“All great acts are ruled by intention. What you mean is what you get.” ― Brenna Yovanoff
I do get questioned by people as to why I do certain things and most of it relates to religion. My non-Muslim friends will ask me my reasons for doing certain things such as why do I wear the hijab, why do I pray 5 times a day, why do I always wear an abaya, why don't I drink alcohol or eat pork and many other questions.
Honestly, I don’t mind answering them as I am used to answering these types of questions whilst I was studying abroad. I find that when I take my time to explain to them properly, more often than not, they became intrigued with Islam instead of becoming afraid. I could see that the reason they asked a lot of questions, was not to annoy me but they really wanted to know more about Islam. To them, I was this tiny midget, practising alien religion and wearing funny colorful headgear.
However, it is not quite the same story with my Muslim friends and acquaintances. When a Muslim friend asked me why I wear hijab, I try very hard not to be judgmental. I must not assume that, just because they are all born Muslim, they know what Islam is. I mean, look at me!! I was clueless for a good number of years before God decided to ‘enlighten’ me. But, you know, it is not easy. We would always assume that as a Muslim, a person should know certain basic facts about Islam, like wearing the hjiab is compulsory for the women, but that's not quite the case sometimes.
The Wise Owl always tells me that understanding comes from God Al Mighty and He does not bestow it on everyone. He only bestows it on whom He wishes. There are people who, no matter how many times we explain, they will never understand and will continue to argue their way through.
“Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur).”
Surah Al-Baqarah 2:7
So now, I always try to give, my Muslim friends and acquaintances, the benefit of a doubt. I learn to differentiate those who are sincere and those who ask questions with the intention to annoy or irritate. I have a better control of my temper now (well, most of the time). I don't breathe fire that often now, though, you may still catch a wisp of smoke coming out of my nostril in some special cases, so more often than not, I don’t get annoyed or irritated. I just feel sorry for them. I fervently hope that God never seals my heart or my ears.
In Islam, everything starts with intention. Intention is something that is born in the heart and it is the very thing that steers our actions. For example, when we buy a car, the type of car depends on our intention. If the car is to help us move around, then we will get a reasonably priced practical car. If our intention is to show off to others, then we will get an expansive car which may not be very practical. Similarly, the way we dress. We need to ask ourselves, who are we trying to please when we dress a certain way.
More often than not, we lie to ourselves about our intention but we forget that our true intention is known to God Almighty.
“Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts; and He is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing.”
Surah Al-Baqarah 2:225
“Be quite sure that to Allah doth belong whatever is in the heavens and on earth.Well doth He know what ye are intent upon: and one day they will be brought back to Him, and He will tell them the truth of what they did: for Allah doth know all things.”
Surah An-Nur 24:64
Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, saying, “Verily, deeds are only with intentions. Verily, every person will get rewarded only for what they intended. Therefore, whoever emigrated for worldly reasons or for a woman, then his emigration is for that to which he has emigrated.”
[Sahih Bukhari, Book 1, Number 1]
I am not a saint but I am a firm believer of never lying, to myself, about my intention, because in the past, when I do, karma will always come back and slap me in the face. I have learned to train my heart to whisper the correct intention. I don’t succeed all the time but I still nevertheless try. If I die, I die trying.
Now, when I’m asked by my fellow Muslim friends and acquaintances, questions like, why do I wear hijab, why do I wear black abaya, why do I choose to be covered all time and other religious questions, I simply answer, “Because God commanded me so and I want to obey Him.”
There is no other answer really. To me, it’s a matter of whether I want to obey my Creator or not. Simple. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. The Commandments are very clear in the Quran and also Hadith. There is no such thing as I can pick and choose, verses in the Holy Quran which I want to follow or leave. It is absurd to tell God that I’m not ready to obey Him in certain matters. When will I ever be ready? Probably never! I realised also, that there is no point arguing with others as to why either. They too, have the choice as to whether to obey Him or not but, I sincerely hope that if they choose not to obey, they do not encourage others to follow them.
“Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah.for Allah is strict in punishment.”
Surah Al-Madiah 5:2
Prophet (S.A.W.) said, “If anyone calls others to follow right guidance, his reward will be equivalent to those who follow him (in righteousness) without their reward being diminished in any respect on that account.And if anyone invites others to follow error, the sin, of which he is guilty, will be equivalent to those of the people who follow him (in sinfulness) without their sins being diminished in any respect on that account.” [Reported by Imam Muslim]
I also notice that once I get my intention right, things will just fall into place nicely. If we do things for the sake of Allah SWT then He will take care of us. If we choose to disobey Him, then we only have ourselves to blame for our unhappiness and grief. So, check your heart and make sure your intention steers you in the right direction….