Hadith: Actions are judged by intentions

On the authority of ameer ul -mumineen (the commander of the faithful), abu hafs Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), who said:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, “Actions are but by intentions and every man shall have only that which he intended. Thus he whose migration (hijrah from Makkah to Madina) was for Allah and His Messenger, his migration was for Allah and His Messenger, and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he migrated.”

It is related by the two imams of the scholars of hadeeth, Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ismael ibn Ibraheem ibn al-Mugheera ibn Bardizbah al-Bukhari and Abu-l-Husain Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj ibn Muslim al-Qushairee an-Naisaboree, in their two Saheehs, which are the soundest of compiled books [i.e., the most truthful books after the Book of Allah, since the  Qur’an is not ‘compiled’].

A story about Good Intentions

A story is told of a man who approached three workers who were doing the same job. “What are you doing?” he asked each one of them separately and got different answers.

“I am cutting the stones” replied the first.

“I am earning my livelihood” replied the second.

“I am building a mosque” replied the third.

Each of the three workers saw himself linked to a different purpose, one was to that extent, different from others, although all worked alike and were engaged in the same task.

Our two hands with which we work are in no sense different from the hands of any other person. The value of what we do depends upon the quality of the inner purpose in our heart with which we do our work. True Muslim works to earn God’s pleasure.

The ultimate criterion in evaluating men’s deeds is the intent and the purpose of the doer rather than the external shape of people’s acts. The sincerity of purpose and God-fearing motivation behind a Muslim’s deeds were the principal features which distinguished his deeds from those of non-believers.

Islamic history provides glaring examples of how Muslims in minority ultimately triumphed over their enemies in much greater number and better equipped because of their faith and sincerity of their purpose…..

Islam has emphasized the purity of intent before every act of virtue. The following ayats in the Holy Quran provide good guidance on the subject:

“Say: I am commanded that I should serve Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience.” (39:11)

“And call on Him being sincere to Him in obedience”. (7:29)

What do we really mean by IKHLAS – the purity of purpose? When one embarks upon the worship of Allah or does any act of virtue, he is required to discard all worldly thoughts from his mind and cast his full concentration towards Allah.

He is expected to feel dependent on none but Allah for all his worldly needs and put his trust in Him as the primary source of all blessings and reward. He is desired to throw his full weight in praying for all his lawful needs from Him. His sole aim for every act of virtue should be to seek not worldly gains but the pleasure of Allah.

What is the effect and outcome of IKHLAS – the purity of purpose?

Numerous instances can be quoted of the lasting effect and fruitful outcome of actions and work done with absolute purity of purpose – for the pleasure of Allah and Him alone. The following story should serve a good example.

It is related that when Prophet Adam landed on this earth from Heaven, all kinds of creatures came forward to pay their respects and welcome him on earth. To each one of them, Adam gave his blessings according to its qualification.

When a flock of gazelles came forward to pay their respects, he gave his blessings and patted them by passing his holy hand over their backs. The lasting effect of this was the growth of navel-bag of musk (a black substance well known for producing a good perfume).

When they returned home, another flock of gazelle on seeing the gift of musk asked them where they had got it from. They explained that Prophet Adam had patted them and passed his holy hand over their backs, in appreciation of their visit to him. The result was the growth of the navel-bag of musk.

This second flock of gazelle thought they too should get the gift. With this aim, they went and offered their salaams and respects before Adam. The Prophet acknowledged and passed his hand over their backs also. But this time it showed no effect of producing the navel-bag of musk. They were naturally disappointed.

On their return home, they inquired the reason for this and were told that it was because of the lack of purity of intent and purpose. Their visit to Prophet Adam was for the specific aim of the reward of the naval-bag of musk whereas the first flock had paid the visit solely for the pleasure of Allah without any thought for reward.

Today the musk producing creatures are the progeny of that very first flock of gazelles.

May Allah purify our intentions in our every action. Amen

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