As we approach the year 2020, it is critical to assess our successes and failures in 2019 and plan to make the coming year better for ourselves, our families, and our communities.
We are weak people, so let’s seek strength by reconnecting to God. Allah says in the Quran that the purpose of life is to worship Him (51:56). Worship includes, but is not restricted to, the five pillars of Islam. It encompasses every aspect of our lives, from the family to the financial and more. In 2020, reconnect to Allah in whichever area of your life you feel you need to improve on. Start with the five daily prayers and re-energizing your Dua. Then work on whichever areas you feel are leaving you spiritually weak and far from Allah.
2. #BeBest: Become the best Muslim, neighbor, and American
The hashtag #BeBest may have been a source of mockery in 2019, but in 2020, commit to really being the best:
Muslim: (see point #1)
Neighbor: Do more than wave and say hello. Make a conscious effort to fulfill your neighborly duties as a Muslim
Citizen: get involved in selecting your leaders at local, state and national levels to make your neighborhood and community better for everyone
A Muslim who takes his or her faith seriously fulfills the rights of neighbors and is loyal and dedicated to their country, seeking good for all - while speaking the truth with wisdom and fear of no one but God Almighty.
3. #FamilyReunion2020: Make your family stronger
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him said, “The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family [...]” (Tirmidhi).
We can’t be the best toward our families if we allow ourselves to drift apart. If your home feels more like a hotel, with family members coming and going without much conversation or interaction, then 2020 is the year to change this. Start small by instituting one non-negotiable family activity per week. It could be Friday night dinner, Sunday morning breakfast, or family game night. Whatever you decide, the goal is to reconnect with your family consistently.
We’ve seen what the last three years have brought us: unprecedented and overt Islamophobia, racism, intolerance, and an undermining of the American constitution and its institutions. We can choose to be politically apathetic. But even if we do, those politics will affect us in some way or another - more directly if we are Muslim. In 2020, get involved in local politics by voting and supporting candidates who will work to turn things around with your donations, volunteering time for their campaigns, and canvassing for them.
Most Muslims are very generous when it comes to contributing to good causes. However, we have a tendency to focus on one-time donations. One study found that Muslims in the U.S. spend a great deal on Masjid construction - but little on maintaining the Masjid and its programs. In 2020, set up an auto-pay service to donate monthly to one Masjid, one organization, or one program that you feel is providing great service to the community.
Working with other communities is not some slick PR move. It’s a Sunnah that the Prophet engaged in to achieve common goals for justice, fairness and equity. In 2020, whether it’s on your own, or better yet, with your Masjid or Islamic organization, build coalitions with groups that share your goals and aims for a better America. Coalitions, alliances, and networking were among the three major success strategies of the Prophet.
One of the goals you can adopt for your personal plan for 2020 could be to stop bullying.
Muslims are nearly twice as likely to report bullying among their school-age children as Jewish Americans (42% vs. 23%), and four times as likely as the general public (10%), according to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU). Of these incidents of bullying, one quarter involved a teacher or other school official as the bully.
8. Adopt a #media outlet
For all the talk of “fake news”, along with declining trust in the media in the United States, the way editors and journalists portray Muslims has real-world consequences. Those who don’t know a Muslim personally have said media coverage affects how they see our faith and us. Choose one media outlet to monitor, giving criticism, but also positive feedback for fair coverage. Twitter is the best way to connect with reporters.
More ideas on how to adopt a media outlet here.
9. Uphold the #constitution
Muslims’ constitutional rights are being undermined by a government that has made us primary targets for hate. It is imperative that we invest in organizations that will support our constitutional rights individually and as a community.
These include the American Civil Liberties Union. We must also speak up when we see bigotry and hate directed at other religious groups, whether that is when they are denied permits to houses of worship, or the media covers them unfairly.