This was an article I had written for Productive Muslim looong back..after a lot of thinking and wondering if I should write on the topic of “Intentions” and whether I would be able to do justice to something so important. I tried but I vaguely feel it doesn’t convey exactly what I wanted to say. Of course, the article went through a lot of heavy editing because the team wanted it to be crisp, and rightly so… khair anyway…this article is not really about making a big list..but rather intending to make big list..and how each intention of yours will be rewarded in the sight of Allah (swt) and why you would be rewarded for “intending” and not just “doing a deed for the sake of it” in the first place. I’ve added a few extra sentences here, which were omitted in the published article.
Are you looking to achieve an amazing amount of blessings by filling your scale with good deeds even before the glorious month of Ramadan begins?
Umar bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “The reward of deeds depend upon the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.” 
Therefore, in order to make our actions truly productive, we need to begin with our intentions. Of course, many of us are familiar with this hadith, but how can we take it to action this Ramadan? Most of the time, Ramadan ends and we start reflecting on a series of wishes:
“I wish I had done this act of charity,” or
“I wish I had prayed extra nafl prayers,” or
“I wish I had utilized my time to the fullest.”
Instead, start your “wish” list before Ramadan begins! Therefore, when Ramadan comes around, your goals will be set. Being organized and staying focused requires pre-planning, whether it’s for a business meeting or performing extra acts of worship. It was not for nothing that our pious predecessors used to prepare for Ramadan six months in advance. You are probably wondering how you would be rewarded for creating a list of intentions alone. I’ll come to this part later inshaAllah.
Purify Your Intentions First
Two parts compose a good deed: the intention and the action. When making an intention, two prerequisites must be fulfilled:
- You must intend to perform the particular deed to please Allah alone. Any deed intended to please people or show off will NOT be rewarded. So renew your intentions and make your list of deeds with ikhlaas and sincerity.
- Intentions for performing any deed must be within the boundaries of Islam and not contradict the teachings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) or the sunnah.
Abdullah ibn Masud (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: “No utterance will benefit without a deed, and no utterance and action will benefit except with a niyyah (intention), and no utterance, deed and niyyah will benefit except that are in accordance to the Sunnah.”
After Purification Put Intention into Action
- Social Deeds: Prepare a list of deeds that you intend to perform for the society. This could be:
- Giving Charity: It doesn’t matter how little the money is – never underestimate the power of charity. Allah (glorified and exalted be He) says, “Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over?” (2:245).Additionally, make intentions for charity even if you don’t have the physical means to do so. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)gave the example of one whom Allah has granted wealth who spends it in the way of Allah (glorified and exalted be He), while one who is poor says: “Had I possessed wealth, I would have acted like so-and-so.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “If that is his intention, his reward is the same as that of the other.” 
- Feeding one hungry person at least once during Ramadan (or many times over if you have the means).
- Giving Dawah: Ramadan is the best time of the year for you to take advantage of multiple dawah opportunities ranging from why Muslims fast to educating people about the five pillars of Islam.
- Arranging an iftaar party for the poor in your community.
- Teaching a child to read Quran during Ramadan. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “The best among you are those who learn the Quran and teach it (to others).” 
- Donating a Quran to your mosque.
- Donating money (within your means) to your local mosque.
- Teach your kids the importance and beauty of fasting during Ramadan, and make them understand that it is not just mere abstinence from food and drink.
- Fast with the objective of fulfilling one of the pillars of Islam and in the process please Allah (vs. fasting because you simply feel you “have to”).
- Read Quran with tafseer for a better understanding rather than indulging in speed-reading without understanding a single word.
- Memorize a few short surahs during Ramadan with meaning.
- Pray tahajjud as much as you can during the blessed month.
The Reward of Purifying Your Intentions
So, how are you rewarded for your intentions? Read on.
- When an intention is NOT converted into action: If, for whatever reason, you are not able to fulfill your list of intentions, you will be rewarded for your sincerity, insha’Allah. Jabir ibn Abdullah (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported: “We accompanied the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in an expedition when he said, “There are some men in Al-Madinah who are with you wherever you march and whichever valley you cross. They have not joined you in person because of their illness.” In another version, he said: “They share the reward with you.” According to Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen, the meaning of this hadeeth is that “If a person intends to do a good deed, but is then unable to complete it due to an obstacle in his way, the reward for what he intended would still be recorded for him.”Think about it: even if you are not able to perform a good deed, Allah (glorified and exalted be He) will reward you if your intention was sincere! Imagine the amount of barakah, blessings and hasanat you are loading into your bank account of deeds to be displayed in the Hereafter, even before Ramadan begins!
- When an intention IS converted into action: Ibn Abbas (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah, (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) related: “Verily Allah has recorded the good deeds and the evil deeds.” Then he clarified that: “Whosoever intends to do a good deed but does not do it, Allah records it with Himself as a complete good deed; but if he intends it and does it, Allah records it with Himself as ten good deeds, up to seven hundred times, or more than that. But if he intends to do an evil deed and does not do it, Allah records it as a complete good deed; but if he intends it and does it, Allah records it down as only one single evil deed.”(1 deed with proper intention=700 times the reward!!)
Stay Ahead of the Crowd!
Rather than waiting for the blessed month of Ramadan to begin and then to figure what good deeds you can squeeze into your busy routine while adjusting to a new sleeping routine, prepare from today. Make a list of deeds you intend to perform during the blessed month to earn extra ajr and contemplate the rewards for intending to do so for the sake of Allah. Make your schedule in advance and block time out for each activity.
Spread the word and share the khayr!
Don’t forget to spread the word and encourage your friends, family members, and fellow Muslim brothers and sisters into this business of intentions. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “If anyone calls others to follow right guidance, his reward will be equivalent to those who follow him (in righteousness) without their reward being diminished in any respect on that account.”  Remember, you can continue this game of intentions even after Ramadan by making a list of intentions for every single act you do. So what is your list of intentions for this Ramadan? Take out your notepad and start now!
- Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 78, Number 680
- Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Hadith 545
- Sahih Muslim
- Hasan al Basri
- Al-Bukhari & Muslim
- Sahih Muslim
The bottom line is: You get plentyyyyy of rewards for intending to perform a deed and then when you end up converting that intention into action, your rewards get multiplied many times over. And if you’re not able to convert that intention into action..you are still rewarded. Much better than not intending anything at all. :)
Ramadan Kareem!! =)