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      Explanation of Selected Hadeeth

“The actions are Innama (only, certainty) tied to the intentions …”

On the authority of Abu Hafs, Umar Ibn al-Khattab, who said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah:

“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; 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]

 The Status of the Hadeeth

The scholars held this Hadeeth in such a high position that they would usually start their books by mentioning it, in order for those who seek knowledge of the religion to start their mission by correcting their Niyyah.

Imam al-Bukhari started his book Sahih al-Bukhari with this Hadeeth. 

The Meaning of this Hadeeth

1 -- This Hadeeth entails all types of actions and speech.

Also abandoning an action is considered an action itself, because it is voluntary and therefore it is also tied to the intention behind it.

For example, abandoning doing evil for the sake of Allah will bring about His reward. On the other hand if one abandons an obligation, he will be punished.

What further supports and proves this meaning is the saying of Allah, in a Qudsi Hadeeth (the meaning is from Allah but the wordings is from the Prophet), what translated means:

“If My slave wants to commit an evil deed…’ and ‘if he abandons it for My Sake, then write it (for him) a good deed.” {Bukhari}

This Hadeeth implies that if one abandons an evil deed, but not for the sake of Allah, he will not gain the reward. And if he abandons it for fear from creation and not from Allah, he will also gain an evil deed.

The reward varies according to the intention that leads to the action.

2 --- The Prophet said: “The actions are Innama (only, certainty) tied to the intentions…” ... Indicates that it is essential for the acceptance of the action that it is preceded by a good intention. The acceptance or rejection of the deed is what desired, and not only the perfection of the deed.

3 -- The Prophet said  “...every person will earn that which he intended…”

Means that whoever intends an action his gain will be at the same level as his intention. Yet if one intends to work righteousness and was prevented for a reason that the religion considers valid, such as illness or death, etc., then this person will gain a credit for what he has intended, although he did not perform it.

To support this meaning there is a hadeeth that reads: 

“And a man whom Allah gave wealth and knowledge, so he implements his knowledge using his wealth which he spends righteously. And a man who Allah gave knowledge but no wealth, so he says, “If I had the same wealth like that (wealthy and knowledgeable man), I would do just like what he does. Both of them will gain a similar reward.”

[Ibn Majah and Ahmad]

In short, the actions itself contains what leads to its acceptance or rejection, according to the intention behind it. Also the reward or punishment that will follow an action is tied to the intention that led such an action to be good and accepted, or evil and rejected.

4 -- The Prophet said  “…He whose migration was for Allah and His Messenger, then his migration will be for Allah and His Messenger; 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.”

Good and evil are unique terms that entail all actions. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) mentioned some types of actions as the examples of the actions that are accepted or rejected according to the intention behind them. As if saying, ‘All types of actions are treated the same way as in the example.”

Hijrah (migration) involves abandoning an action or a place to another action or a place instead. Leaving a Kuffar country to a Muslim country is Hijrah. Whoever performs Hijrah for the sake of Allah, the love of His Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), to seek knowledge of the religion, or to establish the religion on firm grounds, whereas, he could not do that where he was staying then this is the true Hijrah to Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). As for those who migrate for the sake of worldly gain of women, wealth or position, they will only gain what they have migrated for, that is this worldly life.

5 -- The actions are treated according to some rules.

a) Matters of worship are treated differently than the matters of habits. An act of worship requires an intention to distinguish from habits.

For Example… One may want to stop eating because he wants to follow a strict diet. (i.e. habit) Or, one may choose not to eat for the sake of Allah, such as fasting for the sake of Allah. (i.e. worship)

Also washing up for purity (ghusl) requires an intention, if it is to be distinguished from washing just to cool off or clean the body.

All types of worship vary according to the intention behind performing them. The prayer for example needs the relevant intention in all cases, but this intention varies according to the type of prayer, whether voluntary or obligatory. Likewise, fasting, charity, etc.

b) The actions are also distinguished accordingly to the sincerity of the intention behind it, whether it is for the sake of Allah alone or for the sake of Allah and others.

The intention should be purely for the sake of Allah, in order to gain reward in the Hereafter.

Meaning of the word An-Niyyah

Linguistically, An-Niyyah means ‘intention.’ Therefore one’s Niyyah (intention) is ‘to do something’. An-Niyyah is also used to describe the direction or the place that one intends to go to, or the meaning that one intends to deliver. It is also used to describe the heart’s intending an action or planning to do an action.

In Islamic terminology, there is NO special meaning for the word “An-Niyyah”

Giving a special meaning to the word An-Niyyah in the Islamic Terminology has no proof. An-Niyyah is one’s intention of the heart to perform an action. And this the exact meaning that the Arab’s usually mean by this word.

Announcing An-Nayyah aloud.

Announcing An-Niyyah aloud is an innovation. Texts of the Book (i.e. Qur’aan) and the Sunnah of His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) do not permit uttering An-Niyah aloud.

An-Niyyah is an act of worship, (it is the action of the heart) which must be conducted according to the rules of the religion, for all acts of worship are impermissible, except those, which the religion specifies and permits.

Announcing the Niyyah and reciting the Qur’aan aloud behind the Imam are (two innovated acts that are) not from the Sunnah and therefore they are not accepted.

According to the consensus of the scholars it is Haraam, to raise voice with the Niyyah.

If it leads to disturbing those who are praying, then they become even more impermissible. If these actions do not disturb those who are praying then announcing an-Niyyah aloud is still an innovation.

If one also wants to show off with this action, he will be committing two Haraams that will add up to a major sin. Those who reject the claim that announcing an-Niyyah aloud is from Sunnah, are saying the truth. Those who defy these people are wrong.

It is an act of Kufr to believe that this innovated act is from the religion of Allah. Hence announcing an-Niyyah is a sin, providing one does not believe that it is not form the religion of Allah. This action was not practiced by the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), any of his companions or any of the scholars of Islam.

Announcing An-Niyyah with the tongue is an evil innovation that has nothing to do with the guidance of the Messenger of Allah.

Effects of Good Intentions on Mubah. (Permissible Acts)

Mub’ah acts are those actions that neither brings about reward, if performed, nor brings about punishment, if abandoned. Performing or abandoning the Mub’ah is the same. Yet one will gain reward if he precedes performing a Mub’ah with a good intention, such as eating with the intention to be stronger in the obedience to Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), and one’s working with the intention so that he supports his family and save himself from humiliation of begging others. Etc.

With the Niyyah, Al-Mubah may become a Mandub (preferred act).

If one precedes an act with a Niyyah similar to that, which precedes performing an obligation, it will be even better in this case.

The Prophet of Allah said:  “You will not give away a charity with which you seek Allah’s Face, but you will gain a reward for it, including what you put in your wife’s mouth (food).”

[al- Bukhari and Muslim]

Putting a bite of food in the wife’s mouth is usually an act of fondling her. Therefore, it has a lot to do with one’s desires. Yet, if good intention and seeking the rewards with Allah precedes one action mentioned in this case then this person will gain a reward as a reward from Allah.

Those who do this (preceding Al-Muba’ah with a good intention) will gain a reward if they intend (by their actions) to draw closer to Allah. However, if they did not intend that, then they will not gain any reward. As the Prophet said: “…and every person will earn that which he intended.”

Conditions for al-Muba’h to become an act of worship.

  1. Al-Muba’ah acts should be a means of performing acts of worship. I.e. One should only perform the acts of Al-Mubah that will enable him to perform acts of worship, and should intend to be able to perform the acts of worship. This is why the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) criticized Abu Israel when he was standing in the sun. He [i.e. Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)] asked why he was standing they told him, “This is Abu Israel! He made a vow to stand and not to sit down to avoid the shade, to keep silent and to fast.” The Prophet said, “Order him to speak, seek shade, sit down and let him continue his fast. (Which is the only act of worship Abu Israel vowed to perform).”

[Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah.]

  1. Al-Mub’ah acts should not be considered as acts of worship themselves. When one intends to be stronger and able to perform the various acts worship by performing the Mub’ah such as eating, sleeping and earning money, they will become an act of worship, But the Muslim gains a reward only for the intention and not the action.
  1. When a Muslim performs Al-Mub’ah he should do so believing that it has been permitted by Allah. Allah likes His permissibles be made use of, just as He likes that one fulfills His obligations. The Halaal is what Allah hs made Halaal and Haram is what Allah has made Haraam and Mub’ah is what Allah has made Mub’ah.
  1. When an act of worship is conditionally permitted like voluntary fast, then one is not allowed to exhaust or physically harm him by going to the extremes with regards to this Mub’ah. In this case it is an obligation that one breaks his fast and eat and drink or save him from harm. If he does not do this, then he may be punished for harming himself. On the other hand, if people abandon and avoid Mub’ah such a marriage, commerce, agriculture or industry, they will all be committing a sin.

Benefits from the Hadeeth

  1. This Hadeeth states that An-Niyyah is a part of Iman. An-Niyyah is an action taken by the heart (not the tongue). Ahlu as-Sunnah wa Al-Jama’ah (who follow the Qur’aan, the Sunnah and the way of the companions), believe that Iman consists of Faith in the heart, attesting with the tongue and then implementing Islam’s requirements and obligations.
  1. This Hadeeth states that the Muslim is obliged to know the ruling of the religion with regards an action that he intends to take so as to know if this action is Halal, Haram, obligatory, etc. This Hadeeth also stated that the actions would be accepted or rejected according to the Niyyah that precedes them.
This Hadeeth requires from Muslim to precede performing the various acts of worship with a good intention. Otherwise, they will not be accepted.

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