Hadith 1

Actions Are But By Intentions


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم       


In the Name of Allah The most Gracious The Most Merciful


It was narrated from ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Actions are but by intentions, and each person will have but that which he intended. Thus, he whose  emigration was for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, his emigration was for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, and he whose emigration was to achieve some worldly gain or to take some woman in marriage, his emigration was for that for which he emigrated.”

Brief biography of Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه‏): ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab ibn Nufail ibn ‘Abdu’l-‘Uzza ibn Riyah ibn Qart ibn Razah ibn ‘Adi ibn Ka’b ibn Lu’ayy, Amir al-Muminin, Abu Hafs, al-Qurashi, al-‘Adawi, al-Faruq.

Umar ibn khattab  (رضي الله عنه‏) is from Quraysh and so is the Messenger sallallahu alaihi wa sallam, their lineage meets at Kaab ibn lua’ iy.  All the khulafa are from the Quraysh. He accepted Islam in the sixth year of prophecy when he was twenty-seven years old, says adh-Dhahabi. The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said, “There were people who were Muhadathoon in the nations before me and if there is going to be a Muhadath in my Ummah, it would be ‘Umar.”

In Sahih al-Bukhari, it is narrated that Anas bin Malik (رضي الله تعالى عنه) said that `Umar bin Al-Khattab (رضي الله تعالى عنه) said, “I agreed with my Lord, or my Lord agreed with me, regarding three matters. I said, `O Messenger of Allah! I wish you take the Maqam of Ibrahim a place for prayer.’ The Ayah, “And take you (people) the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim (Abraham),” was revealed. {Noble Qur’an 2:125} “I also said, `O Messenger of Allah! The righteous and the wicked enter your house. I wish you would command the Mothers of the believers (the Prophet’s wives) to wear Hijab. Allah sent down the Ayah that required the Hijab.” “And when I knew that the Prophet was angry with some of his wives, I came to them and said, `Either you stop what you are doing, or Allah will endow His Messenger with better women than you are.’ I advised one of his wives and she said to me, `O `Umar! Does the Messenger of Allah not know how to advise his wives, so that you have to do the job instead of him’ Allah then revealed: 66:5 Perhaps his Lord, if he divorced you [all], would substitute for him wives better than you – submitting [to Allah ], believing, devoutly obedient, repentant, worshipping, and traveling – [ones] previously married and virgins.

Ibn ‘Umar narrated that: The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘O Allah, strengthen Islam with whoever is more beloved to You of these two men: ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab or Abu Jahl ibn Hisham.’ This has been narrated from hadith of Ibn Mas’ud and Anas, may Allah be pleased with them. Once he, Umar  (رضي الله عنه‏) accepted Islam he was amongst the greatest sahabi. ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه‏) was the second khalifa, and one of the ten companions promised Jannah in their lifetimes.

‘Umar (رضي الله عنه‏) would lead salaah in the masjid. And this was well-known. So one day, at Fajr, Abu Lu’ Lu’ snuck into the masjid. After salaah started, while ‘Umar was praying, he jumped out and stabbed him. One companion narrates, that ‘Umar said: “The dog has eaten ‘Umar” Abu Lu’ Lu’ turned to make his escape; but the Muslims prayed so close to each other, he couldn’t escape–so he stabbed his way out. He killed several companions (almost a dozen), until one of them threw a cloth on top of him and tackled him to the floor. He then commited suicide. Umar (رضي الله عنه‏) died in 23 Hijriyyah.

The Explanation of the First Hadith:

This is a saheeh hadeeth that has been agreed upon by the scholars, and is collected in both the collections of al-Bukhaaree (Hadeeth No. 1) and Muslim (Hadeeth No. 1907). This hadeeth is great in its benefit and importance, and it has been said that the religion of al-Islaam revolves around it. Some of the scholars have said that it is 1/3rd of Knowledge, because the actions of man involve his heart, his tongue and his limbs, and hence the intention in the heart is 1/3rd of that. Other scholars have said that the whole religion is encompassed in three hadeeth – this one, the hadeeth “The Halaal is clear, the Haraam is clear and between them are doubtful matters…”, and the hadeeth “Whoever innovates in this religion that which is not from it will have his actions rejected [by Allaah]”.

This hadith is mentioned in all the books of hadith except Maliks muwatta even though Imam Maalik is one of the narrators of this hadith. This hadith is rich in benefits and is used in a lot of refrences. The Scholars need this hadith as it is from the Foundation of the religion. Some of the scholars have said that this hadeeth should be mentioned at the beginning of every book, in order to establish that the seeking of knowledge is for the sake of Allaah alone, and not for anyone else. It is mentioned in Sahih al Bukhari seven times. Al Bukhari started his book with this hadith.

Its known as 1/3 of Islam. This is because three hadiths are said to be the foundations of Islam and this is one of the three.

The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “He who supplicates Allah sincerely for martyrdom, Allah will elevate him to the station of the martyrs, even if he dies on his bed.” The person does not die a shaheed but because of his intention and sincerity he is granted this reward. Similiarly, a person fights with a bad intention and dies in battle he wont be elevated to the station of martyrs. This shows that we need a good intention to get a good reward, which make our actions correct. So the hadith can be understood like this: Correct Actions are by Correct Intentions”Learn the intention, for it is more serious than the action.” Yahyaa Ibn Abi Katheer [Jaamiul-‘Uloom wal-Hikam, p.34]

In the hadeeth, when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) says “actions are but by intention” then the ‘by’ here means that the acceptance and correctness of any action depends upon the intention behind it. An action which is apparently good, such as giving money in charity, will be rejected if the intention behind it is wrong, for example: to show off. Indeed, the Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) has narrated from Allaah that if a person performs an act for Allaah’s sake and also for the sake of someone else, then Allaah will reject the deed entirely and leave the whole of it for the partner that the person made. This shows us how grave the sin of shirk is, it is the only sin that Allaah will never forgive. Some Scholars say that this hadith is based on the story of Ummu Qays but there is no daleel found. Is there a benefit if you know the story behind a hadith? Yes there is, it makes you understand a narration better. If you know why it is narrated you get a clearer picture the same as knowing why the ayah was revealed gives you more clarity and you understand it better.

You can convert a mubah (permissible) action to a mustahab (liked) action and get rewarded for it . It is more important to learn the intention of your heart because if your heart is good then automatically your actions will be good. There are some actions that are not accepted without an intention like salaah, zakaat, hajj. There are things that will be accepted but you may not get rewarded for it.

In the hadith actions are but by intentions… This hadith comprises of two statements. Actions are but by intentions, and each person will have but that which he intended. How does the first statement differs from the second? The second one gives an extra benefit and an added meaning to it and says that you will be rewarded for your intention (each person will have what he intended). The second sentence shows that you will be rewarded as long as you intend something it affirms that if you intend good and you face an obstacle that prevents you from doing the action you will be rewarded for that intention.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning” This hadith below shows that both will be in fire because of their intention. As each one intended on killing the other. The Prophet said: “When two Muslims are engaged in a combat against each other with their sword’s and one is killed, both are doomed to Hell”. I said, “O Messenger of Allah! As to the one who kills, it is understandable, but why the slain one?” He replied: “He was eager to kill his opponent”

If someone intended firmly to break his fast and maghrib came in his fast is broken as his intention was to break the fast. His intention to go back to his fast is not possible as the intention for fasting is the previous night after maghrib. So it is not possible for him to go back to the previous night and fix his intention. The scholars mentioned that the second part of the hadith shows that if you have a good intention for something that is permissible you will be rewarded for it. For example if you sleep with the intention to wake up for tahajjud then you are rewarded for your sleep.

You can combine a shar’i action with something personal as well as long as it is a permissible thing, e.g. taking a shower to do ghusl and to cool down. A haram e.g. is to go to jihad and wants to be known by the people. What does a good intention do to a haraam action? The intention does not make the action good. For example a person says I dont want to pray but my intention is good. Some people tell you that you don’t know their intention for their actions. Or if a person steals to give charity, is this permissible? The daleel for it not being permissible is the hadith: “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘Allah does not accept any prayer without purification, and He does not accept any charity from ghulul.'” (Sahih). Ghulool is tricking and stealing. Haraam acts are permissible only when you have a need. Like eating haraam when you are going to die of hunger and Allah forgives him. The Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Allaah, the Exalted, is Tayyib (Good and Pure) and He only accepts that which is Tayyib.” [Sahih Muslim]


My mother called me one day when the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was sitting in our house. She said: Come here and I shall give you something. The Messenger of Allah asked her: What did you intend to give him? She replied: I intended to give him some dates. The Messenger of Allah said: If you were not to give him anything, a lie would be recorded against you.

This is a very important hadith and it shows you that you cannot lie to a little child. As he will be  doing the same when he grows up so teach him to tell the truth from the time he is little. Now to explain where the intention is here? When people do something like this its not just a frivolous action but it does come with and intention. That is why it will be written against you.

Everything we do has to be intended to be for Allaah, i.e., for anything we do we want to make sure that it will be acceptable to Him and will not in any way interfere with the upholding of His Deen. A good action with the wrong intention will not get us any reward in the Hereafter.

Umar (رضي الله عنه) had the kunya Abu Hafs, this shows the permissibility of having a kunya that is not related to the names of your children as umar did not have a son named Hafs. His daughter was hafsa but not hafs. Ayesha (رضي الله عنها) took the kunyah of her nephew Umm Abdullah which shows that you can have a kunyah even if you don’t have a child. You can give a kunyah to a child too it helps the young from having a personality clash. The boys know they are boys and girls know they are girls at a very young age, we see this confusion prevailing in out society today.


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