Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Uzma Mazhar
Intention (niyyah) or will (irâdah) defines the course of action one plans to follow. It refers to what one intends to do or achieve. Intention or purpose strengthens the idea of resolution or determination with the commitment to achieve the desired goal.
Synonyms that convey similar meaning as intention are: purpose, plan, goal, end, aim, object, objective, will.
The concept of 'niyyah' includes the inclination (raghbah) for an object or action, the will (irâdah) to achieve it, the effort (jahd) and courage (himmah) to bear the hardship that comes with it, and the ability/drive/ambition (tâqat) to actually carry out that particular action. Without these five elements it is just a wish but not 'niyyah'. No wonder sincerity (ikhlâs) plays such a central role in establishing niyyah... without sincerity one will not make the needed effort to take on that task... because if my intention is not pure or sincere I will make excuses to get out of that commitment or drag my feet in doing it.
People often confuse their inclination or wish to be 'niyyah' and feel discouraged when they are unsuccessful in gaining it. But just wishing for something is not going to make it happen. Wishful thinking is a passive desire without the effort to make it happen.
Formulating an intention begins an activity cycle, which exists so long as the intention exists. Thus, intention and action are inextricably bound up with each other.
When we want to change a bad habit and make the intention to do it... but find that we are unable to bring about that change, we need to look at each of the five elements. We need to examine if we really have the desire or are just saying it because that is expected of us, the same with will, effort, courage and ability. Usually we will find that we are lacking in one or more of these elements and hence unable to bring about the change. If we lack the will to give up that bad habit we will not make the effort. If we don't have the courage to handle the discomfort that comes with change we will give up easily. If we don't make the effort nothing will change.
So, when we see ourselves failing to carry out an action we can identify the particular element that is weak and focus on building it. For example: if I don't have the will to do something, I need to figure out why... do I really believe the habit to be bad, is it causing me problems, how does it harm me, etc. Getting more information may help in realizing how harmful that habit is, which will then help in developing the strength of will. The same with any of the other elements that we may lack.
© April 2004

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