A New Year’s Resolution

Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)

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SYED HUSAIN PASHA

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Auron ka hai Payaam aur, mera Payaam aur hai, / Ishq key dardmand ka tarz-e-kalaam aur hai! (Iqbal)
If you are a Muslim, every day is New Year. Every day is the first day of the new first year of the rest of your life. So, even when it comes to celebrating the New Year, Islam gives you more than anyone else. It gives you more than you ever thought you could get.
Islam gives you a New Year’s Day every single day.
Allah says in the Qur’an that he structured his creation in pairs. Among them is light and darkness; life and death; illness and health.
Night, says the Qur’an, Allah made an occasion for rest. Night drapes around God’s creation the way garments drape around the human body.
And day, Allah says in the Qur’an, he made so people would strive for their livelihood.
The Qur’an: Wa ja’alanallaila libaasan. Paraphrase: We made night a garment.
The Qur’an: Wa ja’alnannhaara ma’asha. Paraphrase: And we made day a livelihood.
Subhaanallah, how beautiful, crisp and clear are the words of the Qur’an.
When it is night, prepare for death, for, don’t you see how closely sleep resembles death, in spite of all the differences you may cite.
And when the dawn arrives it brings with it the stirrings of new life everywhere. So, every day is the beginning of an entire new life for you, if you only knew and understood it. So, fear Allah during the night. And prepare to serve Allah and his creation during the day. For, he watches over you during the night and he monitors your every movement during the day. How difficult is that idea to grasp?
ALLAH’S REMEMBRANCE IS THE KEY
Thus, in both life and death – during night as well as day – thinking of Allah is the key. That is part of the culture that Islam came into this world to teach people: to constantly connect and reconnect with the real source of all energy, light, hope and power in this world – God Almighty.
Thus did Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, teach us the proper etiquette of sleeping – as well as waking up: Lie down on your right side and place your right palm under your right cheek.
And then you say: “With your name, my Lord, I die and live.”
This is my paraphrase of the original of course. Here are the original words of the Hadith – 1400 years old – transmitted through some of the most authentic books on earth and through an unbroken chain of generation after generation of those who remembered, read and practiced them, down to our own time.
Hadith: Allaahumma bismika ammotu wa ahyaa.
You got a better model, a grander or nicer or a more profound or practical way of doing it, I say to you with all love, respect and humility: Bring It On!
Put it on the table and let us talk about it.
PICKING UP THE THREAD
Then a new dawn cuts open the dark mantle that night had so mercifully draped around you. Wakefulness stirs your bones and muscles giving you a new lease on life for this day. But who could tell for what amount of time even during this one day – this new day of the rest of your life – your own personal, custom-made New Year’s Day, as it were?
So, what mindset do you bring to this new day – to this fresh start that God has given you on a new life? What reaction do you show to this enormous favor that has been conferred upon you? Well, how about showing some class?
How about, for example, kissing the hand that feeds you? The hand that lulled and rocked you to sleep last night, and does so every night; the hand that did not choke life out of you while you were asleep; the hand that gently, without your even realizing it, tugged you back to full life this morning, and does so every morning.
You say: “I thank God Almighty for giving me life after death. Now I know what resurrection is all about. Being raised from the dead is all about.”
Why take my paraphrase of the real thing? Here is the original Hadith for you.
Hadith: Alhamulillahil-ladhee ahyaanaa ba’ada maa amaatanaa wa ilaihin-nushoor.
That is what you say if you have any class or sense of gratitude.
So you pick up the thread in the morning exactly where you left it last night: Your life and death are both firmly and squarely in the hands of Almighty Allah. Your past life ended last night. And you are starting a new life this morning. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, you got a better way of doing things, I submit to you: Bring It On!
RESOLUTION AT THE DAWN OF A NEW LIFE
If any of what I said earlier is true, anyone with any sense will know what resolution to make for the fist day of the rest of one’s life. And for the remainder of one’s life, if the above model has any validity. That resolution would include things like the following:
“Of course Lord,” you will say. “You are my lord and master. You don’t need anything or anyone and you certainly don’t need me. But I am your creation and I am entirely and totally dependent on your mercy and grace for everything in every single moment of my life. “So Lord,” you will continue, “I do hereby resolve, commit and undertake to spend the rest of my life in knowing you; and in learning your commands; and in serving your creation in every possible way that I can.”
“And in so doing Lord,” you will further state, “I resolve to work tirelessly to improve my own life as well as the lives of those around me and to make this world a better place for all of your creation.”
“So help me God, my lord and master, please help me, and show me how!” You will plead and cry before your maker.
Doing Good and Staying Away from Bad
Then you will proceed on the path of your daily life. You will quickly tally your life’s ledger and add up your strengths and weaknesses, your positives and negatives.
You will then resolve with regard to each good thing you have going in your life to make it better and stronger.
And what good things you see missing from your life you will quickly decide to add them to the list of things you will resolve to do in this next new life of yours right here on earth – on this new day of your new life after waking up from a deathlike state of last night’s slumber. And then you will pull out the mental list you have of your weaknesses and problems and resolve to address and improve as many of them as possible. You will also decide on all the good projects you want to start or complete and on all the bad ideas and activities you want to give up. Thus will you, on this New Year’s Day of your new life starting from today, form a firm and unshakable resolve to do all the good you can and stay away from all the bad you can.
Not only that, you will also do your utmost to get everyone else on this planet to do the same. Thus, will you help to build a better world for all – to make God Almighty’s world a better place for all of God’s creation: Muslim and non-Muslim; male and female; rich and poor; human and nonhuman.
The Qur’an calls the former Ma’roof and the latter Munkar. It asks people to do Ma’roof and invite others to do the same. And it asks people to stay away from Munkar and ask others to do likewise.  This, says the Qur’an, is the best guarantee of saving all of humanity from peril and not just you.
RESOLUTIONS FOR YOUR DAILY LIFE
To be sure, to have real meaning or validity, all this will need to be translated into all kinds of detailed and specific resolutions from the point of view of your own personal daily life.
For example, you may have to resolve to eat better and healthier from today on; to exercise more and adopt a cleaner and more active lifestyle; to do everything more hygienically; to have a more positive outlook on life; and to form better social relations with your friends, neighbors, co-workers and all sorts of others with whom you may have dealings of one kind or another. And that by the way is Islam for you in a nutshell.
For, Islam wrote a book on good, clean and healthy living including eating and drinking nothing but the best, healthiest and cleanest food; adopting a positive and optimistic outlook on life and its issues; and having the most wonderful relations with everyone everywhere.
Or you may decide to give up smoking; or drinking; or womanizing; or running around with men you are not married to. Or you may resolve to quit taking drugs; or lying; or cheating on exams or in business or at work. Or you may realize that you should no longer abuse your spouse or your children or your parents. Or you may make up your mind that you would no longer be mean and nasty to your neighbours.
Or you may decide that you can no longer afford to be failing in your duties as a citizen.
You may, thus, come to the conclusion that you should no longer be engaged in any activity that may in any way damage you personally and which at the same time may also carry a significant social cost. Or you may have identified all kinds of good and positive things you would be doing that are good for you personally and that may also have positive consequences for others in society and for the society as a whole.
THE DAY AFTER
So, New Year’s Day 2008 came and went. And you made the resolution you did. Or maybe you made none. But the question is what do you do the Day After? What plans do you have for the rest of your life? That is why the greatest day you can have in your life is today – the first day of the rest of your life. It is a New Year’s Day for you – every day.
Therefore, the best resolution you can make on this first day of the rest of your life is an unshakable commitment to carry out the commands of your lord and master in your own life and help everyone else to do the same; to do everything good that you can and invite and help all others to do the same; and to stay away from all bad things yourself and help everyone else to do the same.
Your success in carrying out this resolution may be small or big, but one thing about which there is absolutely no doubt is that you have started out on the right track. That means if you stay on course, and if you keep your focus, you will get to your destination sooner or later. You will meet success.
MA’ROOF AND MUNKAR
The whole idea is this: In order to have a good life on earth, and also at the same time prepare for a good life after death, you need to do what is right and what is good. The Qur’an calls this Ma’roof. It is all that is right and good and beneficial. And not just for yourself but also for everyone else – for all of God Almighty’s creation. Conversely, you must also avoid all that is wrong and bad and harmful. The Qur’an calls this Munkar. And not just for yourself but also for everyone else – for all of God Almighty’s creation.
Not only that, you must also do everything in your power to persuade others to do Ma’roof and keep away from Munkar. You must do so individually as well as collectively.
You must tirelessly work to make God’s world a better place for all. That is the essence of Ma’roof and Munkar. And you must do so with all the love and respect in the world and in the most peaceful and orderly manner. Of course, right and good (Ma’roof) is that which all of God’s prophets in the Bible said was right and good for their time. And which was given its final shape and definition forever by God Almighty in the Qur’an.
And which was taught and shown to be so by God’s last and final messenger Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in the Hadith and Sunnah – meaning his words, deeds and example. And which, thereafter, our own situation, circumstances, needs and intelligence indicate is right and good in the light of Allah’s guidance in the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in the Hadith and Sunnah. And wrong and bad (Munkar) is that which all of God’s prophets in the Bible said was wrong and bad for their time. And which was given its final shape and definition forever by God Almighty in the Qur’an.
And which was taught and shown to be so by God’s last and final messenger Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in the Hadith and Sunnah – meaning his words, deeds and example. And which, thereafter, our own situation, circumstances, needs and intelligence indicate is wrong, bad and harmful in the light of Allah’s guidance in the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in the Hadith and Sunnah. So, this New Year – and every day, week, month and year thereafter – resolve to do and teach Ma’roof and avoid and preach against Munkar.
You cannot make a better New Year’s Day resolution. Nor can you give anyone you love, including the entire world, a better Holiday gift.