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Intention Makes Difference

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By Onislam staff
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Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) related from his Lord (Glorified and Exalted be He):

"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 with Himself as a complete good deed; but if he intends it and does it, Allah records it down as one single evil deed." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This hadith is considered as a qudsi hadithi even though the text of the hadith does not show that clearly or explicitly. The hadith with this text is a clarification from the part of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) about the way of recording deeds. There are other versions of this hadith that have been recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim in the same form of qudsi hadith and in a very clear manner. One of these is the following version that has been commented upon by Ibn Rajab:

Allah says:

"If My servant considers doing a sin, do not record it against him. If he acts upon it, record it as one sin. If he considers doing a good deed and does not do it, record it as one good deed, and if he actually does it, record it as 10 good deeds." (Muslim)

It should be noted that what has been mentioned above is a general rule. However, there are some exceptions because the sin is sometimes considered greater due to certain reasons. One of these reasons is the honor of time or place such as the four sacred months. This is the view of Ibn `Abbas (the narrator of the hadith) and Qatadah.

Another criterion for considering sins as great is the nobility of the person who commits the sin. This is because, as Ibn Rajab says, since he is a person of knowledge of Allah and His attributes, his closeness to Allah should prevent him from committing sins. If he commits sins, his sins will be considered greater than normal people.

The one who fails to be saved is of great loss.

The hadith mentioned four types of deeds: a) doing good deeds; the result will be a multiplication of rewards, b) doing evil acts; this will be recorded as one sin for one sin, c) the intention of doing good deeds; this will be recorded even if it is not done as one deed, and d) the intention of doing evil deeds and reframing from doing it; this will be recorded as one deed.

Some examples of the third type of deeds, as mentioned by Ibn Rajab, are:

•   If someone has intended to wake up in the middle of the night to perform the night prayer but he did not do so because he overslept.

•   If someone intended to pray or fast.

•   If someone intended to do jihad or `umrah.

•   If someone intended to perform the hajj (pilgrimage). So if any Muslim intended to do any of the above and had a strong determination to do them, it will be recorded as if he has done them. But this does not compensate the obligation of doing them when there is an opportunity to do so.

Muslims need to be careful when it comes to dealing with other people.

In one of the versions of this hadith it says that the one who fails to be saved is of great loss. This means that the one whose bad deeds outweigh the good deeds is a failure. Why? After all this mercy and grace from Allah where Allah multiplies good deeds up to 700 times, after all the chances and opportunities that Allah gives us, if a person still persists on disobedience and commits evil acts and in the end his bad deeds outweighs his good ones, then he is truly a big sinner and transgressor. He has no intention of doing good deeds. He has no one to blame but himself. There is a saying for Ibn Mas`ud: "Woe to the one whose sins outweigh his good deeds". The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to his Companions: "Whom do you consider as a bankrupt?" They said: "The one who does not have a dinar or dirham (money)." The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "The real bankrupt is the one who comes with mountains of good deeds but he also comes with many bad deeds that are related to attacking and harming the people." In this case, the bad deeds are not easily omitted because they are related to the rights of human beings. This person may wrong others by slander, backbiting, killing, etc. As a result, his good deeds will be taken from him in the Hereafter as a matter of justice. In addition to that, the hadith told that part of the bad deeds of the people whom he has wronged will be added to his record and the result would be that he will be thrown into the Hellfire. We need to imagine just how horrible the situation is. We need to reflect on this hadith and not to wrong, belittle or fail other Muslims or non-Muslims in the same way.

We should also be kind to animals as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said that a woman will enter Hellfire because of her mistreatment of a cat. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) also mentioned about a woman who is very pious and did good deeds but she annoyed and bothered her neighbors - she too is in the Hellfire. Muslims need to be careful when it comes to dealing with other people. Unless we receive forgiveness from others, we will be held responsible for wrongdoings towards others. This has to do with our morals and values as Muslims. We need to be concerned about this if we want to achieve any success in this life or the Hereafter.
Related Links:
10 Days of Mercy
Lessons from the Battle of Uhud
Prophet's Endurance and Migration to Madinah
To Follow the Sunnah
When the Poor Compete with the Rich

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