intention in Islam

  • 1 The concept of intention in Islam

    In the name of Allah, all praise is due to Allah, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Messenger of Allah and all his family and companions.

    The concept of intention in Islam

     The intention is a fundamental matter, it is the spirit of deeds, with which deeds may be good. It has been narrated on the authority of Umar bin al-Khattab that the Messenger of Allah ( may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon  him ) said:

    Deeds are but intentions. A man will be rewarded only for what he intended."-

     The place of the intention is the heart. Therefore, if one uttered – out of mistake - with his tongue what is contrary to what is in his heart, what counts is what he intends with his heart, not what he uttered.

    Imam An-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy on him, said: " Muslims anonymously agreed on the importance of this Hadith and that it implies many beneficial rulings. Moreover, it was authentically transmitted …" Then he said: "The masses of the Arabic and Usoul scholars and other than them hold the view that The word (but) encompasses all the related meanings for the mentioned thing and negates the same meanings from other than it.

    So the interpretation of this Hadith: Actions are counted with the intention, and they are not counted if they lack the intention.

    This Hadith indicates that the purity, which may be attained through the ablution, the washing, and the ( Taymmum ) dry ablution are valid only with the intention, the same applies for the prayers, paying the Zakah, observing fasting, performing Hajj, staying in the mosque for I`tikaf and the other acts of worship".

    Then Ibn Rajab, may Allah have mercy on him, elaborated on the Hadith: " A man will be rewarded only for what he intended." This is an Explanation that one does not get from his deeds except what he has intended, for if he intends a good, he will have good rewards, and if he does not have a good intention, he will be rewarded according to his intention. The second sentence is not a mere repetition for the first one because the first one indicates that the validity and the invalidity of the deed depend on the intention of performing the deed, but the second one indicates that the reward of the doer for his deed on the righteous intention, as well he may be punished because of his bad intention. However, one may have a permissible intention and accordingly his deed will be counted as permitted, thus he will not be either rewarded or punished. The deed itself in terms of its validity, invalidity, and permissibility depend on the intention to initiate it and to perform it. The reward of the doer, as well as his safety or deserving the punishment, depend on the intention because of which the deed is considered valid, or invalid or corrupt or permissible." 

    From this honorable and comprehensive Hadith, it is possible to derive important rules pertaining to intentions in our daily life, including: -

    1- The intention does not turn a sin into a good deed.

    2- Deeds are not valid unless there is an intention.

    The intention affects the deed, so it turns the permissible deed into an act of obedience and drawing close to Allah, and turns the obedience into disobedience, for instance, if someone who does a deed for the sake of showing off and reputation or for the sake of seeking a worldly matter, but it does not turn the act of disobedience into a permissible thing as some people think.

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