The Search For Sincerity

6 min readApr 24, 2024

A Lesson From Trees, Roots and Their Fruits

My mind has been working overtime on a set of verses. It all began with one thought -

How do I make sure what I’m doing is actually for Allah?

This thought that’s been whirling through my head for a while now. Ever since I’ve started writing more Islamic-centered posts for my blog and social media pages, this thought has always been in the back of my mind, but now it’s something I truly worry about.

I initially started writing publicly to mainly share my journey on trying to figure out life. Initially, it was just to have a space to express my thoughts, and if people resonated and benefitted, that was just a plus point. But as my own journey with Islam evolved, my writings inevitably evolved too. And over time the type of things I would post were a lot more focused on Islam.

I told myself it was so I could benefit people.

But, the truth is, there were times when a post didn’t get as many views or likes as normal, I would feel disheartened. There were other times where I’d get feedback on a post, and it would slightly irk me.

The thing is, it’s past social media too. Moments from my real life — from giving advice to someone and getting hurt that it was ignored, to attending protest after protest and feeling disheartened at the lack of change.

And it was after those moments, I really had to pause and think — how sincere am I with this? If truly this was posted for my Lords sake alone, wouldn’t I be happy that just one person was able to benefit? If truly this was posted for Allahs sake, wouldn’t I embrace getting constructive feedback?

Or is this all under the guise of me wanting to gain a following and a bit of respect?

That thought really…really scared me.

My search for sincerity

It’s human nature to want to see outcomes, but it is a dangerous line to let that become your goal.

And it is a scary thought to think that the deeds you thought you were doing for Allah was really being done for some worldly benefit instead. From being able to feel good about yourself to getting yourself a better rep.

It almost makes you want to take a step away from doing anything for others for Allah’s sake because ‘how do I ever know if my intentions are pure’?

But I know that that was Shaytan playing his mind games with me, trying his very best to make me stop doing any good at all. And we aint letting him win this one!

So here I sat between a rock and hard place wondering, what an earth shall I do going forward?

Ya Allah, please grant me sincerity in all I do — raising my hands was all I could do.

The verse that gave me the roadmap

Allah answered my dua from this verse that I heard from a Ramadan series I’m watching. And alhamdulillah, finally the roaring thoughts in my head settled down.

There’s nothing new or groundbreaking in the verse I’m going to share…but it just came at the right time alhamdulillah.

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ ٱللَّهُ مَثَلًۭا كَلِمَةًۭ طَيِّبَةًۭ كَشَجَرَةٍۢ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌۭ وَفَرْعُهَا فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ ٢٤

تُؤْتِىٓ أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍۭ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا ۗ وَيَضْرِبُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ ٢٥

Do you not see how Allah compares a good word to a good tree? Its root is firm and its branches reach the sky, yielding its fruit in every season by the Will of its Lord. This is how Allah sets forth parables for the people, so perhaps they will be mindful.

Surah Ibrahim: 24–25

In this verse, Allah compares a good pure word to a good tree.

Although some tafseer say that the good word here represents the kailmah, it can also refer to generally any good word said to another. I imagine these good words to range from words of advice you give, to an instagram reel you post, to a WhatsApp message you share.

Allah tells us that the words we share are good and pure if it is like this tree He describes to us.

What does this good tree look like?

Allah describes this good tree to have 3 characteristics.

  1. Its roots are firmly in the ground
  2. Its branches are tall reaching towards the sky
  3. It gives out fruit through all the seasons

The first thing that really struck me was how Allah talks about the third characteristic differently to the first two. When talking about the roots and branches, He simply mentions them.

But when speaking about the fruit they’ll give, He emphasises that it will only happen with His permission.

This was lesson number one for me from this verse — a good tree does not worry about producing fruit for people. It realises its focus is on its own roots and branches, and then Allah will look after the rest.

In the same way, Allah is telling us to stop worrying about the output of your good word. Stop worrying about how many people will benefit from this post or that chat.

Allah will look after that.

Our focus should be on our own roots and branches.

What are the roots and branches

The roots, just like for a tree, is the part that’s unseen to the people. It’s the state of your heart, your relationship with your Lord — your internal state.

On the other hand, the branches are the part of you that people can see — from your dress to the way you talk. It is your external state.

The thing is, since no one can see your roots but you, your good word gets judged based on how tall your branches are — from how religiously you dress or how many Arabic words you use in your speech.

People might love your strong passionate monologues or your long reflections, but if the roots of your tree are weak, you’ll find yourself swaying along with the wind. Swaying to what the people and the world loves, over what your Lord does. And as a result, you’ll soon collapse, just like the weak tree.

Through this verse, Allah is telling us — a good trees foundation is firm roots.

And understanding this is when the whirl of thoughts in my mind settled down. I’d received the answer to my question.

The road map to sincerity is to deepen my roots.

How do I get deep roots?

The roots are something unseen to the world, but it is the most vital part of the tree. The deeper the roots of the tree, the stronger and more healthy the tree that grows from it. It’s less likely to sway from the winds that push it and the fruit that it produces will be richer and bigger.

Allah is telling us that the way to make sure the words that you share is good and pure is to focus on your internal state.

Your internal state is made up of all the moments that are between you and your Lord alone. The moments no one sees.

  • Your khushu in your prayers
  • Your time spent with the Quran
  • Your secret charity
  • The time you spend studying Islam on your own

As you strengthen these moments, your relationship with your Lord grows like the roots of a tree. And as that grows, your acts for His sake will become more good and pure.

My action plan from this

That means my action plan going forward is simple. It is to constantly assess how I split my time and energy between watering my roots and worrying about the fruit.

If I find myself spending more hours on preparing for leading a class but then find my prayers are rushed and lack khushu, I have to press stop. Because it means my focus has shifted to the fruits instead of my roots.

Ya Allah, please make us of those who focus on their roots and leave the fruits to You 🌻

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I write to make sense of the world, to make sense of myself. Reflecting on life and faith through fiction and daily happenings. Instagram: @tas.neemuu