Radiance of the Hearts (1) – al-Saʿdi

Bahjat Qulūbi’l-Abrār wa Qurratu ʿUyūni’l-Akhyār

fī Sharḥ Jawāmiʿ al-Akhbār

ʿAbdu’l-Raḥmān b. Nāṣir al-Saʿdī


With the Name of Allāh, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful


All praise is due to Allāh Who is praised for what He possesses of Beautiful Names and Perfect, Lofty Attributes and for the effects of these in this life and the next. I invoke peace and blessing upon Muḥammad, the one who combined within himself the best of all praiseworthy qualities, rightly guided morals and manners, and truthful speech; peace and blessings be upon him, his family, all of his Companions, and all those who follow him.


There is no speech, after the Word of Allāh, which is more truthful, beneficial, or concise than the words of His Messenger and Khalīl, Muḥammad (SAW). He is the one who has the most knowledge of Allāh, the one who is most sincere to creation, the one who is the most eloquent in his conveyance of true guidance, the best of them in laying down the foundations and then detailing them, and he is the best teacher. He (SAW) was granted pithiness is speech: he would speak with few words, but despite their scarcity they were of great import and carried vast meaning, while being clear and comprehensible.


I have decided to mention a number of his (SAW) aḥādīth concerning various vital topics and explain them in a brief, yet clear manner.


So I say, and Allāh is asked for aid, asking Him to make this undertaking easy:


1. ʿUmar bin al-Khaṭṭāb (RA) reports that he heard the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) saying, “Of a surety all actions are but by their intentions and every person shall have only what he intended. Therefore whoever’s migration was to Allāh and His Messener, his migration was indeed to Allāh and His Messenger; and whoever’s migration was to attain some worldly lot or to marry a woman, his migration was to that which he migrated.” Agreed upon.[1]

2. ʿĀʾishah (RAH) reports that the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) said, “Whoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not part of it, it must be rejected,” another version has, “Whoever does an action that we have not enjoined, it must be rejected.” Agreed upon.[2]


These great ḥādīths encompass the whole religion: its foundations and its branches, its outer and its inner. The ḥadīth of ʿUmar comprises the scale to measure deeds inwardly and the ḥadīth of ʿĀʾishah comprises the scale to measure deeds outwardly. They instruct us to have sincerity to Allāh and to follow the Messenger; these two are the prerequisites for the acceptance of every word and deed, the outer and inner. Therefore, it is the one who is sincere in his deed and follows the Messenger of Allāh in it whose action is accepted, whoever does not meet these two conditions, or even one of them, his action is rejected and he falls under His saying,

“We will advance the actions they have done and make them scattered specks of dust.” [al-Furqān (25): 23]


The one who combines both pre-requisites falls under His saying,

“Who can have a better religion than someone who submits himself completely to Allāh and does good…” [al-Nisāʾ (4): 125]

“Not so! All who submit themselves completely to Allāh and do good will find their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow.” [al-Baqarah (2): 112]


Intention (niyyah) refers to the desire behind the action: to draw closer to Him and His good pleasure and reward. Therefore there must exist an intention for the action and an intention for the one for whom the action is done.


With regards the intention for the action, purification in all its various types, ṣalāh, zakāt, ṣawm, Ḥajj; indeed all actions of worship; cannot be considered to be correct unless one first desires to do that action and has the actual intention for it. Therefore one must have the intention to perform that specific action of worship. If that action of worship is itself of different types such as ṣalāh which is either obligatory, optional but specific, or optional but unrestricted: it is sufficient for the unrestricted that one just intend to pray, but as for the obligatory or the specific optional one must have the intention for that specific prayer, such as the intention to pray Witr or the rātibah.


It is also necessary to distinguish habit from worship: one can bathe, for example, either to clean oneself, or because of the greater impurity (al-ḥadath al-akbar), or because he has washed a dead body, or because it is the day of Jumuʿah; as such he must have the intention that he is bathing to remove the impurity or have the intention for the other recommended baths. In a similar fashion, a person could give money away as zakāt, or for expiation (kaffārah), or because he made an oath (nadhr), or for ṣadaqah which is recommended, or as a gift: all of these must be accompanied with their specific intentions.


Included in this is trickery in transactions whereby a person undertakes a venture which outwardly seems legal but he intends thereby to be involved in one form of usury or another, or to sidestep a obligation, or to do something prohibited. In this case it is his intention and objective that is taken into consideration and not what he is outwardly saying. This was stated by Shaykh al-Islām [ibn Taymiyyah]. Similarly Allāh has laid out the condition in accepting the wife back (al-rajʿah) and in wills (waṣiyyah) that harm not be intended thereby.


Included in this are all means that lead to their ends, for the means take on the same rulings as the ends, the good and bad; and Allāh knows the one who intends good from the one who intends bad.


With regards the intention for the One for whom the action is done, it is to have sincerity for Allāh in everything that the servant does and leaves, and in everything that he says and does. Allāh, Exalted is He says,

“They have been commanded only to worship Allāh, making the religion sincerely for him” [al-Bayyinah (98): 5]

“Indeed is the sincere religion not Allāh’s Alone?” [al-Zumar (39): 3]


It is upon the servant to have an all-encompassing intention in all his affairs: desiring the Face of Allāh, seeking to draw closer to Him, seeking His reward, being expectant of it, and fearing His punishment. This intention must be present in all his deeds and statements and alongside this the servant must have the ardent desire to make this sincerity a living reality and try his utmost to perfect it. He must repress all that would diminish it such as ostentation and desire of position and praise. If it so happens that one does acquire status and praise, he must ensure that this remains secondary and that the essential objective remains the Face of Allāh and seeking His reward without being distracted by the creation. Any worldly position or status that arises as a result of this would then be from the temporal rewards meted out to be believer.


His saying, “Of a surety all actions are but by their intentions,” means that the actions cannot come about except by intention and it is upon this that they revolve around. “And every person shall have only what he intended,” means that deeds will be considered as dictated by the intention of the servant in terms of goodness and badness, and perfection and deficiency. Hence whoever intends to do good and his objective is lofty – seeking to draw closer to Allāh – for him is a complete reward, and as his purity of intention and loftiness of objective decreases, so too does the reward. It was to exemplify this that the Prophet (SAW) proceeded to give an example that could be used as a basis for analogy to all affairs, “The one whose migration was for Allāh and His Messenger, his migration was for Allāh and His Messenger,” meaning he attained what he intended and has received its reward. “And the one whose migration was to attain some worldly lot or marry a woman, his migration was for what he made migrated for,” marriage has been specifically mentioned after the generalisation to emphasise the fact that all of this is worthless and of no real benefit. This same fact is emphasised in the ḥadīth in which the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) was asked about the one who fought to show his courage, or fought for nationalism, or fought to show his status: who has fought in the way of Allāh? He (SAW) replied, “The one who fought that the word of Allāh be made supreme is the one who fought in the Way of Allāh.”[3]


Allāh, Exalted is He, says concerning spending in charity,

“The metaphor of those who spend their wealth desiring the pleasure of Allāh and firmness for themselves is that of a garden on a hillside: when heavy rain falls on it, it doubles its produce; and if heavy rain does not fall on it, there is dew.” [al-Baqarah (2): 265]

“…We have prepared a humiliating punishment for the disbelievers, and also for those who spend their wealth to show off to people, not having faith in Allāh and the Last Day.” [al-Nisāʾ (4): 38]


The same applies to all deeds.


Deeds vary in degree and reward in accordance to what the heart establishes of faith and sincerity. This is true to the point that anyone who has a truthful intention and does all that he can do enact the deed, he will get the reward of the deed [even if it turns out that he cannot perform it]. Allāh, Exalted is He, says,

“If anyone leaves his home, migrating to Allāh and His Messenger, and death catches up with him, it is Allāh Who will reward him.” [al-Nisāʾ (4): 100]


The ṣaḥīḥ records that the Prophet (SAW) said, “When the servant falls ill, or embarks on a journey, the deeds he performed while healthy or resident are recorded for him.”[4] He (SAW) also said, “In Madīnah are people, you have not travelled any distance, or traversed any valley, except that they were with you, they were detained due to a valid excuse,”[5] meaning their hearts were with you and they shared your reward. When the servant desires to do good but is unable to do it, his desire and intention are written as one complete reward. Being good to the creation through wealth, deed and speech is from the good and the reward for this lies with Allāh, however the amount of reward is dependant upon the intention. Allāh, Exalted is He, says,

“There is no good in much of their secret talk, except in the case of those who enjoin towards charity, or what is right, or putting things right between people. If anyone does that, seeking the pleasure of Allāh, We will give him an immense reward.” [al-Nisāʾ (4): 114]


Bukhārī records the ḥadīth in which the Prophet (SAW) said, “Whoever takes the wealth of people desiring thereby to pay it back, Allāh will repay it on his behalf; and whoever takes the wealth of people desiring thereby to waste it, Allāh will waste him.”[6] Ponder how Allāh has made the righteous intention a means to provision and Allāh’s repaying on his behalf and an evil intention a means to waste and destruction.


Intention also has an important bearing on permissible and worldly matters. Whoever intends by his earnings, his worldly deeds and habits, that they aid him in establishing the rights of Allāh, in doing the obligations and recommendations, and he has this intention when eating, drinking, sleeping, resting and working: his habits are turned into actions of worship. Allāh will bless him in his work and open for him doors to good and provision that he could never have previously imagined. Whoever misses out on having this righteous intention, either due to ignorance or negligence, then let him blame no one but himself! The Prophet (SAW) said, “You will not perform a single deed, desiring thereby the Face of Allāh, except that you will be rewarded for it, even what you place in the mouth of your wife.”[7]


Hence we learn that this ḥadīth gathers within its scope all good. As such the believer who wishes to be successful must understand this ḥadīth and make it his goal to act by it in all his affairs, at every time.


As for the of ʿĀʾishah (RAH), “Whoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not part of it, it must be rejected,” another version has, “Whoever does an action that we have not enjoined, it must be rejected”: this has an understanding derived from its explicit wording (manṭūq) and an understanding derived from its context (mafhūm).


Its explicit wording proves that every innovation introduced in the religion that has no basis for it in the Book or Sunnah is completely rejected. This is regardless of whether this innovation is in speech and thought such as the philosophical based innovations of the Jahmiyyah, Rāfi±ah and the Muʿtazilah; or whether it be by doing new deeds not legislated by Allāh and His Messenger. The people who do these innovations are blameworthy and the level of blame varies in accordance to the severity of the innovation. Whoever informs us of something that Allāh and His Messenger have not informed us of, or worships Him in way not legislated by Allāh and His Messenger, is an innovator.


As for the context, it proves that whoever does a deed that has been legislated by Allāh and His Messenger – to worship Him with correct beliefs and righteous deeds – his deeds are accepted and his efforts are rewarded.


This ḥadīth also proves that any action of worship that is performed in a fashion that has been prohibited is invalid. This is because it has not been legislated by the Sharīʿah and the prohibition of something necessitates its invalidity; therefore every transaction that has been prohibited by the Sharīʿah is useless and carries no weight.



[1] Bukhārī [#6953] and Muslim [#1907]

[2] Bukhāri [#2697] and Muslim [#1718]

[3] Bukhārī [#2810] and Muslim [#1904] on the authority of Abū Mūsā al-Ashʿarī

[4] Bukhārī [#2996] on the authority of Abū Mūsā al-Ashʿarī

[5] Bukhārī [#2839] on the authority of Anas and a similar wording is found in Muslim [#1911] on the authority of Jābir.

[6] Bukhārī [#2387] on the authority of Abū Hurayrah

[7] Bukhārī [#1295] and Muslim [#1628] on the authority of Saʿd b. Abī Waqqāṣ


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