Just as what stands opposite to Tauheed is Shir'k, what stands opposite to Ikhlâs is Riyâ. And just as the light of Ikhlâs will extinguish from a person's heart when factors of self-conceit creep into it so also will Ikhlâs has nowhere to stand with Riyâ.
Allâh the Majestic said:
"And (also) those who spend of their substance to be seen of men, and believe not in Allâh and the Last Day [they are the friends of Shaytân], and whoever takes Shaytân as an intimate; then what a dreadful intimate he has!" [Nisâ: 38].
Riyâ is one of the most apparent traits of the hypocrites because they exhibit what they cannot hide. Allâh the Mighty also said:
"[Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allâh, but it is He who deceives them. And when they stand up for As-Salâh (the prayer), they stand with laziness, and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allâh but little." [Nisâ: 142].
This is the reason one of the conditions of granting the repentance of hypocrites is that they should single their worship for Allâh – the Mighty. Allâh the Most High said:
"Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths (grade) of the fire; no helper will you find for them.
"Except those who repent (from hypocrisy), do righteous good deeds, hold fast to Allâh, and purify their religion for Allâh (by worshipping none but Allâh, and do good for Allâh's sake only, not to show-off), then they will be with the believers..." [Nisâ: 145-146].
This is the reason all deeds that are carried out without seeking Allâh's Countenance will be rejected; such deeds will become sources for perdition for their doers on the Day of Resurrection.
On the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allâh be pleased with him), he said the Messenger of Allah (Salallâhu alayhi wa sallam) said:
'Allâh the Mighty said: I am the Richest from Shir'k among those who are taken as partners; whoever carries out a deed wherein he joins another with Me, I shall leave him and his object of partnership.' [Muslim reported it (2985)].
In another version:
'…I shall be free from such (act); it will be for the person he has taken as a partner (with Me).' [Ibn Mâjah reported it (4202), and it is authentic].
The definition of Ikhlâs has been given as the following:
'It is when the open and hidden deeds of the slave are on equal footing; but Riyâ is when the open deeds are better than the hidden deeds, while the truthfulness in Ikhlâs is that it is hidden part be long-lasting than its open part.' [Madârijus-Sâlikîn: (2/91)].
Bilâl b. Sa'd (rahima-hu allaah) said:
'Do not be an ally of Allâh in the open but His enemy in secret.' [Al-Imaam Ahmad reported it in the Book of Az-Zuhd (p.385); it is authentic despite the An'anah of Al-Walîd b. Muslim, he narrated it clearly in some other routes…]
The last definition of Ikhlâs (above) comes as the truth from the like of Allâh's Statement as follows:
"[If you disclose Your Sadaqât (alms-giving), it is well,] but if you conceal it, and give it to the poor, that is better for you…" [Al-Baqarah: 271].
This trait is also one of those with which The Seven whom Allâh would shade on the Day there will be no shade except His Shade, as the Messenger of Allâh (Salallâhu alayhi wa sallam) said:
'…and a man who gives out a charity but conceals it such that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives…' [Reported by Al-Bukhâri (660); and Muslim (1031)].
People make effort to conceal their wrong deeds the way they do not make effort to conceal their good deeds because they want to use the latter to earn (a good) status before others. You will see many people being active in the open but lazy in secret, this is why it has been said:
'Ikhlâs is that you should not desire other than Allâh as a Witness or a Rewarder over your deed.'
If a person could make effort to conceal his good deeds from people the way he makes effort to conceal his evil deeds from them, he would attain the level of those who act purely for Allâh; as Abu Hâtim, Salamah b. Dînar, said – may Allâh bestow mercy on him:
'Conceal your good deeds as much as you conceal your sins.' [Abu Nu'aym reported it in Al-Hilyah 3/240].
[In the version of Al-Bayhaqî, as it appears in Ash-Shu'ab, it reads:
'Conceal your good deeds as you conceal your sins; do not take pride in your deeds because you do not know whether you are doomed or going to be successful (in the Hereafter).']
It is said about Ikhlâs:
'It is singling the True Lord – may He be glorified – with the purpose of obedience.'
It is also said:
'(Ikhlâs is) saving the deeds from the observation of the creatures.'
It was said to Sahl: 'What is more difficult for the soul (to carry out)?'
He said: 'Al-Ikhlâs; because it cannot be shared by the soul.'
Abu Bakr Al-Mar'wadhee may Allâh bestow mercy on him said: 'I heard a man say to Abű Abdullah (that is, Al-Imâm Ahmad may Allâh bestow mercy on him)' – and he mentioned truthfulness and Ikhlâs (with respect to deeds).
Then Abu Abdullah said: 'This was what made the people (the Salaf) to rise.' [Reported by Ibn Al-Jauzi in Manaaqib Al-Imâm Ahmad p.267].
Thus the Imams (scholars) of this Ummah hated popularity and they loved that they should not be mentioned, out of concern for their Ikhlâs and fear of trial of praise for their hearts; but there are people who have been afflicted with wanting people to touch their feet and kiss their hands, and make room for them in sittings, and that they should be sought for supplication because of their (percieved) honor (in the Sight of Allâh), and what is similar to this. It is a person whose sense of Ikhlâs is little that will marvel at that and desire it. [Al-Fawâid of Ibn Al-Qayyim, p.223].
Hammâd b. Zayd – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – said:
'When I walked with Ayyub; he would take me through some (unknown) paths, I wandered how he knew those paths. He used to take the paths so that he would not be noticed by the people hence they will say 'that is Ayyub!'' [Reported by Ibn Sa'd 7/249].
He also said:
'Ayyub would take me through some distant paths; I would tell him of other shorter routes but he would reply: 'I am afraid of those sittings.' He was such that when he made Tasleem to people they would reply him more than normal then he would say: 'O Allâh, indeed You know that I did not want it, O Allâh, indeed You know that I did not want it.'' [Reported by Ibn Sa'd 7/248].
Source: Sittu Durar Min Usuuli Ahlil'Athar [Six Pearls from the Foundations of People of Tradition]
By Ash-Shaykh Abdul-Malik bn Ahmad Al-Mubârak Ramadaanee Al-Jazâirî - hafidha-huLlaah
MAKING THE WORSHIP FOR ALLAAH ALONE
LIKE A TREE STEM