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Matters are determined according to their intentions

الأُمُوْرُ بِمَقَاصِدِهَا

Authority of the Maxim

  • Quran: An-Nisa 114

  • The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)said, "The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, his emigration will be for Allah and His Messenger; and whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration would be for what he emigrated for". (Sahih Bukhari, 6953; Sahih Muslim, 1907)

Brief explanation of this maxim

  • Intention has a significant role in judging any action.

  • In Shariah, one of the key functions of intention is to differentiate between acts of worship (ibadah) and customary acts (‘adah).

  • In the absence of proper intention, the doer of an act will be deprived of the reward of an act of worship. For instance, a person abstaining from food and drink from dawn to sunset without the intention of fasting will be void of Allah’s reward and not be deemed to have fasted.

  • Most importantly, Shariah illicit matters or means will still be considered prohibited regardless of how well or good the intentions are.

Conditions on this maxim

  • The intention should not contravene the objectives of the Shariah and its prescribed rulings. E.g: stealing from the rich to give it to the poor.

  • The intention should be unambiguous and clear from the beginning of the action. E.g: making intention to pay zakat or to make customary donation.

  • A single act cannot be commingled with two incompatible intentions. E.g: One should not pray zuhr prayer with the intention of performing both zuhr and asar prayers.

Other Main highlights of this maxim:

  • An intention without action has no effect. E.g.: If a person intends to donate his property but never really does it, the property is still his.

  • A good intention without action is still rewarded. E.g: if a person intends to donate a portion of his money to the poor but does not really act on it, then he will still be rewarded for his good intention.

  • A bad intention without action is rewarded. E.g: if a person intends to steal but does not really act on it, then he will be rewarded for abstaining from doing a sin.

Applications to daily life:

  • Intention of stockholders/shareholders determines which zakat rule applies to corporate shares.

  • If the intention was to benefit from the annual dividend of the shares only without any intention of trading them, zakat is payable as overall income. E.g: Total Zakat payable = Sum of total income (including dividend income, etc.) and savings [which is above nisab and have reached 1 lunar year] x 2.5%