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On Ikhlaas (Sincerity)
  The Hadeeth of the Niyyah (Intention)
Author: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali
Source: Jaami ul-Uloom wal-Hikam
Article ID : TZK010005  [18147]  
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We have mentioned that the meaning of niyyah in the speech of the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, and the Salaf of this nation was used generally in the second sense and therefore carries the meaning of Iraadah.

And in the Qur`aan often it describes intention with the word iraadah as in His saying,

"Among you are some that desire (yureed) this world and some that desire the hereafter" (3:152)

"Whosoever desires the life of this world and it's adornment" (11:15)

"And keep yourself patiently with those who call on their Lord morning and evening seeking (yureedoona) His Face, and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of this life." (18:28)

And sometimes niyyah is described with the word ibtigaa (desire) as in His saying,

"Except only the desire (ibtigaa) to seek the Face of His Lord, the Most High" (92:20)

"And you spend not except seeking (ibtigaa) the Face of Allaah" (2:272)

And as for what occurs in the Sunnah and statements of the Salaf to do with this (second) meaning of niyyah then there is a large number, and we will mention some of them: …

The Messenger, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, "People will be gathered upon their intentions" [Ibn Maajah, Saheeh al-Jaami no.7898] "Mankind will be resurrected upon their intentions" [Muslim]

"Verily those slain on the battlefield will be resurrected upon their intentions" [ibn Abee ad-Dunya]

"For the ones whose concern is this world Allaah will scatter his affair, and place poverty between his two eyes. And he will not get from the world except what is written for him. And for the one whose intention is the hereafter Allaah will gather for him his affair and place contentment in his heart, and the world will come to him willingly" [ibn Maajah, Saheeh al-Jaami no.6386]And Yahya bin Abu Katheer said, "Learn your intention for it is more serious than the action."Zayd ash-Shaamee said, "verily I like that I have an intention for everything even if it be eating and drinking"

And he also said, "have intention for everything, desiring the good, even if it be leaving for the toilet"

Sufyaan ath-Thawree said, "I have not treated anything more difficult then my intention, because it keeps changing."

Yusuf bin Asbaat said, "purifying the intention from its corruption is harder upon the workers than long striving (i.e. in their work)"

Ibn al-Mubaarak said, "maybe a small action is made great by its intention, and maybe a great action is made small by its intention"

Ibn `Ijlaan said, "the action is not acceptable except by three: Taqwaa of Allaah, and good intention, and correctness (i.e. conformity to the Sunnah)"

Fudayl bin Iyaadh said, "Allaah wishes from you only your intentions and desires (iraadah)"

[I have not quoted all the verses, ahaadeeth and narrations here].

All of these were reported by ibn Abee ad-Dunyaa in his ‘al-Ikhlaas wa an-Niyyah’.

And with this, the meaning of Imaam Ahmad’s statement becomes known, that the foundation of the religion is upon three ahaadeeth:

"Verily actions are by intention"

"Whosoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not part of it then it is rejected"

"The halaal is clear and the haraam is clear"

For the whole religion returns to doing the commanded actions and staying away from the forbidden actions and stopping at the doubtful matters as is contained in the hadeeth of Nu`maan bin Basheer. And all of this is perfected upon two matters:1) That outwardly the action be done as taught by the Sunnah, and this is to be found in the hadeeth of Aa`ishah, "whosoever introduces into this affair of ours that which is not part of it then it is rejected."

2) That inwardly the action be done seeking the Face of Allaah, as is contained in the hadeeth, "verily actions are by intention."Fudayl bin `Iyaadh said about His saying, "That he may test which of you is best in action' (67:2) - "who is sincere in it and correct in it. And the action, if it is sincere and not correct then it is not accepted. And if it is correct and not sincere then it is not accepted. It is only accepted when it is both sincere and correct. And it is sincere when it is for the sake of Allaah, and correct when it is done according to the Sunnah."

And the proof of what Fudayl said lies in the verse,

"So whosoever hopes for the meeting with His Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of His Lord " (18:110)

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