Taken from Madarij al salikeen
By Imam ibnul Qayyim
And from the station “You do we worship and You do we ask for help” the station of Al Ikhlas (sincerity).
Allah swt said in surat al Bayyinah
5. And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and perform As-Salat(Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat: and that is the right religion.
And in surat al Zumar:
2. Verily, We have sent down the Book to you (O Muhammad) in truth: So worship Allah (Alone) by doing religious deeds sincerely for Allah’s sake only, (and not to show-off, and not to set up rivals with Him in worship).
3. Surely, the religion (i.e. the worship and the obedience) is for Allah only. And those who take Auliya’ (protectors and helpers) besides Him (say): “We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allah.” Verily, Allah will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Truly, Allah guides not him who is a liar, and a disbeliever.
And in Surat al anam:
162. Say (O Muhammad): “Verily, my Salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).
163. “He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.”
And in surat Tabarak (al Mulk):
2. Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving;
Al Fudayl bin Iyad said: “It is that which is most sincere and most correct”. They said: “Oh aba Ali, what is the most sincere and most correct?” He replied: “If an action was sincere but incorrect, it will not be accepted. And if it was correct but insincere, it will not be accepted, until it is sincere and correct. And the sincere action: is that it should be for Allah (alone) and the correct action is that it should be in line with the sunnah. Then he recited “al kahf 110”
Narrated Abu Musa: A man came to the Prophet and asked, “A man fights for war booty; another fights for fame and a third fights for showing off; which of them fights in Allah’s Cause?” The Prophet said, “He who fights that Allah’s Word (i.e. Islam) should be superior, fights in Allah’s Cause.”
And the first of Allah’s creation the Fire will be kindled with on the Day of Resurrection
From Abu Hurayrah, who said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘ Verily, the first to be judged on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who had died as a martyr. He will be brought forward. Allah will remind him of the favours He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. Then He will ask him: `What did you do to express gratitude for it?’ The man will reply: `I fought for Your Cause till I was martyred.’ Allah will say: `You have lied. You fought so that people might call you courageous; and they have done so.’ Command will then be issued about him and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. Next a man who had acquired and imparted knowledge and read the Qur’an will be brought forward, Allah will remind him of the favours He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. Then He will ask him: `What did you do to express gratitude for it?’ The man will reply: `I acquired knowledge and taught it, and read the Qur’an for Your sake.’ Allah will say to him: `You have lied. You acquired knowledge so that people might call you a learned (man), and you read the Qur’an so that they might call you a reciter, and they have done so.’ Command will then be issued about him, and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell. Next a man whom Allah had made affluent and to whom Allah had given plenty of wealth, will be brought forward, Allah will remind him of the favours He had bestowed upon him and the man will acknowledge them. He will ask him: `What did you do to express gratitude for it?’ The man will reply: `I did not neglect any of the ways You liked wealth to be spend liberally for Your sake’. Allah will say to him: `You have lied. You did it so that people might call you generous, and they have done so.’ Command will then be issued about him and he will be dragged on his face and thrown into Hell.”
And in the hadith Qudsi :
I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me.
And in a different narration (He will say, go and take your rewards from the one whom you’ve done your deed for, for there is no reward for you on this day from me)
The Salaf have differed in defining “al ikhlas” (sincerity) and “al sidq” (truthfulness) although the intent of the meaning is one.
It was said: It is to purify an action (in the way that) it is not seen by the creation
It was also said: It is exercise caution in (allowing) the creation to see the (good) actions/deeds, even from oneself! And Al sidq (truthfulness) is to purify oneself from one’s admiration (of themselves), for there is no showing off for the sincere and no admiration for the truthful. And sincerity is not attained except with truthfulness, and truthfulness is not attained except with sincerity and neither can be achieved without sabr (patience).
And it was said: Sincerity is that the slave’s hidden and apparent actions are equal; and riya’ (flaunting) is that the outer deeds be better than the hidden deeds; and truthfulness in sincerity is for the outer deeds to be better than the hidden ones.
And it was said: Whosoever witnesses sincerity in his sincerity is in fact lacking sincerity in his sincerity. For the decrease of the sincere one’s sincerity is in the amount of sincerity he sees in himself. Hence, if this is dropped, he becomes truly sincere.
And from the words of Al Fudayl bin Iyadh- may Allah have mercy on him: leaving an action for the sake of people is riya’ (flaunting), and doing an action for the sake of people is shirk, and sincerity is that Allah protects you from both.
Al-Junayd said: Sincerity is a secret between Allah and His slave. It is not known to an angel to write (it), nor to a shaytan (a devil) to ruin it,nor to a desire to stir it.
Sahl was asked: What is the hardest thing for the nafs (soul)? He said: Sincerity; for it has nothing to gain from it. And others have said: Sincerity is that you don’t require a witness over your actions save Allah, and none to reward you for it but Him.
Makhool said: A slave is not sincere for 40 days except that the fountains of wisdom in his heart will appear on his tongue.
Abu Suleiman Al Darrani said: If a slave is sincere, excessive whisperings and riya’ (flaunting) are cut off from him.