Who are the Aṣḥāb yamīn (people of the right side) and is complete sincerity in actions necessary?

Aṣḥāb yamīn (people of the right side)

The next group is called the Aṣḥāb yamīn (people of the right side). They will be placed on the right of the Divine throne and their deeds will be placed in their right hand. They are of various types:

  1. They are close to the sābiqūn (the one’s who excel) but have not acquired complete perfection; they suffice with the bodily form without completely realising the spiritual aspect.
  2. They are the ones of contention; of two sides where one is weakly angelic and the other is strongly animalistic. Or it is the case that it is weakly animalistic and apathetic when it comes to remembering God.
  3. They are the one’s of inner integration; they have a very weakly angelic side and engage in difficult spiritual exercises or reciting litanies when their animalistic side is strong.

Complete sincerity

Iḳhlās (sincerity) requires that an action is performed solely for the pleasure of God. However, our faith simultaneously recognises human frailty. Hence,  one’s worship is accepted even though it may not acquire complete sincerity. For example, on feeling a sense of remorse after seeing a person in poverty, ones gives charity whilst mixing this with the intention of receiving the reward for this act. Or someone, due to social pressure, performs their prayer combined with the intention of receiving the reward for this action. While others may be prevented from fornication or drinking alcohol both by fear of God and fear of people. In all such cases, their worship is still accepted.

فَيُقبل منهم ذالك بشرط أن تَضْعُف قلوبُهم عن الإخلاص الصّرف، وأن تمسك نفوُسهم بالأعمال أنفسِها

This action is accepted from them on the condition that their hearts are too weak for absolute sincerity and that their souls can only cling to the act themselves.

Therefore, while perfect sincerity is always the ideal, persisting with actions performed in this way will ensure that they are accepted.

We find support for this in the statement of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ:

الْحَيَاءُ خَيْرٌ كُلُّهُ

‘all modesty is good.’[1]

This is because due to the wisdom of earlier times, in modesty there was considered both weakness and a goodness; goodness if the display of modesty was done voluntarily, and weakness if it happened involuntarily. The Messenger of Allah ﷺremoved such distinctions. Therefore, a good action done out of weakness is also accepted.

Occasions of angelic light

Though the ‘people of the right side’ may not experience permanent angelic light, there are moments when it does twinkle for short times. For example:

  1. When they ask for forgiveness (from God) and blame themselves
  2. When they remember God in seclusion and their eyes flow with tears
  3. When their souls cannot control evil due to weakness in their innate disposition
  4. When they recollect a sin and are pained by it

In summary, the ‘people of the right side’ lack one of the two virtues of the sābiqūn (one’s who excel) whilst achieving the other. [2]

[1] Abū Dāwūd.

[2] They are mentioned previously: concentration on God and; strong fiṭrah (innate constitution).

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