6 Things You Can Do For Yourself, Islam, and Your Country in 2023 | SoundVision.com

6 Things You Can Do For Yourself, Islam, and Your Country in 2023

Every year, we witness family and friends making resolutions to change for the better: “I will lose 20 lbs”; “I will start praying regularly”; “I will spend more time with the kids”; “I will seek a more fulfilling career”. But most of us stop at this stage, not planning in detail how we will reach our goals.

Free people control their time and money. Slaves control neither. Let’s take charge of ourselves by planning for our lives because there is a purpose for our existence beyond the mundane routines of earning and consuming.

God wants us to live a purposeful life, full of hope, working for the future of this world and the hereafter.

59:18

“O you who believe, fear God. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow - and fear God. Indeed, God is Acquainted with what you do. (Quran 59:18).

This is the only place in the Quran where God has commanded twice in the same verse to fear Him. He is emphasizing that we must pay attention to the future and plan for it.

Below are some ideas that can help jump-start your thinking and planning process.


1. Increase Your Time For Yourself 

Our prayers are not only an expression of our desires, but also of our goals. The most common Dua (supplication) Muslims make is the following:

Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in the life to come and keep us safe from the torment of the Fire (Quran 2:201).

Considering that we are asking God for the best of both worlds we must plan for both, as what we can do to save ourselves from the hellfire. Please divide your 2023 plan into three sections.

  1. Things you need to do to gain the best of this world. 
  2. Things you need to do to gain the best of everlasting life. 
  3. Things you need to do to protect yourself from the hellfire.
     

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • Am I a better Muslim, better neighbor, and better citizen today than last year?
  • Are my deeds leading me on the right path to Jannah?
  • Did I plan for the last year?
  • Have I learned anything new in terms of skills and knowledge since last year?
  • Am I making more money than last year?
  • Am I satisfied with my contribution to society?
  • Do I have more friends today?

Things to incorporate into your plan: 

Learn communication skills. Communication skills are a key ingredient in a harmonious family life, a successful career, and for Dawa work.

  • Sign up for writing and speech classes.
  • Have your Masjid start classes on interpersonal communication, writing, speech, and accent improvement.
  • Check out your local library or community college for free or low-cost classes and seminars or request them to start this.
  • With the help of your librarian, a mentor, or an Internet search, develop a reading list on communication skills.
  • Read, read, and read some more instead of watching YouTube, TikTok, or playing games.
  • Write letters to the editor, editorials, and commentaries.
  • If you are a student, no matter what your major, take some courses in writing, public speaking, journalism, audio/video or multimedia production, etc.
  • Consider completing a minor in journalism, broadcasting, writing. 
  • Organize your family to write a book together. 
  • Have a monthly family circle in which creative writing is shared or a presentation is made.
  • Learn the art of television production by using your smartphone and computer.
  • Learn leadership skills. This includes learning how to manage our time, as well as managerial skills. Muslims, whether it’s in our personal lives, mosques, and Islamic centers, or in our youth groups, are in dire need of these skills. The need to lead our communities so that we become better contributors to society and can better defend our rights has never been so important.
  • Strengthen your family: Muslim marriages are at risk. Today, about 34 percent of Muslim marriages in North America end in divorce. If you’re thinking of getting married, learn marriage skills from the resources available. If you’re already married, sit down with your spouse today and honestly discuss the state of your marriage as well as how it can be improved. Reach out to Muslim marriage counselors and therapists, many of whom offer online counseling that is accessible no matter where you live. 
  • Develop a reading list for 2023. 
  • Pick an area in which you want to volunteer time for.

Dua: Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in the life to come and keep us safe from the torment of the Fire (Quran 2:201). 

2. Connect With Your Neighbors 

Remember that there are four types of neighbors in Islam (Quran 4:36). We have a duty toward each type of neighbor.

Like us, our neighbors spend more time with the TV, YouTube, etc than with other people. The media exaggerates, distorts, and preaches bad news about you, which fuels Islamophobia.

But when neighbors meet each other, they see each other’s humanity. Remember that it was many neighbors of good conscience who stood with Muslims after the 9/11 attacks.

What kind of relationship do you have with your neighbors? Consider this Hadith: Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, once said, "Jibreel kept insisting about the kind treatment of neighbors to the extent that I thought he would assign a share of one’s inheritance to neighbors" (Bukhari and Muslim).

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How much time do I devote to relating to my neighbors?
  • Does my neighbor feel comfortable enough with me to ask any question?
  • Have I invited neighbors to my home lately?
  • Do my neighbors know I am a Muslim?
  • When was the last time I read the Prophet’s sayings about neighbors?
  • When was the last time our Masjid had an open house for neighbors?
  • Do my neighbors know how peaceful Muslims are?
  • Am I maintaining the exterior of the house and lawn to keep up the property value of the neighborhood?
  • Are my shrubs, tree limbs, and weeds spreading into my neighbor's yard?
  • Have I shared a dish with my neighbors?
  • Have I welcomed a neighbor who just moved in
  • Am I respecting my neighbor’s personal space?
  • If living in an apartment building, is my noise level uncomfortable for my neighbors?

What to incorporate into your plan:

  • Organize a neighborhood program, whether about neighborhood watch, climate change, or poverty. 
  • Take part in local elections. 
  • Send special dishes to your neighbors with a recipe and ingredient list. 
  • Make your lawn and garden a joy for neighbors to see. 
  • Invite neighbors to family occasions planned for this year. 
  • Here are more tips in this regard. And some more here, here, here, and here.

Dua: Oh Allah! Open our hearts towards our neighbors and open their hearts towards us.

3. Work To Save America

We, as citizens, cannot remain silent when our country has a law detaining its own citizens indefinitely without due process of law. Our government spies on its own citizens with no restraint. We fund killing democracy abroad. We cannot economically grow when we become an unwelcoming nation. Citizens must become citizens. We must liberate ourselves from the fear industry and restore our constitution. 
America is at risk today. Our ideals, our liberties, and our constitution need a new movement.
America is not just important for Americans. America, as a world leader and the host of the UN, the World Bank, and the IMF, is important for all of humanity.
As hate, fear and anger rise in our country, we must rise with love.

Consider this:

We can no longer afford to be absent citizens. We must invest our time and our money in strengthening our country by participating in our political process. Some ways we can do this include:

  • Developing relationships with our elected representatives
  • Seeking office or supporting the right candidates
  • Developing alliances and coalitions with others and through financial contribution
  • While doing the above, we must carry our young with us. Unfortunately, younger Muslims are less likely to vote than their parents, according to Gallup. 

There are several Muslim groups in America who actively seek, through their sermons and publications, to disfranchise American Muslims by belittling our neighbors of other faiths, by calling elections Haram, by calling friendship with our neighbors Haram etc. We need to defeat their arguments and win them over.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I a better citizen today than I was last year?
  • Am I a better bridge-builder than I was last year?
  • Have I volunteered to make my community and my country stronger?
  • Have I taken a stand for justice?
  • Have I related to Americans of other backgrounds and faiths?
  • Can I commit to support someone running for office
  • How often do I visit my city hall?

What to incorporate into your plan:

  • Run for public office. 
  • Volunteer early for the 2024 elections. 
  • Resist the dehumanization of America. This is what warmongers do. Since we know that dehumanization of Muslims is resulting in criminal behavior, we should be the first ones to stand up fighting when articles, emails, and some leaders dehumanize America and our neighbors. 
  • Study and communicate with an American think-tank. 
  • Develop a personal relationship with an opinion maker. 
  • Join a civil rights organization. 
  • Join an interfaith, labor, or peace network. 
  • Work on bringing Muslims together at the city level. Ask the Muslim leadership if Muslims have a common agenda and why are we not working with each other.

Dua: Oh Allah! Help us become better citizens. Help us make America a better citizen of the global village. Keep us and our neighbors safe and liberate us from the fear of the unknown. Help us deal with our enemy justly.

4. Increase Your Time Tor Islam

Jannah isn’t free. We must work for it while making Dua for Allah’s Mercy to enter this beautiful place of eternal joy and tranquility. The time to work is now. Not tomorrow. Not in the Next Life.

Most children in America are growing up without the benefit of attending Friday prayers and hearing the Juma Khutba (Friday sermon). Most children when they grow up don't come back to Masjids. Who will run our Masjids when we are gone?
If you and your family are a dynamic part of your community, we trust Allah that we will succeed in our faith and achieve an everlasting life.
Questions to ask yourself:

  • How much time have I volunteered for Islam? How does it compare with the time I spend watching TV, movies, or videos on TikTok?
  • Is my family a part of the Muslim community?
  • Are women in my family being encouraged to become leaders and communicators?
  • Are Muslims working together in my city?
  • What do I know about Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice in society?
  • Is my Masjid a part of any social justice, peace, or interfaith coalition?
  • Is my faith connecting me to the cause of the poor and the oppressed?

Things to incorporate into your plan:

  • Take a vacation for Islam. Devote one or two weeks working for an Islamic cause of your choice.
  • Volunteer to organize an open house at your mosque.
  • Become an agent of Muslim unity. We can do a lot better for Islam and America if Muslim organizations can work together as a federation, putting their resources to work for a common agenda.
  • Ask your Masjid leadership what they are doing for Muslim unity.
  • Meet, call, and write to Muslim leaders you know and ask what they are doing to bring Muslims together.
  • Volunteer in soup kitchens or homeless shelters run by other groups.
  • See what Islamic books and audio-visual material your library has available and what it can order.
  • Attend a local interfaith, labor, or peace and justice network. Showing up is sometimes half of the work.

Duas: “Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate from the truth after You have guided us, and bestow upon us mercy from Your grace. Verily You are the Giver of bounties without measure” (Quran 3:8).

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him used to pray: "I seek refuge in You, O Allah, from knowledge that does not benefit and from a heart which does not fear".

5. Give Sisters Their Space 

I know several Muslim sisters who are very conscientious Muslims and practice Islam thoroughly. However, they no longer go to the Masjid. Islam needs Muslim women and Muslims need sisters willing to devote their time and skills to our faith.
We will always need good books, articles, and literature about women in Islam. But we also need solid examples of Muslim sisters actively involved in healthy Muslim communities where their full participation helps our communities grow on the balanced path of the Prophet, peace be upon him.
Questions to ask:

  • Does the space for sisters in your Masjid resemble the sisters’ space in the Prophet’s Mosque?
  • Do sisters have equal access to the Imam and the Masjid library?
  • Do mothers have a lounge available to them?
  • Are sisters a part of the leadership in the community?
  • Are women in my family able to spare time for Islam?
  • What can I do to facilitate sisters’ participation in community life?

Things to incorporate into your plan:

  • Learn how to run your family based on the Shura model. 
  • Develop a sisters’ leadership caucus in your city. If sisters don’t do this, it won’t happen.
  • If the Masjid leadership is elected yearly, then issue an annual report card on the Masjid from a sisters’ perspective.
  • Make sure your community newsletter and social media handles reflect sisters’ aspirations. In my experience, sisters are generally better writers and designers. Get them involved.
  • If you’re the only cook in the family, get everyone else involved in learning how to cook and take care of the home.
  • If you are not married, narrate, or write down your worldview of marriage. Make sure the potential spouse you are considering knows about your views. Insist on both of you taking premarital classes.
  • Establish social service organizations in your communities. Sisters’ leadership is emerging from this sector.
  • Talk to the Imam about giving woman-focused Khutbas.

Dua: Ya Allah! Help us understand that Islam is not just for men. Ya Allah help us reason with Muslim brothers and sisters who disagree with our position of giving proper space to women in Masjids. Ya Allah, help our community establish justice for all, men and women.

6. Adopt An Ummah Cause Which Few Pay Attention To 

Muslims around the world are struggling for freedom, justice, and Islam. The cycle of war-terror-Islamophobia is still killing people, devastating their lives. Our brothers and sisters constitute the largest number of refugees in the world. Several Muslim minorities are facing genocide.

We must not limit ourselves to making Dua or donating a few dollars for refugees. Both are important things to do. But what is required is to prevent this cycle that creates refugees in the first place and instigates genocide.

Let’s not be cynical that there are many causes and nothing we can do about it. Just pick one cause and work on it. Make Dua for the rest of the causes and donate where possible. 

This commitment doesn't have to be for a whole year. It can be for only three months if you like. The aim is simply to develop a specialization in a specific area of need and benefit to Muslims.
 

The Muslim American community has a track record of success. We stopped genocide in Bosnia. It is thanks to your phone calls that Burma Task Force was able to get the horrific treatment of the Rohingyas officially declared a genocide. 
Questions to ask:

  • Have I met any Uyghur Muslims or Rohingya Muslims?
  • Have I ever asked a Kashmiri Muslim or a Palestinian Muslim about how their people are struggling for freedom?
  • Is my family aware of Syrians, Afghans, Somalis, and Yemenis struggling for refuge?
  • Why are scholars concerned about the possibility of genocide of Indian Muslims?

Things to incorporate into your plan:

  • Join Justice For All, a human rights organization of Muslims focused on Muslim minorities. 
  • Donate to Save Uyghur or Burma Task Force campaigns. 
  • Pick one cause to volunteer for a year or a month; or choose a specific task for one cause. 
  • Brief your elected leaders about the cause you pick. 

Conclusion: 

May Allah protect the Ummah. May He give them Sabr (patience) and wisdom to pursue winning strategies. May Allah move the hearts of tyrants away from Dhulm (injustice). May Allah bless us to be the smiling faces and open hearts of the Ummah of Muhammad, God’s peace be upon him.

Conclusion: 

One of the most certain things about life is its uncertainty. We came into this world alone and we will leave it alone. Whatever we do, it is only for our benefit. 

In our graves what will count will not be how well off we were in this world. It will be our good deeds.

Your good deeds demand your time and your money. With your planning and budget, this world can be better while ensuring a good life in the Hereafter.
May He bless our plans and intentions.

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