You’ll Never Have All of Dunya, But Eternity Can Be Yours.

A beautiful khutba about the importance of niyyah and focused purpose. Though not a direct transcription, these were some of the most powerful points of the talk for me.

  • What counts is not the action, is not the form, though the action and form are required to be compliant with the sunna of the Chosen One, sallahu alayhi wasalaam. It is not actions, it is the reason for actions that is place where Divine regard and judgement will always fall. One of the things we can do when we begin an academic course or year to consider our ikhlas. That is to say, the singularity of our intentions. Ikhlas doesn’t quite translate to sincerity, although often we think it does.
  • Ikhlas means the purification of something so that it becomes like a single essence, it’s distilled. Instead of having a lot of different reasons for doing things, have a smaller and smaller number of reasons until are a mukhlis, because only have one reason for doing that thing. Can be a mukhlis in good thing as well as a bad thing.
  • Ikhlas, this concretization, singularity of niyyah is the state a believer always wishes to be in.
  • Ikhlas is coming to life, knowing why we do things.
  • Actions take the value of the intentions behind them.
  • The master signifier of a believer’s actions should always be that this has a meaning. Not about my convenience, my gratification of future pleasures or sense of self, this is about eternity. This about the ultimate Hijrah. The Hijrah to the akhira. Is my hijrah after death to the blessed Garden- like city where I am in the company of the holy Prophet sallahu alayhi wasalaam and his sahabas? Is that the hijrah where I will eventually catch up with them, despite leaving 1400 years later? Or is my hijrah to the people who were into their own impulses? The Abu Jahls, Abu Lahabs?
  • We are all on this migration. Nobody can stop the clocks. We are in the iron grip of the ticking of every single clock on the planet and Allah will one day at the time that He knows, take us and that migration will open up, and we will see what we intended. Not what we thought we were doing, or even close friends thought we were doing, but inwardly where we were headed.
  • To the extent that we really do have the sense that what we are studying here is an investment for not just paying off our student loan before its finally due, but an investment in terms of an eternal reward with Allah, we can redirect our studies from our apparently worldly career in order to have the sense we wish to serve Allah’s creation. We want to repair the world. We want the opportunity to heal people. to build buildings that people love and don’t fall down. To be aid workers. To defend the weak in a court of law. If we have that intention, what we are doing in every moment, going to lectures, doing revisions, writing essays, will be counted as part of our ikhlas, and we will be people of singular niyyahs, people who really know what they are doing.
  • What counts is what is within. This is where Islam is truly itself, in its knowledge of interiority. Once we’ve understood this we can start to come to life as human beings. We can stop being marionettes, pushed this way and that by the the desires of self esteem and the esteem of our colleagues, and start to think in terms of ikhlas, having a single purpose, single intention directed towards eternity, which was the way of the sahabas.  And that brings us happiness. Misery generally is the result from having too many intentions, and most of them being phantasmagoric, things that you’ll never really achieve. So you want to show off to such and such a person, maybe she’s very attractive and something in your ego thinks maybe you’ll be able to marry her, but the reality is that is incredibly unlikely. The ego makes you unhappy because you’re not controlling the proliferation of intentions, desires and wills. Most of the time the ego is whispering to you about things that are not possible and you just end up frustrated. You’ll never have all of dunya, but eternity can be yours. And happiness can be yours by focusing on the reality of Allah’s reward, which is without reckoning. Everything in this world is accounted for, on your bank statement, every penny counts. In the akhira, no hisab, just the Divine generosity, and that which is eternal is limitless and expression of His rahma and generosity. If focus on that, able to feel peace and calm.
  • If focus on various tradeoffs in dunya and we allow our lower intentions to take us over, “I deserve a bit of that” ” it’s time I had a bit of that, Allah will forgive me” and have intentions that are perhaps twenty or thirty intentions at one time, our consciousness won’t have that crystalline clarity it needs in order to to find peace.
  • “By the remembrance of Allah, hearts find peace.” We all want peaceful hearts, no one likes to be in a state of inward uproar all the time but that generally is how we are. Worried about things we’ve done or haven’t done. Worried about stuff that might come up in the future. Worried about how other people might see us. Worried about all the stuff that in most cases we can’t control at all. Need to overcome that by remembering the singularity of the Divine judgement. It doesn’t matter what the others think as long as in your consciousness, in your heart, you are focused on Allah and His good pleasure. And the Prophetic example is the best sign fo that.
  • He was alone, at the beginning he was alone, He was the only believer in the world before he came to Sayyida Khadijah. Anyone else in the world would have said certainly not, but that certainty carried him through and the world changed as a result of going against his peer group. He was certainly not following the flock in Makkah, indeed he was forced out and the hijrah was necessary. And unimaginable horizons which nobody could have guessed opened up for him because of that singularity.
  • So we need to be aware of this and we need to be aware of the difficulty of controlling the heart and the difficulty of ensuring a shift in our intentions.This is where religion becomes tricky, but if we get this right, that everything becomes a whole lot easier. And not just religious things. The question arises and the ulema discuss this of whether we can change our intentions.
  • What is the extent to which the irada (will) can control the niyyah (intention)? And this is something difficult. Imam Ghazali generally says that the niyyah is not subject to choice. What you do is subject to where you are.
  • What we do to rectify to niyyah is change the lower impulses that generate the niyyahs. If constantly disciplined person, the niyyah that arises in your situation at every moment will be towards what is good and what is singular. If live life as a undisciplined person who indulges these various beasts within that want to pull you this way and that, then your niyyah will be what they are and you won’t be able to control them and deal with them.
  • Doctrine of niyyah in Islam that is there so importantly in Quran and hadith is an invitation to look at the lower things, the deeper things within us that motivate us. Why is it that you want x? Why is that you want y? Look at those things. Once rectified yourself and remembered that it is only Allah’s good pleasure that ultimately matters, sticking to the good irrespective of what others say, then other impulses die off. Then you will find the niyyah, that automatically forms in your consciousness will be a better one.This is very important, but what religion is all about.
  • “He who purifies himself has succeeded”
  • Purify the stable within, clear out the dung from the recesses of the heart, turn into a sweet smelling, disciplined and beautiful place, and will find that the intentions that you have are beautiful intentions. But however hard try to work on your intentions “I intend to pray salatul maghrib” not going to be very good if inward foundation for that intention is full of rubbish and pollutants.
  • Again and again in these basic Quranic teachings find one message. Sort yourself out. Look at yourself, know yourself, understand yourself and see the rubbish and clear it out. Be with the sadiqueen. Be with the people of truth. Read good books. Don’t look at baatil. Dont get preoccupied with things that really are polluting to the heart. Instead as much as you can, be with people who are like the kind of person you’d like to be. They don’t have to be Muslim, but be with people of good hearts and good intentions.
  • Many people are outside the boundaries of islam can have ikhlas and can have a good latent spirituality. Many people can be praying hard for twenty, thirty forty years and can be a pain in the neck. And we’ve all encountered examples of that. And it’s only when you understand that religion is about the inward and the niyyah that you can start to make sense of that. Otherwise you think prayer is a magic alchemy that is going to make you a better person -no. it’s the niyyah and the purity of soul that generates the niyyah that is what the prayer  is really about.
  • Dua: We ask Alah as we begin the new academic year to give us new intentions, pure intentions, to give us optimism about his intentions toward us, to help us to be energised to work well, to keep us away from baatil, to keep us with good company and to give us a good year and success in examinations.

~Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad, Cambridge Khutbas, The Singularity of Intention and Will, November 27th 2012.

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