How to Act on Your New Year Resolution
New Beginnings and Affecting Change
‘Oh you who believe! Fear Allah and behave with taqwa. Let every soul consider what it has prepared for tomorrow. Allah is surely aware of everything you do.’ (59:18)
Allah Almighty out of His mercy made the last months of the year special months, and the first month of the year a special month. So Muharram – the beginning of our Islamic Year, begins with a shahr haram (sacred month).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to encourage his companions to increase their good deeds in such months, and when one of his companions asked him when he should fast apart from Ramadan, the Prophet (peace be upon him) recommended for him to fast in the sacred months:
‘Fast during the sacred months and take leave.’ (Abu Dawud)
That means you shouldn’t fast the whole month, but increase your fasts in these months, as they are a special time. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast on 10th Muharram. And before he passed away he said if he were to live for another he would fast 9th and 10th. So just a reminder to fast at least 10th, or 9th and 10th, or 10th and 11th is also fine. It’s the day Allah Almighty saved Musa (peace be on him) from Firaun, and we ask Allah Almighty to give relief to those who are oppressed everywhere.
Call Yourself to Account
As you leave a year behind, and make a new beginning, you realise that you have lost some relatives, friends, neighbours, or colleagues. And maybe we won’t be able to live for another year ourselves. Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) said,
‘Call yourself to account before you are taken to account. And weigh your deeds before your deeds are weighed.’
So this is how we prepare for tomorrow. As Allah stated:
O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah, and let every soul consider what it has sent on for the morrow, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is Aware of what you do. (59:18)
How do you Prepare for Tomorrow?
Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) is saying, whenever you do any deed, even before you do any deed, call yourself to account. Is your deed going to please Allah Almighty? Then go ahead. Are your words going to be words of goodness? Then say them. Do they harm anyone? Then don’t say them. Is this action going to hurt someone? Then don’t do it. Monitor your deeds.
If we keep checking our words, our actions, our intentions, then our account is pretty much clear. We do not have to make that much effort at the end of every year to make it right, because we are monitoring every deed, we are filtering our deeds and actions and choosing the right things to put in our account. If this is the case, then we are facilitating an easy account in the akhirah insha’’Allah.
Allah Almighty is commanding us to be very sensitive and sincere about our actions. So don’t live like there’s no tomorrow. Don’t live like there’s no hereafter. There is yawm al akhir. There is akhirah. Even if we are sometimes neglectful of that reality, nevertheless it will not change. So look back at what we you did over the past year. Praise Allah for the good things we did. And seek Allah’s forgiveness for the bad things, and the shortcomings, and the mistakes which you did.
Forgetfulness vs Mindfulness
The killer of every good deed is forgetfulness (ghafla). Before doing our deeds – even salah which is one of the pillars, if ghafla was at the core of it, then unfortunately our salah is not recorded as a good salah. We might not get the reward of that salah, or we might get a very low grade on that salah, because of our ghafla.
And the same for siyam, and all our actions, our business, our trade.. Ghafla creeps into our minds and hearts and lives because of daily life and the dunya around us. Most certainly we will be people of heedlessness, unless we become people of remembrance.
Be people of remembrance of Allah Almighty. Be mindful of Allah and check every deed you are doing, so that you will not be a person of regret on the Day of Judgement. You do not want to say, ‘Oh Allah, give me another chance, I’ll do better.’
New Year’s Resolutions
Most resolutions blow away with the wind. There’s nothing wrong with them from an Islamic point of view, as long as you are within halal parameters of course. Even just good intentions will be rewarded. Out of Allah’s mercy, He will record your good intentions but not the bad ones. Unless the bad intention has been transformed into an action, you will not be accountable for it. But it will be on your record that you wish you had some money to build a mosque, even if it never materialised.
How do We Move from Empty Hopes to Real Action?
- Live in the Present – Not the Past
The Muslim ummah likes to dwell on its past. Our forefathers did this and that. What about us? What have we done? We need to turn our hopes into actions. If we are not praying fajr on time, what is our resolution? It is to have the intention before going to sleep to wake up for fajr. To set the alarm clock.
- Ask Allah for Support
If you are doing something which displeases Allah Almighty, you have the chance to start not from tomorrow, from today. Ask Allah to help you and support you against doing anything which displeases Him.
- Aim High
Say, ‘I will be the best in my career,’ a good halal career of course. I will be the best to my family. The Prophet (peace be upon him) always encouraged excellence over mediocrity, he used to say,
‘The best among you is the one who is best to his family. And I am the best among You to my family.’ (Tirmidhi)
- End Procrastination
Delay is one of the killers of good deeds, along with heedlessness.
We write our destinies through our choices. Because who knows what’s in your destiny? Allah Almighty is the one who knows our destiny. Our destiny is based on our choices and Allah Almighty definitely knows our choices. But to us, we don’t know until we make them. Then we can see the results. So aim high and make the right decisions. And who said you can’t do it? Who said you can’t change your situation to be better? Better human, better neighbour, better husband. Who said you can’t? You can. Trust Allah and then you can do it.
- Be Strong
If you say I’m so weak’, and ‘our enemies are very strong’, then you can’t accomplish anything. And what’s happening now in the world? Bloodshed everywhere. ‘We can’t do anything, we just do du’a.’ Who said we can’t do anything? We can.
It is the will and determination, which transfers hope into actions. So let’s say, this new year, we’ll be stronger, not weaker.
- Strength through Unity
We need to unify our communities more and work together. Who said we can’t do this? We can. But if we keep saying we can’t then we give the wrong message to ourselves, to our brains, to our community, and then we are weak. And this is psychologically wrong. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) highlighted this very disease. In a weak hadith he said, do not act as if you are sick, as you will become sick and die.
So this is what’s happening with us. We say, ‘We are weak. We can’t do anything. It’s a conspiracy. It’s beyond our capacity’. And so we are making ourselves weak.
If it was beyond our ability Allah Almighty would not test us with it. We can cope with it. But we need to come together as one body. Out of around six million words in the Arabic dictionary, the Prophet (peace be on him) chose the word ‘body’ to describe the ummah. Why? A body does not function as separate entities, it is a whole. Each part impacts the others.
In order to function as one body, we need to work together, without differences. 1.6 billion Muslims makes up one huge body. We are not an insignificant number. But unless you respect yourself, then anyone can disrespect you
We need to change the course of our actions, our intentions, the messages we are sending to our brain, our community, our youth. We can make the right choice, but we need the fire in our belly; we need the zealousness.
Collaborate. Cooperate and be united. Talk to your MP. Utilise social media positively to spread goodness rather than just sending funny videos and useless trivia. Work towards something useful. And you will be rewarded for that.
We ask Allah Almighty to give us the ability to change ourselves and change our communities, and change the course of our realities to be a better humanity, better society, and better countries. Ameen
Khutbah delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim
Transcribed by Hana Khan
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