As the year draws to a close, we can certainly agree that 2020 has been one of a kind. A year of facemasks, lockdowns and tiers. New rules, new routines; a new normal.
For many, reaching the end of a calendar year usually opens up doors to reflect, reassess and refocus on what is truly important. A year which was filled with fear, loss and uncertainty should only be the driving force to change our outlook on life.
Change is inevitable. However, this year has forced many to change the way they structure their day to day lives, particularly when it comes to their careers. Depending on the job, individuals either find themselves working from home or have now been labelled as ‘keyworkers’, who continue to provide an essential service. Whatever the case, it is evident that everyone is facing their own challenges and difficulties during these testing times. Many have lost the zeal and passion which once lead them to their jobs. We find ourselves performing our roles in autopilot and no longer question why we do what we do, day in and out. This, however, is all meaningless without intent.
As the new year begins, let’s review our intentions behind us working in our particular fields. But ultimately let’s ask ourselves, are our intentions serving as a vehicle towards Allah?
Intentions (niyyāt) were considered the currency of the companions (sahabah) and scholars, meaning they would combine multiple intentions to gain the maximum rewards for a single action. Therefore, with the correct intentions, your career can in fact be a form of worship (ibadah) with Allah’s permission. Our intentions are paramount because not only do they keep us sincere, but it allows us to fulfil our roles with excellence (ihsān); which is important when we’re living in tough times… like this global pandemic!
“Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended.”
Below are some examples of intentions which could magnify our reward. (Note: these intentions are not all limited to when we are working; rather they can be considered in other aspects of our lives such as studying or in social gatherings.)
1. To be a positive role model to fellow Muslims and non-Muslims, both young and old. For some of us, we are the ones with the funny names, the ones with our hair covered or the ones with a pretty prayer mat hanging off the back of our chairs. Whether we realise it or not, we are by default ambassadors of Islam and it is through our subtle words and gestures that we are able to leave a great impression of our religion on others.
2. To earn a halal rizq (sustenance), for indeed there is no barakah (divine blessing) in haram incomes. If you find yourself with a big bank balance yet struggle to make ends meet, then something clearly isn’t adding up. Allah commands us to serve and earn through a halal means when He says,
“O my people! Give full measure and weigh with justice. Do not defraud people of their property, nor go about spreading corruption in the land.”
Your earnings can, in turn, be spent in the way of Allah through charity; both optional and obligatory (Sadaqah or Zakāh), as well as on your family as the Prophet SAW said:
“When a man spends on his family, hoping for reward, that is (counted as) an act of charity for him.”
3. To practise the noble characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad SAW for this was the way in which he won hearts. Patience, perseverance, optimism, kindness, and excellence to name a few were traits we see observed by the Prophet SAW in the seerah. Often our character is tested during times of turbulence for instance disagreements with colleagues, tight deadlines and pressure from seniors in the workplace. However, it is with a positive attitude that one can live a proactive life. Strive to emulate the prophetic qualities particularly when the Messenger of Allah SAW said,
“I have been sent to perfect good character.”
4. To please our parents for this will, in turn, please Allah SWT.
“The pleasure of the Lord is in the pleasure of the parents, and the displeasure of the Lord is in the displeasure of the parents.”
I’m sure there have been certain moments in your life where you’ve stopped in your tracks to consider what your parents would think if you made a particular decision. The outcomes of your choices are indeed in line with the outcome of our parents’ emotions. Graduating, passing your driving test, getting a new job or even learning a new recipe are examples of times where our parents have not shied away from showing how proud they are of us. The happiness of our parents can not only be a means of gaining rewards, but it could be your ticket into Jannah (paradise) too!
6. To serve the ummah through the skillset Allah SWT has blessed you with; whether that be through educating the mini-Muslims of our communities or developing innovative apps that harness talent, whilst creating solutions to societal problems. Be at the service of others, whilst always serving him.
Remember, it is never about the eyes that see you, nor the mouths which praise you; rather it is His eyes on you and how He speaks of you in the Heavens. Just as our hearts can turn in an instant, so can our intentions and ultimately our eternal abode. Thus, take every opportunity to sow the seeds that will undoubtedly be reaped on the day of harvest. May Allah SWT allow us all to have a fruitful year ahead! (Ameen)
- List at least 3 intentions on the notes page/or lock screen wallpaper of your phone and refer back to these regularly
- Pause before you proceed. Ask yourself why you are going to commence with this action. What is your intention? (“I am doing X because I want to achieve Y”).
- Bukhari and Muslim
- Surah Hud v. 85
- Bukhari and Muslim