The life of this world is temporary, yet very dynamic. Time is of essence. As actions and events happen in the here and now, no one really knows for certain how they will impact the future.
Yet, it is a fact that, the world as it exists today is, by and large, a product of the past. The thoughts, writings, systems… undertaken by peoples of the past, have contributed towards making the world what it is today.
Time has been used to record pages in history, and is therefore, a crucial factor in laying down the records of events that happen in and around the world. Because what is happening today, will be the fodder for much thought, reflection, and change for the human beings of tomorrow, who are not even born yet.
Review, Self-Critique and Evaluation
We are standing, once again, at the threshold of another page in history, as it is about to turn. A year is ending, and a new one is beginning. For many people around the world, the turn of the new year is a time to celebrate. They want to party and commemorate the prospect of being at the door of a new vista of blessings, opportunities, hopes, aspirations, and dreams. A new page in the book of life.
Not so much so for the repentant and wise Muslim, though, for whom it is more a time of reflection, self-critique, analysis, and planning for the future. Allah says in the Quran:
And for all people, a term has been set. And when [the end of] their term approaches, they can neither delay it by a single moment, nor can they hasten it. (7:34)
The above verse highlights the transience of all of the creation on this earth. Everything in this world is temporary, hence, the passage of every year signals the inching closer of our final destination. Our demise, and the culmination of our efforts.
As conscientious Muslims who always yearn for the pleasure of Allah, we should use the time at the end of any year to think about what we have achieved that year, and how it compares to our state in the years preceding it.
It is hardly a time to frivolously party and watch fireworks light up the night sky. We need to seek some quiet contemplative tête-à-tête with our Creator instead, and think about our situation.
Did our situation as Muslims improve, both individually and collectively? And did we adequately fulfill our responsibility to convey the message of Islam to non-Muslims? Did the Muslims around the world produce anything unique and valuable for humankind in the past year? And what have we done to improve our own lot, in terms of upping our faith, giving charity…?
Have we progressed in the past year, and moved towards betterment in the light of the Quran, at all levels? Or have we degenerated and degraded further?
And, more importantly, what can we do about our factual answers to the above questions, as we enter this new page in history?
Renewing Intentions, Repenting, Mentally Planning
There is a fact about the life of this world that few except the wise ones are able to truly understand and appreciate. And that fact is this: pain, destruction, loss, grief, and calamity give rise to and pave the way for much good and lasting benefit to mankind.
Even though we should not ask for these distressful things to happen to anyone, quite the opposite in fact, a cursory look at history will reveal that calamitous events and disastrous happenings during different eras in time, became the harbingers of peace, progress, revolution, advancement, and beneficial change for the inhabitants of the world.
If there is a breakout of disease, for example, and many die, the calamity makes everyone else sit up, take notice, garner help, and rush to the aid of those who are afflicted. Task forces, research teams, and think-tanks are created and employed to seek medicinal cures for the disease.
Countless other opportunities to do good deeds are created for those who are tormented by seeing the suffering of others. So, it is true: every cloud does have a silver lining.
As we move on to 2020, we should look back at our 2019, and take account of ourselves. Do we see a steady improvement in our faith, conduct, righteous actions, dealings with others, and contributions to mankind? In private, when we are out of the public eye and alone, with no one except our Lord watching us, have our sins increased/intensified? What about our core beliefs about Islam?
Despite the gloom and despair of killings, infighting, sectarianism, murders, political upheavals, and crimes that hang over us like a dark cloud, do we still hope in the mercy of Allah?
Do we still believe that Islam is the only true religion in this world, despite the deplorable actions of some Muslims who are tarnishing its image? Or do we engage in any kind of da’wah, big or small, towards non-Muslims? Do we denounce evil when we see it?
Conclusion: Learn From the Past, Look Ahead at the Future
Even though Muslims are apathetic towards New Year celebrations and many do not believe in making any New Year resolutions, the imminent turn of the clock at midnight on New Year’s Eve will nevertheless signal a significant milestone in human history upon earth.
Statisticians, data analysts… taking stock of the year that just went by analyzing graphs and reports that show rises, declines, peaks and slumps.
Consumer behaviors, patterns, and SEO trends will be intricately analyzed and pored over, in order to help devise new targets, action plans, and goals for the coming years.
What about you? What picture does your personal data analysis sheet paint before your eyes?
And what will your goals be for the coming year and beyond?
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)