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إنما الأعمال بالنيات: He may not be standing up for the Truth

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله وسلم على رسول الله وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن اهتدى بهديه إلى يوم الدين

From the explanatory notes on the first hadith (إنما الأعمال بالنيات) of the 40 hadith of Imam Nawawi:

Ibn Rajab, writing on the subject of prejudice, illustrated another subtle difference in intentions:

“Here is an unapparent matter which should be brought to attention: An Imam might make a plausible statement, having striven to arrive at the truth, his effort rewarded [by Allah] and his error excused. But an avid supporter of his statement might not reach the same degree [of virtue] since perhaps he would not have supported it except for the fact that his imam said it, and if another imam had said it, he would not have accepted it or supported him. So while he imagines he is standing up for the truth, in reality, he is not. While the imam intended to uphold the truth ( in spite of possible error), the follower (even though he might be correct), intended only to uphold the word of his leader.” (Jami ul-Ulum wal-Hikam, pp. 267-268)

[‘The Forty Hadith of al-Imam an-Nawawi – Text with Explanatory Notes (abridged from Arabic sources)’ by Umm Muhammad, pp.5.]

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