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Ruling on Intending an Act of Worship along with the Aim of Obtaining a Worldly Benefit

Answered as per Shafi'i Fiqh by Darul Iftaa Jordan
Some boxers fast to lose weight so as to fight in a lighter- weight class and they combine this aim with the intention of doing this act of worship. What is the ruling of Sharia on this?


All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

Whoever intends with the act of worship something that comes with it unintentionally and doesn`t need an intention, such as cooling off with ablution or losing weight with fasting, it avails them according to the reliable opinion of the Shafie school of thought, because this matter takes place whether it was intended by the person or not. Other scholars, such as Al-Ghazali, stated that the validity of the intention involving a worldly matter depends on the weight of the religious factor, which is seeking the pleasure of Allah and the Hereafter. If the latter outweighs the latter, then the intention avails a person and his act of worship is correct. However, another group of scholars are of the view that the intention behind an act of worship involving a worldly gain doesn`t avail whether seeking the pleasure of Allah outweighed the worldly gain or not.


It was stated in the Shafie book {Moghni al-Mohtaaj}: "Whoever intended to make ablution to cool off or something that comes with it unintentionally, such as cleanliness, even during ablution, then this permissible. This avails him according to the correct opinion of the Shafie school because the cooling off took place without any intention on his part. This is similar to a debtor who makes the intention of praying to avoid a creditor. The prayer avails him since avoiding the creditor doesn`t need an intention. The second opinion states that the intention is invalid because this involves combining an act of worship with a worldly gain. If he intended to cool off or the like and forgot the basic intention, which is making ablution, then whatever part he had washed with the intention of cooling off must be rewashed for ablution. According to Al-Zarkhashi: "This disagreement is on the validity of the intention while, apparently, a person isn`t rewarded for the act of worship itself. However, Al-Ghazali stated that if the worldly factor outweighed seeking the pleasure of Allah and the Hereafter, the act of worship doesn`t avail that person. However, if the latter outweighed the former then a person is rewarded accordingly, but if they were equal then both don`t avail him. On his part, Izz Bin Abdulsalam stated that there is no reward for that act of worship whether both factors were equal or not.

In conclusion, it is permissible for the fasting person to intend losing weight because this happens through the fasting itself without need for an aim or an intention. We advise the asker to intend fasting solely to please Allah to avoid the scholars` disagreement and not lose the reward. And Allah the Almighty knows best.

This answer was collected from the official government Iftaa Department of Jordan.

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