The words of Carl Sagan make more sense than ever,
“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we have”. – Pale Blue Dot.
Considering the temporary nature of this world, our chief concern should be the long term rewards, both in this world and the after. Keeping in mind our brief time on this planet, it is only wise to turn our focus away from ‘self’ and to fellow humans by doing simple acts of kindness.
Replacing the urge of greed with giving so to speak. Being generous with our time for someone who needs it. Being generous with our possessions for someone who struggles and doing it all for the sake of Allah and not as mere worldly pursuits with little or no outcome in the Hereafter.
Sounds easy but not quite.
Short-term pleasures have castrated our brains so we fail to perceive how one action, one single step can impact our whole life and that of others.
So, the big idea is to start questioning the reason for doing stuff. After you’ve identified the reason, plot it on the grand scheme of things. Detach yourself and take a view from the top.
Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (r) relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, say, “Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended.”
Truth is, our “intention” behind an action sets up an important dichotomy.
The Arabic word for intention is ‘Niyyah, which means a seed or kernel from which grows a fruit. Niyyah is what directs our speech, our actions and dictates the sensory perceptions hence making an act cursed or blessed.
It is then extremely important to internalise that a seemingly insignificant choice that we make today, can shape the ramifications of our future in some form and maybe forever.
Imagine for a second what happens when you throw a small pebble into a still pond?
You will hear a splash and see waves or ripples forming bigger circles as they move further away from the centre of initial splash.
Like wise, the niyyah- intention with which what we say or do is purposed, has a far reaching impact irrespective of how practically invisible and materialistically insignificant it appears in the infinite scheme of things. It is bound to create a tidal wave in the ocean called life.
It it an eye-opening reality that deeds and actions (guided by ikhla’as – sincere determination) in this temporary abode are going to determine whether we are deserving of Allah’s wrath or His mercy in the eternal life.
Allah swt even acknowledges not acting out our intention when our hearts are inclined to do the evil.
Indeed this is the most unheralded virtue of niyyah.