This is the translation of the first chapter of a book of Sheikh Abu Yahya al Libi rahimahullah entitled “The forty Hadith about the virtues of Martyrdom”
The necessity of sincerity in all of one’s actions
The first Hadith:
عن أمير المؤمنين عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه قال: سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: ((إنما الأعمال بالنيات وإنما لكل امرئ ما نوى فمن كانت هجرته إلى الله ورسوله فهجرته إلى الله ورسوله ومن كانت هجرته لدنيا يصيبها أو امرأة ينكحها فهجرته إلى ما هاجر إليه)) رواه البخاري ومسلم
Meaning: On the authority of Amir al-Mu’minin Umar bin al-Khattab radiallahu anh who said: I heard the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam saying: “Verily actions are but by intentions. Every person will get only what he intended. Hence whoever’s Hijra (migration) was for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, then his Hijra will be considered for the sake of Allah and His Messenger. Whoever’s Hijra was for the sake of the world or a women to marry, then his Hijra will be considered to be for the sake of what he emigrated.” Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim
Some benefits from the Hadith:
1) That the actions of the heart – from them is sincerity – are the fundamental origin (Asl) and the outward actions follow them.
2) The consideration of the Muslim to rectify his innerself should be more of a priority to him than rectifying his outward actions.
Al-Allamat ibn al-Haaj al-Maaliki combined the above two notions in his words: “The fundamental origin (Asl) through which acts of worship branch out in its variety is al-Ikhlas (sincerity) and that is something that is not possible to attain except through the heart. Upon this, the outward actions are subsidiary to the innerself. Hence if the innerself was rectified, the outward is rectified well. If a flaw enters the innerself, then it enters the outward more so. For this reason, it is upon the believer that he prioritizes the salvation of his innerself and its uprightness giving it his all as the origin (Asl) of uprightness stem from it.”
3) The quantity of reward for actions depends upon the intention of the doer and his purpose in its strength or weakness, presence or absence.
4) The Shar’i (legislated) actions which benefit the doer are the actions which combine between the rightness of the innerself and uprightness of the outward. The innerself is made right by making sincere the intention and the outward is made upright by the correctness of the actions.
5) The reward of a person is increased for having numerous intentions for the same action. Hence the one who is fighting for the sake of Allah can combine various intentions in his Jihad for example; complying with the command of Allah and raising his word, aiding the oppressed, freeing the prisoners, safeguarding the possessions of the Muslims, enraging the disbelievers and likewise other intentions which come under this worship. Hence intending all of them will increase the reward of the doer.
6) The necessity of making sincere one’s intention is all of the actions.
To sum it all up, the magnitude of this Hadith is well known and it is impossible for any chapter of knowledge to be independent from this Hadith. And indeed the scholars have written lengthy explanations and clarifications about this Hadith and Allah knows best.