Moving Up The Ladder – How to Make This Year Better than The Last
To Reflect on the Past and Plan for the Future
Check your Balance
The wise person is the one who calls himself to account and prepares himself for the hereafter. The foolish person is the one who is following his whims and desires and only has hopes in Allah. (Tirmidhi)
Closure and New Beginnings
As each new year arrives, we close a chapter from our life and open a new chapter. We say farewell to the previous year and this cycle is ongoing every year for those of us who are fortunate enough to witness a new year. We need to pause and reflect on the year that has just passed from our life.
Here, the Prophet (peace be on him) is confirming the importance of preparation for the hereafter.
The chapters of our life close after our death. What comes after death is the hereafter.
In the Qur’an Allah Almighty in many verses mentions the word yatafakarun – pondering or reflecting – it’s one of the forgotten forms of worship. To ‘reflect’ is continuously mentioned in the Qur’an. So we need to think back on what we did over the past year. And how we can improve ourselves for next year.
As one year ends and a new year starts it is a sign for us. Hasan al Basri (may Allah be pleased with him) used to say:
You are like days. Every day goes, part of you goes, until you meet Allah.
We do not put this reflection on Facebook or Instagram, but have a private conversation with Allah Almighty.
It is not going to be an easy meeting when you meet Allah Almighty.
The Real Interview
If you have an interview in dunya you prepare for it well in advance. A month before you read up on it, record your self, and ask friends and colleagues for advice. Yet when you go into the meeting you suddenly go blank. You can’t answer any question. This is in this dunya. What about Allah Almighty? Of course He is Rahman and Raheem but His Majesty overcomes everything. Even if we are prepared we still go blank, if we are not prepared – which we aren’t, talking about myself then what will be our situation?
Preparation for the Real Accounting
In the same hadith in Tirmidhi, Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
Put yourself into account before you are accountable by Allah. And put your deeds in the scale before they will be put in the scale on the Day of Judgement.
This is the depth of the reflection.
The solution is not postponing self-accounting. Death can be sudden. We have all come across this in our life, when we have lost people in our midst with no warning. As long as we are living this life we need to reflect.
Relationship with Allah Almighty
Many people make a New Year’s Resolution list but inevitably, 80% of the list is unaccomplished. Nevertheless on the top of the list we examine our relationship with Allah Almighty. How was our relationship with Allah Almighty?
Have we really appreciated the blessings from Allah Almighty in our life? Have we truly reflected on them? Have we become closer or more distant to Allah Almighty?
Appreciate the Blessings
The air we are breathing is a favour from Allah Almighty. The movements we make. Every day we live is a blessing from Allah Almighty. Have we really shown our gratitude to Allah Almighty for His favours? Are we among those who are grateful or those who are heedless?
Check Your Relationships
Check how you were in your relations with your family. Did you achieve birr with your parents, if you were fortunate to have parents? Or were you negligent towards them. Rude. Unkind. And neglected to show mercy or gratitude toward them.
How is my relationship with my spouse? Children? Siblings? Colleagues? And neighbours?
Check Your Deeds
Write down your achievements and show your gratitude to Allah Almighty, so you can increase your good deeds and He will enable you to do more.
What were your shortcomings? You need to know your gaps in order to improve your self. Otherwise you moan without improving anything.
Where we fell short with Allah Almighty we need to seek Allah Almighty’s forgiveness. With sincere tawbah Allah Almighty forgives. Between us and Allah Almighty it is enough to repent sincerely for Him to forgive us.
When the sins are not just between us and Allah Almighty but between us and people, no matter how many times we seek istighfar from Allah Almighty, it is not enough if we did not obtain forgiveness from the ones we wronged. We have to seek forgiveness from all those whom we wronged. We need to settle our account and seek their forgiveness and be sincere. It is not lip service or a text message. If you wronged someone, you need to go and show your remorse.
Fill in the Gaps
The way forward is to fill in the gaps, such as in our knowledge. If you started a new job and are unsure what is halal and haram or have grey areas, preparation and reflection dictate that you have to educate your self. It is not enough to say, ‘I have no clue. It’s all new to me’. Ask people of experience and trusted knowledge.
On the to do list we need to figure out how to move up from level 1 to level 2. It’s not productive to stay on level 1 all your life. You need to move up. This can only happen with determination, energy and ikhlas. We need conviction. Ya Allah make me better. Closer to You. Give me taqwa. This is how we prepare ourselves.
Write It All Down
Make a list. It is not a difficult assessment to make. But it requires sincerity. Depending how long you want the list to be, it could take 15 mins to an hour. But it’s worth doing every year.
Make an Achievable List
Don’t put in too many things. Start with 4 or 5 to fix. The main priorities. Not the details of details. Focus on how you will improve:
Let’s work on this and see what will happen for the next year. If we work hard, we can achieve a lot.
We have to work on our deeds and our character. The summary of the message from Allah Almighty to all prophets and messengers is two things. They were sent to improve good deeds and good character. Nothing beyond this.
We ask Allah Almighty to purify our hearts and our deeds. To purify our actions and make them purely for his sake. We ask Allah to give us ikhlas and purity and determination.
We ask Allah Almighty to make us better in our character and conduct, to provide us with the halal and bless it for us.
Khutbah delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim at Muslim World League on 8th January 2019
Transcribed by A Khan
May 14, 2021
May 12, 2021