Do you know how important the ‘ibaadah of the heart really is?
We often focus so much on the physical aspects of our ‘ibaadah, that we sometimes forget about the ‘ibaadah of the heart, and among the most essential acts of worship of the heart is the ikhlas / sincerity of one’s intention.
Rasulullah salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (ﷺ) said: “The (reward of) deeds depend upon the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 6689]
The khayr of having sincere intentions is so comprehensive, that by just working to earn halal income, or doing mundane house chores can actually be a beloved act of worship in the Sight of Allah! So how deprived would we be, if we tire ourselves day in and day out with so many burdensome activities, yet they all amount to nothing on our scale of good deeds?
In this article, let’s look at several ahadith that highlight the superiority of having sincere intentions so that we may be inspired to attain ikhlas in all of our daily affairs, in shaa Allah!
🌸 The heart is king
Rasulullah ﷺ said: “Verily Allah does not look to your faces and your wealth, but He looks to your heart and to your deeds.” [Sahih Muslim 2564c]
Observe how Rasulullah ﷺ mentioned the heart first, before the physical deeds, marking the importance of the ‘ibaadah of the heart.
There is a comprehensive quote by one of the great Companions, Abu Hurairah radhi Allahu ‘anhu, who said: “The heart is king, and its soldiers are the limbs. If the king is set right, his soldiers will be set right. If the king is corrupted, his soldiers will be corrupted.” [Shu’ab Al-Iman 108]
Meaning, if our intention and sincerity of the heart are correct, so will the rest of our physical ‘ibaadah. But if our intention is corrupted by riya’ (to show off) or ‘ujub (self-conceit), then our physical ‘ibaadah will have zero value in the Sight of Allah. This is how powerful the heart is. Just a simple sway of our inner intention will determine whether our outer action has any impact on our scales of good deeds!
🌸 There is hasanah (reward) for sincere intention, even without performing the action
Yes, a sincere intention, even without the physical / outwardly action, is in and of itself ‘ibaadah! Rasulullah ﷺ said:
“If somebody (sincerely) intends to do a good deed, and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 6491]
Sometimes when we want to do something good, we might be prevented from carrying out that action - we got too busy with work, we got sick, our cars broke down, etc. But know that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala will still record it as a complete khayr just because of our sincere intention! Consider also the following hadith, where Rasulullah ﷺ said:
“When a servant of Allah suffers from illness or sets on a journey, he is credited with the equal of whatever good work he used to do when he was healthy or at home.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 2996]
This is one of my favourite ahadith! Okay, so let’s say you always pray the sunnah prayers (eg. the rawatib / Dhuha / Tahajjud prayer) at home. But you won’t be able to perform these prayers when travelling or getting sick, right?
But Allah is Ash-Shakoor, the Most Appreciative, and He subhanahu wa ta'ala will *still* record your deed of doing the sunnah prayers, because He knows that had you been at home or healthy, you would perform those prayers!
My teacher taught that this hadith also includes women who are on their menses as well! They will still reap the reward for ‘amal soleh that they’ve been doing consistently, even if they cannot carry out those ‘ibaadah due to menstruation.
Our Deen teaches us to be productive and consistent with doing good deeds, even if it is a little. And the reward for those who are consistent is that they will still yield khayr even if they’re prevented from carrying them out - their gardens of hasanah continue to grow, never barren. Alhamdulillah!
🌸 There is hasanah for sincere intention, even if we can’t possibly carry out the action
In this inspiring hadith, Rasulullah ﷺ said:
“Verily, the world has four kinds of people. (Two of them are the following:) there is one whom Allah has granted wealth and knowledge - so he has taqwa of his Rabb in them, upholds family ties, and fulfils the rights of Allah over him; he is in the best position.
There is one whom Allah has granted knowledge (but) without wealth - he has a sincere intention, and he says: ‘If I had wealth, I would have acted like this (i.e. the first) person.’ If that is his intention, he will have the same reward as the other.” [At-Tirmidhi 2325 | Graded Sahih by Darussalam]
In this hadith, Rasulullah ﷺ mentioned a person whom Allah blesses with both wealth and knowledge, and he uses those blessings sincerely in the way of Allah.
But the second mentioned person is not gifted with riches. He is not capable of doing similar khayr as the one who has immense wealth. But because of his honest and sincere intention when he says: “If I had wealth like so-and-so, I would do the same khayr as him”, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala rewards him with the *same* reward as the first person - ma shaa Allah!
Please take a moment to fully internalise this hadith.
Can you imagine sitting in our homes, studying the seerah, or the histories of the Companions, or watching a truly inspiring video of a pious Muslim who gave his heart and soul for this Deen, helping the destitute - and we say from the bottom of our hearts: “Ya Allah, I wish I have similar blessings as his, so that I can do the same for Your sake.” - and Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala actually rewards us with the same *exact* reward as that amazing person - even though we have not moved an inch from where we’re sitting? Allahu akbar!
Consider also this hadith, where Rasulullah ﷺ said: “Whoever sincerely asks Allah for shaheed, Allah will give him the status of a shaheed even if he dies in his bed.” [Sahih Muslim 1909]
We know the elite status of a shaheed (martyr) in the Sight of Allah, and how massive Allah rewards the martyrs for their sacrifices. Those same incredible rewards are eligible for us too, even if we were to pass away in our sleep, as long as we are honest and sincere in our intentions.
🌸 There is hasanah for sincere intention, even in trivial worldly matters
Early in the beginning of this article, I mentioned that even doing mundane, everyday worldly tasks can be a form of ‘ibaadah. Rasulullah ﷺ said:
“You will be rewarded for whatever you spend for Allah's sake, even if it were a morsel which you put in your wife's mouth.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 56]
Feeding your spouse - isn’t that romantic? And isn’t it just within the realms of this dunya, far from the nuances of akhirah? However, if we intend it for the sake of Allah, He subhanahu wa ta'ala will reward us for such a simple, worldly gesture.
This hadith teaches us that among the things we can do to reap an abundance of hasanah from Allah is to be sincere in our intentions, even in our dunya affairs.
How much time do we spend working, and earning a living for our family? How many hours pass us by from cooking, or doing household chores? How many sleepless nights do our dear sisters have to endure due to the discomfort and pain of their pregnancy?
If we intend all of these to seek the ridha (pleasure) of Allah, then know that He subhanahu wa ta'ala will reward us for every single moment of doing them. All of these mundane tasks and worldly matters change into something that is so rewarding, and extremely beneficial for our akhirah. So let every minute that we spend, from morning to evening, be filled with these ‘ibaadah, by intending to seek the ridha of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Level up our dunya routines and worldly tasks into acts of worship in the Sight of our Rabb through sincere intention!
Brothers and sisters in Islam, strive to be servants of Allah who are honest and sincere in their intentions. Every khayr that we do has the potential to be a great act of worship to Allah, so do not let these opportunities go to waste.
May Allah keep us sincere in every single khayr that we do, and accept them all from us. آمـــــــــين
Your sister in Deen,
Aida Msr 🌸