As Muslims, we should always remember that oft-repeated Dua recited after our daily prayers: “Our Lord give us good in this world and good in the Next world and save us from the punishment of the Hellfire”. This helps us choose priorities in life balanced between our Dunya and Akhirah. Here are a couple of suggestions:
1. Solidify your financial position
The global recession of the last two years has shattered hopes of economic security for most people the world over. Keeping in mind that Allah is the Provider (Ar-Razzaq), start off by making a deep, sincere Dua asking God to increase your earnings in a Halal way. That can mean different things. It can translate into taking on a second job in your spare time or encouraging your older children to look for work, especially in the summer. On a larger level, it can include starting your dream business or even working with an existing one to strengthen it with your skills and talent, if not your capital.
If you’re still in school, carefully consider your career path. While it’s important to be passionate about what you do, a certain level of financial security is important for everyone to reach their potential in life. Research hot and upcoming fields, like green and sustainable development in all sectors, which big corporations are also seeking to fill with qualified personnel. Then see if you can marry your passion with a solid profession.
Remember that even with dire news about the shrinking job market, all Rizq, in all forms, is in the hands of Allah and He is in control of all things. We must do our part in thinking about the best way to earn that Rizq, then put our trust in Him to help us. And He will.
2. Cut down waste in all forms
Hand in hand with seeking financial security, we should resolve to cut all waste in our lives. Allah describes waste as a quality of Shaytan (Quran 17:26-7) and there are plenty of ways most of us engage in this. Whether it’s the countless plates of leftover food we throw out daily, the water we let run during overly long showers or all of the lights we leave on even when we’re not home. These “small” wastages total huge ones on a yearly basis and not only are they a spiritual drain, but a financial one as well. Wastefulness has become a lifestyle. Let’s change it step by step. Simple living is what the Prophet Muhammad practiced. Peace and blessings be upon him.
3. Reconsider what it means to be a citizen
Many of us, whether born in or naturalized in a country, often forget that “citizenship” is not just about rights, but duties as well. While it’s important to defend our rights, it’s also critical to do more than just pay our taxes and obey the law.
Muslims are encouraged to do not only good, but to strive towards what is best (Ihsan) in all aspects of our lives. That includes our community life, not only within the Muslim community, but in our country as well. This year, resolve to be a better citizen by committing to work for peace and justice at home and abroad. This can translate into joining a local peace and justice group, becoming a more frequent letter writer to your Congressperson or local media outlet, as well as participating in a neighborhood betterment association.
4. Reconnect with the teenager closest to you
Muslim youth, teenagers in specific, are facing tremendous challenges in America today. Muslim youth are the most angry and least happy as compared to the youth of other faith communities in the United States, according to one Gallup Poll.
This is why the older Muslims in their lives, whether they are parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents or others need to really start paying attention to them. The faith of our youth is at stake.
Start off with a weekly “date night”, one on one dinner and conversation at a favorite restaurant, at home or a favorite hangout. But one rule: no text messaging, games or cellphones for either of you allowed. You don’t have to talk about Islam and you shouldn’t initially. But the point is to express your love and affection for them, find out what they’re struggling with, as well as help steer them to the Straight Path with wisdom and beautiful preaching.
5. Support Muslim media
Some of us may have thrown a magazine or newspaper across the room upon reading Islamophobic material therein. Others of us may have even penned a couple of letters to the editor in response that may have been published. That’s great and it’s important to keep doing that.
However, if we truly want a Muslim voice that can reach an influential, as well as a general audience, the key to that is supporting and improving on existing Muslim media. Last year, Islamica Magazine, an excellent scholarly and high quality publication, folded due to financial problems. That’s the death of not just any magazine. Rather, it’s the loss of a platform for the expression of Muslim voices that are not being heard by the mainstream. Other publications and media outlets (e.g. Sound Vision and Radio Islam) may not have folded, but they are definitely struggling and cannot continue their work without community support.
It’s become cliché in money-saving circles to say “skip the daily latte” to save money. We advise you to do the same and use the funds to support Muslim media.
6. Revive your relationship with the Masjid
Yes, the local Masjid is not always easy to attend. You haven’t gone there in years or if you do go, you offer a quick prayer and get out of there as fast as you can.
This year, try to revive your relationship with your local mosque, not for anyone but yourself. For now, focus not on their policies or politics. Use this premiere Islamic institution only to fortify your faith and connection to Allah. Attend Juma prayers, make sure to pray the extra prayers offered upon entering the Masjid (Tahiyyatul Masjid) and if you’re nearby during the weekdays, try to catch the congregational prayer there.
There is a power in a place dedicated to the worship of God which is simply absent when you pray in your cubicle at work or a stairwell in the corner of a school hallway. While prayers there are accepted, the Masjid offers you a sense of peace and security essential for spiritual development and advancement.
If your local Masjid is a place you’d still rather avoid, consider frequenting one close to work or school. The point is to reconnect with a House of God.
7. Help someone get married
Some of us balk at such an awesome task, a move which Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, described as “half of faith”. But given the fact that finding the right life partner is getting harder for a host of reasons, take it upon yourself to help a fellow Muslim get married this year.
It doesn’t call for opening up your own marriage bureau (although you can always direct someone to one if they’re interested). All it requires is for you to consider it your personal responsibility, especially if you yourself are married, and even more so if you are happily married. After all, shouldn’t we love for our brother/sister what we love for ourselves? Also, as a married person, you’ve got a pool of potential candidates via your spouse that can match up with your own friends. If the process is done with dignity and discretion and results in marriage, not only will you help someone settle down in life, but you’ll reap its spiritual benefits as well.