Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: Assalam Aleikum,
It is scary to imagine that you might THINK you’re doing something for Allah but that’s not the case–that one’s actions may be insincere and therefore not acceptable to Allah. In that sense, is it reasonable to say that there’s nothing we can do beyond praying that Allah accepts our deeds?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
There are means to take to have sincerity, these include:
(1) Seeking beneficial knowledge, through reliable sources;
(2) Keeping the company of the sincere—both learned scholars of guidance, as exemplars, and good friends as company;
(3) Acting on one’s knowledge, with consistency, gradualness, and striving to make one’s private and public actions and states the same;
(4) Turning to Allah before every action;
(5) Remembering Allah during one’s actions;
(6) Asking Allah for acceptance after one’s actions;
(7) Frequent supplication for next-worldly matters and the states beloved to Allah—such as sincerity;
(8) Keeping one’s tongue moist with remembrance of Allah.
These are eight matters from “striving for the sake of Allah.” Allah Most High promises, “Those who strive for Us, We shall surely guide to the paths leading to Us. And Allah is indeed with the people of excellence.” [Qur’an, 29.69]
Please see also: A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines and: Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad – Hypocrisy and Sincerity – A Talk and: A Reminder for Teachers: The Need for Sincerity, and the Dangers of Seeking Prestige and the Praise of Others – Imam Dhahabi
And Allah alone gives success.