The Imam of the Shadhili Tariq, Abul-Hasan Ash-Shadhili said regarding sincerity,
“Sincerity is a light from the light of Allah (SWT) that He has deposited in the heart of His believing servantand by which He cuts him off from all others. That is sincerity that no angel looks upon to record it, no Satan to corrupt it, and no evil inclination to cause it to deviate.From it emerge four wills: the will for sincerity in performing religious acts to honour Allah (SWT); the wil for sincerity in honoring the command of Allah (SWT); the will for sincerity in seeking recompense and reward; and the will for sincerity in freeing religious practice from blemishes, in which regard is shown to nothing but that practice.
With all of these wills has He subjugated us. If anyone holds fast to one of them, he is sincere. With Allah (SWT), there are various grades, and Allah (SWT) behold whatever they do. It is to this that His saying alluded, in that which Jibril (alayhis salaam) reported as from Him to Rasulullah (SAWS) (alayhis salaam). “Sincerity is one of my secrets that I have planted in the heart of whomsoever I love of my servants.”
…He continues on…
Sincerity has only four aspects: what sincerity is; who the sincere person is; in what he is sincere; and toward whom he is sincere. It is of two kinds: sincerity of the faithful ones (sadiqin), and sincerity of the utterly faithful (siddiqin). The sincerity of the faithful ones is for the purpose of seeking remuneration and reward, while the sincerity of the utterly sincere mystics (sufis) is to gain the consciousness of the Being of the True One, having him as the goal and nothing else. If anyone has that implanted in his heart, he is the one excepted in the saying of His enemy who said, “Certainly I will beguile all of them except those servants of Thine from among them who are sincere!”1
The last part of this statement from the Imam of the Sufis is what caught my heart the most. I recall some individuals, may Allah (SWT) pardon their errors as well as ours, blaming their sins upon Shayton. Indeed, Shayton is a clear enemy, yet he does not have the authority to persuade you as long as you are Mukhlis (sincere). The proof is contained in the above quote when he cites our Beloved Lord saying,
قَالَ فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
(Iblis) said: “Then, by Thy power, I will put them all in the wrong,-
إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ
“Except Thy Servants amongst them, sincere and purified (by Thy Grace).”2
Sincerity is only placed in the heart by Allah (SWT) ta’alaa. Hence, it is necessary upon the one seeking such a necessary quality for the perfection of worship to ask Allah (SWT) ta’alaa to send upon his heart ikhlaas, removing any signs of riyaa’ from the nafs. Do not forget that our beloved master Muhammad (‘alayhis Salata wa salam) said,
الدين النصيحة ، الدين النصيحة ، الدين النصيحة قالو لمن يا رسول الله ؟ قال : لله ، ولكتابه ، ولرسوله ولأئمة المسلمين وعامتهم
“The religion is nasihah (sincerity), The religion is nasihah (sincerity), The religion is nasihah (sincerity)! They said, “To whom Ya Rasulullah (SAWS)?” He said, “To Allah (SWT), to his Book, to His Messenger, to the Imams of the Muslims, and to the general mass of the people.”3
Al-Ghawth Abu Madyan said, “The slave is only perfected by Ikhlas (sincerity) and Muraaqabah (self-control).”4
It is definitely easy to forget the importance of sincerity in the societies of the west. Their societies are based upon immoral greed and “self-betterment” not spiritual gain and betterment for all people. May Allah (SWT) allow his mercy of Sincerity to engulf our souls Amin!