Intention-check!

May 26, 2007

It is mentioned in a hadith that people would draw lots if they understood the reward for giving the adhan or being in the first row for the prayer. Familiar with this hadith, a man always used to be in the first row of the congregation. However, one day he was late to the prayer and was unable to pray in the first row. He felt embarrassed that people would not see him in the first row of the prayer. At this moment he realized that he used to receive satisfaction from his peers noticing his status. His intention was impure and not solely for the sake of Allah (SWT). Therefore, as Muslims, we need an intention check. Are we doing everything solely for the sake of Allah? Consider the very first hadith found in Sahih Bukhari as it is in Volume 1, Book 1, Hadith Number 1. Umar (ra) narrated that Rasoolullah (SAW) 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.”

Abu Huraira narrated that Rasoolullah (SAW) narrated a story about three people on the Day of Judgment. The first of the people whose case will be decided on Judgment Day will be a man who died as a martyr. He will be brought forth. God will make him know about His blessings (which He had bestowed on him in the World). The man will acknowledge them. Then God will ask him: What did you do with them? He will say: I fought in Your way until I died as a martyr. God will remark: You are lying. You fought so that you may be called a brave warrior. Then orders will be passed against him. So he will be dragged along on his face and cast into Hell.
Second will be a man who studied religious knowledge. Then he taught it to others and recited the Quran. He will be brought for Judgment. God will remind him of His favors (showered on him in the world). He will admit them (having enjoyed them in his life). Then God will ask him: What did you do with them? He will reply: I acquired knowledge and imparted it and also recited the Quran for Your sake. God will observe: You have told a lie, for you got knowledge to be renowned as a scholar; and you recited the Quran to be marked as a Qari (one who recites the Quran according to the rules). Then orders will be passed against him. So he will be dragged along on his face and thrown into Hell.
The third person will be a man to whom God had made abundantly rich and granted him every kind of wealth. He will be brought for judgment. God will let him know about His gifts conferred upon him in the world. He will recognize them. Then God will inquire: What did you with them? He will say: I left no way in which you like money to be spent without spending in it for your sake. God will say: You are lying. You did so to be described as generous and philanthropic in the society; It means you got your reward in the world according to your intention. Now you deserve nothing in the Hereafter except Hell. So orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged along on his face until he will be hurled into Hell.

As Muslims, we should never do our good deeds for the sake of others as showing-off is tantamount to shirk. Why? Because we are then doing our deeds for others by showing-off for them. Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “What I fear for you the most is the minor shirk, that is ar-riyaa. Allah will say on the Day of Judgment when He is rewarding the people for their actions: Go to those for whom you did riyaa for in the world then see if you find the reward with them” (found in Ahmad). Riyaa is the showing-off and is considered to be a major sin. In another hadith, Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “Shall I not inform you of what I fear for you more than the maseeh ud-dajjaal (false messiah)? It is the hidden shirk (riyaa). It is when a man stands up for prayer, then beautifies his prayer for another to look at” (found in Ibn Majah).

Therefore, as Muslims, we need to have ikhlas (sincerity) in all of our actions. When we seek knowledge, we need to seek it solely for the sake of Allah (SWT). Abdullah Ibn Masood (ra) said, “Do not learn knowledge for three (things): To amaze and confound the foolish, to argue with the learned and to make peoples faces turn towards you. (But) seek what is with Allah with your hearts and actions, since only that will remain and whatever is besides it will go.” We need to purify our intentions with sincerity. As-Sakhtiyaani said that purifying one’s intention is harder than all other actions for those who act. Sufyaan at-Thawree said, “I have not treated anything more difficult than my intention, because it keeps changing.”

Therefore, let us all purify our intentions solely for the sake of Allah (SWT). Let us be excited when we do good deeds because we know that our reward will come from Allah (SWT). Let us not prolong our prayer because someone is watching us, but prolong it because Allah is watching us. Let us have ihsaan for even if we do not see Allah, Allah surely sees us.

This post is definitely a reminder to myself first and then for others. Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatahu.

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2 Responses to “Intention-check!”

  1. Umm e Sarwat Says:

    Assalam alaikum

    Jazak Allah khair Wa taqabbal Allah ..

    It was an awesome post and reminder we really needed

    Do remember me in your duas..

    Was salam


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