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The importance of Intention in Islam

-What is intention in Islam?

The term intention translates to ‘niyah’ in Arabic. Every Muslim is aware of the emphasis Allah SWT puts on intention in Islam, since every action is based on the sincerity of our intention. Intention is the prerequisite of the deed and therefore the foundation for your success from that point onwards. 

-The reward of a sincere intention.

As we know, Allah SWT appoints two angels to record our good deeds and our bad deeds. However, He is Ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful, therefore we are given opportunities as an incentive almost, to guide us to the right path. They are as follows: Whoever intends to perform a good deed, but does not follow through with the act, Allah swt still records it as a complete deed. However, if he also follows through with the deed, Allah swt multiples the reward for that deed. Allah swt’s mercy is greater than his wrath because if you have a bad intention, you are not punished for the thought. You are only punished if you commit the bad deed, yet this is only counted as one deed. Allah SWT acknowledges we are not perfect individuals and that we will sin, hence He doesn’t punish us multiple times and we’re even given the opportunity to repent.

-Examples using the Holy Quran and the Hadith.

The phrase ‘Fi Sabilillah’ must be mentioned when we discuss the topic of intention. This translates to ‘in the way of Allah SWT’ and is repeated many times within the Holy Quran. The importance of these words, is that it emphasises a sincere intention. Everything should begin in the way of Allah SWT, and the deed should not be done for anyone else but Him. We were not made to please the creation, but rather the creator. Should you begin every action with the correct intention, indeed Allah SWT will reward and send blessing upon you, abundantly.

In the Holy Quran, Chapter 51, verse 56, Allah SWT says ‘I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship me’. This reiterates the importance of doing an action purely for the sake of pleasing Allah SWT instead of attempting to please others. It is important to remember however, that whilst we should dedicate everything we do in the way of Allah SWT, we must not forget to set ourselves up in this life as well. Allah SWT does not tell us to abandon this world and only worship Him repeatedly. Many assume the two cannot go hand in hand and I will now give some examples of how we can implement Islam into our daily lives by using intention to complete simple tasks as acts of worship.

One example, is that you may set out and have the intention to earn an income. This is not a bad thing, however it is on its own, a worldly goal. If we simply refine this statement, into one along the lines of my intention is to earn an income in order to support my wife and family, this now becomes an act of worship as you are fulfilling the role that Allah SWT ordained for you as the breadwinner for the family in order to support his wife and children for the future.

Another example could be that your intention is to earn money, however you could amend this to I intend to earn money and give a small percentage to the poor, which results in you fulfilling one of the five pillars of Islam. 

It is important to continue to renew your intention every once in a while, as the wording and feeling behind your niyah can have a big impact on your afterlife. In fact, it can even hold significance in this world, as if you follow a life that Allah SWT favours, He will reward you plenty. 

Umar Bin Al- Khattab (may Allah swt be pleased with him) narrates that the prophet Muhammad SAW said ‘innamal a’malu bin niyat’ which translates to ‘the reward of deeds depends upon the intentions’. This hadith emphasises that your actions are judged based on your real intentions. You may overtly look as though your deed was done for the sake of Islam, but you must guarantee your intention matches, otherwise it holds little to no value.

We must remember that the true intention is in the heart and therefore it is hidden and only Allah SWT knows. Try not to concern yourself with what others may assume of you and do not diminish anyone else’s deeds either.

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The first migration to Abyssinia and King Najashi

There were two migrations which took place to Abyssinia during the time of the Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ). Following the continuous threat of persecution and the torture of the Quraysh upon the Muslims, the Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ) commanded some Muslims to immigrate to Abyssinia. These emigrants included Ruqayyah (ra), the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)’s daughter and her husband Uthman (ra). The purpose of this first migration was to escape persecution and be able to practice Islam freely. 

Abyssinia is now known as Ethiopia, a country which is in Africa. The Arabic word for Abyssinia is Habashah [1]. The Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ) had advised the emigrants to go to Abyssinia because the ruler at that time, Najashi, was known to be a just King. All the Kings in Abyssinia held the title of Najashi (Negus) but his actual name was Ashama Ibn Abjar [2]. King Najashi was initially Christian and later converted to Islam. He gave refuge to the Muslim emigrants who were escaping persecution in their homes in Makkah.

When the Muslims arrived in Abyssinia, Ja’far ibn Abu Talib (ra) addressed King Najashi saying,

“O king! We were plunged in the depth of ignorance and barbarism. We adored idols, we lived in immorality, we ate dead bodies, and we spoke abominations. We disregarded every feeling of humanity and the duties of hospitality and neighborliness were neglected. We knew no law but that of the strong, but Allah raised among us a man of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty, and purity we were aware, and he called to the oneness of Allah and taught us not to associate anything with Allah. He forbade us from the worship of idols and he enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful, and to regard the rights of the neighbors and family members. He forbade us from speaking evil of women or consuming the wealth of orphans. He ordered us to avoid vices, to refrain from evil, to offer prayers, to give charity, and to observe fasting. We have faith in him and we have accepted his teachings and his command to worship Allah and not to associate anything with Him. We have allowed what he has allowed and prohibited what he has prohibited. For this reason, our people have risen against us. They have persecuted us in order to make us abandon the worship of Allah and return to the worship of idols and other abominations. They have tortured and harmed us until we found no safety among them, so we have come to your country and we hope you will protect us from oppression.”

The Negus (Najashi) said to them, “Do you have anything with you from Allah?” 

Ja’far said yes. 

The Negus said, “Then recite it to us.” Ja’far recited from memory the verses of Surat Maryam. The Negus, along with the bishops in his realm, were moved to tears due to what was recited to them until their beards became wet. 

The Negus said, “Verily, this what has come from Moses have emerged from the same lamp. You are released. By Allah, I will never surrender them to the Quraysh.” (Musnad Aḥmad 21992)

Meanwhile, the Quraysh sent a delegation to the King and attempted to bribe him with gifts with the aim of taking the Muslims back to Makkah. King Najashi in response refused to allow the Quraysh to take the Muslims. He also ensured that they could live in his Kingdom as long as they wanted to [3]. 

When King Najashi passed away, the Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ) informed his companions and said; ‘’Ask Allah’s forgiveness for your brother.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 3880) The Prophet (ﷺ) prayed his janaza, and instructed his companions to do the same in the following words: ‘’Today a pious man has died. So get up and offer the funeral prayer for your brother Ashama.’’ (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 3877)

This beautiful story can be reflected upon in many ways. We can appreciate how quickly King Najashi recognised the truth of Islam and how humble he was to have accepted it at once. We can also reflect on his qualities of justice and fairness that he did not let the bribery of the Quraysh sway him but instead ensured the safety and protection of the Muslim emigrants in his land. For Allah has promised that of those who will be under His shade on the day of Judgement, when there will be no other shade except His Shade, one of them will be a just ruler. (Sahih Al Bukhari 660)

Sources Used:



[3] Yasir Qahdi’s YouTube video: (EP11) When The Muslims Migrated To Abyssinia – Story Of Muhammad (ﷺ) – #SeerahSeries – Yasir Qadhi

The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet – Safiur-Rahman and Al Mubarakpuri.

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Intention. A thing intended; an aim or plan. Many of us go to school because we want to get a degree or because we want to make our parents and the community around us proud, but let me ask you this… what is your ultimate intention?

When you work hard at school and get your degree, it will feel absolutely amazing to have finally accomplished such an expected and awaited accomplishment. As you look around the arena, you try to find your parents and see if you truly made them proud. All of that will last about 15 seconds… then little did you expect, there is another expectation or accomplishment waiting to be fulfilled. 

Now don’t get me wrong, making your parents proud is an important part of our deen (religion). In fact, it is so important that Allah SWT says… “And your Lord has decreed that you worship not except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” Did you notice the moment that Allah said to worship none but Him, He follows it directly with being good to your parents? So, make your parents proud and be good to them, but also, make your ultimate intention to please Allah first. 

I know we can all get lazy when it comes to homework and our studies, but here is one thing that can push you to do better and perhaps gain some motivation.  We get rewarded for completing our assignments. Did you know that? You read right! Everything we do can be an act of worship…How? By having pure intentions. 

Our Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said “Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended.” When one intends to do something or complete a task for the sake of his parents, he is putting his effort into that task for limited human beings who can only reward you with so much. On the other hand, when one intends to do something for the sake of his Lord, he is putting his effort into that task for the All-Mighty, the Ever-Living. The One who can bless you with great rewards, either in this life, the next, or both. So the next time you do anything, think to yourself… “who am I doing this for, why am I doing this?”

One way to purify your intentions is to do more hidden deeds. Deeds that no one knows about but you and Allah. The more you hide your good deeds, the more you will want to continue doing them for Allah’s sake and expect reward from Him only. Another way to purify your intentions is to make lots of dua and sincerely ask Him to make it easier for you. We are all guilty of wanting attention and validation from our peers and others but how many of us will try to truly change? Let’s be amongst those that try. 

As “” greatly puts it, “Intentions lead to results. When a change in intention occurs, a change in the external conditions will follow. Intention is also enough for Allah SWT to make a change in our reality, so we should not belittle the necessary change in intention that has to occur in order for our external condition to change.”