[Surah Al-Qalam 68:4]
Imam Bukhari in his Sahih has recorded the following hadith as the first hadith of his book: “Umar ibn Al-Khattab reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“Verily, deeds are only with intentions. Verily, every person will have only what they intended. Whoever emigrated to Allah and his messenger, then his emigration is for Allah and his messenger. Whoever emigrated to get something in the world or to marry a woman, then his emigration is for whatever he emigrated for.”
In the days of the Prophet ﷺ, Hijrah, the migration from Makkah was declared as compulsory. It was an exceptionally difficult task for the early Muslims, even if they belonged to rich families. Migration meant leaving their city, friends, family, lands and businesses. It was a mission that tested them in every aspect; emotional, financial, physical. Many of them had to leave behind their wives, children, business, farms and some even had to leave their clothes to move towards Madinah to be a part of the obedient team that was being groomed by the Prophet ﷺ.
Migration was supposed to be done to please Allah, by obeying his command. But there was one person who migrated for a different reason. He wanted to marry a girl, Umm Qais in Makkah but the girl had migrated to Madinah and was ready to accept the proposal only if the man migrated to Madinah. This man’s intention was to marry the girl so he migrated towards Madinah and married her. It was this incident that made the declaration of sincere intention as a condition for good deeds to be rewarded. He was then known as Muhajir Umme Qais, The Immigrant for Umm e Qais.
Sincerity is a part of good Akhlaq (character). Absence of sincerity might lead to the downfall of spirituality and morals. Allah Rejects any act that is done to please others instead of seeking His Pleasure and is devoid of sincerity.
The Two categories of Shirk
Shirk e Akbar is Primary Shirk. It means to associate partners with Allah, taking other objects as god or worshipping human, heroes or kings as gods. There is another type of shirk about which the Muslims have been warned; This is called Shirk e Asghar, the secondary shirk.
What are the things that fall in the category of Shirk e Asghar?
Any good deed carried out to show-off, to gain recognition and admiration of people or to please a person, falls in the category of Shirk e Asghar, the secondary shirk. The Arabic term for this is Riya. If you want to avoid Riya, then sincerity is the only option. Sincerity towards pleasing Allah is the best option to get fully rewarded. Every good deed should be void of the desire for publicity, praise or rewards. Hatim Ta’ee was an Arab who lost all his good deeds and failed in akhera because of his intention. His intention was to seek fame. Though he was the most generous Arab of his time, he failed to get rewarded for his good deeds. He would end up in hellfire. The same rule applies to Muslims, too.