Niyyah, or intention, is essential to Islamic beliefs and practices. It is the declaration of one’s intention to perform a specific action, such as prayer or fasting, for the sake of Allah. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said that “Actions are only by intention.” This means that the sincerity and purity of one’s intentions are crucial in determining the value and reward of one’s deeds. In addition, it is making a clear and specific intention before performing an act that helps to focus the mind and heart on the religious significance of the action.
Niyyah is the pillar of worship and the essence and foundation of action.
The most sacred acts are spoiled because of the mixed intentions behind them. At the same time, the simplest acts gain value because of their purely good intentions. Anyone who strives in the way of God or towards His path.
“As for those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them in Our ways.”
Niyyah is the indispensable prerequisite for the acceptance of a deed. Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) quotes a statement from God.
“I do not accept anyone except the one who is sincere to Me.”
Umar ibn al-Khattab relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say:
“Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended. So the one whose hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger, then his hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger. And the one whose hijrah was for the world to gain from it. or a woman to marry her, then his hijrah was what he made hijrah for.” [Agreed upon]
Al-Bukhari and Muslims narrated that Umar Said: I heard from Prophet(PBUH) as
“Verily, the reward of deeds depends upon the Niyyah (intentions), and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.”
Implications of Niyyah:
There are two implications for the word Niyyah according to scholars. One of them pertains to distinguishing acts of worship from acts of habit. For instance, there is a difference between taking a bath to remove impurity (to be able to pray and engage in other acts of worship) and taking a bath to cool off. Also, there is a different Niyyah for Zhur prayer than Asr prayer and fasting during Ramadan in contrast to fasting in other months.
The second meaning for Niyyah is distinguishing between the intention behind the act. Suppose it is directed to Allah Alone or Allah and others. This meaning carries with it happiness or misery and reward or punishment. For example, two different persons might perform the same act, paying equal effort to it, but one earns a reward. In contrast, the other earns no reward or even punishment because the intentions are different in each case.
To conclude, let’s ensure we clean our hearts, intentions, and acts from all types of Riya (showing off). And instead should direct our good acts to Allah alone. The real rewards and payback are only with Allah, and that’s all we should strive for.
قُلْ إِنَّمَآ أَنَا۠ بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يُوحَىٰٓ إِلَىَّ أَنَّمَآ إِلَٰهُكُمْ إِلَٰهٌ وَٰحِدٌ ۖ فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُوا۟ لِقَآءَ رَبِّهِۦ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَٰلِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِۦٓ أَحَدًۢا
Say (O Muhammad (S): “I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God – i.e., Allah). So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord. let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.” (Surah Al-Kahf:110)