Posts Tagged ‘act’

A Believer’s Intention is Superior to His Action

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

First Words
A Hadith of the Holy Prophet  tells us. “A Believer’s intention is superior to his deed.” Every deed is aptly performed at its proper place and time but if it is not performed properly then no significance is attached to it. Thus, to undertake social service at the time of Salal, and forgo it, is not an act of worship. ln the same way, charity is given only to him who is entitled to it otherwise it is not recognised as virtuous by Shari ‘ah. However. Allah recognises the intention behind every deed. Hence, sometimes, a wrong deed receives approval only because it was prompted by a sincere intention. This narrative tells us of a man who paid his sadaqah (charity) to a wrong man but his intention was very sincere.

A Believer's Intention is Superior to His Action

A Believer's Intention is Superior to His Action

(lt is narrated by Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah , that the Messenger of Allah  said: A man said (to himself) that he would give some charity. He went out with this objective and (unknowingly) gave it to a thief. Next morning. the people said that someone had given charity to a thief. (On hearing that) he said, “O Allah! All praise and thanks are for You. l will give alms again.” So. he again went out with his alms and (unknowingly) gave it to an adulteress. Next morning the people commented that charity had been given to an adulteress in the night. The man said. “O Allah! All praise and thanks are for You. l gave charity to an adulteress! Surely. l will give charity again.” So. he went out with his alms again and (unknowingly) gave it to a rich man. Next morning, there was talk again that someone had given alms to a rich man. He said, “O Allah! All praise and gratitude is for You. (l had given charity) to a thief`. an adulteress and a wealthy man.” Then someone came to him (in a dream) and said, “The charity that you gave to the thief might make him abstain from stealing (why should he steal if he gets help from unseen sources?). The alms given to the adulteress might stop her from adultery (she too might repent if she relies on unseen help). The wealthy man who was given charity might take a lesson and spend the wealth that Allah has given him in Allah’s cause (seeing that someone spends it secretly).”](Bukhai·i# I421 .Muslim)

To spend in the cause of Allah and to give charity is very much dear to Allah. The Messenger of Allah  has narrated the account of a man who was given to spend in Allah’s way, and he had resolved to give charity to gain is pleasure. Different people are driven by different pious ambitions.  Some men occupy themselves in supererogatory Salah,  Some observe voluntary fasts. Some devote themselves to service to htunanity and some give charity generously. Generally, man loves wealth very much. Hence. it is very dear to Allah if anyone spends liberally in His Cause. Further, the more one spends secretly. the more sincere it is and thus more worthy of approval by Allah. This man had resolved to spend in the darkness of the night so that no one could observe him not even the receiver. Undoubtedly, his intention was very praiseworthy but Allah willed that when he doled out the charity he placed it on the hands of a thief He could not know in the darkness of the night whether he was giving charity to a deserving person or not. ln the moming, people began to talk that someone had given charity in the night to a thief.

When he heard it, he felt very sony that he had intended to give charity for the sake of Allah but he had given it to a wrong man. So. he praised Allah and resolved to repeat the charity in the night. Again, he placed the money in wrong hands, it was an adulteress this time. Again, people remarked in the moming that an adulteress was paid charity in the night by someone. He felt sorry and pained at his mistake but he praised Allah and resolved again to give charity in the night. He went out in the night and this time he happened to place the money in the hands of a wealthy person who was not entitled to receive charity. There was again talk among the people that someone had given charity to a rich man in the night although it was not proper to do so.

This grieved the man very much and he thought that he had committed a blunder on all three nights. Instead of offering his charity to a deserving person, he had been paying it to non-entitled people for three consecutive nights. He lamented that his charity was wasted. In this state, sleep overtook him and he dreamt that someone told him:

“There was wisdom in the charity going to a thief The wisdom lay in the possibility that the thief might repent and reform, when he sees that he gets his livelihood without having to steal. He might place his trust on Allah and repent from stealing. The same thing might be said about the adulteress who might also repent and reform. She might trust Allah to provide herlivelihood without her having to sell her body.

The wisdom in the charity going into the hands of a wealthy man was that perhaps it might dawn on him to spend likewise in the cause of Allah.

Hence. do not feel sorry. All your three donations are approved and accepted by Allah.”

Certainly, man cannot fathom the wisdom behind a deed. He may suppose that something is wrong and against Shariah but Allah may have placed several blessings in it. This man had paid charity honestly and with a sincere intention but it went into wrong hands unknowingly. Of course, it is not allowed to give sadaqah (charity) to wrong people intentionally. If anyone knows that a man is not deserving in the eyes of Shariah then it is wrong to pay charity to him.

Something similar to it had occured in the times of the Holy Prophet . It is transmitted by Muslim in his Sahih.

“Sayyidina Yazid bin Akhnas once gave some dinars to a man in the mosque with instructions to give them to a deserving person. After some time Ma’n, the son of Yazid, came to the mosque (and this man gave them to Ma‘n). Ma’n took the money and he did not know that his father had set them aside for charity. He took the money to his father who, when he learnt the details, disallowed him to take the money. He said, ‘By Allah, l did not intend to give these dinars to you.’ Ma’n took the case to the Messenger of Allah   who gave his verdict and said, ‘O Yazid! You had formed an intention and got the reward against it. And, O Ma’n! What you have taken is yours.”(Muslim)

In other words, Yazid  got the reward against his intention to pay sadaqah (charity) for he had not intended that his money go to his son. What Ma’n got was received unknowingly and so it was proper for him. He had not received it as charity (or sadaqah).

Lessons and Messages
1. It is really the intention behind deeds that is counted in the sight of Allah. Of course, the visible signs of the deed are also considered. In cases of deeds prescribed by Shariah both are
observed. the intention and the practical deed. The outward execution of a righteous deed should conform to the demands of Shariah and the intention too should be formed in a correct manner. lf either of the two lacks sincerity. the reward against the deed will be lost.

Sometimes. the outward appearance of deeds does not match the dictates of Shariah and one gets the impression that they are contradictory to Shariah. However, in reality they appear against Shariah because of some reasons known to Allah and their true test of authenticity is found in the intention prompting them. This is what is meant by the saying of the Holy Prophet  “The intention of a Believer is better (or superior) to his deed.” Sometimes, a man’s intentions are lofty and sincere but his deeds lack perfection. Allah rewards him on the purity of his intentions.
2. lt is better to give sadaqah in secret because that leaves no room for ostentation. However. it is also proper to give it publicly if there is a reason for that.
3. Sometimes man intends to do something but the consequences are what he had not thought of at all. Allah sees what His slave had meant and rewards accordingly as we saw in the case of a thief, adulteress and wealthy man receiving charity.
4. True dreams are good tiding. They are a forty-sixth part of Prophethood. This man’s dream was one of those and it disclosed to him that his sadaqah was approved and his sadness was thus removed.