Are Bad Intentions a Sin Worthy of Hell?

04 March, 2018
Q Will Allah (SWT) punish people with bad intention? Like, I saw a woman smoking in front of her neighbor's kid on purpose on television and the baby for second hand smoking can cause cancer. Also, is being greedy a sin? Can one go to hell by being greedy? Also, if one has bad and evil intentions for personal benefits and gains and taking advantage is that a sin to. For example: My uncle is a bad person and he wanted to marry me off to the son of a friend from his native country so he may come to the U.S. to be a citizen. I was so crossed because he doesn't like me then all of a sudden this came up. I felt so upset, betrayed, raged, and cheated on? Is that cheating? Like going to a store and get double crossed by the dealer. Thankfully, my parents knew my uncle and said no. But, let's say if my Mom and Step dad were dead and I lived with him. I can tell he would sell me off. Also, shouldn't a Muslim care treat a non relative child as his/her own kid? I am confused.


Short Answer: God only holds us to account for our good intentions. If we follow through with them and act upon them, we may be rewarded up to hundreds or thousands of times over. Out of His Infinite Mercy, He magnifies the impact of good deeds, and minimizes the impact of evil deeds.


Salam Dear Sister,

Thank you for putting confidence in us to help you with your concerns.

You have posed many questions here so I will do my best to respond all of them.

With respect to punishment for evil intentions, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him had this to say:

It was narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas (may God be pleased with him) that the Prophet narrating about his Lord said, “God ordered (the appointed angels over you) that the good and the bad deeds be written, and He then showed (the way) how (to write). If somebody intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed (in his account with Him); and if he intends to do a good deed and actually did it, then Allah will write for him (in his account) with Him (its reward equal) from ten to seven hundred times to many more times: and if somebody intended to do a bad deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write a full good deed (in his account) with Him, and if he intended to do it (a bad deed) and actually did it, then Allah will write (only) one bad deed (in his account).”  (Al-Bukhari)

Allah’s Mercy

This shows the wonderful Mercy of God over humanity, and proves to those who claim that Islam never discusses the Loving nature of God, that He is indeed Most Loving and Most Merciful.

God only holds us to account for our good intentions. If we follow through with them and act upon them, we may be rewarded up to hundreds or thousands of times over.

Not only are evil intentions not recorded, but if we fail to act on them we are even given credit for it!

Out of His Infinite Mercy, He magnifies the impact of good deeds, and minimizes the impact of evil deeds.

Each one of us will have to stand before God on the Day of Judgment to answer for all that we have done. If our good deeds outweigh our evil deeds, then if God Wills, we will be granted forgiveness and enter Paradise.

If on the other hand our evil deeds outweigh our good deeds, then if God Wills, we will be condemned to Hellfire. That would take a lot of work, and only the most unrepentant and hard-hearted people would qualify Hellfire. We ask God’s Protection from that.

God is High above mathematical laws, but if we just perform the simple math of “Good deeds times 10” and “Evil deeds times 1”, we quickly come to realize that it is only those who are steeped in evil behavior that will earn a place in Hellfire.

One good deed can cancel out at least 10 evil deeds, and up to 700 or even more. It is only through God’s Loving Mercy that we receive more than we deserve.

In support of this hadith, Umar ibn al Khattab, may God be pleased with him, said:

“People were (sometimes) judged by the revealing of a Divine Inspiration during the lifetime of God’s Prophet but now there is no longer any more (new revelation). Now we judge you by the deeds you practice publicly, so we will trust and favor the one who does good deeds in front of us, and we will not call him to account about what he is really doing in secret, for God will judge him for that; but we will not trust or believe the one who presents to us with an evil deed even if he claims that his intentions were good.”  (Al-Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was often notified by God of the evil plans and thoughts of those around him. He was then able to act upon them appropriately, peace and blessings be upon him.

After his passing, this blessing was gone with him, so Abu Bakr, Umar, and leaders after them could only treat people according to their actions. This is just one example of Umar’s wisdom, may God be pleased with him.

Smoking & Harming Others

Regarding the issue of smoking and innocent bystanders, smoking is an addiction. Like any other addiction it will cause us to be selfish and we find a way to justify continuing to do it, even to the point of putting others at risk.

Nobody but the most heartless would intentionally harm a baby, but an addiction would make us careless, or care less about others, and we find ways of convincing ourselves that it is alright. Unfortunately, feeling greedy is a part of one’s nature and will lead us to practice selfishness:

{Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord does bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.} (Quran 12:53)

Evil intentions or whispering will plague us until we breathe our last. We need to train our self (nafs) to higher ideals by practicing good deeds as much as we can. If we remember Prophet Muhammad’s words about how intentions and deeds are accounted for, then we feel encouragement and are hopeful of receiving God’s Mercy.

Uncle’s Bad Intentions

With respect to your uncle, I advise you to try to avoid reading his intentions and try to judge by his past and current actions.

Helping someone to improve their standard of living is not evil. Forcing someone to do so, however, is not acceptable.

Islam is based on brother/sisterhood to all human beings, with a special place in our hearts for fellow Muslims.

It is possible that your uncle’s intention with his friend’s son was to help him make a better life in the U.S. and to find you a good husband; getting two birds with one stone, so to speak.

There is nothing wrong with combining good intentions. However, if his intentions in hooking you up with his friend’s son were merely for a worldly gain, and had no consideration for your best interests, then your parents were correct in discouraging this plan.

{Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God Hears and Knows all things.} (Quran 2: 256)

Abu Huraira, may God be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

“A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! How can we know her permission?” He said, “Her silence (can indicate her permission).”  (Al-Bukhari)

So a woman, whether a virgin or previously married, must give her consent to any marriage proposal. If she states her consent clearly, or she remains silent (out of bashfulness – not fear) then the marriage can go ahead. A woman, or man for that matter, can never be forced to marry someone against their will.

May God guide us all to what pleases Him.

I hope this has been beneficial to you. Please keep in touch.


(From Ask About Islam archive)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Purity of Intentions

Importance of Intentions in the Revival of Hearts

Intentions & The Lesson That Changed My Life



About Waleed Najmeddine
Waleed Ahmed Najmeddine is a Canadian born Muslim and public school administrator. He is an active member of the Muslim community and enjoys educating Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam. He currently holds a Master of Education degree in leadership and school improvement.