What really distinguishes a pious worshipper of God?
In Islam, we must always practice our faith with sincerity, honesty and good will. Each of these virtues includes a vertical dimension (in relation to God) and a horizontal dimension (relative to others) that tells us how to act towards God and towards others.
The virtues of Islam serve as guidelines in all occasions, from our daily mundane interactions to the behaviour of nations and everything in between. They are supposed to be in our minds at all times, when we consider every decision. In this article, I will elaborate on the meaning of these virtues according to the Qur’an and Sunnah, with the aim of revealing their suitability to us in this life and in the Hereafter.
Sincerity is the first thing to which every Muslim must commit in their faith, as well as in their worship. We must act sincerely for the sake of God and not dedicate our actions to the worshiping of idols (polytheism), hypocrisy or bragging. These are the main lines of Satan’s offence against humans and every person will fall to these sins unless he consciously surveils his sincerity.
The Messenger of God, may God’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “The actions are judged by their intention.” The rightful intention, which is sincerity, is the basis of everything we do in Islam. Any act of worship, charity or any other good deed will be judged by the intention behind it. God knows the veritable and internal motives of all our actions and these motives will be announced on the Day of Resurrection.
We must cultivate and praise the virtue of sincerity in our worship and actions, as it is the blessed first step to a peaceful transition into the afterlife. Abu Sulaiman Al-Darani said, “Blessed is he who takes one step and wants nothing but God Almighty.”
Truthfulness with God is the source of all honesty and a Muslim becomes true to God Almighty if he follows three things: “Ethics, Faith and Good Belief”. He said: “O you who believe! Fear God and be with those who are truthful.” Quran (9:119)
When addressing yourself to God Almighty, you must always have honesty in your intentions, honesty in your fear of Him and honesty in your sincerity. In effect, truthfulness is extremely important in Islam. Nevertheless, we often involuntarily teach our children quite the opposite through our own example.
For instance when we don’t want any guests and we ask our children to tell the stubborn caller that we aren’t home, we are teaching them a lesson in deception. Whether we tell lies, or whether we allow our children to live in a world surrounded by deceit, such exposure quickly dims the importance of honesty in their hearts. Honesty is more than just truthfulness, it is most of all a reflection of one’s moral integrity.
Truth and honesty are associated with another fundamental virtue in Islam: good will. We must have good intentions towards God and all His creatures. Correspondingly, one of the best acts of worship is cultivating good intentions in our hearts toward all of Gods creations and acting upon them.
Finally, as Ahmed Ali said, “Piety does not lie in turning your face to East or West: Piety lies in believing in God, the Last Day and the angels, the Scriptures and the prophets, and disbursing your wealth out of love for God among your kin and the orphans, the wayfarers and mendicants, freeing the slaves, observing your devotional obligations, and in paying the zakat and fulfilling a pledge you have given, and being patient in hardship, adversity, and times of peril. These are the men who affirm the truth, and they are those who follow the straight path.” Surah: 2, Verse: 177