Updated: Jul 24, 2019
Actions are Premised Upon Intent
Text of the Hadeeth:
On the authority of the Chief of the believers, Abu Hafs ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying: The reward of actions depend upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. Thus he whose emigration was for Allah and His Messenger, his emigration was for Allah and His Messenger, and he whose emigration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take a woman in marriage, his emigration was for that which he migrated. Collected by Bukhaaree and Muslim.
Explanation of the Hadeeth:
This hadeeth is a great foundation regarding the actions of the heart due to the intentions being from the actions of the heart. The scholars have said: This hadeeth is half of worship because it is the scale of the inward actions. As well, the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her: Whoever innovates into this affair of ours that which is not from it shall have it rejected. And in another wording: Whoever does an action that is not from this affair of ours shall have it rejected. This hadeeth is half of the religion because it is the scale of the outward actions. So that which is benefited from his statement ﷺ : The reward of actions depend on their intentions.
There is no action except that it has an intention. That is because, it is impossible for any person that has intellect and the ability of choice to perform an action without an intention. Even some of the scholars have said: If Allah were to burden us with actions without intentions, there would be from responsibility that which no one could bear.
And branching from this benefit: The refutation upon those who have been whispered to who do actions repeatedly a number of times, and then the Shaytaan (Satan) whispers to them saying: You did not have an intention. We say to them: No. It is not possible, ever, to do an action without an intention so lessen the burden on yourselves and leave off these whispers.
Benefits of the Hadeeth:
A person is rewarded or punished or prohibited based upon his intention. This is due to the statement of the Prophet ﷺ . Thus he whose migration was for Allah and His Messenger, his migration was for Allah and His Messenger. And from the benefits of this hadeeth: Actions, as well, are based upon what they lead to. So something that is neutral in its origin can become obedience when a person intends well. For example, when a person intends in his eating and drinking piety upon obedience to Allah. And due to this the Prophet ﷺ said: Eat the pre-fasting meal for there is blessing in the pre-fasting meal.
It is appropriate for the teacher to strike examples that clarifies the verdict. Due to this, the Prophet ﷺ struck the example of emigration, and it is to leave from the land of Shirk to the land of Islam. He clarified that emigration is one action that a person can be rewarded for or obtain a sin. So the one who migrates for Allah and His Messenger is rewarded and achieves that which he intended, and the one who migrates to achieve some worldly benefit or to take a woman in marriage is prevented from this reward.
This hadeeth enters the topic of worship, interaction with one another, marriage, and
every category of jurisprudence.
Source: at-Ta’leeqaat ‘alaa al-‘Arba’een an-Nawawiyyah