Ghazali on Sincerity – purify and multiply your intention

Ghazali lived in 5th century Hijri and his book, Kitaab Al-Arba’in Fi Usul ad-Din, ‘The Forty Principles of the Religion,’ which he wrote before his death, is a summary of Ihya Ulumuddin (Revival of the Sciences of the Religion), and his life’s works and thoughts. In the last ten principles of the forty, he looks at good traits that we should adopt and nurture within ourselves. The first is tawbah (repentance); the second is khawf (fear) and the third is zuhd (asceticism), the fourth quality is sabr (patience). The fifth quality is shukr.  Ikhlas and sidq (sincerity and truthfulness) are the sixth qualities. This is a long chapter and Ghazali dives into it and takes us with him. He says that sincerity (Ikhlas) comprises three pillars which are: Reality (haqiqa) – sincere intention Foundation (asl) – removing any corruption in the intention Perfection (kamal) – truthfulness The essence of ikhlas is niyyah (intention) because you find ikhlas inside the intention. The reality of ikhlas is to purify your intention from anything corrupting it. And the perfection of it is to be truthful. Though this sounds complicated, Ghazali explains it further. The intention  In the Quran, Allah Almighty said: وَلَا تَطْرُدِ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِٱلْغَدَوٰةِ وَٱلْعَشِىِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُۥ ۖ ˹O Prophet!˺ Do not turn away those ˹poor believers˺ who invoke their Lord morning and evening, seeking His pleasure. (6:52) Ghazali picks this verse to show that the core of these believers’ actions is seeking Allah’s pleasure. This is why, in the famous hadith of the Prophet (peace be on him), he said: “إِنَّمَا الأَعْمَالُ بالنِّيَّاتِ Actions are but by intention[i]. (Bukhari) This narration has generated a huge debate – whether it means that the reward for an action is linked to the intention or the validity of the action. Without doubt, … Continue reading Ghazali on Sincerity – purify and multiply your intention