Purity and Sincerity of Intention-Hadeeth & Its Interpretation


Hadeeth No.1 (Purity and Sincerity of Intention)

From ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattâb (radiyAllâhu ‘anhu) who said that Allâh’s Messenger (salAllâhu ‘alaihi wa’sallam) said:

“Actions are but by intentions and there is for every person only that which he intended. So he whose migration was for Allâh and His Messenger, then his migration was for Allâh and His Messenger, and he whose migration was to attain some worldly goal or to take a woman in marriage, then his migration was for that which he migrated.” (1)

Meaning of Intention: what one plans to do deliberately or His determined purpose.

Meaning of Migration:

1- Leaving home, family, and joining the Prophet r at Medina or (later) the Muslim community for the sake of Allah (SWAT) and His Messenger r in order to attain Allah’s pleasure and reward hereafter.

2- Leaving or abandoning anything (deeds) that is prohibited or Detestable (Makrooh tanzeehan: act which is undesirable and neither punitive nor rewardable).

Migration occurred in Islam in two types:

The first: migration from dar al-khawf (the house of fear) to Dar al-Amn (house of safety), as in the migration to Habasha which occurred twice.

The second: migration from dar al-kufr to dar al-Islam, which was performed as soon as the Prophet r has settled down in Medina.

The Significance of this Hadeeth

This comprehensive hadîth is one of the ahadîth which are the pillars of correct understanding of our upright and true religion. (2)It is the source of sincerity; therefore many numerous scholars manifested the great importance and comprehensive advantages and benefits of this Hadeeth.

Abu-Ubayd said: “There isn’t any Hadeeth which is more inclusive and more beneficial than this one”

Imams; Ash-shaafi’i, Ahmad, Ibnul-Madinee, Ibnu-Mahdi, Abu-Dawood, Addara-qutni, and others agreed that this Hadeeth is equivalent to one third of the knowledge, while others said to a quarter of the knowledge.

Imam Ahmad also said:” The following three Ahadîth are the roots and pillars of Islam;

1- “Actions are but by intentions“,

2- “If somebody innovates something which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion, that thing is rejected.” Bukhari 2523 and

3- “‘Both legal and illegal things are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor. …” Bukhari 50.

Interpretation of the Hadeeth:

“Actions are but by intentions and there is for every person only that which he intended………

Intention is essential for the actions, whether the action is sought for itself; like salah (prayer) or as a means to another action; like taharah (purity), since the existence of sincerity – one of the two conditions for the action to be accepted – can not be imagined without an intention.

Ibn- Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) said:” It is impossible for a wise and conscious person to do an action without an intention, because the action is a result of a will and ability, that will is the intention. So there is no action except that it has an intention, but intentions vary.

So the pillar of actions is pure and sincere intention, and through purity of intention the hearts become upright and at rest, and through it the person comes to know the right way in his Religion, thus he does everything in the proper manner. Through purity of intention alone will he come to know of the obligations upon him and the rights due to him. Through it he will behave justly in all affairs and will give everything its due right, not going beyond bounds or falling short of the mark.

So when the Muslim servant clearly realizes what he has preceded then it becomes obligatory upon him that he should, without any hesitation, surround his sincere intention with the protective barrier for the Islamic Personality which is: Distinctness.

The intention is not to be pronounced:

All Muslim Imams unanimously agreed that the abode of the intention is the heart only (and not the tongue) in all actions of Ibadaat (worships); taharah, salaah, zakaah, fasting, hajj, jihaad, etc. and pronouncing it is Bid’ah (innovation). For those who claimed mistakenly that it is permissible to pronounce it in hajj, they did not differentiate between intention and talbiyah (recitation in hajj).

“……..So he whose migration was for Allâh and His Messenger, then his migration was for Allâh and His Messenger……….

So whosoever left his home, depart his family, and devoted his intention for the sake of Allah (SWAT) and His Messenger r aiming at attaining Allah’s pleasure and reward, and seeking with his lawful actions the hereafter, that migration (physical and abandoning bad deeds) would be accepted as a pure and sincere migration for Allah and His Messenger and would be greatly rewarded.

After the Conquest of Mecca Prophet Muhammad r said:” There will be no migration after the conquest (of Mecca) ….) . Scholars said that he r meant “no migration from Mecca, as it became and will remain a house of Islam”. Allah the Exalted says:

(إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلآئِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ قَالُواْ فِيمَ كُنتُمْ قَالُواْ كُنَّا مُسْتَضْعَفِينَ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالْوَاْ أَلَمْ تَكُنْ أَرْضُ اللّهِ وَاسِعَةً فَتُهَاجِرُواْ فِيهَا فَأُوْلَـئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ وَسَاءتْ مَصِيرًا )

{Verily! As for those whom the angels take (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatory for them), they (angels) say (to them): “In what (condition) were you?” They reply: “We were weak and oppressed on earth.” They (angels) say: “Was not the earth of Allâh spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?” Such men will find their abode in Hell – What an evil destination!} (An-Nisa 4:97)

(وَمَن يُهَاجِرْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ يَجِدْ فِي الأَرْضِ مُرَاغَمًا كَثِيراً وَسَعَةً وَمَن يَخْرُجْ مِن بَيْتِهِ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى اللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلى اللّهِ وَكَانَ اللّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا)

{He who emigrates (from his home) in the Cause of Allâh, will find on earth many dwelling places and plenty to live by. And whosoever leaves his home as an emigrant unto Allâh and His Messenger, and death overtakes him, his reward is then surely incumbent upon Allâh. And Allâh is Ever All Forgiving, Most Merciful.} (An-Nisa4:100)

There is another Hadeeth says” Migration never stops, as long as there is an enemy being fought” (3)

Another Narration from Mu’aawiyah (ra) that Prophet r said:” Migration never stops, unless the repentance stops. And the repentance never stops unless the sun rises from its west ” (Saheeh Irwa-ul-ghaleel 5/33) (4)

So the migration will remain in all its types .Ibn-Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) divided it into three types:

The first: migration from location: which is to leave any place where there is a lot of sins and fisq (wantonness) – it might be a kafir country- to another place or country free of such behaviors. Migration from the country of kufr to the country of Islam is the greatest, as it is obligatory if the Muslim can not freely show his religion or perform his ibadat, but if he can, then it is preferable. Therefore it is not permissible for a Muslim to travel (especially for tourism) to Kafir countries for the danger and risk he might encounter upon his deen and morals. Furthermore the money which will be spent there will to strengthen the kuffaar economy.

Yet traveling there is allowed upon the following conditions:

1- If the Muslim is fortified with good Islamic knowledge.

2- If he/she exhibits a good deen and morals to protect him against deviation.

3- In need of traveling there for the call to Allah, or remedy, or trade or needed science that is unavailable in the Muslim countries.

The second: migration of bad actions: to abandon the bad deeds(sins and fisq) which Allah (swat) forbade or detested, whether they are related to Allah The Exalted, or to other Muslims; like insulting to cursing, swearing, killing, cheating, mistreating parents, etc.

The third: Emigrating the publicly sinner: It is obligatory to migrate him/her sometimes, when there is a certain benefit or advantage. (that he/she might return). Otherwise it is impermissible, except for the kafir (murtadd: apostate) who must be migrated anyway.

“…..and he whose migration was to attain some worldly goal or to take a woman in marriage, then his migration was for that which he migrated.”

Whosoever leaves his home or quits bad deeds not for the sake of Allah (SWAT) and His Messengerr, but for worldly vanities or Transient things of the world, -which he might or might not attain- then his migration will never be unto Allah and will be deprived of His reward.

As an example to that; a Muslim used to live in a kafir country, he heard of the wealthy life in an Islamic country, and the great chances to attain a good fortune. If he migrates to that Muslim country just for that purpose, not for the sake of protecting his Deen and rectifying his life, but only for the worldly benefits (a woman to marry to or any other vanities), then his migration will be for what he intended.

Mentioning the woman here is for more warning against the fitnah of women (turmoil), as they are the greatest worldly adornment that fascinates and seduces men, therefore Allah the Exalted says: “Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and…….” [3:14]

Prophet r said: I have not left after me any (chance) of turmoil more injurious to men than the harm done to the men because of women. Muslim

Prophet r also said: “I have not left after me turmoil for the people but the harm done to men by women.” Muslim

Other benefits derived from the Hadeeth

· Invocations, supplications and recitation do not require intention, yet if he intended Allah’s Pleasure he will attain better rewards. Imam Al-Ghazalee said:” Invocating by moving the tongue and lips with the unawareness of the heart (consciousness and intention) attains the reward of Allah (SWAT), as it is better than using those organs in gheebah (backbiting). It is even better than complete silence.

· Good deeds are the fruits of good intentions, while the latter will not make bad deeds good or turn a beda’a into a sunnah.

· Intention is not obligatory for anything which is not an action, like jamu’-ttaqdeem (combination of two prayers), Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) said:” combination is not an action, but salah is.

· It is not permissible to commence an action before you are aware of the ruling of that action, as in this hadeeth, whatever you do without an intention is lawfully denied.

· At-tabaree related that the Jumhoor (majority) of salaf said that: consideration of the sincerity of the intention depends on the sincere commencement of the deed. Was it started for the sake of Allah, then there would be no harm if it passed through some riyaa’ or self-love, etc.

· Actions or deeds other than ibadaat do not gain the reward of Allah, unless those actions are intended for the pleasure of Allah (SWAT), like eating food with the intention of strengthening the body to be able to worship AllahI .

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  1. Reported by al-Bukhari (English Translation Volume 1 Page 1 No. 1) and Muslim (Eng. Trans. Vol. 3, page 1056, no. 4692)
  2. At-Taqyeed (2/6-7) of Ibn Nuqtah
  3. (Imam Albaanee declared it to be” Hasan” and of a shaamee (from the area including Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria) chain of transmitters. Irwa-ul-ghaleel 5/33).
  4. Refer to the valuable remarks by Imam Albaanee (rahimahullaah) at Saheehah-hadeeth No.2857. or vol.6 p847
  5. taken from http://www.asaala.com/viewSunnaTopics.php?sunnaTopicID=1

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