In the name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful Praise be to Allah alone, and His Prayers and peace be upon the last and seal of the Prophets It is Allah’s mercy and grace towards His slaves that He has diversified the types of worship and acts of obedience that bring them closer to Him. He did not stipulate that these acts of worship and acts of proximity be accompanied by certain physical or financial or verbal acts that might be difficult to perform by some, or even painful for others, but Allah the Almighty graced His slaves with what is easier than all that. Which every human being could do without effort or fatigue; that is the sincere intention and the earnest determination to love good deeds and to love performing them. What is meant by intention? Intention in the legal (Sharia) terminology is: the determination of the heart to do something. It is the base of acts and its principle; it is the head of the matter and its pillar, its origin with which it built, because intention is the spirit of work and its leader and driver. Work is a follower to intention, it is right when it is right and it is corrupt when it is corrupt. With righteous intention prosperity takes place, and without it disappointment occurs, and according to it ranking degrees for the slaves of Allah vary in this world and the Hereafter.
That is why Islam has closely associated the retribution for actions whether as a reward or as a punishment with the intention; Islam has also made it a condition for accepting the act. Some people make favors as a reward for charity, and others in order to gain good reputation and fame. However, Islam does not recognize all of this nor accepts it from a person unless he has a faithful intention and the deed is performed purely for the sake of Allah. That is why the Prophet, Allah’s Prayers and Peace be upon him, has said, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” [Agreed upon] ‹‹إنما الأعمال بالنيات، وإنما لكل امرئ ما نوى، فمن كانت هجرته إلى الله ورسوله فهجرته إلى الله ورسوله، ومن كانت هجرته إلى الدنيا يصيبها أو امرأه ينكحها فهجرته إلى ما هاجر إليه›› متفق عليه The Prophet, Allah’s Prayers and Peace be upon him, has shown in this Hadith the ruling of Sharia concerning deeds; it is that the share of the doer is his intention. If his intention is righteous, his deed will be righteous and has a reward. If his intention is evil, his deed will be evil and he will be punished. If his intention is permissible, his deeds will be permissible. This indicates the importance and status of intention, and that the Muslim needs to reform his intention, if it is reformed, he will be given a great reward and merits.
Even if he does not perform any work but he only intends to do well, the Messenger of Allah, Allah’s Prayers and Peace be upon him, has said: “When a slave falls ill or travels, then he will get reward similar to what he gets for good deeds practiced at home when in good health.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari] ‹‹إذا مرض العبد ، أو سافر ، كتب له مثل ما كان يعمل مقيما صحيحا ›› رواه البخاري The Prophet, Allah’s Prayers and Peace be upon him, has also said: “If somebody intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed (in his account with Him); and if he intends to do a good deed and actually did it, then Allah will write for him (in his account) with Him (its reward equal) from ten to seven hundred times to many more times” [Agreed upon] فمن هم بحسنة فلم يعملها كتبها الله له عنده حسنة كاملة فإن هو هم بها فعملها كتبها الله له عنده عشر حسنات إلى سبع مائة ضعف إلى أضعاف كثيرة ›› متفق عليه واللفظ للبخاري The Prophet, Allah’s Prayers and Peace be upon him, has said – after the battle of Tabuk: “Some people have remained behind us in Medina and we never crossed a mountain path or a valley, but they were with us (i.e. sharing the reward with us), as they have been held back by an (legal) excuse.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari] ‹‹إن أقواما بالمدينة خلفنا ، ما سلكنا شعبا ولا واديا إلا وهم معنا فيه ، حبسهم العذر ›› رواه البخاري Allah Almighty has known the sincerity of their intentions that He had given them the rewards while they were staying in their homes. Once the intention is good the work itself is good and established so that the person is rewarded for it, and once the intention is corrupt and evil the work itself is corrupt and evil that the sin is established and the person is punished consequently. The intention is not just a word uttered by the tongue: (O Allah, I intend to do such and such), nor it is a talk with yourself only, but it is the resurgence of the heart to do the work which is appropriate for the purpose of bringing benefit or warding off harm immediately or consequently.
The value of intention and its impact on the work If the slave of Allah reformed his intention to be for Allah’s sake, then his moves and his moments of stillness, his sleep and waking up; if he seeks the face of Allah and intended goodwill, they will all be considered steps to the pleasure of Allah. He may be unable to do the good deeds which he aspires to because of his lack of money or his poor health, or for any other reason beyond his control; but he has the intention of doing so if he could afford to, so Allah rewards him according to his intention. Allah may raise those who are keen to reform to the rank of reformers, and those who are desirous of Jihad to the rank of the Mujahideen (Islamic fighters), and those who are looking to spend for charity to the rank of the philanthropists. For their high aspirations and determination and the sincerity of their intentions are more likable to Him than the deficiency of their means. So, man should be keen in doing good deeds and in heading to performing them, and wish to do or participate in doing it with the faithful intention, not with the false hope without the effort or the desire for it. Someone has said: Lead me to an act that keeps me working for the sake of Allah Almighty. He has been answered: intend to do well; you will be considered working even if you are not working, because the intention means the work even if there is none. As well, if a man intends to do evil, and is determined to commit it, or wishes to do such evil, but is not able to do so because of reasons beyond his control or will; in this case the evil deeds he wished to do if he was able are written on his book of account.
The Prophet, Allah’s Prayers and Peace be upon him, has said: “There are four kinds of people: a man to whom Allah Almighty has given knowledge and money and who is acting according to his knowledge and money, so a man says: if Allah has given me as He has given him I would have done such as he does, they are the same in reward, and a man to whom Allah has given money but was not given any knowledge and he is floundering in his wealth, so a man says: if Allah has given me as He has given him I would have done such as he does, they are the same in their sin.” [Reported by Ibn Majah and Al-Monzery and authenticated by Al-Albani]. ‹‹مثل هذه الأمة كمثل أربعة نفر رجل آتاه الله مالا وعلما فهو يعمل بعلمه في ماله ينفقه في حقه ورجل آتاه الله علما ولم يؤته مالا فهو يقول لو كان لي مثل هذا عملت فيه مثل الذي يعمل قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فهما في الأجر سواء ورجل آتاه الله مالا ولم يؤته علما فهو يخبط في ماله ينفقه في غير حقه ورجل لم يؤته الله علما ولا مالا فهو يقول لو كان لي مثل هذا عملت فيه مثل الذي يعمل قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فهما في الوزر سواء ›› رواه ابن ماجه والمنذري وصححه الألباني So the man who had the good intention was rewarded of the good deeds which he did not do, and the man who had the evil intention was burdened with the sins he did not commit; and all this was due to the intention alone. It is favorable to evoke the good intention in the permissible deeds Permissible deeds and words are greatly abundant, and if the slave does not intend a good intention by his deeds, he will not benefit from them in the Hereafter. If the man intends well when doing something, then all his deeds from eating, drinking, sleeping, trading and all aspects of life will become fortunes that will benefit him when he meets his Lord on the Day of Resurrection. A good intention transfers habits into acts of worship, therefore, the scholars urged the slaves of Allah to evoke the intention when performing permissible deeds and habits to be rewarded by the reward of the acts of worship.
Though it does not trouble us to do so, but it is familiar and lovable to us; this is from the greatness of Allah’s mercy and His grace that He allowed His slaves to enjoy good things which they aspire for, then He rewards them for doing this in the Hereafter according to their good intentions. If so, a Muslim should establish all his deeds upon righteous intentions, and that he should do his best not to perform any good deed without the good intention of doing it. Intention is the spirit and backbone of work; so he would evoke good intention whenever performing permissible deeds in order of them to become acts of worship to which he is rewarded. For example, if eating and drinking are intended for satiety and pleasure that is permissible, but if they are intended to help one to obey Allah and draw closer to Him, one is rewarded for them. Putting on perfume as well, if it is meant for enjoyment and luxury it is permissible (for men) (and for a woman in her home), and if it is intended to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet, Allah’s Prayers and peace be upon him, it is an act of worship and obedience, and if it is intended to gain the hearts of women and bragging, this makes it a sin to wear perfume. The same applies to using (miswak) tooth sticks, if it is intended to cleansing teeth it is permissible, but if it is intended to follow the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, Allah’s Prayers and Peace be upon him, it is an act of worship and obedience. Also being generous to brothers and relatives and feeding them on occasions, if the aim is to repay them their familiarity with him and being friends with them, it is permissible, but if it is intended to being charitable to them to get closer to Allah it is a righteous deed that he will be rewarded for performing.
It is permissible to support one’s wife and children by accommodating their needs; food, drinks and clothing so that to keep them satiable and independent from other people, but if it is intended to carry out the duty he has towards them and to draw closer to Allah it is an act of worship and obedience to which he is rewarded. The Prophet, Allah’s Prayers and peace be upon him, has said: “You will not spend a single expense, by which you are seeking the Countenance of Allah but that you will be rewarded for it, even the morsel which you put in the mouth of your wife” [Agreed upon]. ‹‹ولست تنفق نفقة تبتغي بها وجه الله إلا أجرت بها ، حتى اللقمة تجعلها في في امرأتك ›› متفق عليه Along this line, in all permissible deeds Muslims should be keen in always evoking good intentions and to draw closer to Allah by all the permissible deeds purely for Him or to others like offering good deeds or services so that his work becomes righteous to which he will be rewarded. The Imams, may Allah have mercy on them, have raised their disciples according to the aforementioned, it has been narrated that Imam Ash-Shafe’i, may Allah have mercy on him, was sitting with his disciples, when someone knocked at the door, one of them stood to open the door, Ash-Shafe’i said: Why did you stand? He said: “to open the door,” so he advised him to widen the circle of his intention to increase his reward and to maximize his merit: evoke the intention that if he is a beggar you will give him and if he is someone asking for an opinion you will answer him and if he is asking for refuge you will provide one for him.
Thus, the dimensions of worship is extending as the intention accompanying the deed is extended, and the Muslim is capable of being a worshiper of Allah all his life; in his waking and his sleep, in his silence and his speech, in his quest to this world and his quest to the Hereafter as long as his deeds are in accordance with the laws of Allah, and that his intention is to seek the pleasure of Allah. Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “Those who know Allah, their habits are acts of worship, but the laymen’s acts of worship are habits.” May Allah guide us all to perform what He loves and what pleases Him. And Allah’s prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his family and companions.
Dar Ibn Khuzaimah Translated by Wathakker.info website