You should have multiple intentions for memorising the Qur’ān. Voluntary actions can have multiple intentions giving you the reward of multiple actions. The more sincere they are, the more the reward is. The reward for memorizing the Qur’ān alone is huge.
In this article, I will share the role that intention and sincerity play in your memorisation journey and will share multiple intentions that you can have every time you sit to memorise or revise.
Why is intention (Niyyah) important?
Having clarity in your intentions is important for your memorisation of the Qur’ān and any action you take. You have all heard about the Hadīth of Intention:
“Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. Whoever migrates with an intention for Allāh and His Messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allāh and his Messenger. And whoever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for.” (Bukhārī and Muslim).
Our intentions are the foundation of any action. In fact, they are also foundational to the acceptance of our deeds. No action reaches perfection, excellence or acceptability without good intentions (Husn an-Niyyah). Regardless of whether you achieve an action, you will still receive the rewards of that action. ‘Action’ in the absence of action is called intention. An intention is an action itself – an action of the heart that has a higher station than physical actions or deeds.
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) observed: “He who intended to do good, but did not do it, one good was recorded for him, and he who intended to do good and also did it, ten to seven hundred good deeds were recorded for him. And he who intended evil, but did not commit it, no entry was made against his name, but if he committed that, it was recorded.” [Sahīh Muslim]
What a blessing!
- You are rewarded once just for a good intention (without doing it)
- You have a reward of anything between 10 to 700 when a good intention has been performed
- You are pardoned for any bad intention that you may have (without doing it)
- A record is made against you if you act on a bad intention
Notice how not only is a good intention rewarding but depending upon what it is you can be rewarded up to 700x. This means that when you recite: ‘Alif Laaaaaam-Meeeeeem’ per the word of the Prophet (ﷺ) you will get 10 rewards per letter and so a minimum of 30 rewards. But, with a good intention behind it, the reward may be much more. If 10 people recite it, they will all get 30 rewards but someone may get much more due to a good sincere intention.
Intention can be thought of as light. There are varying degrees of strength when it comes to light. An intention behind an action can appear to be like:
- a shining star
- a flood light
- a candlelight
The level of light is the strength of the intention and its sincerity. This is why some scholars say that on the Day of Judgement, the Companions of the Qur’ān will differ in the amount they are able to recall of the Qur’ān because of their intention.
The principle of intention is in the Qur’ān itself:
وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاءَ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَذَٰلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ
“Whereas they were commanded to worship only Allāh, making their Deen (faith and devotion) sincerely devoted to Him in all uprightness, to establish Prayer and to pay Zakāt (the Alms-due). That is the upright Way.” (98:5)
This āyah uses the word for being sincere (‘Mukhliseen’) and being upright (‘Haneef’ and ‘Qayyim’) alongside righteous action. The intention is mentioned first and then action. First intention is purified, then the actions on the straight path follow. This is the Qur’anic principle of intention. Intention is the foundation of the acceptance and reward of every action.
مَن جَآءَ بِٱلْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُۥ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا ۖ وَمَن جَآءَ بِٱلسَّيِّئَةِ فَلَا يُجْزَىٰٓ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ
“Whoever does one good deed will have credit as reward ten more like it, and whoever brings an evil deed will not be punished for more than one similar evil deed. And no injustice will be done to them.” (6:160).
There’s a difference between habitual actions and actions done with intention (irāda). Those done with intention are actions are with reward or consequence. Actions can become worship (‘Ibādah) with a sincere intention for Allāh. If we wished, we could make our waking and sleeping lives worship just through intention.
۞ وَمَن يُهَاجِرْ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ يَجِدْ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مُرَٰغَمًا كَثِيرًا وَسَعَةً ۚ وَمَن يَخْرُجْ مِنۢ بَيْتِهِۦ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ ٱلْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُۥ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ ۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
“Whoever emigrates for the cause of Allāh will find many safe havens and bountiful resources throughout the earth. And he who leaves his home, migrating towards Allāh and His Messenger, and then death overtakes him, his reward with Allāh is ensured and Allāh is Most Forgiving, Ever-Merciful.” (4:100)
This is the power of intention. This is why we keep our intentions in check for our Hifz and keep trying to memorise. Those who leave their houses with the intention for Allāh and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) but don’t make it towards the goal, will be rewarded.
وَلِكُلٍّ دَرَجَـٰتٌ مِّمَّا عَمِلُوا۟ ۖ وَلِيُوَفِّيَهُمْ أَعْمَـٰلَهُمْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ
Each ˹of the two groups: good and bad˺ will be ranked according to what they have done ˹good and bad˺ so He may fully reward all. And none will be wronged. (46:19)
Everyone will be ranked according to what they did and the degree of their reward will be in accordance with their intention.
The 3 types of action and intention
It is important to remember that no amount of good intention can make a bad or sinful deed into a good one. If the action is good and paired with a good intention, it is granted acceptability. The strength and sincerity of the intention will determine the degree of the reward. If you have a good action but the intention with it is bad, then the good in the action is replaced with bad. Then there are actions that are neither good nor bad but are somewhere in between. They are indifferent and permissible. These types of actions can be rendered into deeds of obedience or deeds of disobedience according to the intention.
These are three types of actions (good, bad, and indifferent). Likewise, there are three types of intentions.
One intention is completely corrupt (mufsid) and this intention has no good attached to it. These are the mufsideen, those that have corrupted themselves. Shaytān isn’t interested in these people as they are already on the path he seeks to place people on.
The completely sincere
The second intention is free from the jungle of the self (through struggle) and becomes completely sincere (mukhlas) for Allāh. This type of intention has its own variant degrees such that the intentions don’t even seek the dunya nor the hereafter. These are the mukhlaseen – those whose intention has reached the heights. Shaytān surrenders himself to such an intention and people. He can’t fight them.
The struggle for sincerity
The third type of intention is in between the corrupt and the completely sincere. This intention is sincere (mukhlis) with a struggle. People with this intention will remain in a state of struggle to be sincere in doing good actions for the sake of Allāh. Shaytān concentrates his continuous efforts on this group of people. This is you. You are on the path of memorising the Qur’ān and shaytān will continuously attack you. He attacks those that are travelling on the straight path and those who are sincere. He seeks to corrupt that sincerity and good intention. He seeks to pollute the clear water in your glass even if it is a drop of filth. Your glass of clear water represents your good deeds and intentions. Shaytān will come and try to drop in something of hate, greed, jealousy, showing off, anger, competition and desire. This one drop is a drop that is purely from the self void of any presence of Allāh. This directly affects your spirituality.
There are other names for these intentions too.
- Sāfiyyah / Khālisah is the pure intention purely for the sake of Allāh.
- Mumtajizah is when you combine good intentions with worldly accomplishments and desires.
- Qadirah is purely for the sake of worldly accomplishments and desires.
There are two things that make an intention ruined, one is shaytān and the other is the evil commanding self (nafs al-ammārah). If you win on the account of your intention, shaytān loses. You have to keep working on yourself to win the fight.
What is sincerity and how do you make your intention sincere?
There are many ways that sincerity (Ikhlās) has been explained throughout our tradition and I will share some of these for you to reflect on.
“Be sincere in your Deen, for even a little done with sincerity is enough.” (Bayhaqi)
“Glad tidings for the sincere ones, for they are the lamps of guidance that dispel all the trials of darkness.” (Ibn Abi Shaybah)
Ibn al-Qayyim and so many others have mentioned sincerity is when the “internal and external actions are the same.”
As mentioned by Imām an-Nawawi that Dhun-Nún al-Misrī said, “Sincerity [Ikhlās] has three signs [or degrees]: (1) praise and blame from common people are the same for you; (2) you forget to see actions when you act; and (3) the reward of the action is paid to you (and sought) in the Next World.”
Ibn al-Qayyim reported: Al-Fuḍayl b. ʿAyyāḍ said, “Allāh purifies good deeds and makes them correct. Indeed, if deeds are sincere and incorrect, they will not be accepted. If deeds are correct and insincere, they will not be accepted, but rather they are only accepted if they are both sincere and correct. Sincere means they are done for Allāh alone and correct means they are done according to the Sunnah.” Then, Fuḍayl recited the āyah, “So whoever hopes in the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none in the worship of his Lord.” (18:110) (I’lām al-Muwaqqi’īn)
Al-Fuḍayl b. ʿAyyāḍ said, “Leaving out an action for people is ostentation (riyā’), doing a deed [to show and for the sake] people, is shirk. Sincerity is that Allāh protects you from these two qualities.” (Bayhaqi and many others).
You can see from just a sample of traditions that sincerity is when you do an action, your intention and heart do not pay any attention to:
- the self
- the action
- and those around
Sincerity is when engaged in any action you become blind to everything save Allāh. You do not see people, yourself or the action. When everything goes out of the picture, this is sincerity. Meaning is purely for the sake of Allāh and purely for Allāh.
I’ll give you an example of this. Think about a time when you or someone else engaged in conversation with a young child or a baby. What did they do? it’s likely that they behaved in a childish manner. They spoke the language of the child. They made sounds and behaved in a certain way. Why did do that? It’s sincerity. They do that purely for the child. At that moment, they don’t stop and think – what am I doing? what will others think about me? what if I sound ridiculous? what if this and that? They forget themselves, their action and those around them. In fact, if you made a video of someone doing this and edit it to remove the context, the person may look like something is wrong with them. In the same way, sincerity for Allāh is present when you feel like this when performing an action that is good and permissible grounded with good intentions.
There are many ways to achieve sincerity that include:
- always seeking to learn Adab (comportment and manners)
- always seeking knowledge from those blessed with it
- being in the pious company of those who had sincerity (this is the pious predecessors like those mentioned above) by reading their words and works
- being in a pious living company that speaks and reminds you of Allāh and His Messenger (ﷺ). This can be done physically or remotely by taking their company via books, audio, or video
- always reviewing and renewing your intentions
- always reviewing your own actions
- working on your self-purification (tazkiyyah)
- performing deeds without telling others
- doing voluntary work and service for others
There is one thing above all that will help. That is your love for Allāh, working on increasing this by drawing nearer to Him, asking Him to grant you His love because without doubt, He grants sincerity to those He loves. When you love someone, you forget about yourself.
The great Hadīth master (hāfidh), Imām Shamsu-Din al-Dhahabī (Allāh have mercy on him) mentions the signs of having a sincere intention or otherwise. He says that the sign of someone who seeks knowledge for the sake of Allāh is that knowledge gives him humility, humbleness and mindfulness (and fear) of Allāh. And the one who seeks knowledge for worldly gains becomes proud of his knowledge, so he argues and quarrels with other Muslims.
You have continually work on your intentions.
25 Intentions for Hifz
You can have multiple intentions for one action to give you the rewards of multiple actions. I used to encourage my students to write up to 20+ intentions down on paper and use it as a bookmark for their Mus’haf. Then, if needed, read them aloud before they begin recitation to re-enforce them. The intentions can be repeated before starting every Hifz session so that you begin to feel them, begin to understand and imagine them.
I intend to recite, memorise, and listen to Your Words, the Qur’ān for Your sake and:
- Be in Your Company, Ya Allāh
- Be near to you, Ya Allāh
- To engage and be in a state of Your Remembrance, Ya Allāh
- To Seek Your forgiveness, Ya Allāh
- To seek Your acceptance, Ya Allāh
- To Seek Your Guidance, Ya Allāh
- To Seek Your Pleasure, Ya Allāh
- To seek beneficial knowledge
- To adopt the Qur’ān as my Companion
- To be included amongst the people of Qur’ān
- To adopt the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) [recitation, memorisation etc]
- To adopt seclusion (i’tikāf/khalwah)
- To seek freedom from hell
- To make a friend for the sake of Allāh (buddies)
- To seek the intercession of the Qur’ān
- To sit in the compnay of the pious
- To improve my recitation and seek its reward
- To recite and rise in the ranks of Jannah
- To learn and teach the Qur’ān
- To recite more for my salāh
- To undersand and implement Your Word
- To remain committed to the Qur’ān
- To become a stronger and better believer
- To honour my parents on the Day of Judgement
- To impact others through the Light of the Qur’ān
These are all beneficial intentions and I hope this gives you much to ponder.
Allāh grant us all sincerity and the best of intentions.
Ameen.- Like and share!