When we think about our day-to-day actions, chances are they reside in separate compartments in our mind. This may not necessarily be the outcome of any conscious effort, but simply the result of how we habitually tend to perceive the act.

I help with chores to do my part around the house.
I eat because I am hungry.
I take a nap because I am bored.
I study because I need good grades.

But what if you could make all of those actions a source of reward insha’Allah?

How!? By our intention.

Yahya Ibn Abu Kathir said: “Learn about intentions, for their importance is greater than the importance of actions”

In a hadeeth, on the authority of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab who said, I heard the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) say:

“Actions are but by intention and every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus he whose migration was for Allah and His messenger, his migration was for Allah and His messenger, and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he migrated.” [Related by Bukhari and Muslim]

Our ‘niyyah’, or intention, is what dictates the value and the reward we hope to obtain, so the first thing we need to do is ‘un-categorize’ our day to day actions. View them as actions we can use to advance us in our journey towards Jannah insha’Allah. Treat these actions as deeds (big or small), as a valid opportunity to bank some ajr (reward). In order to keep the good deed counter ticking, we need to make a conscious effort to adjust our perspective. This will help you reap the maximum benefits from your daily routines!

What Is Niyyah?

Niyyah, which is the arabic word for intention comes from the root word نوى which means: Decided/intended purpose; Destination/direction (when used with reference to traveling).

The beauty of your niyyah is that it is between you and Allah. Your intention before the actions we will discuss do not have to be communicated openly. It is an intended purpose made in your heart and mind prior to engaging in an act, to acknowledge that it is for the sake of Allah.

How Does Niyyah Relate to Productivity?

Simply put, your niyyah is what enables you to cash in on previously untapped tresasure chests of reward!

There are two ways for you to do this:

1. Make sure you renew your intention

Bring it to the surface of your efforts for energy and remind yourself that even the most routine, mindless acts can be done with the aakhirah in mind. Remind yourself that an act made with pure intentions can become an act of worship bi’ithnillah.

2.Make niyyah to do good even when you are not sure you will be able to do it

”Allah has written down the good deeds and the bad ones.” Then, he explained it [by saying that]: ”He who has intended a good deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds to seven hundred times, or many times over. But if he has intended a bad deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down as one bad deed.” [related by Bukhari and Muslim]

The above hadeeth is an indication of Allah’s Mercy; it also goes to show us the significance of intending to do a good deed. Reward simply for intending to do good – how awesome is that!? SubhanAllah.

Let’s Keep that Counter Ticking!

There are a number of ways you can aim to ensure that your niyyah is an active, snd not passive, element of your actions; here are two ways through which you can begin to adjust your perspective on day-to-day tasks:

1. Du’a for acts and following the Sunnah
There are so many acts that we do on a daily basis for which we can recite an assigned du’a. I highly recommend you get yourself a copy of Dar-us-Salaam’s Fortress of the Muslim.
Change your perspective from worldly gain to akhiraah. For eg. Recite the supplication before you begin a meal. Make an intention to practice the sunnah eating etiquette, a conscious effort to please Allah.
[For complete access to the arabic text, transliteration and translation of all of the supplications a Muslim can make go to: http://iknowledge.islamicnature.com/duas/

2. Multiply the reward!
Going to an Islamic class? How can you supersize the reward – invite friends, bring family members, take notes and share them after, etc

Reciting the Quran? Aim to do it for not just the ajr you receive for every letter, but make niyyah to be able to purify your heart and improve your relationship with Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala), to learn and understand and then implement this guidance and way of life from Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala).

Going to eat lunch? Recite the supplication before and after eating your meal for gratitude. Eat with the intention to energize yourself for other acts of worship. Follow the sunnah of eating etiquette to multiply the ajr. Don’t eat simply because you’re hungry.

Putting on some clothes? Read the supplication for it. Remind yourself of the importance of looking presentable as well being modest with the intention to please Allah.

The Good Deed Effect

The best part of your niyyah is that has a knock-on effect to other areas of your life. The conscious effort results in your mind switching into a ‘zone’ that allows you to see opportunities for ajr where you may never have looked before. The more we try to practically apply the concept to our lives, the more easily we can ensure that we’re always maintaining the right level of focus needed for this life.

Our niyyah is the heartbeat of our efforts and at the end of the day, purifying and upgrading our niyyah is a way to make good deeds apart of our daily routine.

And finally, to answer the question posed in the heading of this post – How fast is your good deed counter ticking? The answer is…..never fast enough!