All praise be to Allah and peace be upon those whom He has chosen. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allâh, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât) and give Zakât, and that is the right religion." [Surat Al Bayyinah: 5].
`Umar ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "The (reward of) deeds, depend upon intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, then his emigration will be considered to be for Allah and His Messenger, and whoever emigrated for the sake of worldly gain or for a woman to marry, then his emigration will be considered to be for what he emigrated for." [Reported by Al Bukhari in the book of faith and Muslim in the book of princedom].
An-Nawawy said concerning the explanation of this Hadith: Muslims hold consensus on the greatness of this Hadith, its abundant benefits, and its authenticity.
Ash-Shafi`y and others said: It is one-third of Islam. Ash-Shafi`y also said: It is connected with seventy branches of Fiqh. Others said: It is one-quarter of Islam.
So, the meaning of this Hadith is: Actions are counted based on intention and are not counted if they have no intention. The Hadith contains a proof that purification which is ablution, Ghusl (ritual bath), and Tayammum (Dry ablution) are not valid without intention, likewise Salah, Zakah (obligatory charity), fasting, Hajj, I`tikaf (seclusion for worship in a Masjid), and all acts of worship.
Of what we have mentioned before, it becomes clear the importance of intention in acceptance or refusal of actions whether they are acts of worship, transactions, or sayings. Here, I mention authentic proofs from the Hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who does not speak out of desire "so that those who were to be destroyed (for their rejecting the Faith) might be destroyed after a clear evidence, and those who were to live (i.e. believers) might live after a clear evidence." And Allah is the One whose Aid is to be implored.
The first proof is:
The Hadith of Abu Kabshah Al Anmary (may Allah be pleased with him) that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying: "I swear by Allah for three (qualities) which I am going to tell you about. Remember them well: (1) The wealth of a man will not diminish by Sadaqah (charity). (2) Allah augments the honor of a man who endures an oppression patiently. (3) He who opens a gate of begging, Allah opens a gate of poverty (or he said a word similar to it)."
He (peace be upon him) also said, "Remember well what I am going to tell you: The world is for four kinds of people. (1) One upon whom Allah has bestowed wealth and knowledge and so he fears his Rubb in respect to them, joins the ties of blood relationship and acknowledges the Rights of Allah on him (and fulfills them); this type will have the best position (in Jannah). (2) One upon whom Allah has conferred knowledge but no wealth, and he is sincere in his intention and says: `Had I possessed wealth, I would have acted like so-and-so.' If that is his intention, his reward is the same as that of the other. (3) One whom Allah has given wealth but no knowledge and he squanders his wealth ignorantly, does not fear Allah in respect to it, does not discharge the obligations of kinship and does not acknowledge the Rights of Allah. Such a person will be in the worst position (in the Hereafter). (4) One upon whom Allah has bestowed neither wealth nor knowledge and he says: `Had I possessed wealth, I would have acted like so-and-so (i.e., he would squander his wealth).' If this is his intention, both will have equal sin." [A good and authentic Hadith, reported by At-Tirmidhy in the book of asceticism].
The second proof is:
The Hadith that was authentically reported in Sahih Al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim from the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he said: "There are some people in Medina. They are with you whenever you cover a distance or cross a valley. They have been detained by illness."
The third proof is:
It was also reported in Sahih Al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "He who called (people) to righteousness, there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who called (people) to error, he shall have to carry (the burden) of its sin, like those who committed it, without their sins being diminished in any respect." These are the wordings of Muslim and the similar Hadiths are numerous.
Dear reader, let it be known that one of the signs of sincerity in intention is permanence of work no matter how little it is because of the Hadith of `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was asked "Which deed is the dearest to Allah? He said: That which is done continuously, even if it is little." [Reported by Muslim in the book of the Salah of a traveler].
Let it also be known that some people intend to do good with their actions, so he shall receive the reward, whereas some people intend to do evils with their actions, so they shall be punished because of the Hadith of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) who narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the Hadith that he is reported from the Lord (may He be Glorified and Exalted) He said: "Allah ordered (the appointed angels over you) that the good and the bad deeds be written, and He then showed (the way) how (to write). If somebody intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed (in his account with Him); and if he intends to do a good deed and actually did it, then Allah will write for him (in his account) with Him (its reward equal) from ten to seven hundred times to many more times: and if somebody intended to do a bad deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write a full good deed (in his account) with Him, and if he intended to do it (a bad deed) and actually did it, then Allah will write one bad deed (in his account)." [Reported by Al Bukhari in the book of things that soften the heart and Muslim in the book of faith].
Here is an important question which is: Does good intention make a sin rewardable?
The answer is: Definitely not. Why is that? Because there is no excuse for those who commit and justify these sins, and not fearing of their punishment claiming that their intentions are good. It is a fatal error and a person should haste to repentance immediately. We are afraid that such people will be included in the saying of Allah (may He be Exalted): "Say (O Muhammad peace be upon him): "Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds?" Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds!" [Surat Al Kahf: 103- 104].
As-Sa`dy (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) said in the explanation of this Ayah:
the meaning is: O Muhammad, say to the people -as a warning-: Shall I inform you with the worst of people? "They are those who have gone astray in the worldly life" meaning that all their actions have been wasted; they believe that all their actions are good, so what about the actions which they know they are null and void and defy Allah and His Messengers?
How nice is the saying of Al Hasan Al Basry (may Allah be merciful with him) "Faith is not by just wishing, but what has been settled in the heart and was confirmed by work! There is a group of people who were attached with the wishes of forgiveness until they left the worldly life without good deeds. They also say: We have good faith in Allah, but they lied because if they had got a good faith, they would have done good."
Al Ghazaly said in Ihya' `Ulum Ad-Din: "Sins do not change into good deeds by intention, so an ignorant should understand the general meaning of the Prophet's saying: "Actions are based on intentions," however a person thinks that sins turn to be good deeds.
He also said: Intention does not affect in changing the action from being mere oppression and aggression because intending good by committing evil is against the Shari`ah. However, if a person knows that what he is doing is oppression, he will be a disobedient to the Shari`ah, but if he does not know that, he will be a disobedient by his ignorance because seeking knowledge is an obligatory act on every Muslim." Factors assist in sincerity of intention: I shall only mention the three most important means. And Allah is the One whose Aid is to be implored.
1- Reforming oneself from inside as well as outside:
Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? * Most hateful it is with Allâh that you say that which you do not do." [Surat As-Saf: 2].
As-Sa`dy (may Allah bestow mercy on his soul) said: Why do you say goodness and exhort to it and perhaps you are praised for it while you are not practicing it. You also forbid evil and perhaps we purified yourselves of it while you are contaminated with it and described of it while you are contaminated with it and described of it. Is this bad situation appropriate for the believers or it is one of the major sins that a person says what does not do? Therefore, the one who enjoins good should be the first to do it and the one who forbids evil should keep away from it. Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "Enjoin you Al-Birr (piety and righteousness and each and every act of obedience to Allâh) on the people and you forget (to practice it) yourselves, while you recite the Scripture [the Taurât (Torah)]! Have you then no sense?" [Surat Al Baqarah: 44].
Shu`ayb (Jethro peace be upon him) said to his people: "I wish not, in contradiction to you, to do that which I forbid you." [Surat Hud: 88].
I said: There is no doubt that the person who does for his final destination Allah will grant him success in his worldly matters and whoever fixes the relationship with Allah, Allah shall fix the relationship between him and the people, and whoever reforms his inner self, Allah will repair his image in people's eyes.
2- Asking for forgiveness and remorse for what has happened:
Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "That He may grant you good enjoyment, for a term appointed." [Surat Hud: 3].
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated about Allah's saying: "And ask forgiveness for your sin, and also for (the sin of) believing men and believing women." The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Verily, I seek Allah's Forgiveness seventy times everyday." [Reported by At-Tirmidhy in the interpretation of the Qur'an].
Dear reader, based on the Ayah and the Hadith we find that there is no escape to take a positive step to clear oneself, devote the intention to Allah, distinct the truth from the falsehood , right from wrong, and good from evil the matter shall not be confusing and to realize the positions of defection in our hearts and selves because the road is full of dangers and Satan and evil soul are ambushing man when he tries to repair himself to the better.
3- Knowledge and learning:
Most of the human defects and bad intention come from ignorance with lawful and unlawful and if a person studies his religion, he could train himself for obeying Allah and sincerity of intention in sayings and actions. There are several texts in the Qur'an and the Sunnah urging for seeking knowledge and learning, of which I mention: Allah's Saying: "And say: "My Lord! Increase me in knowledge." [Surat Taha: 114]. And Allah's Saying: "Allâh will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. And Allâh is Well-Acquainted with what you do." [Surat Al Mujadalah: 11].
The proof from the Sunnah is the Prophet's saying: "Do not wish to be like anyone except in two cases. (The first is) A person, whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it righteously; (the second is) the one whom Allah has given wisdom (the Holy Qur'an) and he acts according to it and teaches it to others." [Reported by Al Bukhari in the book of knowledge (Hadith No: 73) and Muslim in the book of the Salah of a traveler (Hadith No: 816) And the Prophet's saying: "He who treads the path in search of knowledge, Allah would make that path easy, leading to Paradise for him." and its chain of narration is authentic. See: (Hadith No: 6298) in "Sahih Al Jami`" of Al Albany.
The outcome is: Knowledge and learning are from the most important means for being firm to the right path and devoting the intention for Allah (may He be Exalted) as our Lord loves.
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