November 3, 2012
Among the Believers are men who have been true to their covenant with God: some of them have fulfilled their vow (dying in battle) while others still wait – but none have wavered in their determination in the least. (1)
Imam Yassine states in his book “The Prophetic Method” [al-Minhāj an-Nabawi]: “I mean by the word ‘sincerity’ the ability of the newcomer to the movement to be adorned with the branches of faith, to fit in smoothly within the movement and to have the determination and patience that allow him to carry out his responsibilities until the end.” Sincerity, therefore, could be summed up as taking the actions that are necessary to attain one’s goal and remaining firm unrelenting in the face of opposition and tribulations. God –Glorified be He- says: Do people think that they will be left alone to say, ‘We believe,’ and they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and God will certainly know those who prove themselves true from those who are lying. (2) Trials and tribulations are God’s custom with His righteous servants. By persevering in patient, their imān is confirmed and they grow ever-nearer to Him. Indeed, it is through the patient endurance of His righteous servants that God –Glorified be He- grants victory to His dīn and establishes justice in the earth. Neither temporal justice nor eternal closeness to God and knowledge of Him can be attained without braving dauntlessly all obstacles, remaining steadfast and patient, and carrying out immense sacrifices. In both cases, sincerity is the mount that carries us to our destination.
When our imān is true and complete, and our hope and certitude [yaqīn] is in the meeting with God, it will urge and enable us to carry out the monumental tasks necessary for rebuilding the entire ummah. In part of a Hadith related by ad-Daylami, “Imān is not attained merely by wishing. Rather, imān is that which is firmly rooted in the heart and is confirmed by action…” The imān of the individual is renewed through suḥba and remembrance, yet, only through sincerity that this renewal can be transferred to the entire ummah. It is sincerity that will drive us to call others to God after we ourselves have turned to Him. It is sincerity that will keep us patient with those who answer our call until their sprout grows firm and begins to bear its own fruit. And it is sincerity that will enable us to patiently bear the various types of harm and oppression that are heaped upon those who call to God’s way.
In the book al-Iḥsān, Imam Yassine highlights the relationship between sincerity and intention; “Actions are but by intention,” as the Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace said. Thus, joining an Islamic organization, seeking knowledge, or seeking out suḥba, can only be as good as the intention that spurs us to do these things. Should our actions be not for seeking God’s Pleasure and Nearness to Him, they are worthless and our sincerity is lacking. Imam Yassine quotes Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya on the importance of sincerity and the great rank of those who possess it: “[The rank of sincerity] is the greatest rank of the Sufis (al-qawm) and the straightest path. The one who fails to follow it is cut off and destroyed. Sincerity distinguishes the folk of hypocrisy from the people of imān and the dwellers of the Gardens from the inhabitants of the Fire. It is God’s sword on the earth, which is not put to anything except that it cuts it, and does not face any falsehood except that it defeats and disgraces it. He who attacks with it cannot be defeated and he who speaks with it will overmaster his opponent. For it is the essence (rūḥ) of deeds, the test of stations [maqāmāt], the motivation to brave daunting obstacles and the door through which those who arrive to the Majestic One –Glorified be He- enter. It is the foundation of dīn, the pole that raises the tent of certitude, and the degree that comes directly after the degree of Prophethood – the most exalted degree of all creation.”
How can we become sincere ? Or how can we attain a ihssanic level of sincerity ?