WORDS OF GOLD: The Intentions Behind Actions III

In Islam, morality on March 19, 2009 at 6:31 pm

We literally pass away our lives in mundane activities. We get up sometime in the morning, go through the washroom routine, have or skip breakfast, get ready for work (at workplace, school or at home), remain busy in the work for some regular time period, get back, nap after the meal and so on…. the drudgery.
Many Muslims do not associate the concept of goodness with such actions. Those are taken for granted. The null void in the battle of good and bad. That is a mistake. Such activities in fact count in our bid to inseminate as much spiritual meaningfulness into our lives as possible. And this can be achieved merely by realigning our intentions behind these plain deeds of daily life, or let’s say, by being more conscious of the reasons and value of such deeds.
Our Prophet Mohammad (Sallallahu alaihi wa aalihi wa sallam) reminded us of this point when he said words to the effect that every morsel a man feeds to his wife and children is a benefaction (Tafseer Ibne Kathir). There are other similar ahadith connecting such taken-for-granted acts with reward. But the deeds are raised to this level only if there was a conscious intention, for instance,  of the feeding husband, that he was doing it as a moral obligation placed upon him by his God.

And so we can turn literally every moment of our lives into an act of worship, breath in, breath out. An opportunity we lose on nearly every of those moments because we are too busy making plans for the future, worrying about the past, or trying to ‘pass the time’. We don’t have the time to stop and think of the purposefulness of every small occurrence, by us or by others, in our lives. We are missing on a gold mine.

Intentions and ‘psychological needs’

I would like to do a post about ‘psychological needs’ by Murray. He took the care to explicate observable actions associated with various human motivations – ‘intentions’ in the Islamic terminology. Being aware of what little spontaneous actions ‘reveal’ about our real motivations cannot only help psychologists. It can be of immense help to all of us in being more aware and seeing through the ‘images’ we present to the world and to ourselves. Not all of our intentions are fully conscious even to our private selves.


I am indebted to the inspiration and the basic idea behind this series of short essays to Khalid Baig’s book First Things First, in particular to his column/essay On intentions and actions, pp. 166-169. The explanations and examples are all mine.


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