Soulfood Intentions Challenge

One of the wonderful things about Ramadan is the daily release of "bite-sized" content to feed your soul. I've come across so many short reminders, that give you just enough to chew on and aren't overwhelming.  Though I wanted to focus specifically on one podcast which I just stumbled upon within the last few days, it seems worthwhile to quickly list some of the other series I've come across throughout the month:

People of Qur'an w. Sh. Omar Suleiman
Journey Through the Qur'an w. Moutasem Atiya
Ramadan Reminders w. Ust. Usama Canon

The inspiration for today's post however is the Soulfood Podcast, hosted by Amjad Tarsin, the Muslim Chaplain at the University of Toronto. In the 23rd episode, he speaks about Sincerity and the important role one's intention plays in gaining reward. One of the things that I enjoyed about this podcast is that a specific "call to action" was given. After explaining that you can pack MULTIPLE intentions, into a single action he challenges us to take something that is important to us and try to think of 10, 20, 30 or more intentions for that act. 

So, I took on this challenge, and considered whether I could think of 30 (or more) intentions for taking sketchnotes. The first 4-5 came easily, and then it was a test to see what other good intentions I could squeeze into note taking . Alhamdullilah, now I have about 32 intentions scribbled down, in sha Allah I'll take the time to write them up nicely and hang them in my work area to remind myself to renew my intentions continually.  I won't bore you with my whole list, because my intention with this post is to encourage you to take the challenge rather than to rattle on about my own intentions (most of which I'll keep between me and Allah). However, for the purpose of providing an example I'll share a few of the intentions that I was able to come up with and explain a bit about each in hopes it helps as you engage in the exercise yourself.

1. To participate in the ULTIMATE affiliate plan

If you are at all familiar with how things are marketed in the age of the internet, it's very likely that you've heard of affiliate programs. They are usually structured in this way, person A has a product or service they are selling, person B has an audience/platform which allows them to connect to people who generally trust their opinions and recommendations; person B promotes person A's product/service to their audience and in return gets a cut of any sales made as a result of their efforts. In this scenario person A is giving up a portion of their profit.

This hadith reflects the ULTIMATE affiliate plan, whereby the rewards are multiplied rather than diminished as more people participate. For example, let's say I was listening to a lecture by Shaykh Fulan about the 40 Hadith of Imam Nawawi, I take notes and post them. If Allah accepts, I would get rewarded for my action (as would anyone who shared or acted on the notes/lecture via my sharing), Shaykh Fulan would get a reward, as would his teachers, as would Imam Nawawi, as would any of the muhaddith from which he gathered ahadith, and chain of narrators, etc. etc.

This is from my limited understanding of Allah's generosity and Allah knows best. While I don't assume that my reward would be equal to any of the aforementioned, the point is that by the simple action of taking and sharing notes, something that I enjoy doing, I can gain ajr for transmitting and be a source of ajr for those I transmitted from.

2. As a means of sadaqa jariyah

One of the awesome things about Allah's "affiliate plan" is that there is no expiration date. There is a hadith narrated by Abu Hurayra (ra) that Rasullulah ﷺ said: 

"When the son of Adam dies, all his good deeds come to an end, except three: recurring charity or knowledge from which others may benefit after he's gone, a righteous son who prays for him." [Sahih Muslim – Book 13 – Hadith 4005]

If I were to write my notes and keep them in books on my shelf rather than share them, when I died it is quite likely my family would box them up and they'd gather dust. However, as long as they don't allow my domain to expire, any knowledge that I've passed along via the web, will in sha Allah remain as a source of ajr for me even after I die if people continue to benefit from it bi idhnillah.

3. To follow and encourage a Sunnah

I have a whole post about this subject here, but in essence I was just elaborating on the following statement by Shaykh Omar Sulieman

"... the Prophet [drew] in the sand at times, and what we can take from that is using visual aids is Sunnah. ...the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) used visual aid to engage the people he was teaching in every way possible." 

4. To act on the following ahadith

"Acquire knowledge & impart it to the people"- At-Tirmidhi, 107
"Relate from me even if it's a single verse"- Sahih Bukhari

6. To set an example for my children

I pray that my children love Allah and his messenger, that even if they don't be come "students of knowledge", they continue to seek knowledge. Though I generally prefer to take my notes when the house is quiet (ie. everyone is asleep) I do sometimes let my kids catch me in the act. It warms my heart when my son  busts out his pencil and paper as I'm watching a lecture and asks if he can take notes with me. If I want my children to love learning I have to exhibit that.

7. To partcipate in a community/legacy of creative people who use their creativity in the service of Islam

This ummah has a rich legacy of creatives who've contributed calligraphy, architecture, poetry, and the list goes on. Alhamdullilah for the past couple of months I've had the honor to be a part of this collective of amazingly talented and encouraging women, whom I can't even hold a candle to. Even if it's just a few simple doodles I'm hopeful that Allah will count me amongst the ranks of the people who've attempted to reflect the beauty of Islam through their various creative expressions.

8. So that my limbs will testify for me on yawmul qiyamah for each stroke of the pen

And that folks is a glimpse into some of the intentions I was able to write down as I was brainstorming.

What's important to you? or what mundane act can you gain exponential ajr from just by changing your intention?  I'd love to hear about it, feel free to comment below!

-Umm Sultan

I'd also recommend checking out episode 16 of Ramadan Reminders "Four in Four" in which Ustadh Usama Canon speaks about not belittling any good deed, it ties in nicely with this discussion on sincerity.


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