Forgotten Virtues – #1: Be mindful (ie. fire your autopilot)

“. . .That no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another, and that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives, and that his effort is going to be seen . . .”

 – Translation of the Quran, 53:38-41

The Prophet Muhammad (saws) told us that actions are judged by their intentions. Allah azza wa jal continuously urges humankind to strive in our actions for that which is best and everlasting – that is, Paradise, the abode of the Hereafter.

As worshipers of God, of a Creator who created us with purpose; as people who believe in things which we cannot see, but believe in them anyway, our abode in the Afterlife should be what we put all our hopes towards.

Live righteously

Yet – and i speak from personal experience here – our intentions are often the last thing on our minds while we perform a task.  Our intentions and therefore our actions are passing us by, while we worry about the past and dream about the future. But both are futile: the past is dead and the future, unborn. Meanwhile, the present – the building blocks of our homes in Jennah – is slipping through our fingers like the water we waste in wudhu.

The only way to set right our intentions is to become mindful. Live in the moment – stop the daydreaming and fire your autopilot.

Being more than a little dreamy myself, this is a virtue i’m in desperate need of. Just because i’m writing a series about virtues doesn’t mean i’m not forever trying to attain these same virtues myself.

So instead of looking at me, let’s look at the best of people to find out how to become more mindful – Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

The point

  • The prophet (saws) was the boss when it came to mindfulness.
  • He (saws) constantly urged people to use their time well and to be mindful of its passing
  • Even as a prophet, he (saws) constantly reminded himself of his biggest priority – Allah, and using the blessing of time to earn his Lord’s pleasure
  • This is evidenced by the duas the prophet (saws) would repeat at different times and before different actions throughout the day
  • He (saws) urged people to begin their tasks with ‘bismillah
  • in this way we are reminded to reflect before we do anything and to consider, is this task allowable? Even if it is, will it make me mindful of my Lord or heedless of Him? Is there a chance i will regret this action at a later stage?

Five-before-Five

What we can do

  • Let’s analyse our intentions before we start anything. It only takes a few seconds but it will have a major difference on the Day when the outcomes of our intentions are returned to us.
  • Learn some of the prayers recited by the Prophet Muhammad (saws). If we’re already in the habit of reciting these then let’s revive them by learning new ones/different variations.  Don’t let it become a dead ritual!
  • Start every task, big or small, with bismillah. Not only does this add blessing to the action itself, it ensures that we’re doing what we’re doing for the right reasons.
  • If you’re Muslim, i would really recommend you watch this video, which includes some great reminders about mindfulness in salah (the five daily prayer).

The outcome (insha Allah!)

Hopefully, by becoming more mindful, we can reap the full rewards of all our actions by being aware of the intentions behind them. Islam is a complete way of life; worship not only includes the daily prayers, it includes all possible actions in this world, provided the action is allowable (halal) and executed in a way that is acceptable.

May Allah make us mindful of His blessings – youth, health, time and money – and may He remind us to use these things in ways that are pleasing to Him.

May Allah overlook the faults in our deeds and make all our actions acceptable to Him.

May He bless us with the virtue of mindfulness, and make us ever-more mindful of Himself.

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