Here are some ideas on how to start off the Islamic new year with a renewed sense of purpose and faith.
Five Islamic-Themed New Years Resolutions
The month of Muharram and Islamic New Year is due to fall on either Monday 9 or Tuesday 10 August 2021.
For those of us living in the west and following the Gregorian calendar, we don’t really see Muharram as the new year but we should start treating it as such because, like the common new year, it is a chance for us Muslims to start fresh and focus on growth and bettering ourselves.
I really think Muslims should use the new year as a reason to set goals and New Years’ resolutions. I don’t mean those typical and common resolutions like losing weight (although, if that’s what you want to do – great!) but I was more thinking of goals with an Islamic theme, something that helps us get closer to our Creator and better us as Muslims.
Here are some of my ideas.
1. Mend broken relationships
Cutting ties in Islam is severely discouraged. In the book of Al-Kafi, there is a tradition where a man approaches the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and asks him which deeds are the worst in the eyes of Allah (SWT).
The Prophet gives this man a list, which includes severing relations. In other narrations, it is said that cutting ties with blood relatives can shorten one’s life and cause sudden and unexpected death.
The reason cutting ties is so looked down upon is because familial and comm(unity) is an important part of faith and indeed was one of the major reasons Islam survived in the early days.
After the Prophet migrated to Medina, he paired up each of his companions who migrated with him to Medina with a local Medinian, with the latter helping the former settle in, providing food, shelter, and so on. Without the kinship, Islam would not have strengthened and grown as it did.
You don’t need to do anything as drastic as that but why not make a firm resolution to work things out with someone you fell out with, whether that someone is a blood relative or not. It’s as easy as picking up the phone and sending a WhatsApp message.
You’ll be glad you did and I’m sure in the majority of cases they will too and it sets a good tone for the rest of the year, for the Prophet has said: “If you want to be happy the whole year, reconcile with your kin.”
2. Learn Arabic
The Holy Qur’an was, of course, revealed in Arabic so I feel, where possible, all Muslims should try and learn as much Arabic that is possible within their capacity.
I don’t understand much Arabic, but I can somewhat read the Qur’an in Arabic and it feels so good and awe-inspiring to be reciting Qur’an in the same language it was revealed.
If you can go further than me and actually start to understand the language, that’s even better, because (and no disrespect to any translator) no translation can do the Qur’an justice. There is meaning and nuances in the verses that other languages cannot capture and it will really help you connect with the Holy Book and extract and digest the information in a way like no other.
3. Conquer one sin or bad habit
We are all imperfect beings and struggle with certain sins or bad habits. I don’t want anyone to overburden themselves, which is why my third suggestion is to focus on eliminating that one thing that has bothered you for so long that you can’t seem to be able to shake it off.
Don’t only make the intention to stop but think about and draw up some practical steps you can take to conquer it once and for all. As an example, if you struggle with gossiping, take yourself out of a situation where gossiping would occur which could mean keeping away from people who also have the habit or areas where it’s likely to happen the most (like Mosque car parks!).
If you find yourself in an unavoidable situation, you could take control of the conversation and remind people what they’re doing is not right or defend the person being gossiped about.
Essentially, think about the scenarios that lead to the temptation and ways to address or remove yourself from them. Once you’ve found the blueprint, what’s not to say you can’t move on and do the same with all other bad habits – if you’re like me and have multiple flaws!
4. Visit sick people
Visiting sick people is highly recommended in Islamic literature. In a lengthy hadith, God rebukes people on the Day of Judgement for their lack of visiting the sick. It’s so important for a variety of reasons. It reminds us of death and hereafter, which can help us recalibrate our priorities and it’s also nice for the sick person to have people visit and keep them company.
The Prophet said: “The one who visits the sick dives into divine mercy.” Furthermore, the Prophet’s grandson by fourth extension, Imam Sadiq (as) says: “Whoever visits a sick person, seventy thousand angels will escort him seeking forgiveness for him until he returns to his house.”
In today’s age and modern video calling technology, it’s so easy to ‘visit’ a sick person!
5. Visit the graveyard
Sometimes, it’s nice to do a good deed without expecting anything in return because it makes people happy and visitation of the graves is one of those.
Imam Ali (as) explains how people of the grave rejoice when someone comes to meet them and Imam Sadiq (as) further adds that even if you and the person in the grave did not know each other in the dunya, they’d still be happy and pleased at your visit.
Visiting the grave also reminds us of our own eventual death. It’s an uncomfortable and sobering reminder but gives us a chance to reflect on life and consider our own eventual meeting with Allah (SWT).