The Significance of Sincere Intentions & Actions, Apparent & Hidden

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from Riyadh asw-Swalihin by Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.).

Allah, the Exalted, Says:

And they have been Commanded no more than this: to worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practise regular charity; and that is the religion right and straight. (Surah al-Bayyinah:5)

It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him... (Surah al-Hajj:37)

Say: "Whether ye hide what is in your hearts or reveal it Allah Knows it all.. (Surah Ali ‘Imran:29)

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, 'Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, "The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention.  So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, his emigration will be for Allah and His Messenger; and whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration would be for what he emigrated for".

According to some, the reason for this hadits is that a person sent a proposal of marriage to a woman named Umm Qays (r.a.), which she turned down, saying that he would have to emigrate to Madina for it.  Accordingly, he did it for this specific purpose, and the two were married there.  On account of this event, the man came to be known among the companions as Muhajir Umm Qays.

On the basis of this hadits, 'ulama are of the unanimous opinion that the real basis of one's actions is the intention, and everyone will be requited according to his intention.  The point which becomes evident from this hadits is that ikhlasw, sincerity, is a must for every action.  In every righteous deed, one should seek only the Pleasure of Allah (s.w.t.); otherwise, it might not be accepted by Allah (s.w.t.).

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, 'Aishah (r.a.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, "An army will raid the Ka`bah and when it reaches a desert land, all of them will be swallowed up by the earth.''

She asked; "O Messenger of Allah, why all of them?''

He answered, "All of them will be swallowed by the earth but they will be Raised for Judgement according to their intentions.''

Everyone will be Rewarded or Punished according to his intention.  This hadits also proves that the company of depraved persons is extremely dangerous.  Whose army would it be, which has been referred to in the hadits, and when will it invade the Ka`bah, is a matter known to Allah (s.w.t.) Alone.  Such prophecies are a part of the unseen world.  Since they come in the category of the miracles of the Prophet (s.a.w.), it is necessary to believe in their veracity and occurrence.  Believing in such prophesies is also essential because they were Revealed by Allah (s.w.t.).

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, ‘Aishah (r.a.) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, "There is no emigration after the conquest (of Makkah) but only jihad and good intention.  So if you are summoned to fight, go forth.''

Intention according to Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) means that goodness which ceased to continue by the cessation of emigration can still be obtained by jihad and by intending accomplishing good deeds.

When a country or a region is regarded as Dar al-Islam, Abode of Islam, it is not necessary to migrate from it to some other place.  It is, however, obligatory to emigrate from such regions which are Dar al-Kufr, Abode of Infidels, and where it is difficult to adhere to Islamic injunctions due to persecution.

As recorded in Swahih Muslim, Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al-Answari (r.a.) reported, “We accompanied the Prophet (s.a.w.) in an expedition when he said, ‘There are some men in Madina who are with you wherever you march and whichever valley you cross.  They have not joined you in person because of their illness.’''  In another version he said, "They share the reward with you.''

It is narrated by Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) from Anas ibn Malik (r.a.), “We were coming back from the battle of Tabuk with the Prophet (s.a.w.) when he remarked, ‘There are people whom we left behind in Madina who accompanied us in spirit in every pass and valley we crossed.  They remained behind for a valid excuse.'’'

What we learn from this hadits is that if the intention and spirit of a good endeavour are present in the heart of a Muslim but physically he is unable to take part in it for valid reasons, he will get the reward of it without even his actual participation in it.

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari, Ma’an ibn Yazid ibn Akhnas (r.a.) reported, “My father set aside some dananir for charity and gave them to a man in the mosque.  I went to that man and took back those dananir.  He said, ‘I had not intended you to be given.’'  So we went to Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), and put forth the matter before him.

He said to my father, ‘Yazid, you have been Rewarded for what you intended.’  And he said to me, ‘Ma’an, you are entitled to what you have taken.’''

This hadits leads us to the conclusion that if swadaqah, charity, goes to a needy son of a Muslim, there is no need to take it back from him for the reason that the father had intended to give it to a deserving person.  The former gets the reward for it on account of his intention.  This, however, will be reckoned as nafli swadaqah, voluntary charity, because the obligatory zakat cannot be given to the donor's own direct dependents.  It is permissible in shari`ah to make someone a wakil, agent, for swadaqah.

It does not amount to disobedience on the part of a son to take his father to a competent authority or scholar to know the legal position on any issue, in the same way, as mutual discussion and debate on matters of shari`ah does not amount to insolence.  This is expounded in Fath al-Bari.

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, Abu Ishaq Sa`d ibn Abu Waqqasw (r.a.), one of the ten who had been given the glad tidings of entry into Jannah, narrated, “Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) visited me in my illness which became severe in the year of Hajjat al-Wada` (Farewell Pilgrimage).  I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, you can see the pain which I am suffering and I am a man of means and there is none to inherit from me except one daughter.  Should I give two-thirds of my property in charity?’

He said, ‘No.’

I asked him, ‘Then half?’

He said, ‘No.’

Then I asked, ‘Can I give away one-third?’

He said, ‘Give away one-third, and that is still too much.  It is better to leave your heirs well-off than to leave them poor, begging people.  You will not expend a thing in charity for the Sake of Allah, but you will be Rewarded for it; even the morsel of food which you feed your wife'.’

I asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, would I survive my companions?’

He said, ‘If you survive others and accomplish a thing for the Sake of Allah, you would gain higher ranking and standing.  You will survive them ... your survival will be beneficial to people (the Muslim) and harmful to others (the enemies of Islam).  You will survive others until the people will derive benefit from you, and others would be harmed by you.’  The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) further said, ‘O Allah, Complete for my companions, their emigration and do not Cause them to retract.’'  Sa`d ibn Khawlah was unfortunate.  The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) lamented his death as he died in Makkah.”

In spite of all their love for it, the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.) did not like to die in a city from which they emigrated for the Sake of Allah (s.w.t.).  For this reason Sa`d (r.a.) was afraid of dying in Makkah.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) prayed for the accomplishment of Sa`d's emigration and expressed regret over the misfortune of Sa`d ibn Khawlah (r.a.).  The latter passed away in Makkah.

The hadits lays down that in the course of a disease which seems to prove fatal, one cannot give more than one-third of the property in charity.  It is also emphasised that one gets reward even for what he spends on his wife and children.  One can report to others his ailment or to seek treatment and ask them to supplicate from him.  In the matter of swadaqah, which one gives to seek the Pleasure of Allah, his closest relatives. should always have priority and preference over others.

As recorded in Swahih Muslim, Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) narrated: Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, "Allah does not look at your figures, nor at your attire but He Looks at your hearts and accomplishments."

This hadits highlights the importance of sincerity and good intention.  It is, therefore, essential that every noble action should be based on these two virtues; and heart should be free from all such things that destroy noble deeds.  Hypocrisy, ostentation, greed for wealth, riches and other worldly things fall in the category of such evils.  Since the true condition of heart is known to Allah (s.w.t.) Alone, the true position of one's actions will be known on the Day of Resurrection when one will be Requited for them by Allah (s.w.t.).  In this world, one will be treated according to his apparent condition while his insight will be left to Allah (s.w.t.).

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, Abu Musa al-Ash`ari (r.a.) reported that Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) was asked about those who fight in the battlefield out of valour, zeal or hypocrisy; which of these would be considered as fighting in the Cause of Allah?  He said, "He who fights in order that the Word of Allah remains supreme, is considered as fighting in the Cause of Allah."

Since one's action will be evaluated in terms of intention, so he alone would be a mujahid, a warrior in the cause of Diyn, who fights to glorify the Name of Allah (s.w.t.).

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, Abu Bakrah ath-Thaqafi (r.a.) reported, “The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, ‘When two Muslims are engaged in a combat against each other with their sword's and one is killed, both are doomed to Hell."

I said, "O Messenger of Allah, as to the one who kills, it is understandable, but why the slain one?"

He replied. ‘He was eager to kill his opponent.’"

This hadits leads to the conclusion that one would be punished for such sinful intention for which he has made a firm determination, and for the commitment of which he has adopted necessary measures, even if he does not succeed in committing it because of certain obstruction.  Thus determination is different from a suggestion of the devil.  The latter is excusable while one is accountable for his determination.  However, what is mentioned in the hadits will happen when Muslims fight among themselves for worldly honour and prejudices, and no religious issue would be the cause of their conflict, because in the latter case, it is possible that both might be depending on their own ijtihad, exercise of opinion, for which they may be excused.

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, "The reward for swalah performed by a person in congregation is more than twenty times greater than that of the swalah performed in one's house or shop.  When one performs wudhu' perfectly and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of performing swalah, then for every step he takes towards the mosque, he is upgraded one degree in reward and one of his sins is eliminated until he enters the mosque, and when he enters the mosque, he is considered as performing swalah as long as it is the swalah which prevents him (from leaving the mosque); and the angels keep on supplicating Allah for him as long as he remains in his place of prayer.  They say, 'O Allah!  Have Mercy on him.  O Allah! Forgive his sins.  O Allah!  Accept his repentance.'. This will carry on as long as he does not pass wind."

This hadits shows that although it is permissible to perform swalah individually in market places and houses, but its collective performance in the mosque is 25, 26, or 27 times more meritorious, as mentioned in other ahadits.

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (r.a.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said that Allah, the Glorious, Said, "Verily, Allah (s.w.t.) has Ordered that the good and the bad deeds be written down.  Then He Explained it clearly how: He who intends to do a good deed but he does not do it, then Allah Records it for him as a full good deed, but if he carries out his intention, then Allah the Exalted, Writes it down for him as from ten to seven hundred folds, and even more.  But if he intends to do an evil act and has not done it, then Allah Writes it down with Him as a full good deed, but if he intends it and has done it, Allah Writes it down as one bad deed."

What the Prophet (s.a.w.) relates to Allah (s.w.t.) is called a hadits qudsi.  Such ahadits are Revealed to the Prophet (s.a.w.) by means of ilham, inspiration.  This hadits mentions the Magnitude of Divine Blessings which Allah (s.w.t.) Bestows upon His faithful slaves on the Day of Resurrection.

As recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim, `Abdullah ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) narrated that he heard Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) as say, "Three men, amongst those who came before you, set out until night came and they reached a cave, so they entered it.  A rock fell down from the mountain and blocked the entrance of the cave.  They said, ‘Nothing will save you from this unless you supplicate to Allah by virtue of a righteous deed you have done.’  Thereupon, one of them said, ‘O Allah!  I had parents who were old, and I used to offer them milk before any of my children or slaves.  One day, I went far away in search of grazing and could not come back until they had slept.  When I milked as usual and brought the drink, I found them both asleep. I hated to disturb them and also disliked to give milk to my children before them.  My children were crying out of hunger at my feet but I waited with the bowl in my hand for them to wake up.  When they awoke at dawn, they drank milk.  O Allah!  If I did so to seek Your Pleasure, then Deliver us from the distress caused by the rock.’  The rock moved slightly but they were unable to escape.

The next said, ‘O Allah!  I had a cousin whom I loved more than anyone else.  I wanted to have sexual intercourse with her but she refused.  Hard pressed in a year of famine, she approached me.  I gave her one hundred and twenty dinars on condition that she would yield herself to me.  She agreed and when we got together, she said, ‘Fear Allah and do not break the seal unlawfully.’  I moved away from her in spite of the fact that I loved her most passionately; and I let her keep the money I had given her.  O Allah!  If I did that to seek Your Pleasure, then, Remove the distress in which we are.'  The rock moved aside a bit further but they were still unable to get out.

The third one said, ‘O Allah!  I hired some labourers and paid them their wages except one of them departed without taking his due. I invested his money in business and the business prospered greatly.  After a long time, he came to me and said, ‘O slave of Allah!  Pay me my dues.’

I said, ‘All that you see is yours - camels, cattle, goats and slaves.’

He said, ‘O slave of Allah!  Do not mock at me.’  I assured him that I was not joking.  So he took all the things and went away.  He spared nothing.  O Allah!  If I did so seeking Your Pleasure, then Relieve us of our distress.' The rock slipped aside and they got out walking freely.”

This hadits is found in both Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim.  It is permissible to pray through our virtuous deeds.  But to make someone a medium for it, is an innovation in Diyn which should be avoided for two major reasons.  Firstly, there is no evidence in shari’ah to support this.  Secondly, it is against the practice of khayr al-qurun, the best of generations, this term being used for the first three generations of Muslims, the one in which the Prophet (s.a.w.) lived and the two following.

Lessons that we learn from this ahadits include the following.  We learn that preference should be given to the service of parents, even over the service of one's own wife and children.  We also learn that to abstain from sins out of fear of Allah (s.w.t.) is a highly meritorious act.  It is emphasized here that labourers should always be treated fairly.  If someone has paid to a labourer less than his due, it should be paid to him in a decent manner.

More importantly, we learn that any supplication which is made sincerely, and with real sense of humility is Granted by Allah (s.w.t.).  Allah (s.w.t.) sometimes Helps His pious men even in an unusual manner, which is termed as karamah.  Thus, like the miracles of the prophets, wonders of the righteous people are also true.  But miracles and wonders both appear with the Will of Allah (s.w.t.).


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