Du’ā: Essence of ‘Ibādat
In the fourth verse of the Fātiḥah, first is mentioned ikhlāṣ or sincerity, that is, to purify one’s belief regarding the unity of God from all things other than Him. Ikhlāṣ literally means to purify something from adulteration and mixture. Therefore, everything which can possibly be adulterated and alloyed, but is found pure in true sense is called khāliṣ (pure), such as gold, silver etc. Nonetheless, in religious terms ikhlāṣ means that state of heart in which its attention is towards God alone and in this state, there is not the slightest mixture of other imaginations and thoughts. Regarding this state of the heart, an example from the wise Qur’ān is presented here, which is: “And when they mount upon the ships they pray to Allāh, making their faith pure for Him only, but when He brings them safe to land, behold they ascribe partners (unto Him)” (29:65). The purport or meaning of this verse depends purely on wisdom. That is, most of the believers in God do not apparently start to pray to Him purifying their faith for Him when they embark on a ship, nor do they unusually ascribe partners to Him instantly upon coming ashore. However, it is true that due to the fear in their heart when embarking on a ship they become attentive to God, in such a way that no worldly thing can divert their attention from Him, but after landing, this state of the heart, which according to God is called ikhlāṣ or ‘pure faith’, vanishes and worldly imaginations and thoughts start to enter their hearts. This state of the heart, according to God, is called shirk or ‘ascribing partners to God’. Thus, ikhlāṣ is the name of that state of heart in which attention is directed towards God alone, just as the people of a ship in a dangerous sea are attentive to God alone.
This excerpt has been taken from pages 22 and 23.