Obtaining ‘Ikhlas’ in Daily Life

By Raudlotul Firdaus Fatah Yasin

Secularisation and modernity are immensely challenging eras to live in because they are characterised by deconstructionist sentiments associated with those eras. These postmodern eras have questioned the individual’s morals and spirituality, which are shaped and incorporated within the educational process itself. The modern educational process has separated the religious subjects, and modern subjects such as mathematics, science, and the arts have become one of the contributing factors that shaped the aforementioned result.

Due to that, sincerity, a critical requirement for equipping students to be true Muslims, appears to be vanishing as a result of the secularised and modern education system. It is known as a term that refers to a concept that incorporates the concepts of openness, integrity, accountability, and honesty in the modern educational system, hence diminishing the genuine meaning of sincerity from an Islamic perspective.

Thus, the journey toward sincerity in light of the Risale-i Nur, published by a great Muslim scholar Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, brings humanity toward an understanding of the concepts, objectives, and challenges involved in redefining sincerity in order to secure success in the hereafter. The discussion centred on the twenty-first Flash from the Volume of Flashes.

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi was a remarkable Muslim scholar who was concerned with the situation in the Muslim brotherhood. He was born in 1873 in the village of Nurs in eastern Anatolia. His schooling created the path in his mind for the notion that, as the world entered a new and distinct era dominated by science and reasoning, the classical educational system of theology would be insufficient to dispel questions about the Qur’an and Islam.

He decided that religious sciences should be taught in modern schools, whereas modern sciences should be taught in religious institutions. After spending many years of faith, he compiled and completed the book Risale-i Nur to guide the future generation in the secular world. Remarkably, Risale-i Nur has proven to lead more than 600,000 people converting Islam throughout Europe by his good approach psychologically and sociologically.

The writer has delivered a talk entitled “Journey to Ikhlas in the Light of Risalah Al-Nur”, which has been advised by two experts, Ustaz Sadik Ozata and Ustaz Yusuf Kara from Hayrat Foundation in Barakah Jumaat Channel. The definition of sincerity, or ikhlas, is a central idea in Islam—one that is prominent in both the Qur’an and Sunnah. Simply put, it is the cleansing of the heart of all motives except Allah’s pleasure. Allah has asked us to be genuine in our worship solely for his sake.

Sincerity is a necessary condition for accepting any moral deed, not only a recommended attribute. The writer has expounded that among the obstacles to gaining genuine sincerity are satans, ego and soul that will deceive humanity to achieve sincerity and ikhlas. It is essential to take care of the sincerity and heart from any source of harm and danger which is inclined prone to evil.

Allah SWT has reminded humanity about the sincerity in several ayah in the Quran to look and ponder upon the importance of sincerity in life. Allah has  mentioned as in the following surah:

Do not fall into dispute, lest you lose heart and your power depart. (8:46)

Allah advises Muslims not to fight, as this weakens their power, respect, and unity, while the enemies of Islam view this as an opportunity to conquer the Muslims.

And stand before God in a devout [frame of mind]. (2:238)

To achieve sincerity, Muslims must instil in their hearts the sense of Qonitin or devotee, the sense of being a slave of Allah, which serves as a reminder to humanity that we should not be arrogant and should always obey the sole Master, as we are merely servants with nothing but the Rahmah of Allah.

* Truly he succeeds that purifies it, * And he fails that corrupts it. (91:9-10)

Successful slaves of Allah are those who have successfully purged their spirit, heart, and mind. On the other side, individuals who did not purify these elements became contaminated, which resulted in a life of failure. As a result, it would defeat the meaning of life.

The journey of ikhlas is a direction for Muslims to attain a successful life while avoiding failure not only in this world but also in the hereafter. There is never any dishonesty, rivalry, or competition in genuine sincerity because they negate, undermine, and ultimately destroy genuine sincerity. A lack of genuine sincerity is obviously detrimental to everyone and is thus intolerable.

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi discusses four fundamental principles of sincerity: (1) seek Divine pleasure in one’s action, (2) not criticise Muslim brothers who are employed in this service of the Qur’an, and (3) one’s strength lies in sincerity and truth.

The first rule, Said Nursi urged humanity to seek divine pleasure in one’s action. He further said that it is the ultimate pleasure to seek Allah’s pleasure, not public pleasure. The public pleasure has no effect if Allah pleases with one sincere action.

The second rule is not criticising the Muslim brothers who are employed in the service of the Quran and not to excite their envy by displaying superior virtues. This reminds humanity to have their own uniqueness, extraordinary abilities and weaknesses which this shortcoming needs others to complement to complete one action. Despite criticising them, Said Nursi has guided humanity to correct that situation.

The final rule that is underlined by the writer in this talk is that one’s strength lies in sincerity and truth. This requires Muslim to gain complete sincerity aligned with the verse of Surah al Hashr, “ But give preferences over themselves” (59:9). Allah has made the promises for those who will be successful when they are trying to prioritise others upon one’s self interest. This is included when someone tries to help the needy who is in the difficult situation, Allah would reward one’s life more than material benefits and achieve the higher rank in soul attainment.

Besides that, Said Nursi mentioned many things that can destroy sincerity and drive one to hypocrisy, yet in this session, the writer has briefly explained three components that dive to the above end.

Firstly, the rivalry (competition) towards material advantages. It not only damages the sincerity, yet it also causes the material benefits to be lost and waste time. Secondly, Said Nursi noted that self-promotion and public acclaim motivated by fame, renown and position would bolster the ego and elevate the evil-commanding soul. This dangerous spiritual ailment also opens the way to the deceit and self-centredness called the secret association of partners with God and undermines sincerity. For example, consider the religious rider who utilises religion to achieve recognition and popularity, which will have an impact on the value of sincerity.

Last but not least, the fear of failure and greed become among the obstacles that would undermine sincerity as opposed to attaining Allah’s pleasure.

These three obstacles are related to one another as they compose the soul of evil-commanding that excites a feeling of rivalry and envy to other Muslim brothers to expect and desire material benefits such as position and fame; therefore, it will diminish the unity, respect and the most crucial aspect, sincerity in gaining successful life in this world. The rivalry and jealousy would cause to the extent of annihilation among the brothers, witchcraft and all means that could be used to achieve the desire.

Individuals who follow spiritual guides battle and compete against one another despite their numerous accomplishments, perfections, and benefits. This demonstrates that the envy, greed for spiritual reward, and lofty aspirations have resulted in significant harm and error. ***

(Assoc. Prof. Dr. Raudlotul Firdaus Fatah Yasin is an academic in Department of Quran and Sunnah Studies, AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, and Deputy Director in SHAS Mosque, IIUM. The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of IIUMToday.)

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