Excerpted from the translator’s footnotes to “An Explanation of Riyadh al-Saliheen”
Ikhlaas cannot coexist in a heart which [embraces] the love of praise and commendation, [nor] the yearning [to obtain] that which is possessed amongst the people, save in the [manner] that fire and water, or a lizard and fish may coexist.
If your soul informs you to quest for Ikhlaas, turn first towards your yearning and slaughter it with a knife [in a state] of desperation. Then turn [in a state of] asceticism upon praise and commendation, the asceticism of the [one] who loved the Dunya for the sake of the Hereafter. If your quest in the [act] of slaughtering the yearning, and [the acquisition of] asceticism [against] praise and commendation is successful, your [journey] shall be facilitated in your [quest] for Ikhlaas.
If it is mentioned: What may facilitate the [act] of slaughtering the yearning and the [development] of asceticism [against] the praise and commendation?
The method of facilitating the [act] of slaughtering the yearning: Your definitive knowledge that there is no matter [present] that awakens one’s greed for, save the worship of Allah alone, and the Treasures which He alone possesses. For no individual can furnish the slave with [those Treasures] save He.
The method of facilitating the [development] of asceticism [against] praise and commendation: Your knowledge that there is no individual who can [confer] benefit upon or beautify his praise, [nor] inflict damage upon or disgrace his vilification, save Allah alone.
As the bedouin said to the Prophet, sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam:
My praise [has been] embellished, and indeed my vilification [has been] disgraced. The Prophet sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam remarked: That is Allah. [Tirmidhi 3266, Kitab Tafseer al-Qur’an, Declared Saheeh]
Accordingly, be ascetic for praise [and] the one who is incapable of beautifying his praise for you. [And] for vilification [and] the one who is incapable of disgracing his vilification for you. Be desirous for the One who is absolute in the embellishment of His praise, and is absolute in the tarnishment of His vilification. For none shall acquire that, save with patience and certainty, and when you have forfeited patience and certainty, you are comparable to the one who desired to journey across a sea without [the aid] of a vessel.
Allah has mentioned:
Be patient. Verily the promise of Allah is true, and let not those who are devoid of certainty in faith discourage you from conveying [Allah’s Message]. [Ar-Rum: 60]
We have made from amongst them leaders, guiding under One Command, when they were patient and believed in Our Signs with certainty. [As-Sajdah: 24]