Allah Ta’ala states in the Holy Qur’an regarding the significance of sincere devotion, “Yes, the sincere exclusive devotion is to Allah only.” [Surah 39, Verse 3] In another verse Allah Ta’ala states, “Neither their flesh reaches to Allah nor their blood, but your piety reaches Him.” [Surah 22, Verse 37]
Hazrat Khwaja Hassan Basri (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) has said, “I asked Huzaifa (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh), “What is meant by sincere devotion (Ikhlas)?” He replied, “I once asked Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), “What is meant by sincere devotion?” Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, “I once asked Jibra’eel (Alaihis Salaam), “What is meant by sincere devotion?” He replied, “I once asked the Lord of Might and Glory, “What is meant by sincere devotion?” So the Lord replied, “It is a secret, a part of My secret knowledge, which I entrust to the heart of anyone I love among My servants.”””””
It is reported that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) once said, “For every truth there is a real meaning to be experienced, and a servant will not experience the real meaning of sincere devotion until he no longer likes to be praised for any work he performs for the sake of Allah.”
Hazrat Sa’eed Ibn Jubair (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) said, “The meaning of sincere devotion is that the servant devotes his religion sincerely to Allah, that he puts it into practice for the sake of Allah, that he attributes no partner to Him in his religion, and that he does not seek to impress anyone with his religious practice.”
Hazrat Fuzail Ibn Ayaz (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) said, “To neglect one’s religious practice for the sake of other people is a form of hypocrisy. To perform one’s religious practice for the sake of other people is a form of polytheistic idolatry (Shirk). As for sincere devotion, it is being afraid that Allah Ta’ala might chastise you for either of these two offenses.”
Hazrat Abul Hussain Bushanji (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) has said, “Sincere devotion is so subtle that the two recording angels do not take note of it, the devil cannot corrupt it and one’s fellow human being is quite unaware of it.”
Hazrat Ruwaim (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) said, “Sincere devotion means removing one’s admiring gaze from the action performed.”
Hazrat Abu Yaqoob Al Makfoof (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) said, “Sincere devotion means that a person keeps his good deeds hidden, just as he conceals his bad deeds.”
It was Hazrat Zunnoon Misri (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) who said, “Sincere devotion does not become complete, unless it is tested by truthfulness and practiced with patience. Nor does truthfulness become complete, unless it is pursued with sincere devotion and practiced with constant perseverance.” He also said, “There are three reliable symptoms of sincere devotion, namely: equal indifference to praise and blame from the common folk; a lack of interest in the impression made by good deeds; and regarding the reward for religious practice as a matter to be decided in the hereafter.” He further stated that sincere devotion is that which is safe from being corrupted by Shaitaan.
Hazrat Abu Yaqoob Susi (Radiallah Ta’ala Anh) said, “Whenever people are sure that they can see a sincere devotion in their sincere devotion, their ‘sincere devotion’ is badly in need of a dose of sincere devotion.”
Hazrat Abu Bakr Daqqaq (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) said, “The shortcoming of everyone who tries to be sincere in his sincere devotion is the tendency to admire his sincere devotion. If Allah wishes to purify his sincere devotion, He will therefore rid his sincerity of that tendency to admire his sincere devotion, so he will then be one who has been made sincere through purification, rather than once who tries to be sincere.”
Hazrat Sahl Ibn Abdullah Tustari (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) once said, “No one can see through hypocritical display apart from one who is sincere.” Once, someone asked him, “What is the hardest thing for the lower self to bear?” He replied, “Sincere devotion, because the lower self has no share therein.”
Hazrat Abu Uthman Al Maghribi (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) said, “Sincere devotion means forgetting to notice one’s fellow creatures through paying constant attention to the Creator.”
Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) said, “Sincere devotion is a secret between Allah Ta’ala and the servant. No angel is privy to it, to be able to record it, nor any devil, to be able to corrupt it, and no passionate desire, to be able to distort it.”
Once, a person was with Hazrat Ibrahim Khawwaas (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) on a journey when they came to a place in which there were many snakes. The person relates, “Hazrat Ibrahim Khawwaas (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) laid his water-flask on the ground and sat down, so I too sat down. Then when the night turned cool and the air grew cold, out came the snakes. I yelled at the Shaikh in alarm, but he said, “Just remember Allah,” so I remembered Him and the snakes recoiled. But then they came back again, so I yelled at the Shaikh, and he gave me the same advice as before. I found myself in that same situation, right through to the break of day. Then, when the dawn had arrived, he stood up and started walking, so I walked along with him. Suddenly, out of the seat of his pants, there fell a huge serpent, which had gathered itself into a coil. “Did you not feel it?” I asked, but he replied, “No, it has been a long time since I spent a night as pleasant as this last one.””
Subhaanallah! This is the condition of those who are truly sincere in their worship of Almighty Allah.
May Allah Ta’ala grant us the Taufeeq to be sincerely devoted in our worship and to avoid worshipping for the sake of showing others, Ameen.
[Compiled from Ghunyalit Taalibi Tareeqal Haq by Huzoor Ghaus-e-Azam Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh]