Seven Secrets to Sincerity

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Seven Secrets to Sincerity

Below are some habits and actions that help build sincerity. Sincerity here is the capacity to do everything for no purpose other than to please Allah. 

1. Silence

2. Solitude
3. Secrecy
4. Surroundings
5. Service
6. Struggle
7. Steadiness

1. Silence
The tongue (and, in today’s social media world, our fingers) is a double-edged sword responsible for some of our best deeds but also much of our worst. Before speaking (or posting), check why you are saying what you are saying. Is it true, useful, well-mannered, sincere? Or is it really to show off, to feign humility, to subtly draw praise, to put someone down for your benefit, to garner attention and popularity? To build sincerity, be more careful with everything you say, and choose silence more often.

2. Solitude
In today’s ever-connected world, it’s rare to find a moment alone with yourself and with your Lord. It’s easier than ever to lose yourself in other people’s opinions and expectations and, in turn, to lose sight of who you are and what your true purpose is. How can you know and love your Lord if you don’t spend time in solitude with Him? How can you be in control of who you are if you don’t spend time in your own company? To build sincerity, spend more solitary time in self-reflection and in building a personal and intimate relationship with your Lord.

3. Secrecy
Secret deeds are more likely to remain sincere than public deeds, and they will train you to be more sincere in everything else you do. Slowly collect a few good deeds and habits that you keep a strict secret between you and your Lord, with the hope of one day meeting Him with a few deeds done sincerely for His sake. Start with anything, even if small: a few words of dhikr, some small but regular charity, a voluntary fast here and there, some extra prayers at night. To build sincerity, try to have more secret good deeds than public ones.

4. Surroundings
They say you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, and we know Islam teaches us the importance of good companionship. Your surroundings mould you, both the company you keep and the atmospheres you attend. Spend time with sincere people and their characteristics will rub off on you. But also be careful where you spend your time; try to spend more time in the mosque, for example, and less time at the cinema or in shopping centres. To build sincerity, spend time with sincere people and in righteous settings.

5. Service
Serving others grounds you and nurtures humility. Spend regular time in the service of others, be it packing up at the end of an event, or doing the grocery shopping for a friend. Step down from your usual activities to lend a hand without taking anything in return. Seek out small discomforts that force you to re-evaluate your intentions and be more deliberate in your sincerity. To build sincerity, serve others.

6. Struggle
Difficulty builds character. As they say, the smooth side of the mountain is the hardest to climb; it has nothing to hold on to — it’s the rough side that gets you to the top. Of course, don’t seek out difficulty, but, when it comes your way, accept it as a gift. Treat it as a school that will teach you patience, strong will, reliance on Allah alone, and, in turn, sincerity. Severe hardship was fundamental to the training of the best of mankind, starting with the prophets. To build sincerity, embrace hardship as an opportunity gifted by Allah, then make the most of it.

7. Steadiness
Slow and steady wins the race, and we know from the hadith that the most beloved actions to Allah are those that are consistent even if small. Consistency nurtures sincerity because it trains your good deeds to transcend all purposes besides Allah. When you maintain your good deeds through thick and thin, no matter the people around you, no matter where you are, no matter how you feel, no other purpose is left except for Allah. To build sincerity, build consistency in your good deeds and take them with you everywhere you go.

We ask Allah to make us sincere.

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