Sincerity in Worship and Work

Human deeds have two aspects, outer (zhahir) and inner (bathin).  The outer aspect is in the form of physical actions, the inner aspect is in the form of nature or state of the heart.  Both must go hand in hand, not conflict with each other.  This is because the value of charity depends on the nature and condition of the heart.  If the character is good, the value is also good.  If the character is bad, the value will also be bad, even though outwardly it looks good.  It is the nature of the heart that is the source of value.  In this case it is sincere (ikhlas).  Sincerity is the spirit of charity.

 Ibn Athaillah al-Syakandari in the Book of al-Hikam stated:

الَأَعْمَالُ صُوَرٌ قَائِمَةُ وَأَرْوَاحُهَا وُجُوْدُ سِرِّ اْلِإخْلَاصِ فِيْهَا

“Actions are lifeless forms, but the presence of an inner reality of sincerity (sirr al-ikhlas) within them is what endows them with life-giving Spirit.”

This shows that sincerity is what gives value to deeds.  Sincerity determines the weight of the work we do.  Sincerity beautifies the heart, improves deeds, and straightens the goals of life on the right path towards the pleasure of Allah Swt.

Actions or work that are not based on sincerity are like a lifeless human being, they are called corpses.  A lifeless human body is cold.  If we compare it to deeds or work that do not contain sincerity, it will feel “cold” (mechanical in nature).  Like a routine without a soul.  It is accomplished but has no value in the sight of Allah Swt.  Because there is no sincerity.  As Sheikh Abdullah Syarqawy said in Syarah al-Hikam, charity is like a lifeless body, while sincerity is like the spirit that makes the body alive.

Likewise when humans die.  It is not his body that is valuable (including wealth, position and power), but his good values.  Humans who leave traces of goodness will be remembered and emulated.  When his life is lived with the value of sincerity, he will still be remembered when he is gone.

Sincerity is not easy.  Moreover, we currently live in the digital era with the huge influence of social media.  Lives are interconnected and influence each other.  We see and know other people’s lives and behavior, what they do and show off.  Even though there are positive things, there are quite a few that have a negative impact.  We tend to be jealous and dissatisfied with the pleasures that Allah Swt. gives us.  give it to us.

Life in pondok pesantren limits things like that, including hearing, seeing, and socializing with things that pollute the heart.  Pondok pesantren form character, including sincerity, so that it is firmly embedded, so that students are not easily exposed to negative influences.  Forged first so that it is firmly embedded.  Pondok Pesantren discipline aims to do this, so that when you are outside you will not be easily influenced.

Be sincere in worship because of love for Allah Swt. (muhibbin), there is no other goal than Allah Swt., not hoping for a reward or heaven.  Solely because of Allah Swt.  As explained by Sheikh Abdullah Syarqawy in syarah al-Hikam:

“The form of sincerity par muhibbin (lovers of Allah Swt.) is reflected in their charitable intentions which are shown as a form of their glorification and respect for Allah Swt., who truly deserves it. In doing good deeds, they do not aim to gain reward or fear His punishment.”

When you do good deeds or work, it’s just because of Allah Swt, not hoping for a reward.  We do charity or work, not asking for something in return.  We work wherever we go, the intention is because of Allah Swt.  As for getting rewards, that is a blessing.  But if we only hope for rewards, we are very poor.

Work for Allah Swt., to use the knowledge you have and serve the community.  Moreover, we serve in pondok pesantren, as al-Qur’an teachers.  Serving selflessly and not wanting to be seen.  That’s sincerity.  If we work to want to be seen, praised and rewarded, that’s not sincere.  But if we work well and selflessly, then get praise and rewards, that is the assessment of other people.  That is normal and blessing from Allah Swt.  But it is not a goal, because the real goal is Allah Swt.

If we look for the world, then what we will get is the world.  If we seek the approval of Allah Swt., then what we will get is His approval.  If we are close to the world then Allah Swt.  will bring us closer to the world.  If we get closer to Allah Swt., then God willing, Allah Swt.  will get closer to us.  This is as stated in the hadith qudsi:

وَمَا تَقَرَّبَ إِلَيَّ عَبْدِي بِشَيءٍ أَحَبَّ إِلَيَّ مِمَّا افْتَرَضْتُ عَلَيهِ، وَمَا يَزالُ عَبْدِي يَتَقَرَّبُ إِلَيَّ بِالنَّوَافِلِ حَتَّى أُحِبَّهُ، فَإِذَا أحْبَبْتُهُ، كُنْتُ سَمْعَهُ الَّذِي يَسْمَعُ بِهِ، وَبَصَرَهُ الَّذِي يُبْصِرُ بِهِ، ويَدَهُ الَّتي يَبْطِشُ بِهَا، وَرِجْلَهُ الَّتِي يَمْشِي بِهَا وَإنْ سَألَنِي أعْطَيْتُهُ ، وَلَئِن اسْتَعَاذَنِي لَأُعِيذَنَّهُ

“And no servant comes near Me; which I love more than anything I have said to him.  My servant continues to draw closer to Me with sunnah worship until I love him.  If I love him, then I will become his hearing which he uses to hear, his sight which he uses to see, his hands with which he acts, and his feet with which he walks.  If he asks Me, I will surely give him.  And if he asks Me for protection, I will definitely protect him.”  (HR. Al-Bukhari)

Where shall we approach?  To the world or to Allah Swt?  If we get closer to Allah SWT, then Allah Swt.  will provide benefits to us without us realizing it.  For example, we are respected, glorified, and even held positions according to the level of our abilities.  Allah Swt.  provide tests and enjoyment according to the level of our abilities.  Exams are not just difficulties, they are also enjoyable exams.  It’s all according to our level of ability.

Sincerity is closely related to qanaah.  Whatever God gives, we accept it sincerely.  Don’t complain, don’t feel lacking.  Feeling satisfied and sufficient for what Allah Swt give.  Then people who are sincere and qanaah will have a calm and spacious soul.

Let’s together improve our quality in doing charity and working sincerely.  As teachers, we carry out our obligations sincerely, so what we do will affect the students, either directly or indirectly.  God willing, students will be easy to direct.  Even if not now, it will leave an impression on them in the future.  As age matures, knowledge and awareness become more pervasive and profound.  Everything has a process.