A sister blogger recently posted a really nice reminder on the need to evaluate our intentions regularly. I recall reading about how the great scholar of Hadith, Sufyaan Ath Thauree (Rahimuhullah) would contemplate over his niyyah before every act – of deen or dunyah.
“Once Imam Sufyaan Ath Thauree was standing to buy something. In his heart he was concentrating on making a good intention for the purchase he was about to make. Someone then disturbed his train of thought by asking him a question and he said, “Leave me alone, for indeed, my heart is preoccupied with this dirham of mine (that I am spending).”
At the same time he appreciated how difficult it is to keep one’s soul in check. Making a good intention was a daily struggle between him and his nafs, a struggle, he knew, would last until his dying breath.
He once said, “I have never struggled to rectify something that is more difficult to overcome than my soul; sometimes I win, and sometimes I lose.”” [The biography of Sufyaan Ath Thauree by Salaahud Deen ibn Alee ibn Abdul Maujood]
SubhanaAllah, if only we would get into the habit of consciously thinking over our intentions before all worldly acts, it would make such a difference. Imagine if we start pondering over our niyyah before spending money or eating something like Imam Sufyaan Ath Thauree would do.
What would happen?
- it could raise the seemingly secular act into an act of worship if we mean it well
- it could help us desist from spending money over something not needed or out-right extravagant or silly
- it could hopefully prevent us from over-eating or eating the wrong food!
Even in matters of deen, sometimes some things just become routine and part of life that we don’t think about anymore. Take the example of hijab. After the initial period of mindfulness, of struggle, trial, reactions, choice, reasoning wisdom, submission, you get so used to it that you don’t give it a thought when putting it on. But imagine how much more refreshing for the iman it would be if one could renew the intention of wearing hijab EVERY TIME it is worn.
There is a sister who has devised her own way of making sure that she renews her hijab intention every single time she puts it on. She has set a very very specific point in the whole dressing procedure, where she will consciously & mindfully refresh her reason for wearing her hijab. So, for example, she may have set the point when she ties a knot under her chin or when she secures it with a pin, etc. she will say in her heart (i.e. without uttering the words), “Oh, Allah, i’m doing this to obey & please You. So accept it & reward me for it.”
Simple! It works just like the way the elastic bands around the wrists help a person with weak memory to remember something he/she has to do. According to her, she has never failed to renew her niyyah since then.