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The importance of intention in the life of a Muslim

Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawzeeyah (may Allah have mercy upon Him) once said:

“The actions of the heart are the foundation (of belief), and the actions of the limbs follow them and complete them. Intention is like the soul, and actions like the body: If the soul leaves the body, the body dies. There, knowledge of the affairs of the heart is more important than knowledge of the affairs of the limb…how else is a hypocrite distinguished from a believer except by the deeds of the heart? The worship and submission of the heart is greater than the submission of the limbs, they are more in number, and more continuous, since (i.e. worship by the heart) it is obligatory at every instance.”

This statement reveals the true essence of how our intentions should precede over anything that we do. The intention is the seed for sprouting every action, thought and feeling we act upon.

Yet, surprisingly, we seem to pay the least attention to it. When a majority of our global society revolves around the central idea of temptation and materialistic gain, we as an ummah suffer greatly. This phenomenon has penetrated our religion so deeply that it has disrupted the internalization of our Deen, and if the heart trembles then our intentions face the penalty. Through this negligence it becomes difficult for us to judge our own intentions and the means through which we act upon them.

How do we face this predicament?

It’s simple: we need to start being the experts of our intentions.

An expert is defined as an individual who has mastered a specific subject through experience and knowledge. By applying this philosophy we can actually tackle the issue of our intentions at this very point in time. We just need three basic ingredients, and these three are beautifully summarised in Surat Al Asr:
By the essence of all time. (2) Verily, all humankind is in deep loss. (3) Except those who believed (in the oneness of Allah) and performed good work and reminded each others of the truth and reminded each others to be patient. (Al-asr)

Knowledge

We can only grow stronger through what we learn. It is through knowledge that a person can develop and become a better person, and most importantly it is a means through which we can get closer to Allah.

We need to learn the behavior of our messengers (Peace be upon them) to learn about good character. If we do not understand the Oneness of Allah, or the value of our deeds; how can we develop the need to purify our heart?
It is through this channel we can then appreciate as to why we should rectify our intentions. Otherwise we will just blindly be following our temptations and desires.

 Patience

The backbone of our faith. It is the struggle of our intentions that creates the test of patience. In the midst of this test we sometimes tend to forget about the long-term goal, which in our case is Jannah. Not only do we get rewarded for our patience but it helps us get through this life a lot more easily and effectively.

We need to consistently remind ourselves of Judgement Day and that our patience is the catalyst that can ease our transition from this life to the eternal one. The more we can control our desires and struggles in this life, the easier and better our situation will be in the hereafter insha’Allah Ta’ala.
 Time

A very important element of our lives is time because it is something that is non-refundable, we can never get a second back.
“Time is a like a sword, if you don’t cut it, it will cut you”. Take a moment and think about this statement.Every second is another opportunity that we can use to make sure our intentions are for the right cause. So we need to make sure we use every second wisely and effectively.

Remember, knowledge is the key, time is the opportunity and patience is the effort needed to reach our goal. By combining these three we can then set the gears in motion to start mastering our intentions, which can then help us lead a more productive lifestyle, Islamically.

If you fail to keep your intentions pure, then go back to basics. Acquire more knowledge, use another opportunity to check your intentions and be patient. Insha’Allah with consistency and effort you will start doing everything for the sake of Allah, Lord of all the Worlds.

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