Part 1 | Part II | Part III

An Nawawi’s 40 hadeeth is one of the most famous hadeeth collections we have today. However, have you wondered what makes them so special? Would you like to learn about each hadith in depth, and get ideas to implement them in your life? Well, this series is aimed at doing just that insha’Allah. Join me as we undertake a journey to put our beloved Prophet’s words into action.

Hadith #1

It is narrated on the authority of Amir al-Mu’minin (Leader of the Believers), Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin al-Khattab MALE radi-allahu-anhu, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah saw say:

“Surely, all actions are but driven by intentions, and verily every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus, he whose migration was for Allah and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allah and his Messenger. And he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for.” 1 31585a58cf50833566483642e8681dfa

What the Scholars Said:

This hadeeth is by far, one of the most common and famous hadeeth known to us, but have you ever wondered how important this hadith is?

  • Al-Shafi’ee (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “This hadith contains a third of knowledge. Going on to explain this, Al-Baihaqi said, “This is so because a person earns rewards with his heart, tongue and body (for a deed he performs). Thus, intentions are involved in one of these three components (making it one third of action).”
  • It is also considered to be one-third of knowledge because scholars like Imam Ahmed (may Allah have mercy on him) have commented that this hadith along with two other ahadeeth comprises the religion of Islam. The other two hadith are “The Halal is clear and the Haram is clear and between them are doubtful matters” and “Whoever innovates in this religion that which is not from it will have all his actions rejected (by Allah).”
  • Abu Ubaid said: “There is no report of the Prophetsaw that is more comprehensive self-sufficient and having more important points to it than this hadith.”

What Makes It So Special?

Any deed you do, big or small goes down to intentions. When you decide to buy a new electronic gadget, it goes down to why you wanted to purchase it in the first place: purely for entertainment purposes or to utilize it to learn more about this deen through resources available online. When you donated money to your local mosque for charity: was it to please AllahSWT or to show off to friends and family? When you stepped up to help an orphan: was it to earn Allah’s SWT mercy or to be called a “philanthropist” and be admired by people you were surrounded by? When you performed your salah: was it to just fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam, was it a boring routine/chore which you *had* to do just because you’ve been commanded to or was it to sincerely have a conversation with Allah SWTand be happy about getting a chance to talk to HimSWT?

Every single act you perform has an intention to it whether you are consciously aware of it or not, therefore, the basis of any good deed is sincerity to AllahSWT.

How You Can Apply This Hadith in Your Life

Now, let’s get down to how you can fill you account with good deeds in ways you could have never imagined!

Step I: Purify Your Intentions

There are two main parts that compose a good deed: the intention and the action. When making an intention, you must make sure that you fulfill the following two prerequisites:

  1. Intend to perform a particular deed to please AllahSWT alone. Any deed done with the intention of trying to please people or to show off will NOT be rewarded. Sincerity is the key.
  1. Intentions for performing any deed must be within the boundaries of Islam and not contradict the teachings of the Prophetsaw or the sunnah, because:

Abdullah ibn MasudMALE radi-allahu-anhu said: “No utterance will benefit without a deed, and no utterance and action will benefit except with a niyyah (intention), and no utterance, deed and niyyah will benefit except that are in accordance to the Sunnah.”

Step 2: Intentions to Action

The Sahaba (may Allah be pleased with them), and the scholars used to have multiple intentions for one action so they could acquire a tremendous rewards for every single action they performed. Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “The intention reaches further than the action”.

You may maintain a special diary for this or use your laptop. Make a list and divide it into two broad categories: dunya related and deen related.

Now, let’s focus on the dunya related activities. The number of tasks you can include in this are innumerable, but I’m just going to list a couple to get you started:

  1. Eat Healthy

Intentions: Intend to eat healthy so you can put your good health to:

  • Serve your family
  • Help your parents/ spouse with household chores
  • Bond with your children in their day-to-day activities so they are happy, in turn pleasing AllahSWT by having completed your duty upon taking care of your family
  • Keep your body fit so you can undertake voluntary fasting
  • Maintain a healthy body so you can pray more nawafil prayers
  • A healthy body to look good for your spouse, etc.
  1. Sleep Pattern

Intentions: Sleep early so you don’t waste time doing activities that do not benefit you in dunya or akhira.

You could perhaps :

Sleep with intention of waking up for tahajjud. Abu ad-Darda’ MALE radi-allahu-anhu relates that the Prophet saw said: “Whoever goes to his bed with the intention of getting up and praying during the night, and sleep overcomes him until the morning comes, he will have recorded for him what he had intended, and his sleep will be a charity for him from his Lord.” 2. Imagine being rewarded with the blessings of having performed tahajjud even if you end up missing them!

Sleep so you can feel refreshed for fajr salah and to do your day-to-day chores, etc.

So, the number of intentions you can include for a single activity are limitless. Turn your mundane dunya activities into acts of worship with sincere intentions to please AllahSWT. Get started!

Deen Related:

Recite Quran:

Intentions: Condition your heart into reading the Quran with the following intentions

I want to read Quran so that:

  • It prevents me from entering hellfire 3
  • It will act as an intercessor on the day of judgment 4
  • It can place tranquility in my heart 5
  • It will remove distress and worries 6
  • It will increase my good deeds and in turn, wipe out evil deeds that I’ve committed 7
  • Click here for more.

Multiple Intentions: Mind Blowing Rewards!

So what do you get for making multiple intentions for each action you perform? A mind boggling increase in good deeds that would fill your book of deeds in no time!

When intention is NOT converted into action:

If, for whatever reason, you are not able to convert your intention into action, you will still be rewarded for your sincerity, inshaAllah. For example, you wanted to read Quran today with multiple intentions, but you weren’t able to do so, AllahSWT will still reward you for having intended to do a good deed.

Jabir ibn AbdullahMALE radi-allahu-anhu reported: “We accompanied the Prophet in an expedition when he said, “There are some men in Al-Madinah who are with you wherever you march and whichever valley you cross. They have not joined you in person because of their illness.” In another version, he said: “They share the reward with you.”8

According to Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him), the meaning of this hadeeth is that “If a person intends to do a good deed, but is then unable to complete it due to an obstacle in his way, the reward for what he intended would still be recorded for him.”

Think about it: Even if you are not able to perform a good deed, AllahSWT will reward you if your intention was sincere! Can you fathom the amount of barakah, blessings and good deeds you are loading into your account of deeds to be displayed in the Hereafter?!

When intention IS converted into action:

Ibn AbbasMALE radi-allahu-anhu reported that the Messenger of Allah saw said: “Verily Allah has recorded the good deeds and the evil deeds.”

Then he clarified that: “Whosoever intends to do a good deed but does not do it, Allah records it with Himself as a complete good deed; but if he intends it and does it, Allah records it with Himself as ten good deeds, up to seven hundred times, or more than that. But if he intends to do an evil deed and does not do it, Allah records it as a complete good deed; but if he intends it and does it, AllahSWT records it down as only one single evil deed.” 9

If you have converted your intention into action, you end up performing one good deed, but because of your sincere intention/s, AllahSWT rewards you by converting your one good deed into 10 to 700 good deeds or more! And imagine, if you had multiple intentions for one good deed, the rewards you get are magnified several times!

To Conclude…

This hadeeth emphasizes on how we need to have a purpose and an intention for every single act we perform, thereby, making it a crux of every single deed we do until our last breath. Imagine the amount of good deeds you can earn just by purifying your intentions, creating multiple intentions in your heart for a single deed and earning Allah’s mercy and blessings thereafter?

Once you are lowered in your grave, the only companion you would have are your good deeds, so why pack one good deed for one action when you can pack multiples of them, making your baggage of good deeds heavy. Start making a conscious effort to purify your intentions every single time, for every single act insha’Allah. The rewards you earn can be beyond your imagination.

How can we put this hadith into practice?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below. 🙂

  1.  Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim
  2.  an-Nasa’i and ibn Majah
  3.  Sahih hadeeth classified by Albani
  4.  Sahih Muslim
  5.  Surah Ar-Ra’d 13: 28
  6.  Transmitted by Ahmad (4318
  7.  Surah Hud, 11:114
  8.  Sahih Muslim
  9.  Al Bukhari and Muslim



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4 replies on “An Nawawi’s Hadith #1: All Actions Are By Intentions”

    December 14, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Much needed for me alhumdulillah as i started this book in my club named Muslim Explorers. May Allah bless you sister and make these children sadqa e jaaria for me and for you as well.

    Mohammad Parvez Kamal
    December 15, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    MashaAllah….A very important hadith which can make us successful in Aakhirah while performing our normal routine like bathing, eating, interacting with others, reading, sleeping etc. Doing any activity within boundaries of Islam with sincerity and multiple pure intentions will certainly enable us to earn reward for Aakhirah sometimes even more than 700 times…
    So now we must act fast…have a record of actions….Duniya and Deen with a list of good intentions…..and try to earn Mercy & Blessings of Allah Subhan wa tala…not 1 for 1 BUT 700 or more for 1…Surely these will be our companion in graves too…May Allah Subhan wa tala help us to follow the right path…..Aameen

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