The Relationship between the Actions of the Heart and Actions of the Limbs

The Correlation between the Actions of the Hearts and the Actions of the Limbs and the Relationship between the External and Internal.[1]


Shaykh ‘Alī bin Hasan al-Halabī (may Allāh preserve him)


Our Shaykh – may Allāh have mercy upon him – noted in his introduction to the book “Riyādh al-Sālihīn” of Imām al-Nawawī the mistake in his – may Allāh have mercy upon him – quoting the hadīth of Abū Hurayrah – in marfū’ form – with the wording:


«إِنَّ اللهَ لاَ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى أَجْسَامِكُمْ ، وَلاَ إِلَى صُورَكُمْ ، وَلَكِنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ»


‘Indeed Allāh does not look at your bodies nor at your appearances; rather He looks at your hearts.’


So our Shaykh – may Allāh have mercy upon him – remarked:


‘Muslim and others besides him added in a narration:



‘…and your actions’

and it has been extracted in ‘Takhrīj al-Halāl wa al-Harām’ (410).


This addition is extremely significant because many of the people understand the hadīth incorrectly without it; consequently if you order them with something the judicious revelatory law has commanded them with such as leaving the beard and abandoning the imitation of the disbelievers and things similar to that from the legislative obligatory duties: they respond to you by stating that the main issue is that which is in the heart.


They seek to substantiate their claim with this hadīth![2] Without being aware of this authentic addition indicating that Allāh – the Blessed and Most High – also observes their actions; so if it is righteous then it is accepted otherwise it is thrown back at them, as a number of the texts indicate such as his saying:

«مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَدٌّ».

‘Whoever innovates into this affair of ours that which is not from it then it is rejected.’[3]


The fact is that the uprightness of the hearts cannot possibly be envisioned except by the righteousness of the actions nor can the righteousness of the actions except with the uprightness of the hearts.


The Messenger of Allāh had explained that in the most beautiful statement in the hadīth of al-Nu’mān bin Bashīr:


«… أَلاَ وَإِنَّ فِي الجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً ؛ إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ ، وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ ، أَلاَ وَهِيَ القَلْبُ»


‘…Indeed; in the body there is a piece of flesh; if it is sound then the whole body is sound and if it is corrupt then the whole body is corrupt; indeed it is the heart.’[4]

Also in another hadīth:


«لَتُسَوُّنَّ صَفُوفَكُمْ أَوْ لَيُخَالِفَنَّ اللهُ بَيْنَ وُجُوهِكُمْ»


‘Straighten your rows or Allāh will cause differences between your face;’ [5]


meaning: your hearts, and in his saying:


«إِنَّ اللهَ جَمِيلٌ يُحِبُّ الجَمَالَ»

‘Indeed Allāh is beautiful (and) He loves that which is beautiful’[6]

and this is regarding the legislated materially tangible beauty – in contrast to the assumptions of many of the people.


Additionally, our Shaykh – may Allāh have mercy upon him – criticised ibn ‘Allān[7] in his ‘Sharh’ (4/406) when he– the explainer of the hadīth – stated: ‘meaning: that He – the Most High – does not set aside reward due to the grandeur of the body, the beauty of appearance and the multitude of deeds’! Accordingly, he – may Allāh have mercy upon him – refuted him in his statement:


‘This explanation from which its falsehood is not hidden; because it – along with its contradiction to the hadīth in its authentic text – is {also} in opposition to many texts from the Book and the Sunnah signifying that the disparity of the slaves with respect to their levels in Paradise is only in respect to (their) righteous actions – {whether} a little or a lot -; from that is His saying the Most High:


{وَلِكُلٍّ دَرَجَاتٌ مِمَّا عَمِلُوا}

‘And for all there will be degrees according to that which they did…[8]


and His saying in the hadīth qudsī:


«… يَا عِبَادِي ! إِنَّمَا هِيَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ ، أُحْصِيهَا لَكُمْ ، ثُمَّ أُوَفِّيكُمْ إِيَّاهَا ؛ فَمَنْ وَجَدَ خَيْراً فَلْيَحْمَدِ الله …»

‘…O My slaves! It is only your actions that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for; so whoever finds good then let him praise Allāh…’[9]


How can it be construed that Allāh does not look at the actions – such as the bodies and appearances -; while it is the fundamental basis in entering Paradise after īmān; just as He the Most High stated:


{ادْخُلُوا الجَنَّةَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ}

‘Enter Paradise! Due to what you used to do’!![10]


So reflect on how many of its people {this act of} blind following takes away from correctness and throws them in a bottomless valley of error! This does not occur except due to their abandonment of studying the Sunnah from the original reliable books, and Allāh is the source of all help.’


I say: therefore this is a principle of the principles of Ahl al-Sunnah – regarding which the Murji’ah have separated – in the issue of īmān – from which they have gone astray and about which they have deviated and it is: the reality of the correlation between the external – statement and action – and the internal – attestation and submission – and they opposed their statements – literally and verbally.


However, the ignorance (of some) with respect to the reality of the principle of (the correlation) between the branches of īmān – with its types – strength and weakness, existence and non existence – and lack of understanding – has caused them to fall in to confusion and {disorder} in this intricate issue and the lack of apprehension of it or {even} knowing that which is built upon it!!


Shaykh al-Islām ibn Taymiyyah – may Allāh have mercy upon him – has a tremendous statement regarding the foundation of this principle in ‘Majmū’ al-Fatāwā’ (7/642-644): which he mentioned after his declaration that (Nothing is superior than: ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allāh’) and that (The best of deeds is tawhīd); so he stated – may Allāh have mercy upon him – its wording being:


‘So the foundation of īmān is in the heart – which is the statement of the heart and its action, which in turn is affirmation (iqrār) with attestation (tasdīq), love and submissive obedience -; it is a necessity for that which is in the heart to manifest its obligation and necessary requirement upon the limbs. If it does not act by its obligation and necessary requirement it signifies its absence or weakness.’


I say: this is the last (decisive) word to which every branch and division is referred; so the obligation is to contemplate it, understand it and apprehend it (correctly)…


Due to this, Imām ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah described in his ‘Madārij al-Sālikīn’ (1/101) the action of the heart; such as love of Him, reliance upon Him, turning to Him repentantly…etc and other than that from the actions of the heart, that they are:


‘More of an obligatory duty than the actions of the limbs and its recommended acts are more beloved to Allāh than its {limbs} recommended acts…’


Both this statement – and that – are built upon a firmly established and correct foundation, and it is that ‘The branches of īmān {predominantly} accompany each other during strength and they may not be present with one another during weakness…’ just as Shaykh al-Islām stated in ‘al-Majmū’ (7/522).


Furthermore, he – may Allāh have mercy upon him – stated (7/234) – in another place – as an explanation -:


‘…hence, indeed the strength of the effect is an indication of the strength of the cause, and these matters stemmed from knowledge; so knowledge of that which is loved necessitates it being sought after and knowledge of an entity that is feared necessitates fleeing from it; therefore if the necessary factor does not occur then this indicates the weakness of the necessary implication {of that factor}…’


He – may Allāh have mercy upon him – also stated (7/198): ‘And that is because the foundation of īmān is that which is in the heart, and the external actions are a requisite of that; the presence of obligatory īmān of the heart cannot be envisioned along with the absence of all the actions of the limbs; rather when the external actions decrease it is due to the decrease of the īmān which is in the heart; hence īmān encompasses the necessary implication and the requisite – even though its foundation is that which is in the heart -; and when the actions are appended to it then it is intended that īmān of the heart is not sufficient; rather some righteous actions must accompany it …’


Consequently; ‘Actions of the hearts are the foundation and īmān of the heart is the foundation’…


I say: from this principle it is possible to conceive and comprehend the authentically mentioned hadīths regarding the salvation of the one who stated; ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allāh’ while not having in his heart except an atom’s weight of īmān and {also) ideate the reality of the correlation between the external and internal within this framework; that is due to the addition of the statement of Shaykh al-Islām in ‘Majmū’ al-Fatāwā’ (7/616):


‘When the slave performs some of the commandments and abandons some of them: he has a portion of īmān in accordance with what he has done; and īmān increases and decreases.’


This is the important foundation – to the highest degree – : whoever understood it and comprehended its essence then the problems of this issue has been solved for him – from the beginning to the end.



[1] Taken from:

[2] It is for this very reason that Shaykh Saliīm bin ‘Īd al-Hilālī states in his explanation of this hadīth: ‘It is more befitting for al-Nawawī – may Allāh have mercy upon him – to present that which is more complete in order that the contemporary People of Irjā who restrict īmān to the heart are not deceived by the first narration.’ See ‘Bahjat al-Nādhirīn Sharh Riyādh al-Sālihīn’ Vol.1, p40.

[3] Bukhārī and Muslim.

[4] Bukhārī and Muslim.

[5] Abū Dawūd and others.

[6] Muslim.

[7] He is Muhammad bin ‘Allān al-Siddīqī al-Shāfi’ī al-Ash’arī al-Makkī (d.1057AH). He wrote an explanation of ‘Riyādh al-Sālīhīn’ entitled ‘Dalīl al-Fālihīn li Turuq Riyādh al-Sālihīn’ which according to the research of Shaykh Salīm bin ‘Īd al-Hilālī is the oldest and most comprehensive exposition. It should be noted however that the author followed the false methodology of the Ash’arīs with respect to understanding the Names and Attributes of Allāh. For example in (1/99) of his explanation he falsely interprets the Hand of Allāh as being ‘Mercy’ and ‘Generosity’. Furthermore he propagandises the destructive views of the Sūfis. Refer to Shaykh Salīm’s ‘Bahjat al-Nādhirīn Sharh Riyādh al-Sālihīn’, Vol.1, pp 15-17 for a more detailed discussion.

[8] Al-Ahqāf (46): 19.

[9] Muslim.

[10] Al-Nahl (16): 32.


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