This is the first hadith of An-Nawawi.
On the authority of the Commander of the Faithful Abu Hafs ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab who said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying:
“Surely, all actions are driven by intentions and, verily, every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus, he whose migration was for Allah and His Messenger, [then] his migration was for Allah and His Messenger; and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take a woman in marriage, his migration was for that which he migrated.”
This was related by the two Imams of the scholars of hadith, Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ismaaeel ibn Ibraaheem ibn al-Mugheerah ibn Bardizbah al-Bukhari and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj ibn Muslim al-Qushairi al-Naisaboori in their collections of authentic hadith w hich are the most authentic works compiled.
Takhreej here means the study of hadith. It includes information such as in which books of hadith the hadith is found. It will also include a conclusion about the authenticity of the hadith.
This hadith was recorded by practically all major works including Bukhari, Muslim, abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad and ibn Majah. Ibn Muhammad lists over 90 works of hadith which record this with the chains back to the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Because of the many works this hadith has been narrated in, one might think that the hadith is mutawaatir (please see the Vocab page for all arabic terms). It is quite the opposite – the hadith is ghareeb. The only strong narration is from ‘Umar ibn al Khattaab.
If you take a quick look at the different narrators from whom the hadith came, they all go back to, “[…], who reported from Yahya ibn Saeed, who reported from Muhammad ibn Ishaaq, who reported from Alqama ibn Waqqas, who reported from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab, who reported from the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.” Taking a look at each of these narrators, we will find no reason to reject their narration simply because they were the sole narrators of this hadith.
- ‘Umar ibn al Khattaab: he was the second khalifa (or caliph) of Islam. His integrity, honesty and proficiency has not been doubted by the scholars of Islam throughout history. (Stay tuned for a short bio on him radiyallahu ‘anhu)
- Alqama ibn Waqqaas al-Laithi: he was born during the lifetime of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The strongest opinion seems to be that he did not meet the Prophet, and is therefore not a companion. He was one of the Followers and he narrated very few hadith. He is declared trustworthy (thiqa) by the scholars of hadith. He died during the reign of ‘Abdullah Maalik ibn Marwaan.
- Muhammad ibn Ibraheem ibn al-Haarith al-Quraishi well-known Imam and trustworthy narrator. His hadith are recorded in each of the “six books” of hadith (see vocab page). He died in the year 120 AH.
- Yahya ibn Saeed ibn Qais al-Ansaari: He was a well-known, trustworthy Follower. Among those who narrated from him include Imam Malik, Shubah and Yahya al-Qattaan. He narrated approximately 300 hadith. He died in the year 143. It was from Yahya that the hadith became widespread; he had many students and fame in general.
You may have noticed that the three narrators – Alqama, Muhammad ibn Ibraheem and Yahya – were all Followers. This is not rare, but it isn’t the most common form of transmission of hadith.
Does Ghareeb mean that the hadith is also weak?
In a nutshell, no 😉 Some people think this is true. Most hadith of this category are not authentic, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be rejected. There is no evidence or reason to reject this hadith. Simply because it has come through one chain is not a reason to reject it. There are other hadith of this nature in Sahih al Bukhari.
This is one of the most comprehensive hadith of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It touches upon almost every deed of Islam. Abu Ubaid said, “The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam encompassed all of the affairs fo this world in one sentence, ‘Whoever enters anything into this religion of ours that does not belong, will have it rejected.’ And he encompassed all of the affairs of the Hereafter in one sentence, ‘Every action is based on its intention.'”
Both Ahmad and al-Shafi’ee said that this hadith covers one-third of knowledge. Al-Baihaqi explains this statement by saying, “This is so because the person earns rewards with his heart, tongue and body. Thus, intention is involved in one of these three components.”
The pious forefathers would begin all of their meetings and gatherings with this hadith. Many scholars prefer to begin their works or collections with this hadith. Can you think of one? Sahih al Bukhari! 🙂
The basis of any good deed is sincerity to Allah.
The Circumstances Behind the Hadith
In the same way that there is the science of asbaab al-nuzool (the circumstances surrounding the revelation of particular verses of the Qur’an), there is also the science of asbaab wurood al-hadith (circumstances surrounding particular speech of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Many times, it is by knowing the circumstances surrounding a Qur’anic revelation or a statement of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that one understands the correct meaning of the verse or hadith. The evens surrounding a verse or hadith shed a great deal of light on the correct interpretation of that statement. To completely understand any verse or hadith, it is essential to determine whether or not there were particular incidents that led up to that verse or hadith.
Saeed ibn Mansoor and al-Tabaraani record on the authority of ibn Masood that this hadith was stated concerning a man who wanted to marry a woman named Umm Qais but she refused to marry him unless he would migrate from Makkah to Madinah. Therefore, he migrated in order to marry her. Ibn Masood said that afterwards he was called “the migrant of Umm Qais.” According to ibn Hajr, the chains of narration are authentic. However, he points out that there is nothing in that narration that explicitly states that it was the cause for the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to say, “Actions are by by intention….” Ibn Hajr does make the point that this statement does apply to that particular person, even though he probably was not the cause behind the statement.
Next up, inshaAllah – about the narrator, ‘Umar ibn al Khattaab.