19 April, 2018 | 3 Sha’ban, 1439 H

"A man who sits with his family is more beloved to Allah (swt) than spending the night in worship (itikaf) in my masjid"

- The Prophet Muhammad (s)

Learning
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Core Curriculum

Section 1 - God, Religion and Islam: An Introduction
  • Topic 1.1 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 1.2 - God, Allah and Religion

  • Topic 1.3 - Introduction to Islam

  • Topic 1.4 - What is “Religion” and What’s the Point of it Anyways?

  • Topic 1.5 - A Brief Introduction to the Prophet Muhammad (s), the Prophet of Islam

Section 2 - Foundations of Islam - Theology
  • Topic 2.1 - Entering Islam: The Shahada

  • Topic 2.2 - The Usūl al-Dīn: The Fundamental Beliefs of Islam

  • Topic 2.3 - Tawhīd: The Unity and Oneness of God in Islam

  • Topic 2.4 - Adala: Divine Justice in Islam

  • Topic 2.5 - Nubuwwa: The Purpose of Prophethood in Islam

  • Topic 2.6 - Imāmah or divinely guided leadership in Islam after the Prophet Muhammad.

  • Topic 2.7 - Maʿād: The Day of Judgment in Islam

  • Topic 2.8 - The Sharīʿa: Purpose and Practice

  • Topic 2.9 - The Islamic Concept of the Nafs: Battling the Human Ego

  • Topic 2.10 - Satan, Jinns and Angels: Their Influence in the World

  • Topic 2.11 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

Section 3 - Foundations of Islam - Obligatory Acts
  • Topic 3.1 - Accepting Islam: Putting Faith into Action

  • Topic 3.2 - Jihād in Islamic Law and Spirituality

  • Topic 3.3 - Salāt: Obligatory Ritual Prayers in Islam

  • Topic 3.4 - Ritual Purity in Islamic Law: Understanding Tahāra and Najāsa

  • Topic 3.5 - The Five Categories of Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.6 - Tawalla and Tabarra, its Basics and Purpose

  • Topic 3.7 - The Purpose of Zakat and Khums in Islamic Law

  • Topic 3.8 - The Hajj Pilgrimage

  • Topic 3.9 - The Furūʿ al-Dīn: The Fundamental Practices of Islam

  • Topic 3.10 - Fasting in Islam, its Purpose, Dos and Don’ts

  • Topic 3.11 - Other Obligatory and Forbidden Acts in Islam

  • Topic 3.12 - Niyya: Religious Intention as the Foundation of Islamic Practice

  • Topic 3.13 - Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil in Islam

Section 4 - Prophethood in Islam
  • Topic 4.1 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Childhood (PART I of III)

  • Topic 4.2 - Bio: The Prophet Muhammad as a Prophet of God (PART II of III)

  • Topic 4.3 - A Brief Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s): The Prophet’s Character (PART III of III)

  • Topic 4.4 - The Prophet Muhammad (s) as Messenger and Teacher

  • Topic 4.5 - The Prophet and his Relationships

  • Topic 4.6 - The Prophet’s Sunnah and Hadith

  • Topic 4.7 - Ghadīr and Arafah: The Two Last Sermons of the Prophet

  • Topic 4.8 - Jesus and Mary in Islam

Section 5 - The Qur'an and Hadith
  • Topic 5.1 - Islam and Other Religions

  • Topic 5.2 - What is the Qur’an? A Short Introduction to Islam’s Holy Book

  • Topic 5.3 - The Structure of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.4 - The Quran and Islamic law

  • Topic 5.5 - The Qur’an, Allah and Humankind

  • Topic 5.6 - Hadith and Sunnah, difference and variations

  • Topic 5.7 - The Reliability of Hadiths

  • Topic 5.8 - A Reflection on Verses of the Holy Qur’an

  • Topic 5.9 - Hadith al-Thaqalayn

  • Topic 5.10 - Imam Ali (as) and Nahj al-Balagha.

  • Topic 5.11 - Taqlid and Tawḍih Al Masail Genre of Literature

Section 6 - Measuring Good and Bad in Islam
  • Topic 6.1 - The Effects of Our Actions in this World

  • Topic 6.2 - The Gray Areas of Islamic Law and Morality

  • Topic 6.3 - Heaven and Hell in Islam

  • Topic 6.4 - Life and Death in Islam

  • Topic 6.5 - Guidance According to Islam

  • Topic 6.6 - Fate and the Consequences of our Choices in Islam

  • Topic 6.7 - The Effect of Culture and Environment in Shaping our Religious Choices

  • Topic 6.8 - Major Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.9 - Why Allah Allows People to Sin

  • Topic 6.10 - Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins in Islam

  • Topic 6.11 - The Three Kinds of Rights in Islam

  • Topic 6.12 - Sinning Against Others and their Delayed Punishment

  • Topic 6.13 - Kufr in Islam

  • Topic 6.14 - Trivializing the Harām

  • Topic 6.15 - Benefits of Islamic Law in this World

  • Topic 6.16 - Good and Bad Deeds: The Spiritual Consequences of our Choices

Section 7 - The Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as)
  • Topic 7.1 - Islam and Knowledge: the Importance of Islamic Education

  • Topic 7.2 - The Ahl al-Kisa

  • Topic 7.3 - Imamah in the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.4 - Fatima al-Zahrah (as)

  • Topic 7.5 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam al-Hasan until Imam Muhammad al-Baqir)

  • Topic 7.6 - A Brief Look at the Lives of the Imams (Imam Jafar al-Sadiq until Imam Hasan al-Askari)

  • Topic 7.7 - A Brief Look at the Life and Importance of Imam al-Mahdi (aj)

  • Topic 7.8 - Salawat and Atonement in Islam

  • Topic 7.9 - The Companions (Sahaba) of the Prophet According to the Qur’an

  • Topic 7.10 - Clerical Hierarchies in Muslim Communities

  • Topic 7.11 - Mosques in Islam

  • Topic 7.12 - The Philosophy of Karbala and Majalis

  • Topic 7.13 - A Brief Biography of Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as)

  • Topic 7.14 - The Battle of Karbala: A Brief History

Section 8 - Islamic Relationships, Sects and Conflicts
  • Topic 8.1 - Misconceptions about Shi’ism

  • Topic 8.2 - Major Sects of Islam

  • Topic 8.3 - Islam and Religious Conflicts

  • Topic 8.4 - Islam and Rights

  • Topic 8.5 - Sunnism and Shi’ism, beginnings and historical developments.

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Special Topics

Section 9 - Independent Topics
  • Topic 9.1 - Muslim Converts – Welcome to Islam!

  • Topic 9.2 - Basic Dos and Don’ts of Being a Muslim

  • Topic 9.3 - Halal Food and Zabiha

  • Topic 9.4 - Family, Parents and Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.5 - Marriage in Islam

  • Topic 9.6 - Islam and Sex

  • Topic 9.7 - Modesty in Islam

  • Topic 9.8 - Women’s Menstruation in Islam

  • Topic 9.9 - Music, Alcohol, Drugs and Pork in Islam

  • Topic 9.10 - Islam and Science

  • Topic 9.11 - A Reading List of Islamic Knowledge

  • Topic 9.13 - Ritual Prayers and Supplications in Islam

  • Topic 9.14 - Death & Burial Rituals in Islam

  • Topic 9.15 - The Battle of Armageddon: An Islamic View

  • Topic 9.16 - The Muslim Calendar

  • Topic 9.17 - Muslims and non-Muslims in the Shariah

  • Topic 9.18 - A Timeline of Major Events in Islamic History

  • Topic 9.19 - Introducing the Qur’an: Why it is the way it is

  • Topic 9.20 - The School of Imam Jafar al-Sadiq

  • Topic 9.21 - Major Fields in Islamic Studies

  • Topic 9.22 - The Caliphate in Sunni and Shia Islam

  • Topic 9.24 - Islam, Racism and Anti-Semitism

Section 10 - Islam, Religion, and Modern Controversies
  • Topic 10.1 - Modern Fallacies about God: where Theists and Atheists Agree

  • Topic 10.2 - Tawhīd: The Muslim God according to the Prophet Muhammad and the Ahl al-Bayt (as)

  • Topic 10.3 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Being (Wujūd)

  • Topic 10.4 - God’s Existence: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

  • Topic 10.5 - God’s Existence: The Argument From Design

  • Topic 10.6 - The Problem of Evil, Suffering and Pain

  • Topic 10.7 - Why did God Create Us? The Purpose of our Creation

  • Topic 10.8 - Why Humans Need Religion according to Islam

  • Topic 10.9 - Jahl and Spiritual Ignorance in Islam

  • Topic 10.11 - Do Non-Muslims Go to Hell?

Niyya: Religious Intention as the Foundation of Islamic Practice

Abstract

Niyya is intention. Good niyya is performing an action whilst wanting to gain closeness to God. Bad niyya is performing a religious action or duty for something other than God. 

INTRODUCTION 

  

Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters. 

  

Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel!  

  

The essence of Islamic law is something called niyya, which literally means intention, as in the intention behind our actions. In this lesson, inshā’Allāh, we will look at the meaning of niyya in Islam as well as its different kinds. We will then conclude with some of the common misconceptions that people have when it comes to niyya.  

  

  BODY OF TEXT 

  

The Messenger of Allah (s) once said: 

  

“…And when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little…” (Chapter 4, verse 142 of the Holy Qur’an) 

  

The pivot which centers the purpose of all of our actions and beliefs in Islam is something called niyya. Niyya is the intention we have behind any religious act that we do as Muslims. What we would call a “good” niyya would be a something we do for Allah’s sake alone and not for someone or something else. In other words, as the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as) have taught us, a good niyya is a means for Qurbatan illa-Allāh. 

  

Qurbatan illa-Allāh means “to seek closeness to Allah.” So when you do an action, your niyya may be considered good if your sole intention is to be closer to God. If you’re performing a religious act for the sake of something or someone other than Allah, then you’re in trouble! 

  

So it’s pretty simple to see that the intentions we have behind the things we do really determines whether or not we’ve actually sinned, or if we’ve done something that will help our salvation and the salvation of the Muslim ummah.  

  

Let’s stop talking in abstract terms and get more specific with examples. Say that you want to pray your wājib salāt in a group. You see members of the Islamic community coming into the room your praying in. At first you were alone and praying for God’s sake alone, but you were praying fast. Once people came in, you started praying more slowly, maybe shedding a few tears in order to get people to think your all religious and pious.  

  

In the first instance, your niyya may have been good as you were praying for God’s sake and no one else. But then when people entered, your niyya actually changed and you started praying for the sake of impressing others and not God! So this would be an example of a niyya gone wrong, or a bad niyya.  

  

There is a beautiful hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (s) which describes the reality of niyya in Islam:  

  

“Actions are but by intention and every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus he whose migration was for Allah and His messenger, his migration was for Allah and His messenger, and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he migrated.” 

  

If you do something for God’s sake, you will get your rewards. If you don’t, you won’t get them. But there is more. Sometimes we make honest mistakes, like accidentally eating pork. If our intention or niyya was not to sin, then Allah will not take us to task for that sin. So what does this tell us? Niyya isn’t something that you just say before you do something, niyya is a state of the heart, it is your heart and soul's intention.  

  

So that’s what niyya is really about, its about gaining closeness to God. That’s the real journey. When you go to Hajj for example, the pilgrimage only has value when you only do it for the sake of getting closer to God. 

  

However, there is more to this story. We often fall pray to the “good” niyya of others. In other words, they may have intended something good, but something bad happened. If we really want to have “good” niyya, that is, the kind of niyya that is pleasing to Allah, there are a few things we need to do: 

  

  1. The foundation of good niyya is to please Allah and to seek closeness to Him. One cannot do this if one doesn’t know what Allah actually wants or what pleases him. So the first step is to have sufficient knowledge and understanding of Islam. This is one way of preventing the evil of “good intentions.” It is no wonder that the Prophet (s) said that “seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.” 
  2.  The second point of good niyya is to make sure that there is no selfishness involved. Sometimes we think what we’re doing is for the sake of Allah, but deep down inside it is for other reasons, like personal gain. So critical self-reflection is crucial for good niyya. 
  3.   Sometimes with good niyya we may fail at something or end up unintentionally hurting someone. A marker of good niyya is to be able to go out of one’s way to rectify the situation and make up for any damage or pain that one caused.  
  4.   Effort: getting good niyya is a struggle or jihād. One must adopt the mandatory skills, patience in order to meaningfully discharge the results of one’s niyya. Sitting and thinking that “good intentions” are enough is not sufficient for it to be worthy of Allah’s pleasure. This is what we may call “lazy niyya” thinking that as long as intentions are good, one can do the bare minimum. That is totally incorrect. Wanting to please Allah means that one must put in one’s maximum effort in trying to attain success in what one is doing.  

 

Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh 

 

Niyya

 Intention 

Good Niyya

 Doing something with the intention of getting closer to God 

Bad Niyya

Performing a religious action for the sake of something or someone other than God 

 

Qurbatan ila-Allah

 Wanting to reach closeness to Allah 

 

Q1

What is niyya?

 Niyya is the proper intention of reaching closeness to God that one must make before most religious practices are undertaken.

Q2

What is good niyya?

Good niyya is qurbatan ila-Allāh, wanting to reach closeness to God and nothing else. 

Q3

What is bad niyya?

Performing a religious action or duty for the sake of something or someone other than Allah. 

 

Q4

Is niyya outward or supposed to be from the heart?

 Heart

Q5

What is one way of learning how to have good niyya?

Gaining Islamic knowledge, learning what is truly right and truly wrong in Islam.  

 

 

Muslim
God
Allah
Hereafter
Prophet Muhammad
Messenger of Allah
Religion
Ahl al-Bayt
Sin
Sins
Salvation
Soul
Spirit
Islamic community
Muslim ummah
wājib
Islamic law
good niyya
bad niyya
niyyat
Qurbatan illa-Allāh

slamic Laws by Sayyed as-Seestani 

Philosophy of the Islamic laws by Naser Makarem Shirazi 

The Five Schools of Islamic law by Muhammad Jawad Maghniyyah