Intention and Sincerity

This weeks khutba is on intention and sincerity. Dear brothers and sisters, there are scholars that state that the entire religion revolves around intention.

Allah SWT makes reference to intention and the nature of this life in Surat Albayinah , ayat 5 in which it is translated as saying:

And they were not commanded except to worship Allah , [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakah. And that is the correct religion.

Dear brothers and sisters, whatever action or thought we have may be hidden from others but as Allah SWT points out in the 29th ayat of Sura Imran, it is not hidden from Him. It is translated to say:

Say, “Whether you conceal what is in your breasts or reveal it, Allah knows it. And He knows that which is in the heavens and that which is on the earth. And Allah is over all things competent.

Dear brothers and sisters, as we can see the intention and specifically the sincerity of intention is paramount to the success in this life and particularly the next. The Prophet SAWS also spoke of intention and there are many hadiths that report upon this. One of these is translated in which the Prophet SAWS said:

“The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, his emigration will be for Allah and His Messenger; and whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration would be for what he emigrated for”.

Dear brothers and sisters, we need to be careful that we do not fall into the trap of doing good deeds but for the wrong intentions. We need to assess ourselves and perform a reset so that we can be rewarded for the good deeds that we are performing in this test called life.

However, before we can look at the steps to this reset, let’s summarize the concept of intention first.

Based on one’s intention, the end result of an action can be one of three things:

Reward. If the intention is to please Allah SWT then all good actions will be rewarded. For example, if you intend to read a book of knowledge because seeking knowledge is an obligation on all Muslims then insh’Allah one is rewarded for it, in this life and the next.

Another end result can be neutral. If one performs an action with the intention for other than Allah SWT, for example a business trip to another city, then the action will result in neither reward nor punishment. Incidentally, this action can be changed with intention to do it for the sake of Allah SWT such as an intention to feed your family or spend in the way of Allah SWT. Then this action becomes one of reward insh’Allah.

Thirdly, the outcome can be punishment. If the intention was to specifically disobey a command of Allah SWT, for example, if this was an intention to go Las Vegas to gamble, then the journey is haram and is subject to punishment.

Dear brothers and sisters, the greatest threat to our worship is the threat of insincerity. One can do the noblest of deeds and make the greatest of sacrifices, but if our intentions are not right then those deeds are in danger of being stripped of virtue and reward.

This, in turn, leaves that person in danger of being without good deeds on the Day of Judgement.

So, the issue then becomes one of removing insincerity from one’s intentions. By removing that one is able to make the good deeds matter because the intention becomes the right intention. It is reset to how it should be.

And how can one do this? The khutba concludes with three short tips on how to reset one’s intention through sincerity of intention.

Firstly, repent. Make a dua for forgiveness on being insincere in your repentance. Change comes from Allah SWT and so the journey begins with forgiveness. Ask for sincerity in your duas and insh’Allah it will come.

Secondly, fight the insincerity. Understand that the only person to impress is Allah SWT and not about this person or that person. On the day of judgement those people will not matter to you and so don’t leave it till then to make that realisation.

And lastly, renew your intentions. Remind yourself of the great reward that awaits insh’Allah and never despair because if you truly wish for pure intentions then Allah SWT will be watching out for you and if that is the case then what more does one need? Practically a starter for this point can be do begin every single action with saying or thinking “Bismillah”, translated to meaning “in the name of Allah”, thus cementing in the subconscious the intention with which you are performing the action.

May Allah SWT make us of those with pure intentions. May Allah SWT remove insincerity from our intentions and may Allah SWT reward us in the hereafter on our intentions.

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