By Sikandar Azam

As the year 2021 comes to an end, it is opportune time for us to look back in contemplation and reflection as to how we have spent the year. We have to reflect on our deeds that we have done during the last one year. Have we spent the time meaningfully or wasted it in frivolous things? Have we maintained our relationships with the members of our respective families, neighbours, colleagues and fellow beings? And when the question of maintaining relationship comes, the most important question should be: Have we maintained a direct and healthy relationship with our Creator and Sustainer?

Have we taken care of the poor, the downtrodden and the needy? Have we respected their rights? Have we honoured our promises? Have we achieved our spiritual and personal growth? We can raise umpteen questions like these just for the purpose of self-assessment.

But why this self-assessment? And that too at a time when the world is all set to celebrate the New Year’s Day. God wants us to be responsible. The law of the land also requires us to be responsible citizens. And after all answers to these and such other questions will help us set the goals for the upcoming year, mend our ways and make the next year a better year.

Most importantly, self-assessment helps us know ourselves – where we are standing on the various parameters. Knowing oneself is incumbent upon every person. For, it paves the way for the knowledge of the universe as well as the Creator. A habit of reflection is a good way to know oneself better.

Seeking knowledge in itself is of paramount importance. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim.” (Sunan Ibn Maja) This is because the value of a human being is determined by the degree or volume of his knowledge.

The Qur’ān (39:9) also puts an emphatic question to highlight the importance of knowledge: “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” How can these two be equal? How can they possibly follow the same way together in the world, and meet with the same end in the Hereafter?

Above all, knowledge is a divine attribute; so it is the most excellent bounty of God. Reminding us of His graces and favours, the first thing that God mentions is knowledge and He introduces Himself as “Giver of the knowledge”. He Says: “The all merciful. He taught (and gave the knowledge of) the Qur’ān.” And thereafter He Says, “He created human being.”(55:1-3) The Prophet ﷺ has been commanded to pray: “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”(20:114) We too should pray to God to increase us in knowledge and dedicate the upcoming year to the pursuit of knowledge.

Here knowledge does not mean knowledge of anything and everything; this is not a wise course to pursue. For the important thing is the knowledge of the truth and man’s action according to it. It is on this knowledge of the truth that ultimate success depends.

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