Prior to wudhu[1] or every salah[2], we say something like “Oh Allah, I intend to pray…”. During Ramadan[3], our fast begins with “Oh Allah, I shall fast for your sake…” and ends with “Oh Allah, I have fasted for you …”. Why do statements of intent precede every action?

Developing clear intentions is a staple to being Muslim. “Muslim” means to submit to God, and what better way to submit than to perform gestures of care out of the kindness of our hearts and for the sake of Allah?  To put into perspective the importance of Niyyah[4], scholar Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali metaphorically says, “The world is the field of the hereafter. And faith completes itself through the world” (The Revival of the Religious Sciences).[5] This world is a test which determines our position in the hereafter. We practice our good deeds and our Niyyah determines the quality of our harvest (the reward given in the hereafter). Niyyah is fundamental to Islam as no actions are accepted without pure intentions.

We live according to Niyyah. Reward in the hereafter is determined by our Niyyah; whether we live for the material world or for the hereafter. In the Quran, in Surah Ash-Shura our deeds are compared to a harvest: “Whoever wants to harvest the seed field for the hereafter, the more he (harvests) in his seed field. And whoever wants the harvest of the seed field for the here and now, let it come to him, but there will be no share in the hereafter” (42:20). Building on the field metaphor, it is revealed in this Surah[6] that those who spend their days in this world working for the hereafter will strengthen their reward for the hereafter. Conversely, those who live for material gains will not receive the same fortune in the hereafter.

As Muslims, we are given revelations in the Quran, hadiths by the Prophet (PBUH)[7] and many other sources that highlight the lifestyle which will help us prosper. From here on, it is our duty to figure out what we do with this information. Good Muslims abide by Islamic morals and live not for material gains but with intention to please Allah. The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said, “Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended. So, the one whose hijrah (migration from Makkah to Medina) 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 to what he made hijrah for.”[8] From this hadith, scholar Imam Abu Dawud derives din[9] to be divided in two categories. The first being the actions which are external and the second being the Niyyah, which is internal.[10] Thus, the significance of Niyyah is clearly emphasized in Islam.

Let’s take the word of Allah and his messenger and implement this into our lives. Insha’Allah (God willing) we will achieve a greater reward.

[1] Wudhu: the Islamic process of cleansing parts of the body

[2] Salah: prayer

[3] Ramadan: the holy month of fasting

[4] Niyyah: intention

[5] German, Harun. “The Power of Intention in Islam: The Niyyah,” May 3, 2020.

[6] Surah: Chapter of the Quran

[7] PBUH: Peace be upon him

[8] Sun, The Daily. “Importance of Niyyah in Islam.” Daily Sun, August 20, 2020.

[9] Din: three general senses: judgement, custom and religion

[10] Sun, The Daily. “Importance of Niyyah in Islam.” Daily Sun, August 20, 2020.