The Meaning of Sincerity: Characteristics, Levels, and Examples

Sincerity is one of the virtues that everyone should possess. In simple terms, ikhlas is the opposite of riya, which is that we do all work or worship only because we want to gain the pleasure of Allah SWT. While rya is doing a deed and worship because you want to seek appreciation and recognition from people.

Well, in this article, we will discuss the meaning of sincerity in terms of language and characteristics as well as how to have a sincere heart in going through all the things in our lives. For more completeness, below the writer will explain the definition of sincerity in more detail.

Meaning of sincerity

Sincerity is the spirit of a deed. If the deeds we do are not accompanied by a sense of sincerity, then it is like a body without a soul. As is the case with the wisdom conveyed by Ibn Athaillah As-Sakandari.

Business photos list and souls exist in it

Not only that, akhlakul karimah in the form of sincerity is the fruit of Ihsan, which is a person’s belief that what we do is known and seen by Allah SWT.

If interpreted linguistically, the meaning of Ikhlas has the meaning of cleansing (clear, clean, pure from pollution, pure from mixture, whether it is in the form of matter or not). In addition, sincerity can also be interpreted in terms, where it means to clean the heart in order to go only to Allah SWT. In other words, in performing worship, our hearts cannot go to other than Allah SWT.

Then the meaning of sincerity according to Ali Al Dagog is to cover everything from the view of other beings. Usually, a person who has a sincere heart is called a Mukhlis, that is someone who is sincere and does not have the nature of riya. While according to Fudhail Bin Iyadh, sincerity is doing good deeds only because of Allah SWT. If a person does charity to attract people’s attention, then that person is a person who is riya. While people who do charity for people are called shirk. While the sincere position is between riya and shirk.

Then, sincerity according to Imam Nawawi is:

Sincerity is cleaning all the five senses outwardly and inwardly from reprehensible behavior. Doing charity is one of the creatures’ proof to Allah SWT, that they are an obedient servant of the Creator who has given an extraordinary mandate and mercy. Where the charity done is intended as a proof of their obedience to Allah SWT. So it should be done with a clean and pure heart. So what we practice and what we do is really only because of Allah SWT and is free from hypocrisy which is riya or shirk. This is in line with one of the verses in the Qur’an in QS. Al Mulk verse 2:

اَلَّذِى خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَوَةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ Aَيُّكُمْ اَحْسَنُ عَمَلاً وَّوَ الْعَزِيْزُ الْغَفُوْرُ


“Who created death and life, so that He may test you, which of you is better in deeds, and He is Mighty and Forgiving”.

Meaning of Sincerity According to the Experts

The following are some definitions of sincerity according to the scholars according to their respective versions.

1. Meaning of Sincerity According to Muhammad Abduh

According to Muhammad Abduh, the meaning of sincerity is religious sincerity solely for Allah SWT. By always hoping in Him and never acknowledging His equality with any creature and not with a specific purpose. As in the case of avoiding calamity or to gain profit and not appointing anyone other than Allah SWT as the Protector.

2. Meaning of Sincerity According to Muhammad al-Ghazali

The meaning of sincerity according to Al-Ghazali is to do good deeds with the sole purpose of being because of Allah SWT.

3. Meaning of Sincerity According to Imam Al-Qusyairi

The meaning of sincerity according to Imam Al-Qusyairi in his book entitled Risalatul Qusyairiyah (1990: 183) is that sincerity means making Allah SWT the only worshiper.

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4. Meaning of Sincerity According to Hamka

The meaning of sincerity according to Hamka (1983: 95) is that sincerity has a clean meaning and there is no mixture. Like gold, sincerity is pure gold, without the slightest mixture of silver. Clean work on something means sincerity.

5. Meaning of Sincerity According to Sheikh Ibnu Atha’illah

The meaning of sincerity according to Sheikh ibnu Atha’illah (2012: 14) reveals that the meaning of the word sincerity is to perform acts of worship solely aimed at Allah SWT as the only entity that has servants. In that regard, it is known that there are various levels, which correspond to the taufiq given by Allah Ta’ala to a servant.

6. Definition of Sincerity According to Ali Mahmud

The meaning of sincerity according to Ali Mahmud (1994: 25) is to leave charity because humans are selfish creatures, to do charity because of humans is an act of shirk, but if Allah SWT saves you from both, it means sincerity.

Characteristics of Sincerity

Sincerity is the opposite of hypocrisy. As discussed above. Riya has qualities that are the opposite of sincerity, such as the ambition to be a leader, always wanting to appear perfect, easy to be praised, does not like to take advice from others, and so on. Sincerity is the work of the heart, so it is not easy to understand someone’s nature. Is he sincere, conceited, arrogant or does he have good and sincere intentions? That way, in this discussion, the writer will give the characteristics of people who have a sincere nature but not to judge that person is wrong or not. The writing below is intended to be used as self-reflection only.

The following are the characteristics of sincerity:

1. Does not like to be praised

Praise is one of the tests for people who do good deeds with praise one can be affected by arrogance or arrogance. Therefore, a mukhlis will never like the praise that comes from someone.

2. Not Ambitious to Be a Leader

One of the advantages of a leader is to be respected and respected by many people. With leadership, it will be easier for someone to become arrogant and conceited. However, unlike people with this trait, they will be calm and quiet and will not nominate themselves to be a leader. For example, by nominating yourself to be the head of RT, RW, or others.

3. Listening to Advice

In an Arabic proverb says:

خض الحكمة ولو من جوف البحايم

Take wisdom (lessons) even from the mouth of animals.
A sincere person will always appreciate those who advise him.

4. Treating Praise and Insults Equally

The duty of a Muslim is to do the command of Allah SWT well as one of the signs of servitude to the Creator. Often, what people do earns praise and even contempt from those around them. While for a mukhlis, praise and insults are the same thing. They will not think about it, because all they know is the intentions of the people around them.

5. Forgetting Good Deeds

Another characteristic of sincerity is to forget the good deeds that have been done. When someone does a good deed such as helping others, usually a mukhlis will forget and will never remember it again. Thus, sincere people do not easily talk or bring up the good deeds that have been done before.

6. Forgetting the Right to Good Charity

A person who does good deeds sincerely will forget the good deeds they have done. Not only that, they will also forget the right to good deeds. When someone does good deeds, usually they will claim their rights. For example, after someone gives food to orphans, then they expect thanks and prayers from the children. That kind of attitude cannot be classified as sincere. Because, still demanding rights from his good deeds.


Level of Sincerity

The scholars of Sufism distinguish these morals into three levels, among them:

1. Public Sincerity

In their worship to Allah SWT, they base it with a feeling of fear of Allah’s punishment and still hope for worldly rewards. As in the case of people who perform the Dhuha prayer so that they get a reward and also have their sustenance made easier. Then those who perform tahajud prayer because they want to launch their worldly affairs.

2. Ikhlas Khawas

This one moral has the motivation to earn a reward from Allah SWT. In this way, people who do good deeds of worship will get something from Allah in the afterlife, such as avoiding the torment of hell and entering the paradise of Allah SWT.

3. Ikhlas Khawas al-Khawas

This one sincerity is a form of devotion from a servant to Allah SWT accompanied by the full awareness that a servant should serve Allah SWT by doing deeds and acts of worship done because of truly seeking Allah’s pleasure. The acts of worship performed by the mukhlis only to seek the pleasure of Allah SWT without any desire to seek attention or fame in front of other beings, whether it is in the form of praise or the like.

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Imam Al-Ghazali said:

هَلَكَ النَّاسُ كُلُّهُمْ إِلاَّ الْعُلَمَاءْ , وَهَلَكَ الْعُلَمَاء كُلُّهُمْ إِلاَّ الْعَامِلِيْنَ ,
وَهَلَكَ الْعَامِلُوْنَ كُلُّهُمْ إِلاَّ الْمُخْلِصِيْنَ , وَالْمُخْلِصُوْنَ عَلىَ خَطْرٍ عَظِيْمٍ


“Every human being will perish except for the knowledgeable, and the knowledgeable will perish except for those who do good deeds (with their knowledge), and those who do good will also perish except for those who are sincere (in their deeds). However, sincere people should still be alert and careful in doing charity.

Elements of Sincerity

As for the elements of sincerity, among others:

1. Intention

In the Al Quran, Allah SWT has said: “And do not expel those who call upon their Lord in the morning and evening, while they seek His pleasure (QS 6: 52). Therefore, our intention will be to seek His pleasure.

2. Sincere Intention

Prophet Muhammad SAW once said to Muadz, “Be sincere in charity, then a little of it will suffice you”.

3. Can be trusted

The perfection of a sincerity is trustworthy. In that regard, Allah SWT has said in (QS 33:23) which reads “Those who fulfill what they have promised God” (QS 33: 23) (al Ghozali, 2006: 215).

Understand that everything is reflected and mixed by others. So when He is pure from mixture and clean from anything, surely He can be called pure or pure. While something called a pure and clean act is sincere.

An example of sincerity

There are several examples that we can learn from. The first is when a person is working and hears the call to prayer, after which he immediately rushes to the mosque to perform the prayer. But his heart and mind were in the background because he just wanted to avoid his job. So we cannot classify those people as sincere people. Because, the reason he has is one of the wrong reasons, because he performs the morning prayer to avoid work not because of Allah SWT. Then for the second example is when a person does charity in the way of sodaqoh or infaq which aims to seek the attention of others. So the deed cannot be said to be sincere.

Various Sincere Functions

Here are some of the functions of sincerity that you need to understand and get, among others:

a. As a source of sustenance, a very large reward and can reap the benefits of the kindness of someone who does it.
b. Sincerity can save the perpetrator from a heinous punishment on the Day of Resurrection.
c. Allah SWT will provide guidance or direction, so that we will not get lost in finding the right path.
d. We can only get the path of salvation to the afterlife with sincerity.
e. Our acts of worship will be accepted by Allah SWT.
f. Will get protection from Allah SWT in the last day.
g. The life of the heart and freedom from all kinds of sorrows in this world cannot be realized except with sincerity.
h. Make our life more calm and peaceful.
i. Get protection from Allah SWT.

Tips To Be Sincere In Charity

There are some tips that we can apply to avoid the attitude of riya or ujub. So that the deeds we do become more sincere and pure because of Allah SWT. The way is by organizing our hearts and minds that the worship we do is one of the gifts from Allah SWT. So, with our thoughts like that, then we will not boast. That what we do is purely from ourselves and the grace of Allah SWT that has been given to us. So that we can worship Allah SWT. If we talk about sincerity in deeds, there are ways we can do so that the deeds we do are accepted by Allah SWT. One of them is to consider that everything in this world, including the property we own, is only a blessing and a gift from Allah SWT entrusted to us. Until the moment we give part of our sustenance to those in need, let’s just assume it is just a deposit from Allah SWT intended for the people we help. That way, we will be spared from the hypocritical attitude that thinks that giving charity to the needy is something to be proud of and should be known to many people.

Prayer To Always Be Sincere

May Allah grant us sincerity and uprightness and the love of God and the love of those who love

Allahummarzuqnal-ikhlas wal Istiqomah wa hubbAllah wa hubba man ahabbah.


Ya Allah, give us sustenance in the form of sincerity, steadfastness, love for you and love for those who love you.

After we know about the meaning of sincerity along with its characteristics, may we be able to practice it and always be in the abundance of his grace.

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