Skip to content

On Sincerity (Ikhlas) and Intentions (Niyah)

Below is a fundamental message that we want to keep at the forefront of our minds as we continue this journey with our readers.

According to Al-Imam al-Shafie this Hadith accounts for one third of our understanding of Islam.

It is narrated on the authority of Amirul Mu’minin, Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, radiyallahu ‘anhu, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, say:

“Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated.”

[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

Why we have included this hadith:

In order to be sincere, we have to work to lead righteous lives and to avoid the desires of the self. These desires undermine work that is performed for the sake of Allah (swt) and invalidate sincerity.

Examples of desires of the self:

  • Trying to appear “good” to impress others
  • Seeking praise/glory/wealth/services/love from others
  • Seeking the help of others for the benefit of oneself

Other self seeking actions to avoid: Sins, riya (doing good deeds for the sake of showing off), and nifaq (hypocrisy)

What we can learn from this:

Setting clear intentions and seeking sincerity allows us to align our thoughts, actions, and interactions with what Allah swt wills for us. It teaches us how to be accountable, how to establish good habits, and how to break bad habits.

As Muslims, we should remind ourselves of this hadith regularly. Reading it, referencing it, analyzing its meaning, applying it to daily life, and sharing it with others enables us to think critically about our day to day actions and interactions with others.

It is easy to find yourself in the wrong place, with the wrong people, at the wrong time. It is easy to develop bad habits over time. It is easy to get lost in a world that is constantly asking you to build your identity and to establish your goals around material things and selfish seeking desires. In asking us to have clear intentions and to work to maintain a sense of sincerity, this hadith helps to protect us from our desires (from allowing our self seeking desires to hurt our spirituality, our relationship with Allah swt,  our sense of peace at heart, and our sense of peace in our day to day lives). It enables us to obtain clarity in life and to understand the difference between a good path and a bad path. It also teaches us to seek to understand the difference between a good path and a better one (to constantly seek ways to be better).

  • If you are looking for a way to add value and meaning to your day to day life…
  • If you are starting a new project, in the middle of one, or nearing the completion of one…
  • If you are struggling with bad habits or negative character traits…
  • If you feel that you lack a sense of inner peace…
  • If you find yourself at a crossroads in life…

Re-read this hadith, reestablish your intentions, and work to refine your sense of sincerity. Try to rid your life of sins and self seeking desires. Work to be a better person on a day to day basis. Turn to Allah swt and sincerely pray for Him to guide you to what is best. Allah (swt) knows best, for he is the All-Knowing (Al-‘Alim) and the Most-Wise (al-Hakeem).



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: