Nothing in life happens by chance.

Everything that happens to you, every single incident, every single moment, every single word or look someone gives to you, it all happens for one single purpose – to remind you of Allah SWT. And in the reminders are lessons that Allah SWT is trying to teach you.

Allah SWT is teaching you something. Hush. Listen.

My lesson for this week is Intentions.

The Intention is a very powerful thing; it is the very foundation of all our actions, and it determines not only the final outcome, but the emotions and thoughts we have when doing the action.

“When we are born, we are here to get it all from another. But when we die, there is nothing left to get; we give it all, unconditionally.” – Shaykh Ebrahim @ Etsko Schuitema

All of us are on the highway to destination: death. We will breathe in the air one last time, our eyes will close, never to open again, and our heart that has been pumping 72 beats a minute will eventually fall silent.

Death is inevitable. You and I, we both know this. And yet some, upon the brink of death, struggle to let go, while others welcome death with open arms.

The former group will face an ocean of uncertainty, of doubt and fear and a tightening of the chest so severe that the face is stricken with panic and doom, whilst the other steps into the other world as if it is a home-coming. They both die. The outcome is the same. But one is unhappy, and the other is in bliss. Why?

Because their intentions differ.

“Thus the process of maturation of our intent is the movement from one extreme to another – from getting it all, to giving it all.” – Shaykh Ebrahim @ Etsko Schuitema

Think about it!

For several semesters, I have struggled with other students getting a hold of my notes and photocopying them without permission. I spent hours crafting them, and it felt unfair to have it distributed without my knowledge.

I got upset when I saw classmates smile sheepishly when caught red-handed, and even more so when they blatantly flashed it around as if there wasn’t a problem to begin with.

When someone asked for it, I gave it to them, and added, “Don’t pass it around okay?” And yet they still do. And the notes get distributed. And I get angry.

This semester it dawned on me how selfish I had been.

To battle my nafs, I did the opposite of what I have done all these while – I uploaded all the notes I made this semester onto a dropbox file, and sent the link to the entire class.

The next day, almost everyone I met had read the notes and used it to study for the test later that day. Some printed it out, others downloaded it to their smartphones. Like previous semesters, my notes were distributed. But this time I didn’t get angry.

In fact, I was happy. Very happy. And so was everyone else.

I stopped thinking that by them taking something from me, I would stand to lose something. Instead, by my giving them something, both of us – myself especially – stand to benefit.

When I changed my intent to one of giving – of serving – then the burden I feel on my chest is lifted. From doing housework, to sharing notes, to engaging in a required activity when I would rather be doing something else, it all works the same way.

The one different thing that changed everything – my intentions.

And the power of intentions doesn’t just stop there.

When Imam Abu Hanifah was on his deathbed, he started making many intentions to do great things like building a madrasah. His students asked him why he did so when he knew he didn’t have long to live. The Imam replied, “If I were to die, then Allah SWT would give me the rewards for my intentions. If I were to live, then Allah SWT would make these intentions a reality.”

When a man built a madrasah, he made the intention that from that madrasah will arise someone who will free Palestine. 300 years later, Salahuddin al-Ayyubi went to that madrasah, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Prophet SAW said, “Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended.”

If we truly reflect and understand that hadith, then we would consistently be renewing our intentions.

Every single morning we wake up, we would ask ourselves, what do I intend for today?

When we are about to perform a certain action, we would ask ourselves, what do I intend for this action?

When we think about the future, when we plan the steps we wish to take, we would ask ourselves, what do I intend for my life?

And when the dialogue in ourselves are that of constriction, of selfishness, and of wastefulness, we should look into ourselves, and ask what has gone wrong with my intentions?

Keeping to the right intentions is hard.

But the struggle is the path. And the path is to Allah. And Allah is teaching you every step of the way, guiding you in your struggle.

So, hush. Listen.

What is He teaching you today?

// This article was first published in my weekly letters, but a lovely reader, sister Aamirah Ayob, asked if she could repost it on Facebook, and she even did the above image (jazakillah khayr sis Aamirah!). To receive weekly letters like the above, click here :)