We begin, aptly, with the following hadith:
On the authority of the Commander of the Faithful Abu Hafs Umar ibn al-Khattaab رضي الله عنه who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying, “Surely, all actions are but driven by intentions and, verily, every man shall have but that which he intended. Thus, he whose migration was for Allah and His Messenger, then his migration was for Allah and His Messenger; and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take a woman in marriage, his migration was for that which he migrated.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
“Surely, all actions are but driven by intentions and verily, every man shall have but that which he intended.”
This hadith is one of the comprehensive hadiths of the Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم. It touches upon every deed of Islam, and encompasses all of the affairs of the Hereafter in one sentence.
The basis of any good deed is sincerity in pleasing Allah. If we lack this intention an act may appear ‘good’ but it will be devoid of true meaning and therefore reward. If we are seeking Allah’s pleasure, we need to have the intention of pleasing Him, but we also need to be sure that our action is in line with the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the Shareeah.
The beauty here is that this hadith can refer to any action, no matter how simple. So for example, even washing the dishes, with the intention of pleasing Allah by looking after our families, can earn us reward.
If, before going to sleep you make wudhu and the intention to rest so that you can get up and worship Allah, EVEN YOUR SLEEP can earn you reward with Allah. Imagine, a third of your life is taken up with sleep but with the right intention you can make this earn you reward with Allah! SubhanAllah Allah is Merciful and He provides us with so many ways to draw near to Him.
So remember – pause a moment before you act and remind yourself ….Who you are doing this for…