The people of knowledge from the salaf have mentioned the various types of actions people can perform without being aware of the true meaning of their actions. An example of this would be good deeds that many people do, such as giving charity, maintaining family ties, being kind to people and so forth. Likewise, avoiding the oppression of others, or not speaking ill about them, all of which a person can do sincerely for Allāh’s sake, however without yearning for His reward in the next life. Rather all he hopes for is that Allāh will protect his wealth and his family, or cause it (his wealth) to increase, or make his name be remembered forever and so on.
The noble imām was asked about the meaning of the statement of Allāh:
“Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter; to them, We shall pay in full (the wages of) their deeds therein, and they will have no diminution therein. They are those for whom there is nothing in the Hereafter but Fire, and vain are the deeds they did therein. And of no effect is that which they used to do.”
[Sūrah Hūd, 11:15-16]