According to the Hadith Shareef, Allah Ta’ala overlooks thoughts as long as these are not given practical expression. There are five stages in thought, viz., Haajis, E;haatir, Hadeethun Nafs, Humm and Azm.
Haajis is a thought which in the beginning produces no reaction in the nafs. If one is fortunate to eliminate the thought in the haajis stage, the other four stages will not become applicable.
If one fail; to eliminate the haajis thought and it establishes its presence in the nafs without the latter (i.e. the nafs) plotting to give it practical expression, it (the thought) enters the Khaatir stage.
This stage consists of the nafs scheming regarding the enaction or negation of that which has established itself in the nafs. The nafs ruminates on the plot of doing or riot doing the act without giving preference to any side of action. The thought is now known as Hadeethun Nafs.
The hukm (effect) of these three stages is no punishment if the thought is evil and no reward if t he thought is good. Punishment and reward do not apply to the stages of Haajis, Khaatir and Hadeethun Nafs.
When the nafs after having reflected about action or inaction regarding the deed it had schemed, inclines partially to one side (i.e. any side whether to commit or shun the act), the thought is known as Humm. Thought in this stage merits thawaab if virtuous and punishment if evil.
When the thought finally asserts itself and a decision is made to give it practical expression, it is known as Azm. Thawaab and punishment are applicable to this stage as well.