Imagine you attended a wonderful play. It got you thinking, laughing, and maybe crying. You had such a wonderful experience you decided to give the theatre another go. This time you were board, confused and maybe even angry for wasting your time. Can you put your hand on your heart and truthfully say that the cast of the first play worked really hard and were dedicated while the cast of the second play weren’t?
I wouldn’t be able to. Even in projects I have been personally involved in. I tend to make excuses for others for why it seemed to me that they didn’t perform well. At the end of the day I really don’t know. Only they and their creator know. I can only judge from the apparent and my previous experiences of them and the situation.
I feel this analogy can be extended to us as individuals. The play is our actions and the behind the scenes work is our intention. You need a solid, well rehearsed and committed cast and supporting team to start with. Then the product of that work and effort will hopefully show on the day of the performance. I say hopefully because we know that things do not always work out the way we want them to. You may get a damaging review, someone may fall ill and the equipment could fail. Were your efforts wasted? Well, with no ticket sales to pay the staff and venue it may be better to stop the production, learn a lesson and move on.
Here’s where our intentions and actions differ from a theatrical performance. The good news is that intentions are judged by Allah and He is the one who’ll accordingly reward you or not. So if your actions are not as great as you’ve been working them to be then do not despair as Allah in the All Seer and the All Hearer. Do you remember Waraqa the cousin of our Mother Khadija (may Allah be please with her)? He intended to support the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) when he begins to call to Allah as a prophet and a messenger. Warqa died before he could realise his intention. However, he has been promised Paradise because he was truthful in his intention.
The not so good news is that keeping your intentions purely for the sake of Allah is one of the hardest if not the hardest thing to be keep consistent. Shytan will keep whispering and pointing out the “benefits” of fame and glory. The desire for luxury and extravagance is distracting. Even our fear of showing off can be an obstacle that prevents us from taking action and working for the sake of Allah. Imam Sufyan Athawri (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “I have not struggled with anything more severe upon me than my intention”.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I intending the pleasure of Allah?
- Does this action conform to the teachings of Islam?
What could help:
- Constant checks. Evaluate your actions and intentions at the end of the day
- Learn about your deen. How will you otherwise know what is Islamic?
- Make dua and ask Allah for guidance and forgiveness
1. Nawawi forty hadiths. For this topic in particular you can read hadith number one and five and their explanations