The importance of Intention in Islam

3 minute read

-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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