Shaykh Saleem Bhimji
There is a stark difference between two relatively similar terms: al-Mukhlasin and al-Mukhlisin – and even though there is only one vowel point which makes the pronunciation different, however that one difference radically changes the meaning of the words.
In his seminal work, Tafsire Namuneh, Ayatullah al-Uzma Shaykh Nasir Makarim Shirazi states that: It must be noted that the word “al-Mukhlas” is the passive participle (al-ism al-maf’ul) and is in the meaning of ‘one who has been made sincere’; while the word “al-Mukhlis” which is the active participle (al-ism al-fa’il) can be rendered as ‘one who is making himself sincere’. By carefully studying the verses of the Qur’an we clearly see that “al-Mukhlis” has been used more often than “al-Mukhlas” and [this word] is used in reference to a person who is at the first of many stages of perfection and on the path of self-building, for example in the verse of the Qur’an which states:
فَإِذَا رَكِبُوا فِي الْفُلْكِ دَعَوُا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ إِذَا هُمْ يُشْرِكُونَ
“When they board the ship, they invoke God putting exclusive faith in Him, but when He delivers them to land, behold, they ascribe partners [to Him.]” (Al-Ankabut (29) v. 65)
وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاءَ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ
“Yet they were not commanded except to worship Allah, dedicating their faith to Him as men of pure faith, and to maintain the prayer, and pay the zakat. That is the upright religion.” (Al-Bayyinah (98), v. 5)
However the word “al-Mukhlas” is a higher station which one can only attain after traversing the station of the struggle with the self; and this is the level at which Satan loses all hope of using his influence or whisperings to misguide these individuals; and is that station in which Allah himself guards the person so that no impurity can touch him.
Therefore, the one who is initiating that ‘act of making one sincere’ is Allah Himself, and the one who is ‘receiving the status of being made sincere’ is the human being [who has been bestowed with this lofty status]; and in essence such a person has been granted a level of insurance from Allah.
Therefore we read:
قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ
“He said, ‘My Lord! As You have consigned me [Satan] to perversity, I will surely glamorize [evil] for them on the earth, and I will surely pervert them, except Your exclusive servants among them.’” (Al-Hijr (15), v. 39-40)
Shaykh Saleem Bhimji