On Sincerity and Avoiding Excessiveness – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Attaining true sincerity in worship and maintaining it through following the Prophetic balance – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains how, as he draws from two counsels from one of the great works of the Ba’Alawi tradition titled “Idah Asrar ‘Uloom al-Muqarrabin” (A Clarification of the Subtle Knowledges of Those Drawn Close to Allah) by Shaykh Jamaluddin ibn Abdullah ibn Shaykh al-Aydarus.
The first counsel on striving for sincerity is from page 52 of the book:
An action that is pure in every consideration is exceedingly rare and hard to find because most righteous actions are not bereft of capricious impulse, even if it be a little. But a person may not realize those imperfections because how subtle they are. And it is this completely pure action in every way that reaches The Lord Most High quickly and it is the action that rips away the veils between one and his Lord, because that completely pure action is the most noble of actions and the very spirit of actions. And the action that is completely pure is that which was preformed with a degree of spiritual striving (mujahada) and exertion, and one’s ego has no attachment to it in any way. Such an action is the reliance of the knowers of Allah and what they consider, so understand well.
The second counsel on maintaining the Prophetic balance in actions of worship from page 66 of the book:
It is upon you dear brother to do the good, and seek with all your actions the Countenance of Allah Most High. And beware of extremes and excessiveness in your actions, because righteous acts if they are preformed with balance then they fall in their rightful places (and have their rightful impact). But if one becomes excessive in them, then whims become attached to them and then they become of the category of the actions of the self. Do you not see the words of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him in the rigorously authenticated narration (hadith):
“… Rather I pray and not stand in prayer, I fast some days and not fast others, I have relations with women, so whoever turns away from my sunnah is not of me.”
So some knowers of Allah said that Allah has not commanded His servants with any command except that Iblis follows up on it by either by calling the servant to overdo the action or become lax therein. This should teach you oh spiritual wayfarer how to have balance in all your affairs and to not go into excesses in your actions, because actions (good deeds) can ruin a person without them even realizing it because of their caprice taking over them.
The basis of this is the ego has a type of attachment to good deeds, except that these attachments have no basis and no reality (it is delusion). What could be manifest of one in their dealings is softness and gentleness, but their heart could be hard and their gentleness and softness is out of their ego, and this happens a lot.
Likewise crying for example could overcome people who are hard hearted, their selves are week and their hearts are hard, and none of that matters, because the reliance is on that which comes forth from the hearts, not from that which is manifested by selves. Likewise with all character traits and conducts that are related to the self, none of it is celebrated because it has no basis even if it from that which impresses people.
So if you wish to distinguish between that which comes forth from the hearts and that which comes forth from the self, then go from effects to causes. So for example if you see someone who is soft and crying then look at their temperament, does it fit their temperament? So if their temperament befits softness and crying then this from the heart. But if their temperament is difficult and harsh not suited to crying and softness, then know that it is from the self and not from the heart. So apply the same thing to yourself.
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Resources for Seekers:
Seeking Sincerity: How Can One Strive To Have One’s Actions accepted by Allah?
How Can I Deal With Doubts About the Sincerity of My Prayers?
How To Attain Sincerity: Keys, Signs, and Advice
A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines
How Can I Increase My Iman and My Sincerity
The Need for Sincerity, and the Dangers of Seeking Prestige and the Praise of Others
Intention: Validity And Sincerity
Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad on Hypocrisy and Sincerity
What Is the Meaning of the Hadith “Ruined Are the Extremists”?