Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Intention and motivation|
|09/13/01 at 09:24:35|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
[center]Intention and motivation
By Dr Muhammad Kamal Al-Shareef[/center]
It is not possible to understand a certain person's behavior unless we can identify his motivation for doing something or refraining from another. Islamic scholars of the past gave motivation different names, such as "rationale", or "reason", which in certain ways stress the element of man's freedom of action more than "motive" and "motivation" used by Western psychologists.
The Prophet stresses the importance of a person's intention, which, on the one hand, is a product of his motive and, on the other, the conscious part of that motive. Hence, a human being can easily examine his intention and amend it so as to make his actions acceptable to God.
In a highly authentic Hadith the Prophet states: "Actions are but by intention, and everyone will have only what he has intended. Thus, a person who migrated for God's sake and to support His messenger, then his migration is for that purpose, and whoever migrates in order to achieve a worldly gain or to marry a certain woman, then his migration is for the purpose he intended." (related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
In our present time, a Muslim faces a problem with regard to his motivation. He often finds himself torn between different motives pulling him in opposite directions, particularly with regard to what he may do in life, making money or seeking pleasure. A pious, God-fearing person tries to make money and enjoy himself in legitimate ways, feeling some reluctance. He looks at both wealth and pleasure as things as he cannot do without. To him, exerting one's efforts for such a purpose is more suited to those who have classified themselves as pursuers of worldly gains and pleasures. They may, like a God-fearing person, think of their actions as sinful, but they nevertheless choose to indulge in them, caring little for the outcome and the way they would be requited for their actions, if these are truly sinful.
Islam is a religion based on sound nature. To love what is good and beneficial - and money is the most important type of that - is an essential part of human nature. Moreover, man is placed in charge of the Earth, and to build human life on Earth is an essential part of the trust given to man to fulfill. How is it possible for believers to fulfill their duties, giving the lead in building human life on Earth, if they were to take a reluctant attitude to work and making money? Should they not devote their best efforts to such a purpose?
In the Qur'an we read how God praises Prophet Solomon, although he prayed God to grant him riches that no one else may have after him. Let us reflect on what God tells us in the Qur'an about Solomon's love of wealth, and even his passion for loving wealth: "To David, We granted Solomon! How excellent a servant (of Ours he was). He would always turn to Us: when, toward the close of day, nobly-bred, swift-footed steeds were brought before him, he would say: 'Indeed I have come to love the love of all that is good because I bear my Lord in mind!'- (repeating these words) until (the steeds) were hidden by the veil (of distance). 'Bring them back to me,' (he commanded), and he would (lovingly) stroke their legs and their necks. But (before this), We had tried Solomon by placing upon his throne a (lifeless) body; and thereupon he turned (toward Us; and) he prayed: 'My Lord! Forgive me my sins, and bestow upon me the gift of a kingdom which may not suit anyone after me. Indeed, you alone are the Supreme Giver.' And so We made subservient to him the wind, so that it gently sped at his behest wherever he willed, as well as all the jinn of every type of builder and diver, and others linked together in fetters. 'This is Our gift for you to bestow freely on others or to withhold it from them, without (having to render) account.' What awaits him in the life to come is nearness to Us and the most beauteous of all goals." (38: 30-40)
This means that Solomon, the Prophet, loved that a believer should love what is good and beneficial, including wealth. His love of that came as a result of his remembrance of God, not forgetting Him. When he has been tested by God, and when he has sought God's forgiveness, he appeals to his Lord to give him riches that He would not give to anyone else in future. God does not only grant Solomon his request, but He tells us as well that he will be close to God in the hereafter, where he would have a most beautiful end.
Wealth and pleasures are not inherently evil, or contrary to faith and a God-fearing behavior. That is because people's actions are as they intend them to be. It is a person's motives behind seeking wealth and pleasure that makes such a pursuit either a worldly matter to be avoided by a true believer or a good thing to be sought without entertaining any feeling of guilt.
When a God-fearing believer makes sure that his motive behind seeking wealth and pleasure is neither to achieve personal glory in this life nor to encourage corruption, he will be certain of being admitted to heaven.
Avoiding such motives means freeing oneself of forbidden motivation which gives wealth and pleasure an evil character, regardless of how they are acquired.
God tells us in the Qur'an the story of Qaroon, and how God caused the Earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. God highlights the fact that it was not part of Qaroon's sins that he was wealthy. His sins were that he was arrogant, conceited and spreading corruption: "We grant that happy life in the hereafter only to those who do not seek to exalt themselves on Earth, nor yet to spread corruption. For the future belongs to the God-fearing." (28: 83)
[i]"Islam in Perspective" - Arab News - 12 March 2001[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Haniff (with 2 'f's)
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