Answered by: Ustadha Siddiqa al-Farsiyyah
God has forgiven my ummah whatever crosses their mind as long as they don’t speak or act upon it. Does this mean that we are free to think about and imagine the ugliest blasphemy or it has a completely different interpretation? The sahabah surely saw and thought about all those blasphemous sculptures when they broke the idols of meka. In what cases it is called deliberate and thus not covered by this forgiveness. Is it the intention that determines everything and if you have a good intention you are free to imagine and think about the ugliest graphic blasphemy? Assim al-hakeem gives a brief answer saying “No real Muslim would think of such idols or imagine them” Please tranquillize me by giving a broad and detailed explanation of this.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said: “Allah, the Almighty has forgiven my nation for what their hearts have whispered unless they put it to action or utter it”. The most correct opinion regarding whispers of the heart is that those whisperings that are firmly established in the heart, one will be held accountable for them and in that case, the hadith mentioned above would refer to those whispers that are not firmly established in the heart. Mullā ‘Alī al-Qarī has cited that there are four levels for the actions of the heart. 1) Hadīthun Nafs: when a thought comes to one’s mind at a specific moment or occasion but goes away almost instantly, 2) Maylut Tab’ī: After a thought comes to mind, one feels desirous about giving the idea more thought, 3) I’tiqād: Making the intention to act upon what the mind has intended, 4) ‘Azm: when one has a firm intention of acting upon his thoughts. From among these four levels, the first two are included in the forgiveness mentioned in the hadith. However, regarding the third type, if the thoughts are processed intentionally, then one will become sinful and if the thoughts are coming in without control, then it will be forgiven as well, Allah Willingly. As for the fourth type, one will be held accountable for purposely entertaining oneself with such thoughts. [al-Mirqat al-Mafatih 1/222-223; Maktabah Rashidiyyah]
Only Allah knows best.
Written by Ustadha Siddiqa al-Farsiyyah
Checked and approved Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham