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On Ikhlaas (Sincerity)
  The Hadeeth of the Niyyah (Intention)
Author: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali
Source: Jaami ul-Uloom wal-Hikam
Article ID : TZK010005  [17381]  
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Abu Daawood said, "I looked into the hadeeth of the Musnad (i.e. of Ahmad) and it consisted of 40 000 ahaadeeth. The I looked again and (found that) the 40 000 ahaadeeth revolved around 4 ahaadeeth:

  • The hadeeth of Nu'maan bin Bashir, 'the halaal is clear and the haraam is clear.'
  • The hadeeth of Umar, 'verily actions are by intentions'
  • The hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah, 'Verily Allaah is pure, and does not accept except that which is pure. And indeed Allaah ordered the Muslims with that which He ordered the Messengers.'
  • The hadeeth, 'from the excellence of ones Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him.'"

And also from Abu Daawood, "it suffices man that he knows from all these ahaadeeth [the ones he collected in his Sunan] 4 ahaadeeth:

  • The first: His, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saying, 'verily actions are by intention.'
  • The second: His saying, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, 'from the excellence of a persons Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him.'
  • The third: His, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saying, 'The believer will not truly believe until he wishes for his brother that which he wishes for himself.'
  • The fourth: His, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saying, 'the halaal is clear and the haraam is clear.'"

  And in another narration from him, "Fiqh revolves around 5 ahaadeeth:

  • (The hadeeth), 'the halaal is clear and the haraam is clear'
  • His, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saying, 'do not harm and do not reciprocate harm.'
  • His saying, 'Verily actions are by intentions.'
  • His saying, 'The religion is advice/sincerity'
  • His saying, 'what I forbade you from then stay away from it, and what I ordered you with then do as much of it as you can.'"


His, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saying, 'verily (innamaa) actions are by intention' and in a narration 'actions are by intention' - and both of these statements dictate constraint [to the fact that all actions are in need of intention] according to the correct opinion. And it is not our goal here to direct the discussion towards this or expound in any length on it.

[Ibn Daqeeq al-Eid says in his ‘Ihkaam al-Ahkaam’: "2: The words ‘innamaa’ is used for constraint according to what is established in the Usul… and there is agreement over this. The meaning of constraint: is to affirm all that is contained in what is mentioned, and to negate all that falls outside of it…

3: Constraint sometimes dictates an unrestricted constraint (al-Hasr al-Mutlaq) and sometimes a specified/restricted constraint (Hasr Makhsoos) – which it is, can be understood from the context and secondary evidences. For example the saying of Allaah, ‘innama anta mundhir’ (indeed you are only a warner) 13:7. The literal sense of this verse confines the Messenger’s, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, duties only to warning, but the Messenger is not merely confined to this rather he has many beautiful descriptions such as giving glad tidings and others. But the understanding of the (context) of the words dictates that he is constrained to giving warnings only to those who believe and negates his ability to have descend (from the heavens) the Signs that the disbelievers wish. (This then is an example of restricted constraint)

Similar to this is his, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saying, ‘indeed I am only a man (innama ana bashr) and when you fall into a dispute and come to me…’ Its meaning: his being constrained to (normal) human qualities with respect to his inability to examine what is inside the disputants (i.e. see into their hearts and minds) not with respect to every quality for indeed the Messenger, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, has many other qualities (which are better than the normal human qualities)….

…So when the word ‘innamaa’ occurs then consider it, if the context and the intention of the words show that the constraint is specific to something then stick to this, and if it is not specific to something then take it to be an unrestricted constraint. With regards to this (unrestricted constraint) is his, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saying, ‘indeed (innamaa) actions are by intentions.’ Allaah knows best."]

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