The Power of Niyyah: Making the Intention to Become Your Best Self

A Muslim man looks ahead making a niyyah, standing next to a brightly lit wall of windows.

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We all have good days and bad days. But we rarely we define our days by the kind of niyyah, or intention, we start them off with. 

A good day can be classified by many things, especially how well we utilize that day. We get through our to-do lists, we check off each and every item with satisfaction, and still get personal time to ourselves before our heads hit the pillow in contentment at night. 

On a typical bad day, however, we might find it difficult to get through even one task on our list, leaving us with a gloomy cloud above our heads throughout the day and into the night. 

With the fast pace of life today and a growing number of responsibilities, it can be difficult to manage our time, be productive, and still invest in our spirituality. While we have some good days where we get through our entire to-do lists, the dreaded “bad”, unproductive days seem all too frequent. 

So how can we ensure that we have more good days and bad days, and what role does niyyah play in increasing our productivity? In this episode of the Muslim Superdad & Wondermom podcast, Mohammed Faris, the renowned author of the bestselling book “The Productive Muslim: Where Faith Meets Productivity” joined us to discuss getting more out of your day. You can listen to the interview below: 

 

Faris also runs a productivity training company called “The Productive Muslim,” where he and his team strive to guide the Ummah to achieve the perfect blend of productivity and spirituality. He shares key lessons about how to have more good days than bad, the deeper meaning behind the concept of barakah (blessings), and the biggest mistake people make when they decide to be productive.  

 

“The Productive Muslim

Becoming a productive Muslim requires making the right niyyah, as the Muslim woman in the picture is as she stands in front of her team members at a table giving a presentation.

Becoming a productive Muslim requires making the right niyyah

The productivity training company founded by Faris, The Productive Muslim, serves the Ummah by preparing Muslims to deal with the challenges of modern life while remaining committed to their faith”. Faris and his team of dedicated experts provide resources, assessments, live masterclasses aligned with Islamic ethics, and consulting services for organizations and masjids. The Productive Muslim also organizes retreats for Muslim professionals that desire to serve the Ummah. 

Mohammed Faris’s game-changing book entitled The Productive Muslim: Where Faith Meets Productivity combines his love for Islam and modern techniques for productivity to teach a variety of lessons, including the following:

  • Utilizing spirituality to boost productivity
  • Managing sleep, nutrition, and fitness (spiritually, physically, and socially)
  • Methods for being socially productive outside the home and community
  • Managing focus in an age of distractions
  • Building productive habits and routines
  • Managing time and investing in your hereafter
  • Remaining productive during Ramadan

One of the most important ingredients in The Productive Muslim’s recipe for productivity is the power of niyyah, as also explored in our children’s book about intentions entitled For the Sake of God.

You can visit www.productivemuslim.com and check out their services in more detail here

 

Why Use a Barakah Journal?

A young Muslim woman in hijab sits in a naturally brightly lit room, writing in a barakah journal.

A barakah journal is an excellent resource to track the blessings Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon you, and to track Niyyah.

One of The Productive Muslim’s most reputable resources is the Barakah journal, which is built upon the power of niyyah–making intentions–with the goal of leading a God-centered lifestyle. 

Many of us get caught up in how to say niyyah, which we commonly attribute to our intentions before prayer. However, an intentions-driven lifestyle shifts the way we go about our days from tedious lists to meaningful goals. 

According to Mohammed Faris, instead of using to-do lists to organize the tasks we must complete, which can often feel very mundane and tedious, shifting towards setting intentions for your day and week helps you to zone in and recognize your focus for the day and what you wish to accomplish. 

Faris encourages us to set intentions for goals that put butterflies in our stomachs such that, upon completion, we feel a level of satisfaction and contentment as we put our heads on our pillows at night. Read more about The Barakah Journal here

 

What is barakah?

To understand the purpose behind a barakah journal, we must first understand the core of the word barakah. Barakah, in a sense, often is understood as blessings. We classify an abundance of wealth, success, and anything remotely tangible resembling wealth and power as barakah. We also think of barakah as a kind of gift from Allah (SWT) that we did not expect. 

However, Faris believes that barakah in itself is indeed much deeper. He defines the term as a gift from Allah (SWT) that can be bestowed upon anything and anyone, tangible or intangible. The receiver of barakah can be anything from a person, place, object, idea, time, or even sleep. 

We can find barakah in our health, our relationships, and our time. A person may have a beautiful relationship with their spouse, and that is barakah. Another person may be able to endure an incredibly painful test with enduring strength and stability. That is also barakah.

When barakah finds its way to an aspect of your life, it is what Faris refers to as a “spiritual chemical reaction”, where growth, stability, continuity, results, and experiences are often beyond logic and expectations. 

For example, if we find ourselves with less than enough food to serve an unanticipated large number of guests, Allah (SWT) places barakah in the meals to the extent that we have leftovers. Similarly, despite sleeping limited hours during the month of Ramadan for nights full of worship, we find ourselves functioning well throughout the day. 

Barakah is meant to bring us closer to Allah (SWT). If it doesn’t, then we are no better than the Pharoah or Qarun, who were blessed with immense wealth but doomed to an eternity of disappointment. 

You can help your child become a productive Muslim and understand barakah and the concept of sadaqa jariya better by helping them complete our good story challenge

 

3 ways to bring barakah in our lives

In The Productive Muslim book, Faris suggests a three-pronged approach to bringing barakah into our lives. He believes that the recipe for bringing barakah into our lives can be found in mindsets, values, and rituals. 

 

  1. Mindsets

A person with an abundance mindset will always believe that there is more than enough to go around. This mindset attracts barakah and growth. On the other hand, a person with a scarcity mindset is jealous and miserly, and will believe there is never enough. This mindset repels barakah. 

 

       2. Values

Values that attract barakah include mercy, compassion, justice, and kindness. In his barakah culture training in team settings, Faris focuses on the values that bring barakah to a team. Whereas a cutthroat, toxic dynamic repels barakah, a team where there is understanding and respect will attract barakah. 

 

       3. Rituals

Faris believes we must never underestimate our rituals. We should not just limit ourselves to the ritual of prayer and sadaqa. Rather, we should follow Islam’s teachings of praying at the earliest time possible and giving sadaqa often, which naturally attracts barakah. 

 

You can read more about different sources of barakah in an article on The Productive Muslim’s blog called “18 Sources of Barakah”.

 

Use Niyyah to Become Productive

A man sits on a pier on the shore, praying with niyyah perpendicular to the sunset on the horizon.

We can use niyyah to become more productive in our daily lives.

Faris cites the power of niyyah as one of the key enablers in becoming more productive in our daily lives. The power of niyyah lies in Allah (SWT) and His commandment to us to make intentions. When we make a sincere intention, we get rewarded, even if we are unable to come through with completing the intended action right away. Eventually, Allah (SWT) blesses our efforts and helps us achieve that goal in the best possible way. 

In the podcast episode above, Mohammed Faris shares his findings of over 15 years of research on the intersection between productivity and spirituality. His book and company aspire to provide the Muslim Ummah with practical tools and services to help them achieve more. 

To learn more about the secret behind living a productive life, the power of niyyah, and the true meaning of barakah, listen to his interview on the Muslim Superdad & Wondermom podcast, now on Google, Apple, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts!

What are your thoughts on this topic? Comment below!

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Anam Mansoor

Anam Mansoor is the author of several self-help books for Muslims as well as literature study guides for Supersummary. She also ran a successful blog, The Writer's Manual, for 3 years. Anam is trained in both the classical Islamic sciences and holds a Hifz Ijazah in the Hafs recitation. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.Ed. in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from Rutgers University.

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