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Two words mentioned in the Qur'an are mukhlis (with I) and mukhlas (with A). They come from the same root word as "ikhlaas," which means sincerity.

The former is often translated as "a person of sincerity" or "sincere in actions," as in in Surah Ghafir:

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So invoke Allah , [being] sincere to Him in religion, although the disbelievers dislike it.

In contrast, the latter is translated differently, such as the ayah in Surah As-Saffaat:

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But not the chosen servants of Allah.

I remember in one khutbah, the speaker mentioned a very minute shade of difference between these two words, which are both similar in structure and meaning. What exactly is the meaning of both of these words, and what is the difference?

  • You have the two ayah images and translations switched. – System Down Jul 5 '12 at 17:55
  • I got confused and thought I fixed it. Thanks, fixed. – ashes999 Jul 5 '12 at 17:58
  • It is more of Arabic language question than Islamic question. – user37 Jul 7 '12 at 9:37
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A "mukhlis" (doer of the action) is the one who strives for sincerity (with intentions etc.) and is purely devoted to Allah. A "mukhlas" (actually Mukhlasan) who is chosen by Allah for his devotion and sincerity to Allah and is endowed with it by Allah. Usually "Mukhlasan" refers to the Prophets (Peace be upon all of them) in Qur'an. For example. Allah says refering to Musa (Alayhi salam) in Surah Maryam:

And mention in the Book, Musa. Verily, he was Mukhlasan. Qur'an 19:51

Further source and context: The Tafsir of Surah Maryam

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Good question - both mukhlas and mukhlis come from the same root word: أخْلَصَ (akhlasa), which roughly means to dedicate, be loyal, faithful. So a مخلِص (mukhlis) - this is the active doer form - is one who does the action of this verb; someone who is devoted, sincere, frank, loyal, faithful. In the context of the ayah (mukhlis li) it means to apply those qualities toward something and to be purehearted, virtuous, and righteous toward them.

مخلَص - mukhlas - on the other hand is the passive form of this noun - meaning someone who is caused to have those qualities.

Source: Hans Wehr dictionary and basic Arabic grammar.

Someone more knowledgeable in classical Arabic can correct me.

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Ansari mentioned it correctly, it's the difference between active and passive forms. User37 is incorrect in saying it's "just" an Arabic question and not an Islamic one. As the words in the Quran are perfect, each Arabic point also has significant meaning.

Now why would Allah mention both Joseph/Yusuf AS (Quran 12:24) and Moses/Musa AS (19:51) as MUKHL-AS(passive form) and not MUKHL-IS(the active form)? Does that mean they weren't sincere themselves? No. This is Allah showing us how he directs people's lives and how he sees them in the overall picture. Allah directed Yusuf's (AS) life such that he went through a series of hardships, the most long-term being that of being unjustly thrown in prison. And for Moses AS, he had to run out of Egypt and stayed and lived in the town of Madyan. Both were forms of "social exile" that in the apparent sense would make everyone around them think that they were out of the game in life, that they had no future. But Allah (God of us all) only gave them these trials as GIFTS so they could not worry about other life obligations and instead focus on fully making their hearts and lives for Allah, purifying themselves from everything else. In the bigger picture, Allah purified them from their distractions of the world by the painful hardships they faced, and then he returned them to great social standing too but now as purified mukhlAseen that will also taste the greatest of honors in the next world and afterlife for the gift of Allah purifying them. Hope that helps answer your question and makes you appreciate the precision of Allah's words and the subtle way he mentions such depth within them :)

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