“…And such are the days of life. By turns do We alternate them among humankind…”
(Translation by Ahmad Zaki Hammad)
A new year is now upon us. Let us take a moment to ponder upon what is now the past and what will be the future. I want you to reflect on the year 2022. What achievements have you reached? What goals have you attained? What roadblocks have you encountered? Did you fall short in reaching a goal? As I ask these questions, you are probably thinking about matters primarily regarding this temporary Dunya, such as school, work, family, wealth, sports, and more. Although these are certainly important matters, there is something more important that should have come to mind first: our Akhirah. It is likely that you forgot to think about what you have done or fell short regarding furthering your position in the hereafter. Brothers and sisters, our religion is the ticket to heaven.
Just as it is good to make new year’s resolutions for your dunya, it is even better to make resolutions to better your religion and further your relationship with Allahﷻ. Whether it is doing better in school, going to the gym, and losing weight, playing more sports, etc., why not also plan to improve your salah, religious knowledge and intellect, and self-control through fasting? We should always be asking ourselves, what kind of Muslim am I? Do I consider myself a strong Muslim? Or can I do better? The answer should always be that you can do better. The fact of the matter is that we should never feel satisfied with our position in our relationship with Allahﷻ or ready to meet Him. Until the day we die, we will never be ready to meet our Lord. With that in mind, what can we do this year to make a change in ourselves for the sake of Allahﷻ?
First, we should look at our Salah. The Salah is the most important component of your Islam. It is the most important connection to Allahﷻ. On the Day of Judgement, when you stand before Allahﷻ and He opens your book of deeds, the very first item that He will look at is your Salah. There is a hadith that states that on the Day of Judgement, Allahﷻ will first look at your prayer. If your Salah was good, then everything else that comes after will also be good, if your Salah is bad, then everything else that comes after it will be bad. As you can see, this should be the very first action item on your list. Remember that Salah is a gift given to you from Allahﷻ. Allahﷻ gave this to you so that you can have the privilege, not a right, of being able to talk to Him. The sujood part of your Salah is the closest that you will ever be to your Lord while alive in this Dunya. If you are struggling to pray five times a day, then start slowly. Try to be consistent with praying two salahs a day for a week, then make it three, then make it four, then make it five. Set up a plan and abide by it. If you pray five times a day but you are struggling to focus in your salah, then it is likely due to a lack of understanding of the very words that you say in your prayer. You should try to learn the meaning of the smaller Surahs that you read most often, with Surat Al-Fatiha being the first one. Learn the meaning of the phrases that you say in every step of the prayer. Most importantly, renew your intention.
Self-Control and Obedience:
Next, we need to take it upon ourselves to learn self-control. Control over what, you ask? Control over our desires. Whether it is food, sexual, spending money, or more, the best way to control these desires is to fast. Fasting is the only deed that is completely for the sake of Allahﷻ. This is one of the sincerest acts of worship that a Muslim can do. Fasting will force you to maintain control over all these desires, as many are prohibited during the fast. As a result, you will gain control, obedience, patience, and faith. It is a sunnah to fast Monday and Thursday of every week. It is narrated that our beloved Prophetﷺ used to fast every Monday and Thursday. We do not only fast in Ramadan, and this will even help you in preparation for Ramadan, as it nears.
Religious Knowledge and Intellect:
Finally, we focus so much on gaining knowledge in the education of the Dunya, and we already go to school and college for this. This is fantastic and gaining knowledge in different careers can be considered a way of earning good deeds for the sake of Allahﷻ and it will help strengthen our ummah. However, how much do we focus on our knowledge of our religion? Many of us remain with a very surface level knowledge of our religion. It is time to dive deeper. Look into attending the halaqat at your local Masjid or classes that you can join to learn the Quran and even Islamic law. Alhamdulilah, our Masjid offers a countless variety of all of these. We have halaqat throughout the week for all ages, Quran programs for all ages in the Quran Academy, and now Shariah courses.
We ask Allahﷻ to increase us in this dunya and the hereafter.
By Ahmad Salah