Will we be held responsible for thinking of committing evil?

“If a person intends to do a good deed but cannot do it, Allah writes for him a reward of one good deed. If he both intends to do and performs that good deed, Allah writes for him a reward of ten good deeds and increases it up to seven hundred and more. And if the person intends to commit an evil deed but then changes his mind, Allah writes for him a reward of one good deed. If he both intends and commits that evil deed, Allah writes for him a punishment of one evil deed.”Allah is very merciful and forgiving for the mankind. No matter what we do, whether it is evil or good, He replies with his mercy. In the Quran it is stated that a person will be rewarded with ten times equivalent of a good deed he does, and he will be punished with one time equivalent of an evil deed he does. This shows Allahs eternal mercy for us.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says in a hadith Allah commanded all the evil and the good deeds to be recorded., and he continues:

If a person intends to do a good deed but cannot do it, Allah writes for him a reward of one good deed. If he both intends to do and performs that good deed, Allah writes for him a reward of ten good deeds and increases it up to seven hundred and more. And if the person intends to commit an evil deed but then changes his mind, Allah writes for him a reward of one good deed. If he both intends and commits that evil deed, Allah writes for him a punishment of one evil deed. (1)

While interpreting this hadith, Bukhari commentator Ayni also points out the difference between intention and determination. If a person intends to do an evil deed but does not do it, he does not get a punishment; on the contrary, he gets a reward for it. However, determination is different. Determination means deciding to commit an evil by a person in his inner world. According to some scholars, a persons determination to commit the evil deed makes him responsible for it. (2)

Similarly, just as intending to perform a good deed makes us gain a virtue, so too does being determined for doing that good deed make us gain more virtue and reward. It is always useful for us to be in favor of the good whether we have intention or determination.

A person is not responsible for the evil thoughts that come to his mind. We must not make dreaming about evil deeds a habit and we must not dream about them by our own will. Dreaming about beating somebody or having an illegitimate affair is like this. Even though these thoughts do not make us responsible directly, they may harm our good thoughts and may lead us to evil acts.

Even though we do not decide to do a good deed, even thinking about it is good for us and makes us gain virtue because good deeds are luminous. In a hadith, the intention of the faithful person is expressed to be more valuable than its application. (3) Allah does not need our worship and good deeds. He regards our true intention on good deeds like worship.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says the following about the issue in a hadith:
If a person intends to wake up during the night to perform nafilah (optional) prayer but fails to wake up until the morning prayer, he is rewarded for the prayer he intended and his sleep becomes a gift for him by Allah. (4)

Actually this divine mercy should always encourage us. Thus, we can turn our life to worship.

Badiuzzaman makes an important emphasis on intention. Intention is such a magical cure that it turns habits, activities, deeds to worship. And also it is a soul which turns dead circumstances and moods to live worships. (5)

Then, we should spend all our feelings like dreams and intentions on the way for a happy, eternal life. It is more appropriate to use that nice feeling, the dreaming, for noble and moral deeds instead of simple and inferior deeds.

1) Bukhari, Riqaq: 31,
2) Umdat al Qari, 23:80,
3) Kashf al Khafa, 2:324,
4) Ibn Majah, Iqama: 177,
5) Mathnavi, p65

Reference: Mehmed Paksu, Çağın Getirdiği Sorular

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