The science of alchemy, practiced in various lands of the world in ancient times, is regarded by many to be the precursor to modern chemistry. Interestingly enough, many alchemists of their day and age conducted extensive research and various experiments in their search for the ‘golden’ formula – the recipe to transform any base metal into gold. It was thought that if any person had this formula, he would be able to accumulate wealth all the time and would become extremely rich with almost no effort. Hence, many people dedicated their lives to this quest.

While people today do not have this ‘fantastic formula’ to transform lead into gold, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) gave us a far superior formula – the formula to transform any basic, mundane action into an act of worship. In this manner, even mundane deeds become a means for one to reap immense rewards in the Hereafter.

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has mentioned, “Actions are based on the intentions (with which they are carried out).” (Saheeh Bukhaari #1)

At this juncture, it is important to understand that this hadeeth does NOT mean that an evil action carried out with a good intention will be excused and will not incur sin. Rather, an evil deed will remain an evil deed, regardless of the intention. For example, if a person burgles a house with the intention of giving the proceeds of his crime in charity, then regardless of his noble intention, his act will still be regarded as a serious sin. Another example is that of a person who attends a mixed function, where men and women freely intermingle and the laws of hijaab and niqaab are not upheld, with the intention of joining family ties or learning Deen. Although such a person’s intention is noble, he is still very sinful and blameworthy for attending such an event.

Thus, the meaning of this hadeeth is that the ingredient of intention is so powerful that it can transform even normal, mundane tasks into acts of worship. Some examples of this are:

We all show love and affection to our children. However, through making the intention that we are doing so to emulate the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), it becomes an act of worship for which we are rewarded.

– Many of us carry out chores in the home. Through making the intention that we are doing so because it was the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to attend to the chores of the home, our simple act of sweeping, etc., will become an act of ‘ibaadah.

– We all have to eat for our basic survival. However, if we make the intention that we are eating to gain the strength to worship Allah Ta‘ala, and to look after the bodies that He has blessed us with, and to express appreciation to Him for the bounty of food, then the action of eating will not only satiate our hunger but will also gain us reward.

– Many women ensure that they dress in a manner that is pleasing to the eye when they are in the confines of their homes. However, if they make the intention that they are doing so to please their husbands, since pleasing the husband within the limits of Deen has been emphasized in the ahaadeeth, then this simple action will become an act of virtue and reward.

– Most of us keep contact with our relatives by phoning them, messaging them, visiting them, etc. If done with the intention of maintaining family ties, this action will become a means of gaining reward.

There are many other examples of this nature. If one applies his mind, he will find many other mundane actions which he can easily and effortlessly transform into acts of worship by making the appropriate intention. However, for this to happen, one will need to remain focused towards Allah Ta‘ala and the Hereafter. It is only when one’s focus is towards the Hereafter that he will have the presence of mind to make such intentions.

May Allah Ta‘ala assist us all to lead lives which are pleasing to Him, aameen.