قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَي اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ سَلم
انما الاعمال بالنيات و انما لامرئ ما نوي فمن كانت هجرته الي الله و رسوله فهجرته الي الله و رسوله، ومن كانت هجرته الي دنيا يصيبها أو إمرأة يتزوجها فهجرته الي ما هاجر اليه
رواه بخاري و مسلم
The Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم said:
"Deeds are only by intentions, for each man is only for which he has intended, and so whoevers hijrah is for Allah and his messenger صلي الله عليه وسلم, then indeed his hijrah is only to Allah and his messenger صلي الله عليه وسلم. But whoevers hijrah is to the world he wishes to acquire or a woman he seeks to marry, then his hijrah is only to that which he has actually immigrated."
[Bukhari and Muslim]
Before beginning to explain this hadeeth it is important that we actually understand what the words niyyah and hijrah actually mean. One can say that a niyyah means inclination of the heart. So our intention of any act that we do lies upon the inclination of our hearts. The word hijrah means to leave a land solely for the pleasure of Allah سبحانه وتعالي. The more correct and general meaning is that a person leaves all which Allah سبحانه وتعالي has fordibidden.
This hadeeth indicates towards a certain incident that took place. A man migrated to Madinah with the desire to marry a woman whose name was Umme Qays. For this reason the man was later well known as 'Muhajir Umme Qays'. What actually happened was a man sent a message to Umme Qays stating his desire to marry her. Umme Qays accepted with a condition that he migrate to Madinah for the marriage to take place. Therefore, the man migrated to Madinah and then married her. Hence he became famous with the title 'Muhajir Umme Qays'.
Within this beautiful hadeeth lies many virtues. Imam Shafiee رحمة الله عليه and Imam Ahmad رحمة الله عليه have given this hadeeth the status of being equivalent to a third of all knowledge.
Our actions are divided into three:
1-Those acts which are connected to the heart.
2-Those acts connected to our tongues.
3-Those acts connected to aur body parts.
This hadeeth relates to all three types. Than any act done within the three categories above is still determined by our intentions.
Ibn Daqeeq Al'eid رحمة الله عليه has said that the 'Ulama have titled this hadeeth 'ثلث الاسلام' (a third of Islam). Whereas Imam Abu Daud رحمة الله عليه has described this hadeeth to be a half of all Fiqh (Jurisprudence). It is a tradition amongst 'Ulema that they begin their books with this hadeeth so that from the very beginning the teacher and the student can rectify their intentions, as well as ensure whatever they are commencing is done with full sincerity.
Intentions play an important part in our lives, and we can class them into three categories according to why intentions are needed:
1-تمييز عبادت عن العادت To differentiate our habits from our acts of worship ('ibaadah). It is our intentions that truly determine why we are doing certain acts. A person can stand in the position of salah, but without a niyyah he is merely standing. It is only his niyyah that will determine whether or not he is really praying.
2-تمييز عبادت عن العبادت Our intentions differentiate one act of worship from another. A person can be praying Salah, however only through his niyyah will it be known whether he is praying for example fajr or dhuhr.
3-تمييز معبود عن المعبود Only our intentions will tell us to whom we are praying to. It differentiates us from others. Our niyyah will tell us we are praying to Allah. Whereas the intention of a fire worshipper would be that he is praying towards the fire.
The meaning of the hadeeth here is that Allah سبحانه وتعالي will only accept those acts of worship which are done with a correct intention. If the intention is not correct, then the act is not accepted rather it is rejected. However a person intends will be in accordance to what he will recieve. For any act, no matter how many intentions a person has for it they will all be dealt with accordingly. For example if a person has a relative who us very poor he intends to help him because he is poor, this results in one reward. However, if a person also intends to enjoin family ties as mentionned in the Qur'an and hadeeth he will get two rewards. A person can have many intentions for one act, and if they are all good intentions the Allah will reward us for all of them.
We will bear the fruit of our actions according to our intentions. So we must constantly be reviewing our intentions and making sure that sincerity is found within them.