Be truthful inwardly and that shall reflect on what pleases you, outwardly. Use the feathers of sincerity in the arrow of your deeds, and you shall certainly hit the target that you aspire for. I wonder at you, how will you ever achieve your goal, when your bow is broken because of your sins, and its string is cut due to your laziness? If you want to climb up to reach the high ranks, then you should take the stairs of piety, and if you want to achieve glory, the you ought to prostrate the forehead of humility, and if you desire authority then you should build up the pillars of sincerity, because – by Allah – you can never achieve any of that just by idly wishing!
If you step off the mount of sincerity, you will walk on a bumpy road that will hurt your feet, and worse it shall never take you to your final destination. Indeed, flaunting one’s deeds is the origin of hypocrisy, the hypocrisy of the hypocrites is what made a place of worship [Masjid al-Dirar] turn into a filthy place; therefore Allah ordered [His Prophet] “Do not stand [for prayer] within it – ever” (al-Taubah 9:108)
Whereas, on the other hand, the sincerity of the truly devoted can elevate the status of one whose outer appearance might be dirty and dishevelled [as long as he is sincere]; as the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Perhaps there is a person with unkempt, dusty hair who people will hold in low esteem, but if he were to swear by Allah, Allah would fulfil his oath.” (Recorded in Muslim 2622)
The stormy winds of hypocrisy cannot dislodge the tree sincerity, because its root is deeply established in the ground, whereas the tree of ostentation is completely uprooted, upon the arrival of the breeze of. “And We will regard what they have done of deeds and make them as dust dispersed.” (al-Furqan 25:23)
Do not look at the ascendency of falsehood because it is only temporary; instead, await the establishment of the sovereign state of the truth. If you see a hypocrite having followers, then remember that in the time to come there shall be a Dajjal who too will have amassed followers, just as in the past there was the Samiri [who made the cow for Bani Israel] who also had a following. The latter therefore was punished with “It is [decreed] for you in [this] life to say ‘No contact’.” (Taha 20:97) While the former shall suffer a worse fate.
The pine tree takes thirty years to grow while it takes the pumpkin only two weeks to grow. “You need thrifty years to do what I succeed to do in just two weeks, yet people still put us on the same footing, calling us both ‘trees!’ The pumpkin plant said to the pine tree sarcastically. The pine tree replies: “Do not be hasty on your pronouncement; wait till the wind of autumn arrives [then let’s see who shall survive].”
How many are those who simulate the righteousness in their clothing and humility while, in fact, the mouths of hearts are replaced by their bitter taste. They are those about whom Allah has said, “[They are] those whose effort is lost in wordily life, while they think that they are doing well in work.” (al-Khaf 18:104)
Upon the fall of darkness, during the late night, men and trees look like each other, and cannot be distinguished [as men stand still all night praying without moving] but as dawn breaks the difference between them can be made out. At noon time, the mirage looks like water, but as soon as one gets closer to it, he finds nothing! How unfortunate it is to find plenty of imposters! They outwardly appear [sturdy] like palm trees, but are fragile and empty on the inside.
O pretentious one, the heart of one for whose sake you pretend is in the Hand of Who you disobey. Do not engrave the name of the King on a spurious coin; you should know that not every black piece is a date, nor is the fat better when the meat is swollen.
Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn Jawzi Pages 156-159