Sincerity; Riyaa and Performing Actions for Worldly Effect – Beneficial Points to Check One’s Intentions


الحمد لله رب العالمين، وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين، أما بعد

Shaikh ‘Abdur-Rahmaan As-Sa’dee (rahimahullaah) said:


Know that sincerity for Allaah is the foundation of the religion and the essence of Tawheed and worship.

It is that the servant intends with his action – in its entirety; The Face of Allaah and His reward and His favour. So he fulfills the six principles of Eemaan as well as the five legislations (pillars) of Islaam, and the realities of Eemaan which is: Al-Ihsaan, as well as the rights of Allaah and the rights of His servants – and so completing (supplementing) them. He intends by way of them The Face of Allaah and the abode of the Hereafter; he does not want to make riyaa (ostentation or showing off in order to be seen or noticed by others) with that, and likewise no sum’ah (seeking repute through being heard of) and no seeking of leadership, and no worldly effect. So with that his Eemaan and Tawheed are complete.

From the greatest things which negate this is attempting to show off in order to be seen by the people and performing actions in order to secure their praise and their veneration, or performing the action for a worldly effect; this infringes on sincerity and Tawheed.


Know that riyaa has some detailed clarification regarding it:


  • If that which prompts the servant to perform the action is: to be seen by the people – and so he continues upon this corrupt intent; then his action is rendered to be of no avail; and that is minor shirk, and it is feared that it will be a means to major shirk.
  • If that which prompts the servant to perform the action is: the intent of seeking The Face of Allaah along with the intent of being seen by the people, and he does not desist from the riyaa with regard to his action; then that which is clear from the texts also is the futility of this action.
  • If that which prompts the servant to perform the action is The Face of Allaah – solely, however; riyaa presents itself to him during the course of his action, so if he repels it and refines his sincerity for Allaah; it will not harm him. Yet if he is calm in regard to it and is at ease with it; then the action is diminished, and there is procured for its companion the weakness of Eemaan and sincerity in accordance to that which arose in his heart from ostentation, and resisting (countering and holding out) the action for Allaah, and that which merged with it from the defective blemishes of ostentation.

Riyaa is a vast epidemic, and requires intensely rigorous treatment, and for the soul to train itself upon having sincerity and of its battle in repelling the inclining notions of riyaa and harmful objectives. As well as seeking help from Allaah upon warding them off – so that perhaps Allaah may refine the Eemaan of the servant and effectuate his Tawheed.

As for performing actions for a worldly effect and in order to attain its objects of desire:


  • Then if the intent of the servant in its entirety is for this purpose; and he has no intent for seeking The Face of Allaah and the abode of the Hereafter, then this individual has no portion for him in the Hereafter. Likewise this action in this manner does not emanate from a believer, for indeed the believer – even if he is weak in Eemaan; it is a must that he seeks Allaah and the abode of the Hereafter.
  • As for the one who carries out an action seeking The Face of Allaah as well as for worldly effect – and the two intents are equal or are both close together, then this one – despite him being a believer; he is deficient in Eemaan and Tawheed and sincerity, and his action is deficient due to its being deprived of the perfection of sincerity.
  • As for the one who performs an action for Allaah; solely for Him and is sincere in his action with complete sincerity, however he receives by way of his action some allowance (wage) and a fixed sum (payment) with which he seeks assistance upon in work and the religion, such as the allowances which are in place for the acts of good, and such as the Mujaahid who should get – due to his Jihaad – some spoils or sustenance. Likewise in the case of religious endowments which are in place over the Mosques and schools and the religious services and functions – for those that undertake them. This does not harm the taking of it in relation to the Eemaan of the servant and of his Tawheed due to his not wanting worldly effect by way of his action. Rather; he desired the religion and intended that whatever is obtained for him to be an assistance for him in fulfillment of the religion.

It is due to this that Allaah has made in the legislated revenue such as the obligatory charities and the wealth of spoils and other than them – a great reward for the one that undertakes beneficial religious and worldly services and functions, as the detail of that is known.

So this elaboration makes clear to you the ruling of this issue which is of great significance, and it renders it necessary for you that you place affairs in their relevant positions – and Allaah Knows best.[1]


(Taken from: Al-Qawl as-Sadeed Sharh Kitaab at-Tawheed p.219-220)


[1] Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) said: Ikhlaas (sincerity) cannot convene in the heart along with a love of praise and commendation as well as the craving for that which is with the people – except as water convenes with fire, and the lizard with the fish.

So if your soul accosts you in pursuing sincerity; then turn firstly to the craving and slaughter it with the knife of renunciation, and turn to the praise and commendation and thus abstain in regard to both of them with the abstinence of those who were ardent lovers of the world; (and so exchanged) for the sake of the Hereafter. Thus; if the slaughter of the craving is straightforward for you along with the abstinence of commendation and praise; sincerity then will be easy upon you.

So if you were to say: ‘What is it that would help make it easy for me to slaughter the craving and to have abstinence in regard to commendation and praise?’

I would say: As for slaughter of the craving; then it is made easy upon you in your knowing in true certainty that there is nothing that is craved after in regard to; except that its treasures are in The Hand of Allaah – alone, no one has possessory right over it other than Him, and that the servant is not given anything from it – except by Him.

As for abstinence in regard to commendation and praise; then it is made easy upon you in your knowing that there is no one whose praise is of benefit and who can favourably adorn; and whose dispraise can be of detriment and can disgrace – except Allaah alone. (Al-Fawaa-id p.171)


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