The tawfiq (permission and assistance) from Allah to perform any good action always begins with an intention, explains Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa. Indeed, the Prophet ﷺ teaches us that actions are only valued in accordance with their intentions. Actions of the body are only given significance according to the accompanying actions of the heart – which is what intentions are.
In Arabic, the word for intention is “niyyah”, and its root is “nawah” : a nucleus, or seed. In order for that seed to manifest and then develop into an action, you need Allah at every step. The intention is not your creation, rather He is the Creator of all things and all actions, including those of the heart.
He created it for you, then made it appealing to you so that you desire it, and then served it for you to pick the fruit that it is. He creates the seed and plants it into the earth that is you heart. He then brings it to its germination, and He protects it against the winds that are your lower desires. Indeed, this long and great journey of the seed takes place within you.
We see actions as bigger than intentions, but the reality is you can reach with your intention what you cannot reach with your actions.
Intentions are a Gift
The whole oasis is within the seed. We must therefore never belittle intentions. The seed of intention is a seed of light, a ray of light that grows into whole a tree of that light. All the good is in the beginning; in other words, there is no ‘fath’ (success) without a ‘fatiha’ (beginning).
It is up to us now to welcome intentions as a Gift from God and not as a burden. We need to welcome them, nourish them, cultivate them, take good care of them, and be thankful that we were chosen as their guardians.
Cover photo by Ainouna Habib Badreddine. We are grateful to the The Rhoda Institute of Islamic Learning for the video.
Resources for seekers
- From Inside to Outside: The Importance of Intention
- The Difference Between an Oath and an Intention
- A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines
- How Can I Make a Correct Intention So That My Good Deeds Are Rewarded?
- The Radiant Intentions of the Pious by Habib Umar bin Hafiz
- Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge
- The Intentions for Seeking Knowledge – Imam Abdullah al-Haddad
- Beneficial Knowledge and Intentions, a khutbah by Habib Hussein Al Saggaf
- Actions Are Rewarded Due To Intentions