Reflections on Living with Intention
Don’t you love these monthly Plaid topics? They provide me with such an opportunity to explore and reflect on my own journey. I hope they do the same for you!
Intention is a major part of the life of a practicing Muslim. It is said intention is the foundation of every action. I find this to be so true. My faith really grounds me and provides a sound base for my life.
A life centered in Islam, the Qur’an, and the example of Muhammad is very structured. Although that might sound restrictive or too tough to follow, it really can add to one’s productivity. I find it to be liberating.
Many of our daily actions are based on a series of personal supplications that require some intention. I set my alarm the night before to wake before sunrise in order to catch the first prayer of the day. Even the mandatory fasting in the month of Ramadan is preceded with the intention that I plan to fast the following day. I again set my alarm for the pre-dawn meal to keep me going through the long day ahead.
On waking I make a personal supplication thanking God for returning me to life (sleep is considered to be a small death). Even before leaving the bed, I start to review my day: what’s on the schedule, what commitments do I need to follow up on. I then head for the bathroom, do a ritual washing, and make the intention to stand to pray before the rise of the sun. I check my phone for messages and spend a bit of time on an Islamic application that offers me a spiritual reminder, one of the 99 names or attributes of God, then read a short passage from the Qur’an.
Personal supplications throughout the day can be related to praying over food and thanking afterwards. Actually for all women there’s a lot of intentional thinking that goes into what foods we shop for, prepare, etc., particularly with making better choices for a healthy lifestyle. Before leaving my home, I make other supplications for protection of my home while I am away, protection from the outside world beyond my control, plus ask to not be misled or mislead others, to not offend nor be offended. By doing this I find myself stressing a whole lot less about what the day will bring.
I intentionally choose modest clothes that will suit the day’s schedule and activities and then cloak myself in my best ‘Ambassador of Islam’ manners before I hit the streets. As a covered woman, I am aware that many are judging Islam according to how I act and talk.
Perhaps it’s this intentional living that makes me a bit of a planner. Islam gives me structure, primarily due to 5 prayers scattered throughout the day at specific times, and the rest of my day revolves around them. When outside the house, I must plan where I can pray when the time comes or when I should try to be home. I might pray in a dressing room in a store, a park, even inside my car if I cannot get to a mosque in time or my errands do not take me in that direction. My family even chooses movie times depending on when sunset prayer arrives so that we don’t miss it.
Living intentionally makes me stop frequently to hold my tongue, or wait in making a hasty decision. I have found it saves a lot of angst in relationships to intentionally hold back a retort or an angry remark during a heated discussion. I still hear my mom’s advice in my head: the spoken word cannot be recalled. Sure there can be an apology and forgiveness later but how much better not to utter those words in the first place. Plus if these words remain in my head only, I don’t get any black marks on my record!
Islamic intentions work in this wonderful way: I am rewarded for merely thinking about doing something good. On the other hand, if I have a bad intention but don’t act on it, I am only accounted for the deed, not the thought. Not a bad deal.
Intentional living also places me squarely in the present with a balanced eye for the future. Nothing to be done about the past except asking for forgiveness and learning a lesson. Most of my intentions are for the here and now. Add to that careful planning for the future – that may or may not pan out – but nevertheless still requires my thoughts. A saying of Muhammad is to pray as if it is your last prayer, but live and work as if you will live forever – to continue planting a seed even if the end of the world is imminent!
Too structured or limiting? My life is far from boring! ‘Adventure’ is my middle name and I love spontaneous, spur of the moment ideas. Ok sure, I make a quick review of my intentions, but if they are good, I am good to go! So don’t despair that intentional living can make you the proverbial boring, stick in the mud! Intentions are a wonderful grounding from which you can springboard into a vibrant and fulfilling life!