(part 1 of 2): Purity of Purpose in the Religious Field

It is reported citing Umar ibn al-Khattab who said: I heard the Messenger of God say:

“All deeds are judged by their intentions, and each person will be rewarded according to their intent. Whose emigration was for God and His Messenger, his emigration was for God and His Messenger; but whose emigration was for worldly things that he wanted to win or for a woman that he wanted to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for. ” (Sahieh Al-Bukhari, Sahieh Muslim)


This hadith is actually one of the greatest and most important statements of the Prophet Muhammad, because it defines one of the most important principles in the Islamic religion, especially with regard to the acceptance of our religion and our deeds by God and in general of all other normal and everyday activities that a person is concerned with. This principle says that for an act to be accepted and rewarded by God, all that has to be done is dedicated to God. This concept is often called „sincerity towards God“, but the most precise meaning is „purity of purpose“.

At one stage in the life of the Prophet, God commanded all Muslims to migrate from Mecca to the newborn Islamic State of Medina. With this hadith, the Prophet gave an example of the two types of people in relation to this worship act of emigration:

the first example is that of a person who immigrated to Medina for the sake of God only, in order to achieve His satisfaction and for himself to strive to carry out His command. The Prophet confirmed that this act will accept a person of this type from God and will receive the most complete reward.

The second example is that of a person who has performed an act of worship externally, but their intention was neither to achieve God’s satisfaction nor to carry out His command, and therefore a person of this kind, although he may achieve what he does in this life did not intend to receive the reward from God and the deed as such is not considered acceptable.

In Islam there are two areas in a person’s life: the religious and the secular. Although there is a clear separation between the two in terms of religious jurisprudence, they are actually inseparable, because Islam is a religion that deals with family, society and politics as well as belief in God and worship. For this reason, although this statement appears to relate to the religious aspect of a person’s life, it is in fact applicable to both.

Purity of intention in the religious realm

As mentioned before, this hadith sets out the first principle for our deeds to be accepted by God, which is that the deeds are done solely for the sake of God. As for those deeds that have been ordered as a form of religious devotion, known as acts of worship, they have to be done for God alone, because it was God who ordered this service or deed and loved it. These acts include things like prayer (lettuce), fasting, the payment of the obligatory Almos (Zakah), the smaller or larger pilgrimage to Mecca (Umrah and Haǧǧ) and all other religious acts that are prescribed in religion. Even these deeds may appear outwardly, as in this hadith, but the intent to be accepted is

A person who dedicates any of these acts or religious services to other deities or anything else with God will never be accepted, and someone who commits heresy commits the greatest sin against God, polytheism: putting God at the side of things that are special To be entitled to him. Islam is a religion that believes in true and strict monotheism and practices it. This monotheism includes not only that there is only one God and Creator, but also that this God has the sole right that all acts and deeds of worship are carried out only for Him and for no one else. It is this concept that God commanded to preach to all His prophets, as He says in the Quran:

“Yet they had been told nothing other than to serve God faithfully and to pray and to pay zakat (alms). And that’s the religion of straightforwardness. ”(Quran 98: 5)

Here we see that even if a person appears to perform acts of devotion and worship externally, if he involves any other being in the service, be they angels, prophets or righteous people, then this will be not accepted by God. In addition, man falls prey to the great sin of multi-goddess.

Another aspect of purity of intent is that the person never seeks any gain from religious acts and worship, even if merit is permitted. In the hadith mentioned above, the second person did not make their religious commitment to emigrate to other deities instead of or alongside God, nor did they intend to do anything really bad. Their intention was rather something that is allowed in religion. However, the deed is still not accepted by God and the person may or may not have achieved what he intended worldly life to do. Therefore, if a person seeks some worldly benefit with his deed, the reward for the deed will decrease.

If a person desires something that is not permitted in Islam in terms of religious service and worship, it is considered a sin. Islam is a religion that calls for modesty and selflessness, condemns those who seek the praise of others and the enjoyment of this worldly life. So if someone seeks the praise of others with his religious deeds and acts of worship, not only will his deed not be accepted by God, but the person will also expect punishment in the hereafter. The Prophet mentioned the first people sentenced to hellfire in the afterlife, and among them are the following:

“Someone who has learned [religious] knowledge and taught it [others], as well as reciting the Quran. He will be brought [before God] and God will list all the good things He has given him and he will recognize them. God will ask him, „What have you done to them?“

He will answer: „I learned [religious] knowledge and I taught it [others] and I only recited the Quran for your honor.“

God will say: „You lied! Rather, you learned [religious] knowledge so that you would be called a scholar, and you recited Quran so that you would be called a reciter, and this was said of you! ”Then it is ordered [to punish him]. So he is dragged on his face and thrown into hellfire. ”(An-Nasa’i)


(part 2 of 2): Purity of Purpose in the Religious Realm

Purity of Purpose in the Worldly Realm

From the general discussion of the wording of the hadith in the first part, it can be understood that a person can be rewarded even for their normal everyday activities that they do, as long as their intentions are correct and these acts are not prohibited by religion. The religion of Islam encourages this and in some respects has even imposed an obligation on people to adopt special behaviors and more in view of our life outside of worship. It has allowed different methods of doing everyday actions from sleeping to eating. If a person does the different acts in accordance with this permission, then they will be rewarded for it.

This aspect of the intention allows our entire life to become a worship act as long as our goal in life is to achieve God’s satisfaction, whose satisfaction can only be achieved by doing good and avoiding evil. One can transform one’s everyday actions into acts of worship by purifying one’s intentions and sincerely seeking to achieve God’s satisfaction with these acts. The Messenger of God said:

“To raise a man or his possessions on his mount is a charity. A good word is alms. Every step on the way to prayers is a charity. Removing an obstacle is a charity. ” (Sahieh Al-Bukhari)

Earning a living can also be rewarded. The companions saw a man and were amazed at his hard work and his busy life. They complained: „If we could do so much work for God …“

The Messenger of God replied:

„If he works to take care of his little children, it is for God. If he works to support his old parents, it is for God. If he works to keep himself busy and to control his desire, it is for God. On the other hand, if he does so to show off and gain fame, then he is working for Satan. ” (al-Mundhiri, as-Suyuti)

You can earn wages for the most natural activities if, of course, they are accompanied by pure intent. The Messenger of God said,
„If any of you sleep with your wife, it is a charity.“ (Sahieh Muslim)

The same can be said for eating, sleeping and working, as well as for good traits like truthfulness, honesty, generosity, courage and modesty. These can become acts of worship through genuine intent and planned obedience to God.

In order for these otherwise worldly deeds to deserve the divine reward, the following conditions must be met:

A. The deed itself must be permitted. If the deed is forbidden, then the perpetrator is entitled to punishment. The Messenger of God said:
„God is pure and good, and He only accepts what is pure and good.“ (Sahieh Muslim)

B. The requirements of Islamic law must be fully complied with. Fraud, oppression and wickedness must be avoided. The Messenger of God said,
„The one who cheats is not ours.“ (Sahieh Muslim)

C. The activity must not prevent the person from observing his or her religious obligations. God says,

“O you who believe, do not let your children prevent you from remembering God …” (Quran 63: 9)

From this explanation we can see the magnificence of this hadith and what important role it plays in the concept of determining the acceptability of the deeds and their reward by God. We can also see from this hadith that the concept of worship in Islam is not limited to performing certain prescribed ritual acts, but encompasses things from the entire life of the Muslim and makes him a true servant of God.


Source: https://www.islamland.com/deu/articles/taten-und-absichten