Riyadh as-Saliheen Series – Hadith 1: Reward for Intentions

Chapter 1 – Hadith 4: Sincerity and Significance of Intentions and all Actions, Apparent and Hidden
وعن أبي عبدِ اللهِ جابر بن عبدِ اللهِ الأنصاريِّ رَضي اللهُ عنهما قَالَ : كُنَّا مَعَ النَّبيِّ في غَزَاةٍ ، فَقالَ : « إِنَّ بالمدِينَةِ لَرِجَالاً ما سِرْتُمْ مَسِيراً ، وَلا قَطَعْتُمْ وَادِياً ، إلا كَانُوا مَعَكمْ حَبَسَهُمُ الْمَرَضُ » . وَفي روَايَة : « إلا شَرَكُوكُمْ في الأجْرِ » . رواهُ مسلمٌ .ورواهُ البخاريُّ عن أنسٍ قَالَ : رَجَعْنَا مِنْ غَزْوَةِ تَبُوكَ مَعَ النَّبيِّ فقال : « إنَّ أقْواماً خَلْفَنَا بالْمَدِينَةِ مَا سَلَكْنَا شِعْباً وَلا وَادياً ، إلا وَهُمْ مَعَنَا ؛ حَبَسَهُمُ العُذْرُ »

Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Ansari (radhiAllahu anhu) reported: We accompanied the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) in an expedition when he said, “There are some men in Al-Madinah who are with you wherever you march and whichever valley you cross. They have not joined you in person because of their illness.” In another version he said: “They share the reward with you.” [Muslim]

It is narrated by Bukhari from Anas bin Malik (radhiAllahu anhu): We were coming back from the battle of Tabuk with the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) when he remarked, “There are people whom we left behind in Al-Madinah who accompanied us in spirit in every pass and valley we crossed. They remained behind for a valid excuse.

Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen says in his explanation of this hadith:

The meaning of this hadith is that if a person intends to do a good deed, but is then unable to complete it due to an obstacle in his way, the reward for what he intended would still be recorded for him.

So, if in the state of there being no excuse (to stop him from doing the deed) it was customary for one to perform the action, but he was then unable to do it, the reward for performing the whole deed would be recorded for him.

This is in accordance with the saying of the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam):

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When a slave falls ill or travels, then he will get reward similar to that he gets for good deeds practiced at home when in good health.”  (Bukhari).

Hence, the complete reward is written for the one who desires good and is keen on habitually performing a certain deed, but was faced with an obstacle.

For example: if it was customary for a person to attend the congregational prayer at the masjid, but then he was unable to do due to an obstacle such as sleep, illness or the like, then the reward for praying in the congregation is written for him completely without deficiency.

The same is applicable to the case of one who habitually performed the voluntary prayers, but was unable to do so; the complete reward (for the voluntary prayers) is written for him. Likewise is the case of one who customarily fasted three days of every month, but was prevented and was unable to do so; for him the reward is recorded completely. And the examples are many.

As for one who did not regularly perform a certain deed (but was not able to do it after intending to), only the reward of the intention is recorded for him, excluding the reward of the actual action.

Evidence for this: In the incident when the poor among the Companions (radhiAllahu anhum) said: “O Messenger of Allah, the rich have taken away all the rewards.” Meaning, that the wealthy have preceded them with sadaqah and freeing slaves. So the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) said: “Shall I not teach you something whereby you will catch up with those who have preceded you and will get ahead of those who follow you, and no one will surpass you unless he does the same as you do?”  Then he said: “Say: Subhan Allah, and Allahu Akbar, and praise Him (by saying Al-hamdu lillah) thirty-three times at the end of every Salat.”  So they did that, and the wealthy knew of this and did the same. So the poor came to the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) and said:  “Our brothers, the possessors of wealth, having heard what we are doing, have started doing the same.” The Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) replied: “This is Grace of Allah which He gives to whom He wishes.” (Bukhari and Muslim) And Allah is the possessor of great bounty.

So the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) did not tell them: you have gained the reward of their action. But there is no doubt that they earned the reward of the intention of the action.

For this reason also, the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) mentioned the example of one whom Allah has granted wealth and he spends it in the way of Allah, while one who is poor says: ‘Had I possessed wealth, I would have acted like so-and-so.‘ The Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) said: “If that is his intention, his reward is the same as that of the other.” (Al-Tirmidhi).  Meaning, the reward of the intention is the same. As for the action, he is not rewarded for it unless it was customary for him to do it.

In this hadith, there is also an indication that one who goes out for the sake of Allah, in jihad, is rewarded for his walking.  This is why the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) said (in the hadith above), “who are with you wherever you march and whichever valley you cross.

There is evidence for this in the Words of Allah (subhanahu wata’ala):

ذَ‌ٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ لَا يُصِيبُهُمْ ظَمَأٌ وَلَا نَصَبٌ وَلَا مَخْمَصَةٌ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلَا يَطَئُونَ مَوْطِئًا يَغِيظُ الْكُفَّارَ وَلَا يَنَالُونَ مِنْ عَدُوٍّ نَّيْلًا إِلَّا كُتِبَ لَهُم بِهِ عَمَلٌ صَالِحٌ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
وَلَا يُنفِقُونَ نَفَقَةً صَغِيرَةً وَلَا كَبِيرَةً وَلَا يَقْطَعُونَ وَادِيًا إِلَّا كُتِبَ لَهُمْ لِيَجْزِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

That is because they are not afflicted by thirst or fatigue or hunger in the cause of Allah, nor do they tread on any ground that enrages the disbelievers, nor do they inflict upon an enemy any infliction but that is registered for them as a righteous deed. Indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of the doers of good.

Nor do they spend an expenditure, small or large, or cross a valley but that it is registered for them that Allah may reward them for the best of what they were doing. (alTawbah 9:120,121).

Similar to this is the case of a man who makes wudhu in his house – performing it in the most perfect manner – then leaves for the masjid, going out for nothing except the salah. He does not take a step except that Allah raises him with it a degree and removes a sin.

It is from the grace and favor of Allah (azza wa jal), that the means to performing good deeds carry such rewards as the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) described.

And Allah is the Granter of success.

23 / View Comments

23 responses to “Riyadh as-Saliheen Series – Hadith 1: Reward for Intentions”

  1. F says:

    Jazakillah for the post.

  2. someone says:

    Mashallah, keep them coming.

  3. Faatimah says:

    Alhamdulillaah it was indeed beneficial practical knowledge. Keep posting Insha Allaah. Jazaakumullaah Khayran.

  4. Nida says:

    Great post. I feel like learned enormous amount of information in a matter of minutes! :) Dua’s for people who have written this piece of knowledge.

  5. ahlam says:

    Yay! I love, love,love Riyaad us Saliheen. I could read it over and over again. Its one of those stuff you can survive with alone on an island.

    BarakAllahu feeki.

  6. abu Abdullah says:

    mash Allah.
    i learnt that reward of intention and action are separately recorded. I always wondered if there is no intention, the act will not be rewarded but what about if there is only intention and no action? so , jazak Allah for the explanation.

  7. 'Ata' says:

    How could you possibly quote from Ibn Uthaymeen when this man stood against the Ijma’ of the Muslims in his claim that intentionally killing women and children in war is permitted if the enemies do the same to us.


    minute 2:30

    This is only one of the many blunders this man made, yet you quote him as if he is an authority in Islam. Shame on Muslimmatters!

    • HadithCheck says:

      Fear Allah and do not speak about that which you have no knowledge about.

      Sheikh Ibn Uthaymeen may Allah have mercy on him was one of the greatest scholars of our recent times.

      Every scholar has mistakes, but that does not detract anything from his knowledge, status, or reward with Allah.

      You should have manners and respect the scholars who have spent their entire lives in the service of Islam, a fraction of which I am sure you have not done.

      As for the Ijma’ which you have claimed, then bring forth your proof if indeed you are truthful.

      • Amal says:

        And by the way, how do YOU know he has no knowledge of what he speaks about? Or do you arrogantly assume all who disagree with you must be ignorant?

    • HadithCheck says:


      `Ata’s father is a Palestinian refugee – now American citizen, and his mother is a mixture of everything white, a thoroughly cultured Protestant Hoosier. `Ata’ converted to Islam from Protestant Christianity, was raised in Indiana, and wishes he were Canadian ;) . He is currently completing his undergraduate degree in Religious Studies at a local university, with aspirations to complete the memorization of the Qur’an as well as continue his fiqh studies. His aspirations are to complete his degree, travel the world, develop Ihsan within himself, and raise his children in an environment conducive to taqwa.

      Brother if you are sincere about what you claim, then strive against yourself and practice that which will help you develop Ihsan and taqwa. These words should exemplify themselves in our actions and should not just be words that we use, but have no effect on our actions. I don’t want to be harsh, but be careful from talking bad about our scholars.

      • Amal says:

        And you should fear Allah refrain from trying to silence and shame one who points out the mistakes of a “scholar.” You should also perhaps not copy and paste his information in an attempt to shame him. You might also try asking his forgiveness, as in this case it is you who have no manners. But you seem to lack the humility which you demand of others, so I sincerely doubt you will take this well-meant advice.

    • Amal says:

      Thank you for speaking out about one of the many wrongs of Ibn Uthaymin, knowing, as I’m sure you do, that you will be attacked here by his followers, whose reverence and unwillingness to admit his fallibility reaches disturbing levels.

    • Ayesha says:

      “It is right that an intelligent person does not undervalue three (types of people): the scholars, the rulers, and (his Muslim) brothers. Whoever undervalues the scholars will lose his afterlife, whoever undervalues the rulers will lose his worldly life, and whoever undervalues his brothers loses his good character and conduct.”(Abdullah Bin Al-Mubarak,Al-Dhahabi, Siyar A’lam .Al-Nubala, 17:251)

  8. Amatullah says:

    Asalamu Alaykum,

    In response to Ata, HadithCheck, and Amal:

    It is important for us to know here that we do not ascribe infallibility to the scholars. We recognize that they make mistakes and that they learn from their mistakes. Every scholar has made mistakes, and for us to refuse to take their knowledge because of a mistake is quite preposterous. How do you expect to learn if you hold every scholar to their mistakes? To Amal and Ata, please bring one scholar who has never made a mistake….You will not be successful. The good that the scholars do far outweigh their mistakes, so we should not hold them accountable for these mistakes because we are humans and we are prone to err. Even the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) made mistakes, for example what to do with the captives of Badr. Allah ta’ala revealed verses afterward saying that the Prophet alayhi salaatu wa salaam should have taken the advice of Umar.

    Ata, if you really want to know what is said about the fiqh of jihad then you should research it deeply. If you consider this to be a mistake on the shaykh’s part then I am worried you will be shocked by what has been said by other scholars. I have no knowledge regarding this and I do not even want to delve into it but all I’m saying is that you should do your research. Also remember that this topic isn’t relevant to us and it won’t do us any good to focus on these issues because they do not apply to us.

    Allah azza wa jal tells us in the Qur’an to give good news to those who listen to the speech and then follow the best of it. We are not here to quote the mistakes of any scholar but we are here to take the best of what they left for us and to benefit from it. The scholars, mistakes and all, are the heirs of the Prophets and they are the ones Allah has chosen to guide the people after the Prophets.

    Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen (rahimahullah) as mentioned in the introduction post of this series is a beloved scholar to many people who was the scholars of the layperson. He encouraged his students to learn the Qur’an and Sunnah, to have good character, and to focus on purifying their hearts. One time a group of students asked him about what to do regarding the different groups in the US and he advised them to focus on unity between Muslims and to ignore the differences. He said that working together doesn’t mean you have to espouse the views of the people you are working with, and so on. The brothers who asked the questions were very annoyed with his answer and one even said, “He doesn’t know how things are in the USA.” Unfortunately many Muslims believe him to be something that he is not.

    This series is about learning the narrations of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. We love and respect shaykh ibn Uthaymeen rahimahullah as we love all the scholars of Islam, may Allah have mercy on them all and we will continue to benefit from him and other scholars.

    Any more comments regarding this will be deleted. Please stay on topic; if you have nothing to say about intentions or riyad as-saliheen or related topics, then please refrain from commenting. Please remember that shaykh ibn Uthaymeen is not with us anymore and we should honor and respect the dead, asking Allah to forgive them and have mercy on them and to reward them for their good work.

    Jazaakum Allahu khayran

  9. Tahmid says:

    Salam, Just to clarify that the position that Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen took about killing civilians is indeed an unusual position but how does that take away from all of his great work? Every scholar makes mistakes and I am sure that the Shaykh had his reasons for giving this fatwa, Maybe he just said it out of anger because of what’s happening to the muslims? We should make excuses for our scholars because they are human and can make mistakes.

  10. sara khan says:

    so does this apply to women during their period too? for example, if you pray regularly and intend to do so, but then are unable to do so because of the obstacle of your period, do you still get the reward of it?

    • Amatullah says:

      I know there isn’t a unanimous opinion on this but I have heard many times that yes, a woman does receive the reward for the actions she used to do because if she was not on her period then she would be praying, fasting etc. And Allah is Most Generous! Allah knows best.

  11. 'Uthmaan says:

    As-salaamu ‘alaykum,

    Will this series have it’s own RSS feed like the Supplication Series does?

  12. Me says:

    Jazaki Allahu khairan sister. Looking forward to more.

  13. […] The meaning of this hadith is that if a person intends to do a good deed, but is then unable to complete it due to an obstacle in his way, the reward for what he intended would still be recorded for him. […]

  14. […] Riyadh as-Saliheen Series – Hadith 1: Reward for Intentions […]

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