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Exactly when do you know your husband is sincere?

By Afis Oladosu
25 February 2022   |   2:44 am
Perhaps the other question should equally be asked – exactly how might you get to know that your wife really and sincerely loves and cares for you? Somebody said that the husband’s sincerity

Perhaps the other question should equally be asked – exactly how might you get to know that your wife really and sincerely loves and cares for you? Somebody said that the husband’s sincerity can only be when the wife is ill or sick. Yet, somebody countered saying people get to know their spouses cares for them after their death. He went on to remind me of a sister who has, for years now, remained unmarried after the demise of her husband. She said that she pledged to be faithful to him. She said that she remains beholden to that pledge, in life and in death, and sincerely too!

Now if a woman could take love for her fellow human being to that level, and if to that extent we could elevate the idea of sincerity, then our duty to, love for and compliance with the injunctions of our Creator should indeed be greater and deeper than the above anecdote.

Sincerity, otherwise known as ikhlas in Arabic, is a central concept in Islam. It is the key and major element or rather ingredient in worship and service to the Almighty without which every action becomes nugatory. In Quran 18 ayat 111, the Almighty declares and categorically too: “Say: “I am only a human being like you. It is revealed to me that your God is One God, therefore whoever wishes to enjoy divine pleasures let him engage in righteous actions and let him not associate anyone with Him in the worship of his Lord” (Quran 18: 111).

In other words, the Qur’an considers sincerity as the ultimate shield against the devil’s deceptions (Qur’an 15:40; 39:3), Kindly note, in addition, that there are two key dimensions to this concept: the first being obedience, and the second being exclusivity. In other words, our sincerity begins to be corrupted if we either habitually fail to obey what we profess (i.e., falling into sin)—or if we obey Him while seeking to conform to another standard (for example, societal or familial expectations) as well. Sincerity is an ideal that we are obliged to pursue, yet rarely privileged to fully achieve.

Further, sincerity is repeatedly described as one of the loftiest characters of the prophets of the Almighty (see Qur’an 12:24, 19:41, 51, 54, 56) and an extremely difficult if not unattainable ideal for ordinary people. The Almighty says: “Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with the Almighty: of them some have completed their vow (to the extreme), and some (are still) waiting: but they have never changed (their determination) in the least (Qur’an 33:23). In Islamic hermeneutics, the only group of people who are considered to be entirely lacking in sincerity are the hypocrites: “The hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire: no helper wilt thou find for them; Except for those who repent, mend (their lives) hold fast to the Almighty, and purify their faith …(Qur’an 4:45-46).

Thus, as far as our relationship with our Creator is concerned, the real connector is sincerity. Once that link is severed, immediately our connection with Him is contaminated by concerns for other than Him, we begin to lose ‘it’.

Transposed to the interpersonal realm, it is indubitable that sincerity, or more appropriately fidelity is fundamental for successful relationships among people. Fidelity here references nothing but a signifier; a signifier for all those qualities, attributes and virtues that we expect in others without which we would be circumspective in our relationship with them. Thus the wife would show fidelity and sincere love for her husband when she stands by and with him in times of difficulties, in times of adversity; when things are looking down, not up for him. She would remember those days and years when, in line with the divine injunctions, he dedicated all that he had to the pursuit of her welfare and comfort.

Sincerity and fidelity of children to their parents comes to the fore when they attain old age, when they become weak and enfeebled by the passage of time. Even then, is it possible for the child to completely recompense his parents for the good they did to him when he was in the cradle? The leader of mankind, Muhammad (s.a.w) says no. Indeed it is no. There is no way I could say thank you enough for the wonderful job my father and mother did for me when I was ‘there’ without actually being there. No matter the service I render to her today, my acts of service to her are ironically circumvented by my knowledge that she is waiting to expire. On the contrary, when I was in the cradle, she did all she could for me in the hope that I may survive! True love is known when the benefactor expects nothing in return. Exactly for what are you out there doing what you are doing? Is it for Him for the Almighty alone?

Afis Ayinde Oladosu Ph.D
Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies,
Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies,
University of Ibadan, Nigeria

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