In one of his works treating the conditions to be fulfilled to acquire sincerity, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, renown Turkish scholar, highlighted the importance of cleansing one’s self from the need of acceptance from others and turning only to obtain Allah’s consent, by saying, "You should seek Divine pleasure in your actions. If Almighty Allah is pleased, it is of no importance even should the whole world be displeased. If He accepts an action and everyone else rejects it, it has no effect. Once His pleasure has been gained and He has accepted an action, even if you do not ask it of Him, should He wish it and His wisdom requires it, He will make others accept it. He will make them consent to it too. For this reason, the sole aim in this service should be the direct seeking of Divine pleasure."1 This example is of great consequence in understanding the meaning of sincerity. It stresses that once Allah assents, nothing matters, even if the whole world were to turn in opposition to you. Besides, Allah controls the hearts of them all. If He so willed, then He makes them all to agree with you.
On the other hand, if Allah does not give His assent, then it is unimportant whether the whole world were to give theirs. Any true believer knows with certainty that if he earns only the assent of people it is not worth anything in Allah’s presence, and that he will have acquired nothing on his way to the next world, unless Allah willed otherwise. Those who had assented may well be great in number, or powerful in terms of wealth or authority. Yet, these beings are all weak, and proceed through Allah’s permission, and will one day lose their power and might after having decomposed in the earth. For this reason, the support of even large groups will not be beneficial in the hereafter. Only Allah is Everlasting and worthy of granting consent. It is only by comprehending this truth that one can acquire the understanding of lasting sincerity. He should turn towards acquiring Allah’s assent by freeing himself from the "opinions of others." In the Qur’an, Allah describes this with a metaphor:
Allah has made a metaphor for them of a man owned by several partners in dispute with one another and another man wholly owned by a single man. Are they the same? Praise be to Allah! The fact is that most of them do not know. You will die and they too will die. (Surat az-Zumar: 29-30)
In the Qur’an, seeking the consent of others besides Allah is described as "idolatry (shirk)" or "ascribing partners to Allah." In the above-mentioned verse, Allah compares the one who seeks the consent of others and ascribes partners to Allah to a man owned by several partners in dispute with one another. He also compares the one of faith who firmly serves Allah with the one wholly owned by a single man. Allah reminds us that all beings other than Him will surely meet their end some day. Thus, He invites people to ponder the importance of seeking only His consent.
Therefore, one should guard against the vain desires of his inner self, and evualuate himself sincerely without letting his lower-self deceive him. One of the strongest inclinations of one’s lower-self is the desire to acquire the approbation of others, as opposed to complying with the morality of the Qur’an. Likewise, many people act the way they do not because they like or approve of it, but to be appreciated by their peers. In other words, they strive to increase their status in society. Therefore, the primary motive in their lives becomes the "desire to acquire the consent of others."
Many of you have no doubt often heard people saying such things as "What will people say?", "How could we explain this to others?", "We have become the laughingstock of the neighborhood" or "Now we can never go out in public again."
In general, these reactions stem from attaching too much importance to what people say, and think. Sometimes people feel the pangs of their conscience, not because they have committed a wrong, but because others have come to know about it. However, if a wrong is committed, the fact that Allah knows about it is truly what matters. And, once again, one should turn only to Allah to seek repentance. When one feels no responsibility whatsoever towards Allah for committed errors, but feels ashamed or embarrassed in front of others, then it is clear that he accords more importance to the consent of other people than that of Allah’s. When outside, such people fail to be as committed to fulfilling religious duties as they are when at home. Excessively concerned with others’ opinions, they prefer to gain their consent to Allah’s.
Thus, any true believer wishing to acquire sincerity should completely free himself from the worry of "what would people say." Such a concern is well entrenched in ignorant communities. Hence, one can never experience pure sincerity, as long as he holds on to the need for other people’s approval.
One should always be sincere in his intentions and seek purely turn to Allah’s consent in order to acquire sincerity. The fact that people grant him their assents would in no way be beneficial for him unless Allah wishes so. Yet, one who earns the consent, support, love and approval of Allah has already acquired the support that all these people can provide. If he behaves sincerely, Allah will enable him to lead the best of lives, both in the world and in the hereafter, provide a means of support that no human being can provide, and grant him a friendship incomparable to any friendship among humans.
1- Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, The Risale-i Nur Collection, The Flashes Collection, The Twentyfirst Flash