Click here for Part I
In part I, we talked about the importance of intentions and sincerity in Islam and why we should pay attention to them. In sha Allah in this part, we will talk about the role that shaitan plays in corrupting our intentions and how we can safeguard ourselves.
Imagine — You are a king who lives in a castle which has many valuable treasures. A fierce enemy has launched an attack on you to wrest away the castle with those valuable treasures from you. What will you do? You will fight till your last breath with all that you have to defeat the enemy. This is real life for you and me.
We are the kings that have to protect the valuable intentions that are inside our hearts, as they are the key to paradise. And Shaitan will do ANYTHING to destroy them. Hence, it is of UTMOST importance to learn how to protect our intentions. If we knew where these intentions lived, it would be easier to protect them, as we would put more safety measures around that area.
So where do these intentions live?
Intentions reside in our hearts. They are buried deep in the layers of our hearts, just as the seed is buried deep within the soil. An-Nu`man ibn Bashir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Prophet Muhammad said,
“Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body, if it becomes good (i.e., Reformed), the whole body becomes good, but if it gets spoilt, the whole body gets spoilt, and that is the heart.” 1
So let’s learn how to build a fortress around our hearts to prevent Shaitan from coming near it and also learn how to strengthen our hearts so that if in case Shaitan does get in, our hearts can fight and push Shaitan out of the way.
Protection from the Outside:
A dua a day keeps Shaitan away. Duas act as a fortress for a Muslim. They protect our hearts from the attack of shaitan from the outside. They guard the heart as intentions are buried deep within its layers, known only to Allah as
“.. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of that within the breasts.” 2
The morning and evening duas, the duas before entering the bathroom, saying Bismillah before eating amongst others act as a means of protection from Shaitan’s attacks.
They conceal [their evil intentions and deeds] from the people, but they cannot conceal [them] from Allah, and He is with them [in His knowledge] when they spend the night in such as He does not accept of speech. And ever is Allah, of what they do, encompassing. 3
Protection from Inside:
“Every son of Adam sins, and the best of those who sin are those who repent.” 4
“Will they not turn with repentance to Allah and ask His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” 5
Repentance cleanses the heart just as water cleanses us. It strengthens the heart to fight shaitan if he ends up sneaking inside the fortress we’ve built.
“O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance!” 6
It’s really beneficial to make a habit of constantly being in the state of some form of dhikr such as “Alhamdullilah”, “SubhanAllah”,”La illaha ha illalah”, as they humble the heart because it is constantly aware of the Might of Allah . This in turn would keep away emotions like pride and arrogance.
2. Seek Knowledge and Introspect
Knowledge is power. And this power is essential for the heart to fight shaitan and keep it away from the seeds of intentions buried deep within. Knowledge of the Quran gives a person the criterion between black, white and gray.
“…the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion..”7
Knowledge that is internalized is the only knowledge that proves beneficial for a person. Acting upon the knowledge and introspecting upon oneself is an essential act for strengthening the heart.
One day, a dear friend told me that she could actually figure out what her intentions were or the reasons behind certain thoughts since she had started seeking knowledge of the Quran; and this helped her immensely in keeping her intentions in check. SubhanAllah!
3. Make a Habit of Checking Intentions
This has been stressed upon by many scholars. They say that checking and re-checking intentions helps in keeping them pure as one can feel the moment any corruption in them begins.
4. Start a Secret Good Habit with Good Intentions
Arrogance and self-acclaim are destructive emotions that nullify deeds. They creep in slowly and sometimes blatantly in our hearts. We need to pay attention to our tone of voice and the choice of words we use to talk about an act, as they are the first to manifest these emotions. Hence, starting a habit and keeping it secret is counter intuitive to these emotions. Praying Tahajjud and not telling anyone about it, keeping the tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah , secretly helping the needy are some examples of private habits that we could develop in sha Allah.
Our hearts are the bastions of power. Its ruler determines the direction in which we will go. We need to strive constantly to protect it from the tricks of Shaitan in order to prevent it from corruption and also, constantly reinforce it with Allah’s help. In the end, I would like to leave you with duas that Allah and His Messenger taught us to keep our hearts strong;
“Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred 8
“Oh turner of the hearts (Allah, the Most High), keep our hearts firm on your religion” 9