The Beginning of Pure Intention.
In the Name of GOD, the Merciful, the Beneficent, the One who
initiates all things – what has past - what is & what will be &
peace and blessings be upon all the Messengers who came
with the purest of intentions and the most praiseworthy actions.
Where is the source of pure and good intention? That source has
to be pure. For the Sufis the ultimate source is GOD Himself. He
creates what is pure and purifying. He is the Pure, the One free
of imperfection who can purify anyone regardless of his or her
state. We also know that He accepts only what is pure.
We therefore need to
look to the purity of our intentions and to be aware that
whether we hide that, which is within our hearts, or reveal it,
GOD knows it. The Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings
of GOD be upon him, is reported to have said, ‘Intention
determines the worth of a person’s actions and he will attain
what he intends. If someone travels to another place with the
intention to please GOD and His Messenger then his journey is
for this purpose and if he travels seeking the attainment of
some worldly matter, or for the sake of marrying a woman’ –
and as such his journey will be reckoned for that particular
Here we are in a
material world where arguably the most important possession is
good intention, which is clearly invisible & immaterial. It is
intention, which gives meaning and spiritual reality to what we
Just how pure are our
intentions. How can we know? The believer understands purity of
action to mean an act that is free of any selfish motive and is
undertaken purely seeking the good pleasure of our Creator. This
sounds easy but in reality, it can be difficult and tricky. For
example, someone could be giving a talk on Pure Intention and
think that they are sincerely imparting useful knowledge when in
reality they are seeking public recognition and praise. In such
a case, the person would be judged to have no sincerity to GOD
and no reward. This is because they are unknowingly making
partners with GOD in that they are seeking the pleasure of
Creation above the pleasure of the Creator. This is called
hidden polytheism or ‘shirk’. It has been likened to a black ant
on a dark rock in the middle of the night. You cannot see it.
You are not aware of it but it is there. This is sometimes
described as seeking only the face of (Allah). This does not
literally mean that the Creator has a face in a way similar to
our own. There is a saying from the Quran, ‘Wherever you turn
there is the face of Allah meaning that the Creator is
recognised in all that He has created. The act that is done with
a pure intention has a lasting reality whereas the action
founded on selfish intention is essentially a lifeless form that
will be blown away as if it were dust. What is with GOD
continues. What is with other than GOD vanishes.
Surely, we have to
look behind the intentions to see what state our heart is in.
However, how can we know our own heart? Sometimes we cannot
connect with our true nature because of the veil of the self and
the whirlwind of whims and desires that seems to constantly
‘blow’ around our soul. Sometimes this causes so much confusion
that we cannot discriminate truth from falsehood to the extent
that we accept falsehood as truth and vice versa.
So how can we become
more self aware:-
we want to know our state and to purify our intentions we can
reflect on what is happening around us for the outside world can
be a mirror to our inner state.
in the mirror however can be difficult and uncomfortable at
times because we do not like to change. We are comfortable with
the way things are. This is why it is important to have a
sincere and wise companion who can give good advice and provide
a true reflection.
is all very well to be given reflection on our state but
sometimes we want to change but just cant. This is why the good
counsel and advice from those who have already attained great
inner purity is important. Nevertheless, not every good person
has the ability to impart a truly effective spiritual education
that we can accept and implement.
also need to be present in what is happening to us. Most of all
we need to be present with GOD but this is very difficult. It is
however easier to travel this difficult path under the guidance
of a realised spiritual teacher – but still it is not easy.
on our state and keeping good company is important but we need
to make effort. One way to know if our intentions are sincere is
if we undertake action, which is hard on the self. There is
nothing as hard on the self, as that which is true.
is another less obvious indication of the purity of intentions.
Are we careful about what we eat how good and pure it is and the
source of the money we earn and spend on our self & others?
the believer in GOD there is another reality check on the purity
of intentions, which is the extent to which one is immersed in
the constant remembrance of GOD (dhikr), secretly and openly.
The dhikr has many amazing qualities.
is Divine in origin, it is a cosmic reality. As Galileo said,
‘The heavens declare the glory of GOD’.
dhikr is pure in its self. The self has no part in it
dhikr as well as being pure is a purifying agent. It has an
active ingredient that removes the veils and stains from the
the practice of the dhikr the light of GOD enters the heart and
one sees with the light of perfection and have growing love and
compassion for all of creation. With the experience & tasting of
the Presence all else is nothing. However, even here in the
purified realm of the dhikr intention is all-important. As on
teacher said: ‘It is on you to remember GOD much and that you
seek with it the Face of GOD – and not a share in this world or
your rights in the Next World - then you attain the pleasure of
GOD and he who attained the pleasure of GOD has attained his
There are indications
that the dhikr is being done, as it should be:-
dhikr begins to refine ones behaviour and character
spiritual curiosity becomes more refined - a sign that the
subtle reality of the invocation is penetrating the heart.
grows in the heart
is greater respect for the boundaries of the Path. Crossing of
the boundaries results in the loss of spiritual benefit - like
pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it.
the spiritual states and experiences that come with the
invocation there is a growing awareness that there are limits to
purely intellectual understanding for the Path is essentially
Following somebody for the sake of PURIFYING oneself.
In our day and age of
individual freedoms, liberty and democracy the idea of taking
guidance from someone for the sake of increasing in inner purity
is increasingly questioned. The idea of companionship for the
sake of purity is even less mainstream. This is no accident nor
is it irrational but is the consequence of false and insincere
guidance and it has to be said some insincerity on behalf of
those seeking the truth. If we are looking for guidance that is
pure and true what sort of people should we be on the look out
for. To conclude here are a few indicators:-
person from the people of dhikr, or from the people who are
negligent about remembering
Indeed, there is no difference between the living and the dead,
except with the dhikr of GOD. The Prophet said, “The example of
one, who remembers GOD and someone who does not, is like the
example between the living and the dead”.
they may be eloquent speakers do they exceed the limits in their
their words match their actions
they neglect those actions of the path, which are essential for
them to do – even if they walk on water or fly through the air
this is not a proof of truth, purity and sincerity.
thoughts we may have about others but how truthful are we about
the purity of our own intentions and actions. This is the big
question and is often the hardest to answer.
Seeking purity of intention and realisation through
We have looked at the
means to good and pure intention, but where are the people who
have achieved this and how would we recognise them. One thing we
have established is that they will continuously remembering GOD.
They will not be judging from their whims and desires. They will
be truthful and their actions will be fruitful.
Let us look back in
history and see who is there. There are the famous Prophets &
Saints (men and women) known for their truthfulness, deep
wisdom, piety, and forbearance under oppression and their
ability to touch and transform the hearts and thus the
intentions of ordinary people. Then there are their sincere
disciples & companions who received spiritual illumination
through a strong love and sincere and faithful companionship.
So here we are today
in our own world, outwardly very different from the low
technology societies of bygone ages but inwardly the hearts are
the same and the needs are the same. So presumably, the people
of pure hearts are still among us. Who are they? What are they
If you would
like to share some experiences of meeting people who have
inspired you by their deep spirituality, their constant
remembrance of GOD, real sincerity, noble character and immense
generosity. In particular, say something if you can about how
keeping company with them helped you become a better person.
Send your experiences by email to:
Sharing with you some
of the aspirations and practices of the Sufis, shows there is
indeed common ground. One thing that particularly marks out the
Sufis is the emphasis on the practice of invocation.
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