Conditions for esal e thawab

In the earlier part of his life Hakim al-Umma Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi (may Allah have mercy on him) used to teach at the Islamic seminary (darul uloom) in Kanpur.

One day students entered the class to find him sitting there obliviously very sad. The signs of melancholy and sorrow were clearly evident on his face. The students were concerned and respectfully inquired what was the reason for this unusual demeanor. Hakim al-Umma informed them that he had just received the news of demise of his eldest sister. Students felt sad and requested him to postpone teaching session for that day. Hakim al Umma told them that he had come to teach as usual. However, seeing the sadness of their teacher students insisted and requested that instead of the usual daily class they wanted to recite the Holy Quran and forward its reward to the deceased muslimah. After much insistence Hakim al-Umma accepted their plea on three conditions,

Firstly, they would not recite the Holy Quran sitting together. It will be done individually and in private.

Secondly, every participant was to recite whatever amount was possible for him with ease. Half or quarter juz (section) or even sura iklas (chapter112) three time would be fine.

 Thirdly, after recitation no one should inform how much he recited.

Hakim al-Umma enforced these conditions to ensure absolute sincerity in the recitation. It is well established that the reward of good deed is based on the sincerity (ikhlas) with which it is done. Actions devoid of sincerity are worthless and there is no benefit in forwarding its reward to others.

Issue like social coercing, show-off and undue hardship on those involved essentially destroys the sincerity altogether.