Sincerity is a crucial element of repentance and salvation in Islam. Muslims are primarily encouraged to practice sincerity in their relationships with God, as well as to be honest in relationships with one another. Sincerity before God is associated with faithfulness in Islam. It is one of the most important criteria God uses to judge the state of an individual's heart.
The Arabic word for sincerity is "ikhlas." God judges the actions of people to determine whether they are sincere. In particular, he discerns whether a person commits good deeds out of genuine desire to please him or merely to attain the adulation of other humans. Ikhlas is often translated into English as "sincerity of intention," a distinction that underscores the centrality of personal motivation.
In the Quran
One English translation of a hadith, or saying, of the Prophet Muhammad, reads, "Verily, deeds are rewarded by intention. And everyone will have the reward for that which he has intended." Sometimes the Quran refers to Muslims themselves as "the people of truth.". Another hadith translation notes, "Whoever loves for Allah [or God], hates for Allah, gave for Allah and forbade for Allah, then he completed his faith." In other words, Muslims should be motivated by sincere faith in all things.
Good Deeds and Repentance
Muslims believe that performing good deeds helps cancel their sins. The faith proscribes many potential good deeds, from faithful prayer to alms-giving. But mere good deeds are not enough. In order for them to count toward salvation, these actions must be accompanied by the sincere desire to repent and gratify God. The Quran promises God's forgiveness to those who repent honestly: “Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
The Final Judgment
Muslims believe that, after death, human bodies remain in the ground until a final judgment, when the spirit is reunited with the body. On that day, there will be an account of every individual's deeds, both good and bad. If the deeds were completed in sincerity of intention, they will appear in the list of sanctifying, good actions. At that time, God will decide whether the good deeds outweigh the bad. If they do, the individual will spend eternity in paradise; if not, the individual will be condemned to hell.
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