which is to be clean in our intentions – and for not to be corrupt by anything are contradictions – meaning you can’t be sincere and at the same time your intentions may be inclining towards something else, that your intentions are polluted with some other motive.

If that’s the case, then if someone does Wuḍū for Allah (swt), but at the same time also because they want to cool off in the hot weather – it seems that one’s sincerity has now been corrupted with a secondary matter. Is this really the case? Have we corrupted our sincerity for doing Wuḍū’ for Allah (swt) in this example? Let us open up this example in 4 possible scenarios:

1) In one scenario you may do Wuḍū for Allah sincerely, but it just so happens that the water is also cold and you end up getting cooled off in the process. There is no problem here because your intention for doing Wuḍū was sincerely for Allah, and the fact that you got cooled off because of the cold water was simply a natural consequence of the act – not because you actually intended for it.

2) In a second scenario the actual and primary intent happens to be that you want to cool off with cold water. But right before you begin to wash yourself to cool off, you think, I might as well do Wuḍū as well in the process – in this case the Wuḍū is definitely invalid, because it is not even your primary intention, in fact if it weren’t for you wanting to cool off you may have never done the Wuḍū’ to begin with! In this scenario the intention of doing Wuḍū has definitely been polluted with something else.

3) A third scenario would be when neither of the two motives push someone to perform an act, meaning if the person did not want to do Wuḍū’ they would not have washed their face to cool off, and if they did not want to cool off they wouldn’t have done Wuḍū’ either. Meaning, both reasons collectively motivate someone to perform the act of worship. Since these two motives then collectively become the primary reason to do the Wuḍū’ this would also definitely be an example where a sincere act for Allah (swt) has become corrupted and polluted with something else.

4) Now the fourth scenario is a little tricky – this is a case where you have two motives independent of each other. This is when someone had the intent of doing Wuḍū’ whether the water cools them off or not, and likewise they also had the intention of cooling themselves off whether they ended up doing Wuḍū or not. Sayyid Zanjani says this is a tricky scenario and some scholars have said even this Wuḍū is invalidated, although Sayyid Zanjani believes it appears to be correct since at the end of the day when the person performs the Wuḍū they have done so because of an independent motive and intention, not that it was corrupted or polluted and mixed with another intention and motive.

Nevertheless, Sayyid Zanjani acknowledges that even in this case it would still be better to perform the Wuḍū’ for the sole intention of seeking closeness to Allah and not even have another independent motive and that in fact, in some acts of worship this is not easy to do.

The fact that attaining higher degrees of sincerity where one does not even have an independent motive of performing an act of worship is a task which requires a lot of practice and purifying of the self, this is perhaps the reason why it has been said in a narration that the best of worships is ikhlāṣ (sincerity).

We’ll explain why that is the case in the next episode where we present a hadith from Imam Jawad (a) – Inshallah.

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