Omr Ibn Alkhatab narrated that prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said “An action depends on the intention behind it. A man will be rewarded only for what he intended.” So, what does intention mean? What are the benefits of intention? Why this prophet’s saying is considered one of the main basis in Islam? What are the kinds of intention? How intentions affect people’s life? So, let’s answer these various questions.
The meaning of intention:
In the dictionary, intention (niyyah) means: “what one intends to do or bring about “and ” the object for which a prayer, mass, pious act is offered.”
From the Islamic perspective intention has two meanings; the first is to distinguish different types of worship, one from the other like distinguishing the fasting of Ramadan from other fasts and the second is to distinguish for whom or what the action is done: is it for God only, or for other than God?”
The fruits of intention:
Intention has benefits as it distinguishes the obedient deeds from each other. For example, it distinguishes the obligatory fasting of Ramadan from the optional fasting in any time. It also distinguishes obedient deeds from habits. One of the righteous predecessors (salaf) said:
Good intention can make small deed a great deed and bad intention can make a great deed a minor deed.”
One of the Muslim scholars said: “learn having (good) intentions, because it is one of the greatest deeds”.
Main basis in Islam:
Iraqi (one of the Muslims scholars) said: “This prophet’s saying is one of the basis of Islam.” It is in itself considered to be third priority of basic Islamic knowledge. So a lot of scholars who specialized in studying Hadith Knowledge (The Prophet’s Teachings and Sayings) recommended to commence their books with this hadith. To know the importance of this hadith, Ibn Hebera (one of the Muslims scholars) said:
God doesn’t accept any deed without intention, and God gives Muslim’s reward in his/her eating, drinking, even sleeping due to his/her intention in these deeds.”
The kinds of intention (niyyah)
Intention in your daily life:
The Prophet’s companions (may God be pleased with them) were knights, faithfuls, and worshippers, but that didn’t prevent them from practicing their normal life like selling, buying, farming, marrying, meeting the requirements of their wives and their children. Moreover, their intentions were the essence of their life, so they made their daily routine a kind of worshipping God.
How can we do that?! Let’s see!
Intentions for sleeping, eating, working…etc
- Sleeping is a kind of obeying our prophets, as he said “adhere to that which is beneficial for you ” [Muslim]. This hadith urges people to adhere useful things like sleeping which has a lot of benefits, as it is beneficial for our bodies and minds, it is a kind of refreshment. Look at these Quranic verse “and among His signs is your sleep by night and by day, and your seeking of his bounty. Verily, in that are indeed signs for people who listen.” (Quran.com/30/23)
- Eating is an essential thing to be alive, at the same time you can make it as a kind of worship! When you start eating, you obey God, as He said “O you who believe (in the oneness of God -islamic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that we have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He whom you worship.” (Quran.com/2/176) You can also have good intention while eating that you eat to be able to worship God and to work.
- Working is considered also a kind of worshipping God. You work in order to follow God orders, as He said “you may disperse through the land, and seek the bounty of Allah(by working), and remember Allah much, that you may be successful.” (Quran.com/62/10) When you work, you follow the examples of the prophets like prophet Zakariya (PBUH) was a carpenter[Al-Bukhari]. The prophet Mohammed (PBUH) also said “David (PBUH) used to eat from the earnings of his manual labor”.
- Marriage is humanitarian instinct, social necessity and proper and lawful way to meet sexual instinct. One can have good intentions in marriage like obeying God’s orders, saving oneself from unlawful relations (adultery), so the prophet (PBUH) urged youth to get married if they are able to marry, as he said: “O young men, whoever among you can afford it, let him get married,” [Al-Bukhari] We also get married in order to have righteous offsprings, look at this prophet’s saying:
When a man dies,his deeds come to an end except for three things sadaqah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prayed for him. (for the deceased).”
- Caring about our appearance like brushing our hair, brushing teeth, putting perfume, having shower…etc, these are a good deeds if you have good intentions for them. Look at these intentions, first to be close to God, the prophet said: “Allah (God) is beautiful, He loves beauty.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) cared always for his appearance and he was always good looking.
- Having fun is also a good deed. Look at these intentions, one always needs to have fun in order to be able to complete his normal life, so having fun helps one to gain energy and strength ability of mind. Having fun with wives, children, and friends is a kind of charity, as the prophet said “The most beloved deed to Allah is to make a Muslim happy.” These are all about how to make your daily routine worshipping. We are going to tackle the other kinds of intentions in other articles.
It’s important for all of us to do good things, but we should do it with the right intentions. That’s what makes sense for our life.