Allah is Self-Sufficient
The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, said: ‘I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me.’”
The above Hadith Qudsi teaches us one of the great principles of Islam which is that all acts of worship must be performed sincerely for the sake of Allah and that those acts of worship which are performed for other than Allah will be rejected.
For acts of worship to be acceptable from Allah and for a person to be rewarded for them, there are two conditions which must be met:
1. The first condition (which the above Hadith Qudsi shows) is: it should be devoted to Allah Alone. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him)” [Al-Bayyinah 98:5]
The meaning of worshipping Allah alone is that the person should intend in all his words and deeds, both inward and outward, to seek the Face of Allah (i.e., His pleasure). Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And who has (in mind) no favour from anyone to be paid back, Except to seek the Countenance of his Lord, the Most High” [Al-Layl 92:19]
“(Saying): “We feed you seeking Allah’s Countenance only. We wish for no reward, nor thanks from you” [Al-Insaan 76:9]
“Whosoever desires (by his deeds) the reward of the Hereafter, We give him increase in his reward, and whosoever desires the reward of this world (by his deeds), We give him thereof (what is decreed for him), and he has no portion in the Hereafter” [Al-Shoora 42: 20]
“Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter, to them We shall pay in full (the wages of) their deeds therein, and they will have no diminution therein.
They are those for whom there is nothing in the Hereafter but Fire, and vain are the deeds they did therein. And of no effect is that which they used to do” [Hud 11: 15-16]
It was narrated that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (radi Allahu anhu) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) say: ‘The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
2. The second condition is that the action should be in accordance with the only way which Allah has prescribed for worship, which is by following the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) in the laws that he has brought. It was narrated that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever does any action that is not in accordance with this matter of ours (i.e., Islam), will have it rejected.” [Sahih Muslim]
Ibn Rajab (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “This Hadith forms one of the most important principles of Islam. It is like a scale for weighing up deeds according to their outward appearance, just as the Hadith ‘The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions’ is the means of weighing up the inner nature of deeds. Just as every action which is not intended for the sake of Allah brings no reward to the one who does it, so too every deed which is not in accordance with the command of Allah and His Messenger will also be rejected and thrown back at the one who does it. Everyone who innovates in Islam something for which Allah and His Messenger have not granted permission, that thing is nothing to do with Islam. [Jaami’ al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hukam]
The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) enjoined following his Sunnah and teachings, and made them binding. He (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “You have to follow my Sunnah (way) and the way of my rightly-guided successors (al-khulafa’ al-raashidoon); bite onto it with your eyeteeth (i.e., cling firmly to it).” And he warned against bid’ah (innovation), as he said: “Beware of newly-invented matters, for every newly-invented matter is a going astray.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhi 2600; classed as Sahih Shaykh by al-Albaani in Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 2157]
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: “Allah has made devotion of worship to Him alone and following the Sunnah the means of deeds being accepted; if these conditions are not met, then deeds are unacceptable.” [Al-Rooh]
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Who has created death and life that He may test you which of you is best in deed” [Al-Mulk 67: 2]
Al-Fudayl (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: “’best in deed’ means, most devoted (sincere) to Allah alone and most in accordance with the Sunnah.
And Allah knows best!