As-Salamu Alaykum (peace be upon you),

“Religion is Sincerity”

Abu Ruqayya Tamim bin ‘Aws ad-Dari relates that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Religion is Sincerity.”

We asked: “To whom, O Messenger of Allah?”

He said: “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, and the leaders of the Muslims and to the common Muslim.” [Sahih Muslim]

The meaning of ‘Religion is sincerity’

The terms in both the subject and the predicate of this sentence are categorical. This conveys in Arabic an all-inclusive meaning. It is as if the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) had said: “Religion is naught but sincerity.”

This is a very weighty statement showing the importance of sincerity in Islam. It brings us immediately to ask the question that the Companions asked: Sincerity to whom? The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) responded by mentioning five things to which Muslims must be sincere. We shall briefly touch upon each of these.

Sincerity to Allah

Being sincere to Allah is of paramount importance in Islam. There are two aspects to this sincerity. The first of these is sincerity in worship. We must worship Allah alone, offering all of our devotions to him and to no other. The second is sincerity in our belief. We must have absolute faith that Allah alone is our Creator, our Sustainer, and our Lord.

Allah says:

“They were not commanded but that they should worship Allah sincerely and worship none but Him, and that they should perform prayer and pay Zakah. That is the right religion.” [Noble Quran 98:5]

Sincerity to His Book:

Sincerity to Allah’s Book comprises a number of ideas. We must believe in what the Quran tells us and doubt nothing that it says. We must know that the Quran is Allah’s word that was revealed to Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him).

Likewise, we must submit to Allah’s commands found within it and guide our lives by its teachings. We must believe that the laws enumerated in the Quran are the best of laws that can never be rivaled by man-made laws.

Another aspect of this sincerity is to come to the defense of the Quran from those who would aspire to corrupt, abuse, and misinterpret it with their tongues. Allah has taken the preservation of the Quran upon Himself. However, this does not mean that people will not try to misrepresent it and corrupt how people approach it and understand it.

Sincerity to Allah’s Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him)

We must have unwavering faith that Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) is indeed the Messenger of Allah and that everything that he tells us is true. We must obey him in all of his commands and prohibitions. We must know that everything that comes to us by way of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) comes from Allah, for Allah informs us:

“He does not speak of his own accord. It is but revelation that is revealed to him.” [Noble Quran 53:3-4]

Allah equates obeying the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) to belief when He says:

“O you who believe, obey Allah and obey His Messenger” [Noble Quran 4:59]

Obedience to the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) is obedience to Allah. Allah says:

“Whoever obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah.” [Noble Quran 4:80]

He also says:

“Whatever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatever he forbids you, abstain from it.” [Noble Quran 59:7]

Sincerity to Allah’s Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) also includes coming to his defense. During his lifetime, this meant literally defending him and physically standing by his side. Today, it means to defend his honor from those who malign it and his Sunnah from those who would disparage it or corrupt it.

Sincerity to the leaders of the Muslims

There are two classes of people being referred to here. The first are the scholars whose duty is to know the religion, put it into practice, and teach it to the people. The second are the Muslim rulers whose duty is to carry out the Law of Islam.

Sincerity to the scholars entails loving them, respecting them, and helping them to propagate the faith. It also includes learning from them and benefiting from their knowledge. Sincerity to the scholars, however, does not mean to follow them blindly. If we find that we disagree with a scholar on a matter, we should seek out the evidence for what he says. Then, if we find that he is correct, we should follow him and if we find that he is mistaken, we should inform him respectfully of his error without disparaging him or belittling his knowledge.

Sincerity to the scholars also includes being careful of the statements and opinions that we attribute to them so that we do not falsely attribute to them anything that they did not say.

Sincerity to the Muslim rulers entails loving the righteous and just people among them. It also means to recognize the leadership of those in authority and to love that there is solidarity to among Muslims in their support and to hate disunity and dissention. It means to obey them in everything that entails no disobedience to Allah and to hate those who rise up against them.

Allah says:

“O you who believe, obey Allah and obey His Messenger and those in authority among you.” [Noble Quran 4:59]

We must obey the Muslim rulers in everything that does not entail disobedience to Allah, and we must refrain from rising up against them even if they fall short of what is expected from them.

The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“There will be rulers over you. You will agree with some of what they come with and reject some of it. Whoever rejects what must be rejected will maintain his innocence and whoever hates it will maintain his innocence. However, those who accept (what should be denied) and follow the ruler will be sinners.”

The Companions said:

“O Messenger of Allah, shall we fight these rulers?”

He said:

“No, as long as they pray.” [Sunan Ath-Tirmidhi]

The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“The best among your Imams (rulers) are those whom you love and they love you, pray (make supplication) for you and you pray for them, and the worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and they hate you and you curse them and they curse you.”

Someone asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! Shall we confront them with swords?”

The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“No, as long as they hold prayers among you. If you see from your rulers what you hate, hate the action they do but do not rebel against them.” [Sahih Muslim]

Hudthayfah b. al-Yaman asked the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him):

“O Messenger of Allah, we were living in an evil (atmosphere) and Allah brought us good (Islam) and we live in it now. Will there be evil after this good?”

The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Yes.”

Hudthayfah b. al-Yaman said:

“And any good after this evil?”

He said: “Yes.”

Hudthayfah b. al-Yaman said:

“And any evil after this good?”

He said: “Yes.”

Hudthayfah said: “How will it be?”

He said:

“Imams (rulers) after me who do not abide by my guidance and Sunnah. Some of their men will have Satan’s heart in a human’s body.”

Hudthayfah said:

“What should I do, O Messenger of Allah, if I live to see that time?”

The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“You should listen and obey them even if (the ruler smites your back and takes your wealth.” [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]

These Hadith are evidence that is unlawful to rebel against the rulers even if they are oppressive as long as they do not exhibit outright unbelief.

Sincerity to the common Muslim

We should have sincere love in out hearts for our Muslim brothers and sisters. We should greet our fellow Muslims with the greeting of “Salam”.

We must feel joy at the prosperity of the Muslims and feel pain and sympathy for them when calamity befalls them.

We must sincerely advise our fellow Muslims about what is best for them in their faith and their worldly lives and teach them what is right. We must exhort them to what is right and forbid them from what is wrong and do so with the intention that they should benefit from it.

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