not set and specified; and their share in social esteem and acceptance and public attention is not predetermined. Many may be candidates for the same position; many hands may stretch out for each moral and material reward that is offered. Hence it is that conflict and rivalry arise; concord is changed into discord, and agreement into dispute.
Now the cure and remedy for this appalling disease is sincerity. Sincerity may be attained by preferring the worship of God to the worship of one’s own soul, by causing God’s pleasure to vanquish the pleasure of the soul and the ego, and thus manifesting the meaning of the verse:
Verily my reward is from God alone;(11:29)
by renouncing the material and moral reward to be had from men1 and thus manifesting the meaning of the verse:
Naught is incumbent on the Messenger but conveying the message;(5:99)
and by knowing that such matters as goodly acceptance, and making a favourable impression, and gaining the attention of men are God’s concern and a favour from Him, and that they play no part in conveying the message, which is one’s own duty, nor are they necessary for it, nor is one charged with gaining them – by knowing this a person will be successful in gaining sincerity, otherwise it will vanish.
The agreement among the poeple of misguidance is on account of their abasement, and the dispute among the people of guidance is on account of their dignity. That is to say that the people of neglect – those misguided ones sunk in worldly concerns – are weak and abased because they do not rely on truth and reality. On account of their abasement, they need to augment their strength, and because of this need they wholeheartedly embrace the aid and co-operation of others. Even though the path they follow is
One should also take as one’s guide the quality of preferring others to oneself, the same quality of the Companions that is praised in the Qur’an. For example, when giving a present or performing an act of charity, one should always prefer the recipient to oneself, and without demanding or inwardly desiring any material reward for religious service, know one’s act to be purely God’s grace and not impose a sense of obligation on men. Nothing worldly should be sought in return for religious service, for otherwise sincerity will be lost. Men have many rights and claims, and may even deserve zakat. But it cannot be demanded. When one receives something, it cannot be said: “This is the reward for my service.” Rather in perfect contentment one should always prefer to oneself others who are more deserving. Thus manifesting the meaning of “They prefer others to themselves, though poverty be their lot” (Qur’an, 59:9), one may be saved from this terrible danger and gain sincerity.