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The saying 'the intention of the believer is better than his action'

Which of the two are better; the intention or the action?

((The intention of the believer is better than his action)) – This has been said by more than one person, and some of them raise it, so the clarification of this is from a number of angles:

Firstly: that the mere intention by itself without action is rewarded for, whilst action without intention is not rewarded for

Secondly: Whosoever sees a good, and acts it out as far as one is able to, but could not complete it – then he has the reward of the one who carried it out, due to his saying ('alaihis salaatu was salaam): ((Indeed present in Al-Madeenah there are men, you did not march along the way, and nor did you traverse a valley – except that they were with you…)) (reported by Muslim)

Thirdly: The heart is king of the body, and the body parts are his soldiers, so if the king has with himself goodness then likewise his soldiers will likewise have goodness, and if he is corrupt, then they likewise are corrupted, and so the intention is the actions of the king.

Fourthly: The repentance of the one weak against sins is correct with Ahl us Sunnah, as is the repentance of the eunuch from fornication, as is the repentance of the speechless one from false accusation, and the root of repentance is: determination of the heart.

Fifthly: Corruption does not enter into the intention, since its very foundation is love of Allaah and His Messenger, and the seeking of Allaah’s face; this in itself is something loved by Allaah and His Messenger, and pleasing to Allaah and His Messenger. Whilst in the outward actions many missed opportunities can appear in them, for this reason the actions of the hearts alone are better than the actions of the body alone, as it is said: “The strength of the believer lies in his heart, and his weakness is in his body” and the hypocrite is the opposite of this, and Allaah knows best.

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah
Mukhtasir Fataawaa al-Misriyyah, page 12
Translated by Aboo Haatim Muhammad Farooq
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