Hadith 1

“Actions are but by intentions and every man shall have only that which he intended. Thus he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he migrated.”

Brief Commentary:

  • The chapter is called “beginning of revelation”, and revelation here means the revelation of Islam to the prophet (peace be upon him)
  • A reason why the verse was mentioned is that the method by which the prophet (peace be upon him)  received revelation was the same method by which the other prophets (peace be upon them) received revelation
  • Many scholars found it strange that the hadith of intentions was the first hadith in this chapter as it seemed that it had no connection to the topic, to the extent that some said Imam Al-Bukhari only put it there for barakah, or to show that his intention behind compiling the ahadith was pure
  • By studying the hadith further, it can be seen that this is not the case as the hadith is relevant to the chapter in a few angles which include:
    • The beginning of revelation was with intentions, as Allah created the prophet (peace be upon him) as a monotheist, put hatred to the idols in his heart, and granted him the first signs of prophethood, which is to see righteous dreams that turn out to be true, so when the prophet (peace be upon him) saw this, he purified his intention for Allah and began his seclusion in cave hiraa’ to worship Allah, so Allah accepted his actions and completed His blessing on him (by making him a prophet)
    • As this book is a collection of the revelations to the prophet (peace be upon him), it began with the chapter “beginning of revelation”, and as revelation was to explain actions of the sharee’ah, the chapter began with the hadith of intentions as intentions are the basis of actions
  • By understanding the two points above, it can be seen that Imam Al-Bukhari did not put this hadith here for barakah reasons only, or to show his intention, because if he did. then he would have put this hadith before the chapter name, but he put it inside the chapter to show us that it is from the content of the book and is part of the chapter
  • Some statements of scholars regarding this hadith are:
    • “There is nothing in the ahadith of the prophet (peace be upon him) that is as comprehensive, rich, and more beneficial than this hadith”
    • “It is a third of Islam”
    • “It is relevant to 70 chapters/types of knowledge”
    • “It should be placed at the beginning of every chapter in a book”
    • “It is a third of knowledge”
  • The first statement “Actions are but by intentions” does not negate actions in their essence if they were not based on an intention, but negates their validity e.g. if you wash your whole body but did not have the intention of ghusl, then you have not performed ghusl i.e. your ghusl is not valid, though it cannot be denied that you washed your body.
  • The second statement “every man shall have only that which he intended” means that our reward is based on our intention
  • Al ‘izz ibn Abdissalam explained this by saying: The first statement deals with validity of actions, while the second statement deals with what is based upon this action i.e. reward.
  • It is known that this hadith also includes “he whose migration (Hijrah to Madeenah from Makkah) was for Allah and His Messenger, his migration was for Allah and His Messenger” but Imam Al-Bukhari brought this hadith from a chain of narration where this part was omitted
  • The best reason found for this omission is that many scholars started their books with a short description of why they wrote this book, so Imam Al-Bukhari wanted to give this short description by incorporating it in this hadith. It is as if he is saying I compiled this collection for a reason which Allah knows, so if He knows that I compiled it for dunya purposes, then I will be recompensed for this intention, and he didn’t want to mention the part of whoever does an intention for Allah and his Messenger (peace be upon him) out of humbleness and not wanting to praise oneself
  • A reason why migrating to marry a woman was mentioned in this hadith is that the fitna of a woman is from the strongest of fitnahs, so was mentioned here to highlight its importance
  • As this hadith is an important hadith, it will be mentioned many more times in Sahih Bukhari, and in each time it is explained from a different angle so there is much more to say on this hadith but that will be deferred to when we come across it again in Sahih Bukhari. You can also see the commentary on this hadith from the 40 hadith commentary page.

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