And they differ as to the limits of
his saying, 'actions are by intention'. And many of the later Muslims think that
the limit is that the action is made correct, able to be considered and acceptable with
the intention. And in this what is meant is that action which is legislated (Shar`i)
needing an intention. And as for what is not requiring an intention like habitual actions
such as eating, drinking, dressing and other things, or like returning the trust or
guarantees then none of these is in need of an intention.
And others say, rather 'actions'
here is to be understood in its generality, and nothing is exempt from it. And some of
them relate this as the saying of the majority, meaning the majority of the early people.
And this occurs in the words of ibn Jareer at-Tabaree and Abu Taalib al-Makki and others
from the early Muslims. And it is clear from the words of Imaam Ahmad, he said in a
narration, 'I like that for every action, from prayer or fast or charity or any action of
righteousness that there be an intention preceding the action. The Prophet, sallallaahu
alayhi wa sallam, said, "actions are by intentions", and this is taken
for every matter.'
Fadl bin Ziyaad said, I asked
Abu Abdullaah (i.e. Ahmad) about the intention in action, how should it be? He said,
"one should treat his self when he intends to do an action, not desiring by it the
people (i.e. showing off)."
And it is possible that the
limits of his, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saying, 'actions are by intention' (is
that the action is made) good, or corrupt, or acceptable, or rejected, or rewarded, or not
rewarded according to the intention. Therefore this statement informs us of the Islamic
ruling concerning this- and that is that the correctness or incorrectness of the action is
in accordance to the correctness or incorrectness of the intention, and its acceptance and
rejection is according to its conclusion.
And his saying after this, 'and
for everyone is what he intended' is informing that he will not gain anything from his
action except what he intended. So if he intended good, he gets good. And if he intended
evil then he gets evil. And this second statement (of the hadeeth) is not merely
reiterating the first, for the first statement points to the fact that the goodness or
corruptness of the action is according to the intention necessary for that action to
exist. The second statement points to the fact that the reward of the actor for his action
is in accordance to his good intention, and that the punishment for his action is in
accordance to his evil intention. And if the intention is permissible (mubah), then the
action is permissible (mubah), and there is not for it any reward or punishment.
Therefore the action in itself is
good, or bad, or permissible according to the intention behind it necessary for that
action to exist. And the reward of the person or his punishment is according to the
intention upon which the action became righteous, or bad or permissible.
THE MEANING OF NIYYAH IN THE LANGUAGE
AND SPEECH OF THE SCHOLARS:
Know that Niyyah (intention) in the
language is a type of purpose (qasd) and desire (iraadah). And Niyyah in the speech of the
scholars occurs in two meanings (or contexts):
1) To distinguish different types of
worship, one from the other. Like distinguishing Dhuhr prayer from Asr prayer, or
distinguishing the fast of Ramadaan from other fasts. Or distinguishing actions of worship
from actions of habit, like distinguishing the bath from impurity from the baths simply to
get clean. And this meaning of Niyyah you will commonly find in many of the works of the
2) To distinguish the intended
object of the action - is it for Allaah only and for no other, or for Allaah and other
than him? And this is the meaning of intention you will find in the works of the Gnostics
(`aarifoon), in their discussions on sincerity and those things that it is dependant on.
And this (meaning) you will often find in the statements of the Salaf.
And Abu Bakr ibn Abee Dunya wrote a
book, calling it, "Sincerity and intention', and he meant this (second meaning) of
intention. And it is the meaning of intention which is repeatedly mentioned in the speech
of the Prophet , sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam,, sometimes with the word niyyah, other
times with the word iraadah, and sometimes with words close in meaning to the above two.
And the mention of intention occurs in the Qur'aan many times, by the use of words other
then niyyah but with similar meaning.