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Sincere Intention

Absolute sincerity should be ensured in our intention and action, since intentions are the foundation actions.

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “The actions are Innama (only, certainty) tied to the intentions and every person will earn that which he intended. Therefore, he whose migration was for Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) then his migration will be for Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). And he whose migration was to achieve some worldly gain or to take a woman in marriage, then his migration will be for that for which he migrated.” [Related by Saheeh al-Bukhari, and Muslim]

This hadeeth establishes a very important principle and foundation of the Deen, [1]

One who corrects his intention in seeking knowledge and only the Face of Allah, is on the road to salvation and happiness. Knowledge should be sought for the right reasons: for its implementation (acting according to the knowledge) not for the sake of ostentation (Riyaa), fame or for any other gain.

Because Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “The thing I fear for you the most is Shirk Al-Asgar (the minor Shirk)!” The Companions (radhi allahu anhu) asked: “O Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)! What is Shirk al-Asgar?” He replied: “Ostentation (showing off)” [Saheeh reported by Ahmed]

Baihaqee reported the addition of shu’ab al-Eman. “…On the Day of Judgement, Allah will reward people for their deeds, He will say: “ Go to those for whose attention and praise you did these deeds and see whether you will find with them any reward!”

A proper student is concerned with all those paths that lead to knowledge. He seeks it desiring the Face of Allah’s (pleasure of Allah) and a home in Paradise, to be acquainted with the Deen and reflect upon it, to have insight into what Allah has made incumbent upon him and what He has prohibited him from. He attempts to gain abundant knowledge, to be amongst the guided callers striving for the truth, guide people, bring them out of darkness into the light, so he seeks knowledge and acts upon it. Teaches others about the good that a Muslim is ordered to do…etc. So wherever he turns he is in great excellence with these correct intentions contrary to the one who has an evil intention, for he is in great danger.

It is related in a hadeeth, where Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) makes us aware of the punishment of those who seek the knowledge of Deen for other than the pleasure of Allah. He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Whoever seeks Islamic knowledge only for worldly gain, he would not even smell the scent of Paradise on the Day of Judgement," [(Sahih) Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah. Narrated Abu Huraira]

He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) also said: “If anyone acquires knowledge of things by which Allah’s good pleasure is sought but instead he acquires it only to get worldly advantage, he will not smell the fragrance of Paradise on the Day of Reckoning.” [Abu Dawood with a sound chain of narration (Ibn Baaz)]

In another hadeeth, K‘ab ibn Malik (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Whoever seeks knowledge to argue with the scholars, or to show off with the ignorant people, and attracts the faces of the people towards him, Allah would enter him into the Hellfire." [Hasan - Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]

The first of the people who will be thrown into the Fire will be from amongst those who acquired knowledge and recited the Qur’aan for others besides Allah, hoping that it might be said: ‘He is a scholar or it might be said, he is a reciter.’

On the authority of Abu Huraira (radhi allahu anhu) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) saying: “… (Another) will be a man who has acquired knowledge (Ilm) and has taught it and who used to recite the Qur’aan. He will be brought (on the Day of Judgement) and Allah will make known to him His favors and he will acknowledge them. The All Mighty will say: “And what did you do about them? He will say: “I studied knowledge and taught it and recited the Qur’aan for your sake. He will say: “ You have lied- you did acquire knowledge so that it might be said (of you): ‘He is learned.’ Then, he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into the Hellfire...” [Saheeh Muslim # 4688, narrated Abu Huraira, At-Tirmidhee and an-Nisaee]

The main message to be gained from these ahadeeth is that true and sincere knowledge should yield goodness which, should manifest itself in one’s practice of Islam. Knowledge without such fruit is completely futile (useless)

Hence, it is indeed a very serious sin to commit such grave action as to preach about Islam without a sincere intention. Moreover, it is essential to act on what you know to be of true and correct knowledge. Failure to fulfill with such guidelines would subsequently result in most grievous consequences, in both this life and the Hereafter.

Al-Hasan al-Basree, rahimahullaah, said: "Whoever learns something in the name of Allah, seeking that, which is with Him, he will win. And whoever learns something for other than Allah, he will not reach the goal, nor will his acquired knowledge bring him closer to Allaah." [Related by Ibn al Jawzee]  

Trials take place when knowledge is sought for other than Action.

On the authority of Alee’ (radhi allahu anhu) that he made mention of trials at the end of time. Umar (radhi allahu anhu) asked him: “When will that be O Alee’?” He said: “When understanding of the Religion is sought for other purposes, and knowledge is acquired for other than acting upon, and worldly gain is sought with the actions of the Hereafter. [Reported by Abdar Razzak in his musannaf as a statement of Alee’ Saheeh at-Targeeh wat-Tarheeh # 106]

Seeking Beneficial Knowledge and Refuge from the Knowledge that does not benefit.

One should ask Allah, the All Knowledgeable, for Knowledge that is beneficial to him, as the Prophet of Allah (sallalalhu alahi wa-sallam) is known to be beseech Allah for the same, he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) used to say: "O Allah, grant me benefit in what You have taught me, teach me what will benefit me, and increase my knowledge. Praise be to Allah in all circumstances. I seek refuge in Allah from the state of those who go to Hell." [Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah transmitted it, Tirmidhi saying this is a tradition whose isnad is gharib]

One should also be aware of the knowledge that does not benefit and beseech Allah and seek refuge form it, as was done by Prophet Muhammd.

On the authority of Zayd ibn Arqam (radhi allahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) used to say: “O Allah I seek refuge in You from knowledge which does not benefit, from a heart that does not feel humble, from a soul that does not feel contended and from an invocation that is not answered. [Muslim. Eng. Vol. 4, # 6568 and others.]  


[1] Ash –Shawkhani [one of the greatest faqihs and mujtaheds. (1173-1250)] said: “This hadeeth is one of the basis of the religion. Although this is only one hadeeth, it deserves to be explained in a volume by itself.”  The scholars held this hadith in such a high position that they would usually start their books by mentioning this hadeeth, in order for those who seek knowledge of the religion to start their quest by correcting their niyyah.

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