Why is 'Niyyah,' or Intention so Important in Everything We Do (Including Wearing Hijab)?
Dec 6, 2021
Dilshad Ali
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Editor's note: It's time for our annual #LikeYouMeanItHH end-of-the-year reflection time! What does it mean to "wear it like you mean it?" We invite you (and ourselves) to renew our intentions and reflect on what our hijab (and faith and other areas of our lives) mean to us. Throughout the month we are sharing stories of what this means to women around the U.S.
It all starts with intention, doesn't it?
As Muslims, we are taught that we should consider our niyyah, or intentions, make good intentions in everything we do - not just in our deen (faith) but also in our dunya (pursuits). Why are we doing what we are we are doing? For what reason? Whom are we doing it for? Is it for praise? Is it because you want to be seen? Or, is it for the sake of Allah (S)?
If we've not prayed with intention or nurtured a friendship with good intention, there is always the opportunity to review and renew our intention. That’s the beauty of renewing intentions. It isn’t beholden to a certain time of year or can only be done once.
You can make a mistake, lose your way, find yourself questioning things or not “feeling” things. And, it is with a deep look at our intentions that you can, Insha’Allah, resolve to keep going forward or make a change in your life. And, we can renew our intentions constantly, over and over. Allah (S) is that merciful upon us. He gives us ample opportunities to atone for our mistakes, renew our intentions and try and better ourselves.
As we explore this month various stories and aspects of what it means to "wear it like you mean it" when it comes to your hijab or, more broadly, doing anything like you mean it (in conjunction with our month-long #LikeYouMeanItHH campaign), we wanted to spend a little more time on why intention is so important in Islam. Why is it so vital for us to consider and center intention in our lives in everything we do?
Image source: Instagram
Consider the following reflections on intention, adapted and republished from UmrahPackage.com:
Just like every action is judged upon intention, the term “niyyah,” referring to intention in Arabic, has special value in Islam. This is because the value of your deeds will be judged by Allah (S) based upon what your intention was in the first place. Let’s take an in-depth look at the true essence of niyyah in Islam.
Definition of Niyyah by Islamic Scholars
Niyyah is referred to as in two variable contexts by scholars in Islam. The first is used to differentiate certain acts of worship from one another. A perfect example would be differentiating the prayers or salah of fajr from that of maghreb. Another Muslim scholar’s use for the term niyyah is to differentiate acts done for the sake of Allah (S) from those done for the sake of others apart from Allah (S).
What is the significance of intention in Islam (Niyyah) ?
Niyyah in Islam holds great importance for every Muslim believer. This is because the value of a person’s actions is based upon his intention, motive or objective. The phrase Fi Sabillilah is mentioned repeatedly in the Quran, which translates as "in the way of Allah (S)." This is used to serve as a warning for Muslims to ensure that whatever they intend to do should be in the way of God and not for the sake of anyone else, including their personal desires. Deviations from the straight path should be avoided at any cost, as they do not bring benefit in any shape or form.
Niyyah is given heavy significance due to the fact that any deed performed without intention or with an ungodly objective behind it shall not be accepted (batil). It is referred to in the Quran that “Any believer who strives in the way of Allah, he will be guided by Allah on the right path.” The intention is like the prerequisite for the acceptance of deeds by Allah (S).
Various Forms of Sound Intention
Pure intentions to seek closeness to God may take on various forms. Some are thought to hold greater value than others. The following are some of the common forms of intentions:
1. Fear for the Day of Judgment: The Day of Judgment is a sound intention of worship for believers. Muslims indulge in good deeds while avoiding evil ones. This is because they fear for the day of resurrection, where all their worldly actions will be weighed. The fear of hellfire is enough for Muslims to act on the straight path, holding the purest of intentions.
2. Aims for reward: Another sound intention of worship is the hope of getting a great reward in the hereafter. The pleasure of paradise has been mentioned repeatedly in the verses of the Quran as the final stay for those who act on the straight path, performing righteous deeds and hold firm belief in Allah (S). This point is very important for declaring intention Islam.
3. Gratitude for blessings: A wonderful and righteous intention in worship is showing gratitude to Allah (S) for His countless blessings bestowed upon us all.
4. Love of God: Believers who hold the thoughts that their Lord is worthy of being worshipped and hence spend a devoted part of their time in the remembrance of their Lord will be rewarded in this world and definitely in the hereafter. On the Day of Judgment, all human beings will be raised based on their intentions.
Having the purest of intentions is a belief all Muslims should hold. With pure intention comes reward by their Lord for any devotional acts being performed. After all, the intention in all duties including worship is the criterion of value.
Share your intentions and struggles around it when it comes to wearing your hijab or other aspects of your life in the comments below. Or share with us on Instagram using the hashtag, #LikeYouMeanItHH.
This piece was adapted from CheapUmrahPackage.com. Please read the original here.
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