Gear up for greatness with these goals for the new year :
1. Remember that Allah gave us the Quran, the Sunnah, and our Brains
Throughout the Quran, Allah encourages us to think, wonder, consider, and imagine. He has even advised us that the successful people decide their affairs by putting their heads together: Ameruhum Shura Bainahum (Quran 42:38).
The Prophet, in his famous conversation with one of his appointees, also encouraged him to make use of his reasoned opinion:
The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, asked Muaz ibn Jabal as he was deciding to send him to Yemen: How would you decide when judging a case? He replied: I shall judge in accordance with Allah's Book. He asked: What will you do if you do not find any guidance in Allah's Book? He replied: I shall act in accordance with the Sunnah of the Messenger of God. The Prophet asked again: What will you do if you do not find any guidance in the Sunnah or in Allah's Book? He replied: I shall do my best to formulate my own opinion and I shall spare no effort in doing so. The Messenger of Allah then patted him on his chest and said: Praise be to Allah Who has helped the messenger of the Prophet of God to find responses which please the Messenger of Allah.
The basics of our faith are clear in the Quran and Sunnah. Applying those basics in our personal and collective life with wisdom (Hikmah) is critical. Otherwise, we end up with Taliban-style interpretations that are void of wisdom and at times violate Islam. May Allah bless us with wisdom.
This year, let us commit to strive for the best of this world and the best of the hereafter with the full benefit of the Quran, the Sunnah, and our own God-given brains.
2. Embrace the power of planning
Allah has commanded us to think ahead and plan.
“O you who have believed, be pious to Allah. And let every one look to what it has put forth for tomorrow - and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Quran 59:18)
We will be a slave of time and money if we don’t plan for it. So let’s develop our personal plan for 2013 as well as a plan for our family by thinking together. Free people control their time and money. Here is some guidance on Sound Vision about developing a personal plan as well as a family budget.
You can model your personal plan after the famous Dua from the Quran. It has three components which can constitute three bases of evaluation of 2012 and then planning for 2013:
- Oh Lord, give us the good of this world
- Bless us with the best of the everlasting life
- And save us from the hellfire (due to our sins we have not sought forgiveness for).
One day Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, "Why don't you tie down your camel?" The Bedouin answered, "I put my trust in Allah." The Prophet then said, "Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah" (Tirmidhi). We must therefore do our duty.
May Allah give us the opportunity to take control of our own time and our own money by wisely planning for it to seek His Barakah.
3. Embrace the power of thinking together (Shura)
Shura, or mutual consultation in all affairs, is part of the God-given guidelines for a successful lifestyle. Whether it's community affairs (42:38) or family issues (2:233), Shura is a blessing for all members of the Muslim community.
Shura helps us come up with better solutions and ideas because it provides us with a pool of options that would not exist if we simply made decisions on our own. There is blessing in Shura. It builds a family. It develops community as well, offering a platform for shared expertise for the cause of the common good.
Having a problem with your teenagers? Try Shura. God says in another context of conflict “to forgive them, Pray for their forgiveness and consult them in decision making” as a way of strengthening bonds. (Quran 3:159). Embrace Shura in your family and community in 2013. Here are Sound Vision’s guidelines for Shura in the family.
4. Fight Islamophobia
The year 2012 ended with a horrific case in New York of a Hindu man being pushed off a subway platform by a woman who said, “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.”
While it is easier to ignore Islamophobic comments made to our faces or brush off hate online directed at Muslims, it is clear that this approach is not reducing Islamophobia. Islamophobia is real. It is creating fear in the hearts of Muslims and their neighbors. Islamophobia is connected with war and terrorism. They are three evil triplets.
Islamophobia is hurting America. Fear, anger, and hate are rising in America. According to the FBI, 16.8 million Americans purchased guns in 2012 as compared to 2.5 million in 2009. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups are at an all-time high. As America goes through the Census-projected demographic changes in which minorities will become a majority, the existing majority is already showing a high level of anxiety. For this reason, it is likely that Islamophobia will continue to rise.
Raising stronger children with good communication skills, stronger family bonds, and a closer rapport with their Creator is going to be essential. At the same time, the Muslim community must allocate resources to fight Islamophobia by strengthening and working with institutions that fight hate in society. Children must also be aware of the phenomenon and should be trained to deal with it. Here are 14 ways you can fight Islamophobia.
5. Strengthen the fort (The family)
In your immediate family, sit down with your spouse and run a “marriage inventory” of the past year; do a “family inventory” with your kids. Reconnect with the family. Prayer brings love. Pray for a parent, sibling or relative you’ve been neglecting for the last few months or years; seek forgiveness and forgive. Strong individuals and strong families are what strengthen the Muslim community and empower us to face our ongoing challenges and difficulties.
If our homes have become hotels with spouses, parents, and children rarely spending time talking, praying, discussing, and eating together, this has to stop. Make this the year all of you truly connect as part of your higher commitment to Allah and the Muslim community.
Listen to your children. They will listen to you. Remember Allah. He will remember you. You take ten steps towards Him, He will take 100 steps toward you. You walk towards Him, He will run towards you. God is the greatest. He loves those who keep coming back to Him. He is the Merciful, the Mercy Giving.
(And please turn off that screen. It takes too much of your time away.)
6. Learn Sabr and Tawakkul, along with the remembrance of God in times of stress
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, God is with the patient” (Quran 2:153). We are familiar with prayer through Dua and various forms of Salat. However, Sabr is a concept which is not always easy to practice.
Anything we strive for requires persistence, perseverance, endurance, and focused determination. That is Sabr in the Quranic terminology which occurs a little more in the Quran than the term Salat for prayers.
Sabr indicates a willing resolve to achieve results without succumbing to pessimism and despair in difficult circumstances. It is also to have Tawakkul or trust in God once you have done your best effort along with Dua. He is the One who controls all variables. We don’t.
Patience is not only hard to find, it is often hard to practice while living in an ever-fast paced world. But it is possible. Commit to get through difficulties, be it spiritual, financial, emotional, or other with patience and you will build a better individual, family, community, and society. Here are our 25 Tips To Deal With Stress And Anxiety