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How Do We Draw a Line Between Seeking This World and Seeking Allah?

Answered by Shaykh Salim Ahmad Mauladdawila

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I believe we have been ordered to seek Allah over this world.

When we seek to get married, to have kids and a good job is it seeking this world over Allah? How do we draw a line between seeking this world and seeking Allah?

Answer:  Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

The religious law has five different categories for rulings: obligatory, praying the five daily prayers; recommended, like giving charity; offensive, an example being drinking while standing; unlawful, like theft; and permissible, which is the ruling most actions fall under, like walking, sitting, or eating.

The Prophet SAW said in a well-known hadith, “Verily actions are but by their intentions, and verily a person will only be awarded according to his intention. So whosoever emigrated for God and His Messenger, his emigration will be for God and His Messenger. And whosoever emigrated to attain something of this world, or to marry a woman, his emigration will be for what he emigrated for”. This demonstrates that a single outward act can have different realities according to one’s motivation for performing it. One may perform an act, in this case the permitted act of migration, and be rewarded for it by God, while another may perform the same act, like the Companion who migrated to marry a woman, and receive no such reward. Another still could have performed the same outward act of migration but harboured ill intentions, and for this person their migration would be unlawful.

Imam al-Ghazali in his magnum opus Ihya Ulum al-Deen expounds on this concept and how it relates to Hajj. Using the example of one who sets out for Hajj while also intending to conduct some trade, he states that this person’s Hajj is insha’Allah accepted, but he is only rewarded according to how pure his motivation is. If his motivation for travel is 70% worship, say, and 30% trade, he receives a 70% reward of Hajj. God says in the Quran, “So whosoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whosoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it” [100:7-8]. We can understand from this verse that whatever good or ill intention we have in an act, God will award us accordingly.

Looking at the specific example of marriage, the scholars say, for most intents and purposes, that it is a Sunna, or recommended act. The one getting married, however, is only rewarded for performing this Sunna if following the Sunna of the Prophet SAW was their intention in marrying. If, for example, they married for some other devious purpose, then for them getting married would be unlawful.

Likewise, working and earning a living can be understood in the same manner. One may work their 9-5 with the intention of attaining Halal provision, providing food, a home, and an education for their family, and establishing a secure future for their children to the best of their abilities. If this is their intention, then there is no doubt that working their job, they are rewarded by God as if they are performing an act of worship. Another may work the same job but indulge in unlawful practices, intend to spend their wealth in unlegislated ways, and not spend what is obligatory upon them to provide for their family. This person’s work is undoubtedly taking them further from God and incurring His wrath.

It is thus that the pious strove so sincerely in perfecting their actions such that they would be completely for God, and it is also why so many abstained from indulging in ephemeral desires. If working for the ephemeral takes one further from God, then abstaining from it completely could then only bring them closer to their Creator and make them more worthy of His pleasure.

As for God’s words, “Whosoever should desire the immediate – We hasten for him from it what We will to whom We intend. Then We have made for him Hell, which he will [enter to] burn, censured and banished” [17:18], Imam al-Haddad provides excellent commentary in his Treatise on Discipline in the Path of the Seeker. The Imam explains that merely seeking worldly things in and of themselves is not unlawful, saying that “whosoever should desire the immediate” here refers to one whose “desire for the earthly life is so powerful that it makes him neglect and deny the Hereafter until he does not believe in it, or he believes but does not strive for it”. Thus we see that the world itself is not unlawful for us, but that its true reality is that it is to serve the believer in attaining a greater portion of the next life.

The Prophet SAW said in a hadith narrated by Imam al-Tirmidhi, “The world and all it contains is accursed, except for the remembrance of God, that which pleases God, religious scholars, and seekers of religious knowledge”. The key part for us here is “that which pleases God”. Here lies for us the possibility of transforming our acts which are merely permitted into acts which near us to God. It is thus that the importance of forming a sound and whole intention can be understood, and the role of intentions in our actions appreciated.

Wassalam,

[Shaykh] Salim Ahmad Mauladdawila

Will My Intention to Spend My Future Earnings in a Praiseworthy Manner Be Rewarded?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: I am currently studying to get a job in the future, inshaAllah. Once employed, if I intend to spend my money in the way of Allah, will I be rewarded for both my studies and work?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for your sincere question and grant you tawfiq in your studies and career.

Intention

It is taken from the well-known hadith in which the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “Verily actions are by their intentions, and one shall only have that which one intended.” [Bukhari & Muslim] The scholars stated that there is something implicit in this hadith, namely: “Verily actions are [rewarded] by their intentions, and one shall only have [the reward] for that which one intended.” – Excerpt from Actions Are Rewarded Due To Intentions by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Yes, inshaAllah you will be rewarded for studying and by working. Please continue to renew your intention regularly in order for you to gain reward.

Please refer to the following link:

A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Is Making a Verbal Intention a Condition for the Validity of the Fast?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum,

Last night during suhoor when I usually make intentions, verbally, to fast, I had not. But doesn’t the act of suhoor indicate what I’d be doing the following morning (fasting) and therefore reflect the intention I had at heart?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

Yes, making a verbal intention is not a condition for the validity of the fast.

The intention is the resolve to do something, and the act of waking for suhur is a sufficient indicator of the intention.

And Allah alone gives success.

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Are Taxes Paid to Governments Fulfilling the Obligation of Zakat?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: As we already pay taxes to the governments we live under, and our taxes are used to feed the poor and sustain them, is it enough to say that under a non Islamic government we are already fulfilling the task of paying Zakat if we give our tax with the intention of Zakat?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

No, we cannot say that our taxes paid to governments fulfill the obligation of Zakat.

The obligation of Zakat is only fulfilled when we transfer the required amount of wealth directly to a person who is deemed ‘poor’ in Islamic legal terms. In other words, there needs to be an actual transfer from one individual to another.

There is no saying that the specific wealth we give to the government in taxes is used in such a manner. Rather, as you are well aware, taxes are used for a plethora of things: funding infrastructure, enforcement of public order, subsidies, the operation of government, the military, paying off the debt of the state, and so forth.

In light of this, there is little reason for us to assume in the absence of explicitly stated government policy that the money we are paying in taxes is going into the actual possession of a poor person.

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Seeking Sincerity: How Can One Strive To Have One’s Actions Accepted by Allah Most High?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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Question: Assalam Aleikum,

It is scary to imagine that you might THINK you’re doing something for Allah but that’s not the case–that one’s actions may be insincere and therefore not acceptable to Allah. In that sense, is it reasonable to say that there’s nothing we can do beyond praying that Allah accepts our deeds?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

There are means to take to have sincerity, these include:

(1) Seeking beneficial knowledge, through reliable sources;
(2) Keeping the company of the sincere—both learned scholars of guidance, as exemplars, and good friends as company;
(3) Acting on one’s knowledge, with consistency, gradualness, and striving to make one’s private and public actions and states the same;
(4) Turning to Allah before every action;
(5) Remembering Allah during one’s actions;
(6) Asking Allah for acceptance after one’s actions;
(7) Frequent supplication for next-worldly matters and the states beloved to Allah—such as sincerity;
(8) Keeping one’s tongue moist with remembrance of Allah.

These are eight matters from “striving for the sake of Allah.” Allah Most High promises, “Those who strive for Us, We shall surely guide to the paths leading to Us. And Allah is indeed with the people of excellence.” [Qur’an, 29.69]

Please see also: A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines and: Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad – Hypocrisy and Sincerity – A Talk and: A Reminder for Teachers: The Need for Sincerity, and the Dangers of Seeking Prestige and the Praise of Others – Imam Dhahabi

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani

How Can I Make my Intentions Solely for Allah in My Dealings With Others?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: 1) Are you rewarded for deeds you to do that are part of your nature(being good to others, forbearance…)?

2) Why was the prostitute forgiven for giving a dog water? Her actions were due to her nature…

3) What about non-Muslims who are kind and patient?
4) How can you make your intentions for Allah?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
(1) Make a general intention to uphold good character for the sake of Allah, and then proceed as you have been doing. The sign that an intention is for Allah is that if you were asked why you were upholding such traits, you would ultimately respond that it is for the sake of Allah.
(2) Firstly, the traditions would seem to indicate that this was before the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), so we cannot necessarily apply our principles of understanding to that occurrence. And secondly, we don’t know what her intention was– the assumption would be that she felt pity for the animal for the sake of Allah, and she was forgiven due to that.
(3) In general, and if for the sake of Allah, such actions are minute in view of their disbelief.
(4) Make your primary intention Allah, and then make secondary intentions which explain how you are seeking Allah through the action. For example, “I am holding the door open for the sake of Allah,” is your primary intention, and then, “in assisting my fellow man, in doing the good for others, in following the beautiful way of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace),” and so on.
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Only Concerned With Allah’s Pleasure not His Reward: Do I Need to Repent?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: The motive of my worship after getting back to Islam is more about getting closer to Allah and attaining His Pleasure rather than avoiding Hell or going to Paradise. In fact I don’t pay any attention to any kind of reward or punishment while worshiping Allah, I am only trying to make Him Happy with me. Do I need to repent for holding these views?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
No, you do not need to repent from focusing on Allah.
However, learn your personally obligatory knowledge (fard `ayn) and apply it in your life. If you don’t have knowledge, how will you know what Allah wants from you and what He wants you to desist from?
“Say, ‘If you love God, follow me, and God will love you and forgive you your sins; God is most forgiving, most merciful.’ Say, ‘Obey God and the Messenger,’ but if they turn away, [know that] God does not love those who ignore [His commands].” [3.31-​32​]
​Tantawi comments in his commentary of this verse, “every person who claims to love Allah yet doesn’t perform that which he has been commanded to do, and abstain from that which he has been commanded to abstain from, is making false claims.” [Tantawi, Tafsir al-Wasit]​
Consider taking: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Beliefs & Worship (STEP) and: Fiqh of Life: Essentials of Halal and Haram
See also: Love for Allah – Translation of Ishq-e-Ilahi – Written by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad and: Prophetic Supplication for Allah’s Love – and the Means to It
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines

“Actions are lifeless forms whose souls are the secret of sincerity in them.”

Sidi Ibn Ata’illah (Allah have mercy upon him)

Sincerity & Intention
Intention: Validity And Sincerity
Actions Are Rewarded Due To Intentions
Should I Remove the Hijab Because I Am a Bad Example for Others?
Good Deeds & Salvation: Putting Our Works Into Perspective
The Difference Between an Oath and an Intention
Prophetic Sunna of Making One’s Actions Firm – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Intention & Closeness to Allah
IslamCast Daily Hadith – 1 Intentions and Closeness to Allah
Seeking Allah in All One’s Actions – Magnifying, Multiplying, and Recording Intentions in Islam 
Thankfulness to Allah – Reality, Aspects, & Expression of True Gratitude – Faraz Rabbani
Intentions & Acts of Worship
The Prayer for Drinking Coffee – The Power of Purpose and High Intentions
Is It Valid to Combine Multiple Intentions in One Prayer?
The Intentions for Seeking Knowledge – Imam Abdullah al-Haddad
The Intentions of Marriage – Shaykh Ali bin Abu Bakr al-Sakran
Intention for Sending Blessings upon the Prophet
Drinking Wine With Good Intention?
Intention, Sincerity & the Heart
How Can I Increase My Iman and My Sincerity By Doing Things For the Sake of Allah?
Contentment, Reliance on Allah, and Pure Intention – Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
Imam Nawawi On Fighting The Ego (Nafs)
A Reminder for Teachers: The Need for Sincerity, and the Dangers of Seeking Prestige and the Praise of Others – Imam Dhahabi
The Purpose of Spiritual Routines
The Aim, Purpose, and Consequence of Consistent Spiritual Routines
Ramadan Reminders 26: Elements of Success: [3] Good Habits – Routines – Consistency – Gradualness
Related Courses
Principles of Islamic Spirituality
Seeking Allah: Imam Muhasibi’s Treatise of the Seekers of Guidance Explained
Purification of the Heart & Praiseworthy Character (from Ghazali’s 40 Foundations of Religion)
Further Reading
Sea Without Shore: A Manual of the Sufi Path – Shaykh Nuh Keller – Now Available – SunnaBooks
Imam al-Haddad’s Advice to the Spiritual Wayfarer – Muwasala
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s Commentary on the Hadith of Gibril
On Reflection (fikr) – Imam al-Haddad (Book of Assistance)

Is an Intention for an Expiatory Fast Valid Up to Islamic Midday?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: If one is observing expiation fast and he forgot to make the intention at night due to tiredness and he wakes up in the morning without eating or drinking, and then he says to himself ”I’m fasting today” before mid-day, is this sufficient?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
Your fast is valid as the default assumption is that you had the intention to continue your expiation (kaffara).
However, note that the intention for the expiatory fast needs to be clear before Fajr time. An Islamic midday (al-dahwa al-kubra) intention suffices in the current Ramadan, specifically vowed, and voluntary fasts only.
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani