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On Sincerity and the Importance of Motive in every type of Action

 Riyadh as-Salihin of Imam Nawawi
Translated from the Arabic by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan
Gardens of Righteous

The salutation to the Holy Prophet in the words ‘upon whom be peace and blessings of Allah’ after his name, and the invocation ‘may Allah be pleased with him’ after the names of his companions are expressly set out in the manuscript but are omitted in print in order to accomodate the text to the modern reader. They should, nevertheless, be understood as repeated in each case.

In this translation the form ibn has been used in both initial and medial positions in the names of persons, in order to conform with current usage, although bin occurs medially in the originally text.

Allah, the Exalted, has said:

  1. They had only been commanded to worship Allah, devoting themselves wholly to Him in full sincerity, and to observe Prayer and to pay Zakat. This is the enduring faith (98.6).
  2. Their flesh reaches not Allah, nor their blood, but it is your righteousness that reaches Him (22.37).
  3. Warn them, O Prophet: Whatever you keep hidden that which is in your minds, or disclose it, Allah knows it well (3.30).


  1. Umar ibn Khattab has related that he heard the Holy Prophet say: Motive determines the value of all conduct, and a person attains that which he desires. If the motive of one who emigrates is to attain to Allah and His Messenger, then that is the purpose of his migration; and he who migrates seeking the world attains to it, and he who migrates for the sake of a woman, marries her and thus his migration is for the purpose he has in mind (Bokhari and Muslim).
  2. Ayesha has related that the Holy Prophet said: A host will advance upon the Ka’aba and when it reaches the plain all of them, the first and the last, will be swallowed up by the earth. Whereupon she said: Messenger of Allah, why all of them? He replied: All of them will be swallowed up, but they will be raised up for judgment according to their motives (Bokhari and Muslim).
  3. Ayesha has related that the Holy Prophet has said: After the fall of Mecca emigration is no longer obligatory; but striving in the cause of Allah and yearning for it continue obligatory; when you are called you should go forth (Bokhari and Muslim).
  4. Jabir ibn Abdullah has related: We were with the Holy Prophet in a campaign when he said: There are some people in Medina who are with you in spirit wherever you march and whatever valley you traverse. It is only illness that has kept them from being with you in person; and one version adds: They are your partners in reward (Muslim). Bokhari’s version is: Anas has related: We were returning from the campaign of Tabuk with the Holy Prophet when he said: There are people left behind in Medina who were with us in spirit in every pass we crossed and every valley we traversed. They were kept back by some disability.
  5. Ma’an ibn Yathid ibn Akhnas (all three Companions) has related: My father set aside some dinars for charity and gave them to a person in the mosque. I went to that person and brought back the dinars to my father. He said: I had not intended these for you. So we went to the Holy Prophet and submitted the matter to him. He said to my father: Yathid, you have earned merit for what you intended; and to me he said: Ma’an, you are entitled to what you have taken (Bokhari).
  6. Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas (one of the ten who had been given the glad tidings of admission into Paradise) has related: The Holy Prophet came to inquire after my health when I was seriously ill in the year of the Farewell Pilgrimage and I said to him: Messenger of Allah, you see how it is with me. I am a man of means and my sole heir is my daughter. May I, then give away two-thirds of my property in charity? He said: No. Then one-half, O Messenger of Allah? Again he said: No. Well then, one third, Messenger of Allah? On which he said: One-third, and one-third is ample. It is better that you should leave you heirs in easy circumstances rather than in want, reduced to soliciting alms from others. Whatever you spend seeking the pleasure of Allah, even a morsel of food that you put in the mouth of your wife, will bring its reward. Then I said: Messenger of Allah, shall I be left behind in Mecca, when you return to Medina with my fellow-companions? He said: You will certainly not be left behind. Whatever you do seeking the pleasure of Allah will raise your station and your high status. I am hoping that you will survive to be a source of benefit for some people and of trouble for others. Then he supplicated: Make perfect the emigration of my Companions, O Allah, and do not turn them beck on their heels. But the one to be pitied was Sa’ad ibn Khaulah who died in Mecca, and the Messenger of Allah expressed mercy and compassion for him (Bokhari and Muslim).
  7. Abu Hurairah has related that the Holy Prophet said: Allah does not regard your bodies and looks, but looks at your hearts (Muslim).
  8. Abu Musa Asha’ri has related: The Holy Prophet was asked: Which of three strives in the cause of Allah, one who fights in order that he should display his bravery, or one who fights out of a feeling of indignation, or one who fights in order to show off? He replied: He who fights so that the word of Allah be exalted, is the one who strives in the cause of Allah (Bokhari and Muslim).
  9. Abu Bakarah Thaqfi has related that the Holy Prophet said: When two Muslims confront each other with swords and one is killed, both end in hell. I said: Messenger of Allah, as to the one who kills it is understandable; but why the other? The other was also eager to kill his opponent (Bokhari and Muslim).
  10. Abu Hurairah has related that the Holy Prophet said: Prayer in congregation is more than twenty-five times greater in merit than Prayer at home or in the shop etc. Therefore, when a person makes his ablutions carefully and proceeds to the mosque with the sole purpose of joining in the service his station rises in grade at every step and one of his sins is wiped out. From the moment he enters the mosque he is accounted as a participant in the service while waiting for the service to begin, and, so long as he causes no inconvenience to anyone and his state of purity is maintained, the angels continue to pray for him: Allah, have mercy upon him; Allah, forgive him; Allah, turn to him with compassion (Bokhari and Muslim).
  11. Abdullah ibn Abbas has related that the Holy Prophet repeated Allah’s affirmation that He has defined good and evil and has expounded their gradation. He, therefore, who makes up his mind to do a good deed, is rewarded by Allah for one full measure of it, and if he then proceeds to carry it out Allah rewards him from ten to seven hundred times and even many times more. He who is inclined towards an evil deed, but does not carry it out, is rewarded by Allah for one full measure of good deed. Should he carry it out, he is debited only one evil deed (Bokhari and Muslim).
  12. Abdullah ibn Umar has related that he heard the Holy Prophet recount the following: Three persons, of a people before you, were on a journey when they were overtaken by a storm and they took refuge in a cave. A rock slithered down from the mountain and blocked the exit from the cave. One of them said: The only way for deliverance left is to beseech God for it by virtue of some righteous deed. Thereupon one of them supplicated: Lord, my parents were very old and I used to offer them their nightly drink of milk before my children and the other members of the family. One day I was drawn far away in search of green trees and did not get back till after my parents had gone to sleep. When I had milked and brought their drink to them they were asleep, and I hated to disturb them, nor would I give any part of the milk to my children and others till after my parents had had their drink. Thus, with the vessel in hand, I awaited their wakening till the flush of dawn, while the children cried out of hunger at my feet. When they woke up they had their drink. Lord, if I did this seeking Thy pleasure, then do Thou relieve us of the distress imposed upon us by this rock. Thereupon the rock moved a little but not enough to let them pass out. Then one of the other two supplicated: Lord, I had a cousin whom I loved more passionately than any man loves a woman. I tried to seduce her but should would have none of me, till in a season of great hardship from famine she approached me and I gave her one hundred and twenty dinars on condition that she would yield herself to me. She agreed, and when we got together she pleaded: Fear God, and do not break the seal unlawfully; whereupon I moved away from her despite the fact that I desired her most passionately; and I let her keep the money I had given her. Lord, if I did this seeking Thy pleasure, do Thou move the distress in which we find ourselves. Again, the rock moved a little but not enough to let them pass out. Then the third supplicated: Lord, I hired some labourers and paid them their due, but one of them left leaving behind what was due to him. I invested it in business and the business prospered greatly. After a time the labourer came back and said: O servant of God, hand over to me my wages. I said to him: All that you see is yours; camels, cattle, goats and slaves. He said: Mock me not, O servant of Allah, I assured him: I am not mocking you. So he took all of it, sparing nothing. Lord, if I did this seeking Thy pleasure, do Thou relieve us of our distress. The rock then moved away, and they emerged walking freely (Bokhari and Muslim).