“Son of Adam! You are nothing but a number of days, whenever each day passes then part of you has gone.”
The above quote, attributed al-Hasan al-Basri, succinctly establishes the fact that Time is the true capital that humanity possesses. And, it is through utilising our time wisely, that we can yield all other manifestations and interpretations of success as understood by every generation throughout history. Whether that be success pertaining to the life of this world such as earning wealth to feed ones family, obtaining tranquillity and peace of mind, or success pertaining to the hereafter such as an easy standing on the Day of Judgment, a swift crossing of the bridge (Sirāt) and reaching Firdaws al-‘ala – the highest level in Paradise.
For this reason, we must look at our time with the lens of business investors. The most successful businessmen and businesswomen will tell you that the most fruitful transaction is that one which involves minimum input and maximum output. Similarly, as Muslims seeking not only the home of the Hereafter, but the highest levels in the Hereafter, we too, need to seek those transactions which will yield maximum output in the next life. After all, the true capital we possess is our time and the true “success” will be when the scale (mizān) on the Day of Judgment tips in our favour.
The time we have in life is finite and the demands of daily life are only increasing, and many of us complain of not finding the time to worship Allāh. And thus, it is ever more important that we strive to make every second of our existence count towards our scale of good deeds, even those activities we may consider mundane—or even rest. One may wonder: if the demands of daily life are only increasing how can I still worship Allāh? Surely, I am disadvantaged in comparison to those who came centuries before?
Fortunately, Allāh does not judge us based upon the materialistic, capitalistic standard of success being measured upon material results. The prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) taught us that “Actions are but by intentions.”
“Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. Whoever migrates with an intention for Allāh and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allāh and his Messenger. And whoever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for.” 
Thus, the Muslim will receive that which he intended rather than that which he necessarily achieved. For example, Person X intended to memorise Qur’ān in his life and took steps towards it, but for whatever reason he was unable to complete the memorisation of the Qur’ān before his appointment with the Angel of Death. This person may receive a reward proportional to that which he intended rather than that which he achieved, and thus he could be rewarded as though he had memorised the entire Qur’ān even if he did not do so, depending on the sincerity and quality of his intention.
This beautiful paradigm shift turns our attention to the intention rather than the result. And, for the Muslim seeking the highest levels in the Hereafter, this opens up huge opportunities to attain good deeds in the most exceptional of ways. A sincere intention can turn an everyday mundane act into an act of worship, rewarded by Allāh. Moreover, this opens up the possibility of turning every second of our remaining existence from being a mere empty pastime to something that will credit our scales in the hereafter and count as worship (‘Ibādah). And thus, yielding huge returns in the next life with the limited time that we have. SubhanAllāh.
It is for this reason that a number of scholars would say “Intentions are the trade of the scholars” for they understood that by simply having a sincere intention or multiple sincere intentions, one could not only turn sleep into ‘ibādah but one could multiply that reward many fold based upon the number of intentions and this is something only the scholars would be accustomed to.
Zayd al-Shāmi said, “Verily I like that I have an intention for everything even if it be eating and drinking.”
This science is one which requires some thinking, some brainstorming and a lot of discipline. This article intends to start this journey for us all by setting out a template of some example intentions we can have during a typical day to yield 24 hours of consecutive ‘ibādah.
The following sections provides examples of ākhirah-centric intentions we can have during common everyday activities to turn them from mundane actions into rewardable acts of worship for which we can hope to reap rewards in the Hereafter. It is upon us, to actively check our intentions and question the purpose of our actions in relation to our short and long-term goals by constantly asking ourselves: “Why am I doing this?” This exercise of questioning the intentions behind our actions is extremely important since our intentions can waiver based on our nafs’ inclinations. Perhaps even more frighteningly we can easily become bereft of having any intention at all, thus wasting valuable opportunities to earn good deeds and build our Jannah.
“I am going to work to earn halāl money to…”
1) Feed my family halāl and pure rizq
2) Give optional/obligatory charity (Sadaqah/Zakāh)
3) Fulfil the rights of my family
4) Make Muslims more powerful and influential
5) Actively contribute to society
6) Become free of relying on people
7) To pass two of the five questions regarding Rizq on the Day of Judgment
8) To buy gifts and increase love between people
9) To eventually save up to go for the major Pilgrimage (Hajj)
…and so on.
“I am sleeping to…”
1) Follow the command of Allāh (‘Night is for rest’ – Qur’ān 10:67)
2) Be energised for ‘Ibādah (Fajr, Night Prayer and general ‘ibādah)
3) Avoid sinning
4) Fulfil the rights my body has over me
5) Fulfil a sunnah
…and so on
Food and Drink
“I am eating and drinking to…”
1) Follow a command of Allāh (‘Eat of the good things which We have provided for you’ Qur’ān 2:172)
2) Be energised for ‘Ibādah
3) Enjoy the blessings of the provision
4) Fulfil the rights of the body
5) Practice Gratefulness (Shukr)
6) Practice the sunnah of eating
…and so on.
“I am meeting others to…”
1) Follow the Sunnah by meeting them with a smile
2) Have sins forgiven
3) Spread Salāms
4) Bring happiness to fellow believers
5) Attain the shade of Allāh (as per the hadith of 7 under shade on the Day of Judgement, by meeting and departing solely for sake of Allāh)
6) Advise and be at the service of others
7) Give Da’wah
8) Fulfilling the rights of others
9) To seek counsel for myself from fellow brothers/sisters
10) To remember and mention Allāh (subhānahu wa ta’ālā) in an Islamic environment and recalibrate oneself (‘inshaAllāh’, ‘alhumdulillah’ and other conversational adkhār)
11) Rejuvenate my Īmān
12) Spend time away from my spouse to remember how much I value them
13) To be motivated to do good and be active, and to humble myself by staying with those better than me
14) To prepare the front line of my Janāzah
…and so on.
“I am exercising to…”
1) Fulfil a right of the body and maintain this provision given as a trust by Allāh
2) Become a strong believer because ‘A stronger believer is better and more lovable to Allāh’
3) Build my teamwork skills and brotherhood for anything that requires group participation
4) Be physically ready to defend my dīn, family and self
5) Be a means of preserving my spouse’s chastity, hence preserving marriage and society at large
6) Develop structure and discipline in my life to be a more effective Muslim
7) To keep the mind fresh, preserving the intellect to serve the dīn
…and so on.
“I am engaging in recreational activities to…”
- Rejuvenate myself to continue working hard for the sake of Allāh
- Win the hearts of those who may take part in those activities – indirect Da’wah
- Proactively maintain positive mental health
- Present Islām as holistic to those less practicing
- To witness the creations and wonders of Allāh
- Fulfil sunnah of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in horse riding, swimming, archery, etc.
- Portray and practice a practical form of Islām
…and so on.
“I am commuting so that I have a chance to…”
1) Engage in the Remembrance of Allāh (Dhikr)
2) Engage in reflection over Allāh’s creation (Taffakur)
3) Smile at mankind
4) Recite Qur’ān
5) Revise beneficial knowledge
6) Enjoin good and forbid evil
7) Earn a halāl living/get an education
…and so on.
“I am engaging in a shower to…”
1) Make ghusl to become clean and pure spiritually
2) Smell pleasant for my fellow believers
3) Because ‘Cleanliness is half of faith’
4) Practice the sunnan of ghusl
5) To be from those who the angels refer to as “Tayyibīn” upon entrance to Jannah
And so on
Engaging in any type of Islamic educational activity
“I am seeking Islamic knowledge in order to…”
1) Make my path to Jannah easy
2) To learn what is right and wrong
3) To follow the path of the Prophets
4) Earn reward in the Hereafter
5) To act upon the knowledge
6) Lift ignorance from myself and others
7) To defend and preserve the dīn
8) To revive forgotten/lost knowledge
9) To leave a great, long-lasting legacy
10) To educate myself and teach others and earn ongoing charity (Sadaqa Jāriya)
11) To make myself humble / improve my character
12) To acknowledge the Greatness and Majesty of Allāh
13) To teach my offspring and family and earn ongoing charity (Sadaqa Jāriya)
14) To be from the best of people (e.g. teaching Qur’ān as per the hadith)
16) To preserve the sunnah
18) To elevate my station in jannah
…and so on.
This is an endeavour which requires real effort and discipline, it requires us to constantly pause throughout the day and ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” whilst reminding ourselves of some of the ākhirah-centric intentions we can have for our actions. With patience, determination and tawfīq from Allāh subnānahu wa ta’ālā we will be able to utilise our lives productively for the Hereafter and become from amongst The Best of Investors.
This list is by no means exhaustive, please comment some ākhirah-centric intentions below and help others.
 Bukhari and Muslim