Sunday, February 03, 2008

The importance of intention

After my hijab post I have been thinking about what it is that gets me about some of the things I see happening in the ummah. And the thing I am most concerned about is intention. I keep coming back to that as the root of all the things getting under my skin, causing me concern for my kids and the future of the ummah. Using the hijab thing as an example... I am worried that the intention of this type of hijab is to beautify, to fit into a culture... Not to please Allah(swt).

I am no scholar...Check out this article by Jamal Badawi for the scholar's thoughts on this subject. But, I just wanted to share my thoughts on intention...

“All actions are judged by motives, and each person will be rewarded according to their intention. Thus, he whose migration was to God and His Messenger, his migration is to God and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

Simply, if you are seeking the pleasure of Allah(swt) with your actions your reward is with Him... But if you are seeking the pleasure of people your reward is with them. Now when you think about this simple concept it will actually blow your mind... Because that means that you can't go to the jummah to please Allah(swt) and to further your standing in the community since you are running for some position on the Masjid board or something. How many of us have purified our intentions to that extent? Think of the following...

“A person learned [religious] knowledge and taught it [to others], as well as reciting the Quran. He will be brought [to the presence of God], and God will mention to him all the favors he granted him, and he recognized them. God will ask him, ‘What did you do with them?’

He will answer, ‘I learned [religious] knowledge and taught it [to others], and I recited the Quran purely for Your sake.’

God will say, ‘You have lied! Rather you learned [religious] knowledge to be called a scholar, and you recited the Quran to be called a recitor, and it was said of you!’ Then it was commanded [to punish] him. So he was dragged on his face and he was thrown into the Fire.” (an-Nasa’i)

Whoa, and what about this? I think it really shows how Islam emphasizes intention in our lives:

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, from ten to seven hundred times to many more times its reward. 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 a bad deed and actually did it, then Allah will write one bad deed in his account." (Al-Bukhari)

Of course as with all things in Islam, there is a great mercy to consider... I think of the following hadith whenever I get down on myself for not having more time for worship:

“If he is working to support his small children, then it is for the sake of God. If he is working to support his elderly parents, then it is for the sake of God. If he is working to occupy himself and keep his desires in check, then it is for the sake of God. If, on the other hand, he is doing so to show off and earn fame, then he is working for the sake of Satan.” (al-Mundhiri, as-Suyuti)

I guess what I am trying to say is that it isn't what people are doing as much as why... I worry about WHY they are doing these things. If you are doing things to please the people around you, there is no reward in it. Now I am not saying that I know what is in people's hearts, because I don't. But, if what I suspect is true... We are in some real trouble.

So, I am trying (and I hope you will to) to purify my intentions. I want to examine them, control them. This is not an easy task, but a jihad that must be undertaken by every Muslim.

Say: "Whether ye hide what is in your hearts or reveal it, Allah knows it all: He knows what is in the heavens, and what is on earth. And Allah has power over all things. (Aal `Imran 3:29)


suhaa said...

really strong post here um'layla..may Allah reward you for sharing with us, reminding us..

Christine said...

Beautifully said. I wish you much luck in purifying your intentions. It's never easy that's for sure.

I have to work at it every minute of my day.


Anonymous said...

masha'Allah, I really loved your post, and totally agree with your emphasis that it's the intention that's the really important part. I wear hijab (a scarf, non-tight shirt and long skirts) myself, but it drives me batty when I hear people take one look at a sister, see that she's not wearing hijab (or the "right" kind of hijab, in the viewer's opinion), and immediately make vocal criticisms about what a "bad Muslim" she must be. I've known many sisters who don't wear hijab, but who never miss a prayer and work tirelessly for the good of the ummah. And I know literally hundreds of women in Egypt who wear hijab because it's just what people wear, but haven't prayed once in the past decade, if ever. Neither path is completely ideal, but if I had to choose one path or the other, I'd go for the hijab-less sister every time.

I was also wondering whether you happen to remember the site where you found that picture in your original post, with the sister in the beautiful yellow abayya and scarf...? I'd love to buy something like that!

ivegoturnumber said...

Intentions are critical to correct, mA good article.

Doing actions for other than Allah is called riyya, a form of shirk, hidden shirk actually, and the hadith states that for a Muslim to purify his or her intentions to such an extent that there is no riyya, is more difficult than finding a black ant, on a black stone, in the middle of a dark black night.

Keep yourselfs in check and always, always question your sincerety. Have friends who a critical of you and always self-reflect.