Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Happy New Year.

The new Islamic Year, 1438, just started. The year, 1438, marks the time since the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) migrated from Mecca to Medina to escape the brutal persecution of his people.

As with any marker of the passage of time, the Islamic New Year gives Muslims the opportunity to reflect over their lives and their accomplishments in the previous year as well as set goals for what they wish to accomplish in the coming year. The Qur’an, in fact, helps Muslims in this personal reflection:

Truly, the believers shall attain a happy state:
Those who humble themselves in their prayer;
And who turn away from all that is frivolous;
And who are intent on inner purity;
And who are mindful of their chastity [not giving way to their desires] with any but their spouses – that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock]: for then, behold, they are free of all blame. Whereas such as seek to go beyond that [limit] are truly transgressors;
And who are faithful to their trusts and to their pledges;
And who guard their prayers. (23:1-9)

The Qur’an has a number of such lists of attributes which God finds commendable, and thus they are perfect checklists against which every individual can evaluate themselves and their character. Each of us can see whether we have any of these attributes:

Do we pray the ritual prayers in the first place? And if we do pray, are we humble before God? Do we realize that, while in prayer, we are standing before God?

Do we waste our time in frivolity? Or, do we spend our time wisely, doing things that are useful to ourselves and those around us. Now, this is not saying that entertainment and having a good time is frivolous. It is important to, sometimes, just rest and relax. 

But, frivolity can go overboard. We need to check ourselves and make sure we are not wasting our time doing silly things, especially since we have social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and the like right at our fingertips.

Are we constantly striving to make ourselves better people? This is what the verse, “and who are intent on inner purity,” actually means. It literally says, “And those who work towards achieving purity.” Thus, are we seeing what flaws we possess and then working to make those flaws better?

Indeed, the Qur’an is very stern about relationships outside of wedlock, and thus guarding one’s chastity outside of marriage is highlighted here. And in the age of websites like Ashley Madison, this message of chastity and loyalty is extremely important in my eyes.

Are we faithful to our pledges and trusts? Are we people of our word? Can people trust that we will do what we say? Can people trust us at all?

And, again, prayer is highlighted once again, indicating how important the ritual prayer is in Islam.

This is something that we can do, not only every year, but actually every month or even every week. And it is a personal checklist, which we can do with ourselves, without having anyone else accuse us of falling short and making us immediately defensive.

And if we see that we are lacking in one or more of these qualities, then we can set goals for ourselves: to become more mindful in prayer, or more honest with ourselves and others, or more pure, and the like. If more people worked on making themselves better, rather than worrying about how much everyone else is bad, our world would be such a better place.

May we all strive, each and every day, to make ourselves better people. Amen. And a very happy, healthy, and prosperous Islamic New Year to one and all. Amen.

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