Rewards are due to intentions

Two angels got down from the sky, and started talking to each other. Abdullah bin Mubarak was sleeping near the Ka`aba, and was dreaming. He saw this in a dream.

One of the angels asked the other: “Do you know how many Hajjis have come for Hajj this year?”

Angels have limited knowledge. The angel know sspecifically what that particular angel has been told. Anything more than that, they neither know, nor can deduce. The other angel did know the figure. He said: “Six hundred thousand have come for Hajj.”

Abdullah bin Mubarak had also gone for Hajj, from Merv.

The first angel asked: “How many people’s Hajj has been accepted?”

The second replied: “Wonder if anyone’s has been accepted at all.”

Ibne Mubarak was grieved to hear that. He thought! “So many people have come from all over the world, crossing so many obstacles like rivers, jungles, mountains, suffered so many hardships, and meeting so many expenses. Would their effort be wasted. Allah (SubHana Wa Ta`ala) does not let anyone’s effort go to waste”.

He had thought only so far when he heard the other angel speak: “There is a cobbler in Damishq (Damascus(. His name is Ali bin alMufiq. He could not come for Hajj, but Allah (SubHana Wa Ta`ala) has accepted his niyyah (intention). Not only will he get the reward for Hajj, but because of him, all these Hajjis will also be get the reward.

The prophet is reported to have said: “Innamal a`amalu bin niyyah”, meaning the rewards of actions are dependent upon their intentions. When we pray our Salaah, we make our intention (in the heart only); when we fast our Sawm, we make the intention (in our hearts only). For the ritual Sacrifice, for Zakaah, for Hajj, for all these we have to make our intention. Action is only valid with intention. Without it, the action is simply an accident. There can be no deception in intention, but there can be in action, because intention is of the heart.

Now one gets all sort of thoughts in the heart, good as well as bad. The Sahaba (Companions) were worried, so they asked: “If thoughts or intention carry reward and punishment, what will happen about those thoughts that are not carried out?” In reply Allah (SubHana Wa Ta`ala) gave us the last verses of Surah Baqarah, which mean that any doubts or temptations in the heart will not be questioned about.

When Abdullah bin Mubarak woke up, he decided he would go to Damishq and meet that cobbler. whose intention alone carries such a lot of weight. When the order to make ritual sacrifice for Allah was given, it was revealed: “wa la kin yyanaluhut taqwa minkum”, meaning: nothing (meat, blood of the sacrifice) reaches Allah except your taqwa, i.e purity of intention.

On reaching Damishq, Abdullah ibne Mubarak located that cobbler and called him out. A man appeared from the house. Abdullah asked his name. He replied “Ali bin alMufiq”. Ibne Mubarak asked: “What do you do for a living?” Ali replied: “I am a cobbler”. Then he asked ibne Mubarak his name.

Abdullah ibne Mubarak is a very well-known scholar of Islam. He has a very high place among the Muhadditheen, very pious and very generous. What the Quraan says about the Muttaqeen, is exemplified by him.

The two started talking. Ibne Mubarak asked Ali to tell him about himself. Ali said “For thirty years I have lived in the hope of performing the Hajj. This year I had been able save enough to go for Hajj, but Allah (SubHana Wa Ta`ala) did not will it, so I couldn’t make my intention translate into action.

Abdulah ibne Mubarak felt the purity of that cobbler’s heart. Islam regards greatness not in wealth or in power, but in civility, in good manners, in goodness of heart. Abullah asked: “there must be a reason why you couldn’t start on the journey?” Ali replied that yes, it was not Allah’s (SubHana Wa Ta`ala) will. When Abdullah ibne Mubarak persisted in his insistense, Ali who had tried to hide his generosity, eventually told the truth.

Ali said: “Once I went to my neighbour’s house. His family was just sitting down for dinner. The neighbour told me: “I am sorry I cannot invite you with us.” We have been without food for three days. Today I found a dead donkey, and we have cooked his meat for a meal. It is halaal for us now, but you cannot eat it, becasue it is haraam for you.”

Ali continued: “On hearing this my heart bled with tears. I got up and went home, collected the three thousand dinars I had saved for Hajj, and gave my neighbour the money. I too had to go hungry but that was to save money for Hajj, but I thought saving my neighbours’ lives from hunger is more important, although I still desire to go there.

Abdullah bin Mubarak could not resist any more. He told the cobbler of his dream.

However, actions must also be in accordance with the Sunnah of the prophet (saw).

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