How Can I Make a Correct Intention So That My Good Deeds Are Rewarded?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaikum

(1) Is an intention required for EVERY SINGLE DEED one does?

(2) Can a person make one general intention one time for all of their life?

(3) Will we get rewarded for small habitual things even if we don’t make a specific intention?

(4) How does one make the intention for a deed?

(5) If I remember halfway during the deed to make an intention will I still get rewarded for that entire deed?


(6) If I remember only after the deed is complete to make an intention, can I still make it and get the reward?

(7) If one was not aware that making a specific intention for every deed was required then can one still get rewarded for the decades of previous good deeds?

Answer:Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

1. No, intentions are legally required for specific acts of worship, such as the prayer (salat) and obligatory charity (zakat), yet not for all regular actions. Although making intentions for the latter, such as for earning a livelihood, is from the way of excellence and the teachings of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).

2. Yes, this is fine as a general intention because every believer is seeking Allah Most High’s Pleasure. But the sunna also recommends renewing intentions, as well as sustaining them, because they can often become unclear and sometimes muddied. Thus, for example, somebody who makes a specific intention at the time of eating and remembers Allah Most High therein is unlike the one who made a general intention at some point in their life.

3. We are dealing with a Merciful Lord. If somebody does that out of following the way of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), and the good character they have acquired from the sunna, then that would be praiseworthy. However, and again, this isn’t like the one who specifically intended this at the time of doing the action.

4. The intention is the firm resolve to do an action. Taftazani stated, “it is the firm resolve to perform an action, and to seek the closeness and nearness of Allah Most High, at the start of the action.”

5-7. Allah Most High says, “As for those who believe and do good deeds– We do not let the reward of anyone who does a good deed go to waste.” [18.30] And “We grant Our mercy to whoever We will and do not fail to reward those who do good.” [12.56]

May Allah Most High grant us all success and facilitation (tawfiq) out of His Grace.

Consider taking the following free class: Gardens of the Righteous: the Sunnah of the Sunnah

Please also see: A Reader on Sincerity, Intention, and the Purpose of Spiritual Routines

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, England, a quiet town close to the east coast of England. His journey for seeking sacred knowledge began when he privately memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown at the age of 16. He also had his first experience in leading the tarawih (nightly-Ramadan) prayers at his local mosque. Year after year he would continue this unique return to reciting the entire Quran in one blessed month both in his homeland, the UK, and also in the blessed lands of Shaam, where he now lives, studies and teaches.