March 16, 2002

Making Resolutions That Matter!

Intro to Islamic Calendar and New Year:

  • How the Islamic calendar started
    • Umar ibn al-Khattab and keeping track of letters with time-stamps,
      uniting the different dating methods of his time
    • Counting back to the year of the Hijrah to determine when to start
    • 16 July, 622 CE = 1 Muharram, 1 AH
    • Our year begins with Sacrifice (hijrah of Muslims, of Prophets) and
      ends with Sacrifice (hajj, hijrah of Hajra, hijrah of Ummah to Makkah)
    • Not from someone’s birthday, or some king or ruler’s orders, but from
      the foundation of the Islamic community, on brotherhood and unity we begin
      and end
    • Lunar: Based upon the moon, accurate, close, visible, reminder of the
      beauty, order, submission of Allah’s creation but also its imperfection,
      its rise and fall, it needs the sun to shine, we interact with the signs
      of Allah when we look for the new moon every month, it is not passive
      time-keeping and time-passing, it’s natural, animals, sea-creatures, oceans,
      plants, even human cycles are lunar timed
    • We rotate through the seasons, dynamic, perpetual, summer is not just
      in June, Eid is not just in winter, a nation of all times and all seasons,
      we remain steadfast no matter what the season
    • Note the meaning of the names of the months and compare to the pagan
      Gregorian names:

      1. Muharram [“Forbidden” – it is one of the four months during
        which time it is forbidden to wage war or fight]
      2. Safar [“Empty” or “Yellow”]
      3. Rabia Awal [“First spring”]
      4. Rabia Thani [“Second spring”]
      5. Jumaada Awal [“First freezing”]
      6. Jumaada Thani [“Second freezing”]
      7. Rajab [“To respect” – this is another holy month when
        fighting is prohibited]
      8. Sha’ban [“To spread and distribute”]
      9. Ramadan [“Parched thirst” – this is the month of Islamic
        daytime fasting]
      10. Shawwal [“To be light and vigorous”]
      11. Dhul-Qi’dah [“The month of rest” – another month when
        no warfare or fighting is allowed]
      12. Dhul-Hijjah [“The month of Hajj” – this is the month
        of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, again when no warfare or fighting
        is allowed]
    • Nadwi: ” It (the advent of the 15th century) is indeed, a unique
      occasion to ponder that the Islamic Era did not start with the victories
      of Islamic wars, nor with the birth or death of the Prophet (saw), nor
      with the Revelation itself. It starts with Hijra, or the sacrifice for
      the cause of Truth and for the preservation of the Revelation. It was
      a divinely inspired selection. God wanted to teach man that struggle between
      Truth and Evil is eternal. The Islamic year reminds Muslims every year
      not of the pomp and glory of Islam but of its sacrifice and prepares them
      to do the same.”
    • We look at history through the Seerah, the greatest life ever lived,
      everything is either before or after Hijrah, “Allah has renewed time”,
      it’s a universal new beginning in the history of man and civilization
      with the Hijrah of the Prophet and our forerunners at its centre piece
  • Importance of Muharram
    • It’s the first month of Islamic calendar, and one of 4 sacred months
    • “The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadan is the fasting
      of Allah’s month of Muharram.” [Muslim]
    • Note Allah calls Muharram His month signifying its importance
    • It has the Day of Ashura’ when Moses left Egypt with the Children of
      Israel and Pharoah and his army was drowned [Bukhari], also the day Noah’s
      Ark landed on Mount Judi [Ahmed]
  • Need and benefits of making resolutions
    • Self-evaluation
    • Commitment to betterment, change, self-improvement
    • Prophet made resolutions (e.g. to do Hajj, to do jihad, to free slaves,
      to fast Muharram, etc.) and kept them
    • Sets goals, vision, challenges for the coming year
    • Organizes life, prevents efforts from going to waste on unworthy activities
      and causes
    • Sense of accomplishment at the end, new horizons for new year
    • Write them down in your planner, put them up on your wall/desk, and
      read them every day to remind and renew your resolve, don’t let them be
    • Pick and choose from the 33 resolutions mentioned the one’s that are
      closest to your heart and you believe you can implement, don’t take up
      too much and then be disappointed
    • But remember always:”He whose 2 days are equal is a sure loser!”
    • Your greatest challenge is not to be better than someone else or to
      be like some scholar or personality or to ‘get with the programme’ but
      to be constantly better than, to outthink, outdo, outsmart, impress, surprise
      yesterday’s you!

Worthy New Year Resolutions

  1. Will join a Halaqa – an Islamic study group
    • gain knowledge for personal improvement and service to community
    • strengthen brotherhood and work with others
    • make sacrifices to attend and share with others
    • re-charge spiritual batteries after week of studies, cure weak lazy
    • learn leadership, critical thinking and public speaking skills
    • fall in love with the Quran and engage in Allah’s remembrance
  2. Will not let myself be bored or sit idle
    • Not waste hours watching TV, playing video games on the latest ‘playstation
      10’ and ‘game-tetrahedron’ (face the Ka’aba not the Cube!)
    • Will find work to do and take initiative myself without anyone asking
    • Boredom is a disease, sign of poor life management, lack of direction
      or purpose, life is too exciting too be bored!
    • Entertainment is not a replacement, don’t expect others to entertain
      you or find things to do
    • “One who helps someone in his need, Allah helps him in his work, and
      one who removes any worry or trouble of any Muslim, Allah, in return,
      removes anyone of his worries on the Day of Judgment”
    • Lost time is lost ajar (reward)!
  3. Will get to know my neighbours and give them a gift on Eid.
    • Do you know who they are? What is their name? What do they do? Do they
      need you? Can you approach them? What have u ever shared with them?
    • Kindness towards neighbors is actually a duty in Islam. The Qur’an says,
      in Sura’tul Nisa, Ayat 36, “Serve Allah, and join not any partners with
      Him; and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors
      who are near [relatives], neighbors who are strangers [non-relatives],
      the companion by your side, the wayfarer and what your right hands possess.
      For Allah loves not the arrogant, the boastful.”
    • Amr-bin-Shuaib reported from his father who [reported] from his grandfather
      that the Messenger of Allah said, “Do you know what the duties of a neighbor
      are? Help him if he seeks your help; give him safety if he seeks your
      safety; give him [a] loan if he seeks your loan, give him relief if he
      is needy; nurse him if he falls ill; follow his bier if he dies; cheer
      him if he meets any good; sympathize with him if any calamity befalls
      him; raise not your building higher so as to obstruct his air without
      his permission; harass him not; give [to] him when you purchase fruit;
      if you do not, take it secretly; and let not your children take it out
      to excite thereby the anger of his children” (Maulana Karim, pp. 253-4).
    • Ibn Mas’ud reported that a man asked the Holy Prophet, “Oh, Messenger
      of Allah! How can I know when I do good and when I do bad?” The Holy Prophet
      said, “When you hear your neighbors say you have done good, you have done
      good. And when you hear them say you have done bad, you have done bad”
      (Maulana Karim, pp. 249-250).
  4. Will find a poor, needy, unemployed, sick, orphan, lonely Muslim in my
    community and befriend him or her.

    • This is the sign of a true Muslim, selfless altruistic love and concern
      for others, remembering those who are oft-forgotten, caring for the uncared,
      speaking for the voiceless?
    • Do you know a poor Muslim in your building, your area? Do you know who
      to give Zakat, Qurbani too even? It’s not that they don’t exist, we just
      don’t make an effort to find out such Muslims and families
    • Abu Hurairah (RA) relates that the Holy Prophet (SAW) said, “A man set
      out to visit a brother in the neighboring town. Allah deputed an angel
      (for his protection) on his way. When the man met the angel en route,
      the latter asked him, ‘Where are you going?’ He answered, ‘I want to visit
      my brother who lives in this town.’ The angel asked, ‘Are you going to
      take some valuable thing to him?’ The man answered, ‘No. I have no desire
      except to visit him, because I love him for the sake of Allah only.’ The
      angel said to him, ‘I am a messenger from Allah sent to tell you that
      Allah loves you as you love your brother for His sake.'”
    • Remember Allah in Surah al-Maoon says the person who does not ENCOURAGE
      the feeding of the poor or does not do the SMALL ACTS of kindness has
      belied the Deen, is untruthful/insincere in it, and then Allah curses
      the one’s who pray to be seen as their Salah is useless if it done to
      just show outward Islam whereas the inside, the heart, is empty and sealed
      from mercy and goodness!
  5. Will not eat (out) alone, will always share my food
    • Make every meal a time for gathering and sharing
    • Learn to share from your food, you will see the effect it has on you
    • Have family dinners, don’t just wake into your home and eat while watching
      TV and checking mail, get together with parents and siblings and have
      a proper meal
    • This is where families meet and discuss their days and lives, be part
      of it, and start this tradition if it does not exist anymore in your home!
  6. Will give gifts to 5 people I don’t know for no reason and expecting
    nothing in return

    • That’s one person who won’t forget you next Eid or ever for that matter!
    • The Prophet used to give to his Sahabah from everything he received
  7. Will give up an addiction
    • could be internet, pornography, games, cigarettes, parties, music
  8. Will do something for the environment.
    • It never ceases to amaze me how, even though Allah calls Muslims the
      “best of peoples, evolved for mankind” (Holy Qur’an, Sura Ali Imran, 3:110)
      and has appointed humans as his “agents, inheritors of the earth” (Sura
      Al An’am, 6:165), we are often very negligent when it comes to caring
      for this Earth that is our home and that of our children and their children
      as well.
    • Allah commands us to be mindful of the resources that He has placed
      at our disposal – He forbade the unnecessary cutting down of trees, and
      He emphasizes the need for cleanliness (which would extend to our environment
      and, thus, make polluting the earth abominable). Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
      also reminded us of the importance of cleanliness when he said, “Cleanliness
      is half of faith.” We are ordered to make ablution before prayer, and
      also to make sure that our places of prayer are free of contamination
      and filth. Since the entire world (except restrooms, graveyards and other
      forbidden areas) is a potential place of prayer for us as Muslims, it
      follows that we should be mindful of preserving it in a state of cleanliness.
    • As Allah’s vicegerents, surely, we should be foremost in efforts to
      protect our environment – in any manner that we might possibly do so.
  9. Will not enter the home without a smile on my face and saying salaam
    • They deserve it, think of how their day was, what they did to allow
      you to go out and do whatever you were doing
    • Greet them at the door, make them feel special and loved
    • Sign of a healthy happy family
  10. Will ‘adopt’ and be a mentor/role-model to a small brother or sister
    in the family, at the mosque, Islamic school, or among circle of family friends

    • To find Islamic role-models is one of the hardest things today
    • Be that one that families, children, youth look upto as an example of
      a good Muslim, human being, successful in all aspects of life, and there
      for others
    • Children run around our Islamic centres coz no one cares to talk to
      them or play with them while the ‘adults’ discuss their important matters
    • Who is going to take care of these matters when the ‘adults’ are gone?
      The children!
    • Your brother/sisters gets enough negative brainwashing at school and
      on TV, you are lucky if the time you spend with them barely neutralizes
      that effect much less gives them confidence in their identity, self-respect,
      uniqueness, special gifts
  11. Will take a course to help the Muslim community
    • e.g. conflict resolution, anger/addiction management, grief counseling,
      family/youth/marriage counseling, small business management, running a
      charitable non-profit organization, interacting with media, negotiating/leadership,
      project management.
    • “The best of you is the one most useful to others”
    • Just because you are willing to help does not mean you are able or equipped
      to handle every situation
    • Need to be professional in how we run our masjids, schools, etc.
  12. Will promote women’s rights, representation, equality in some way
    ” At masjids, youth groups, Islamic work: Get sister’s input on matters effecting
    both brothers and sisters
    ” Stand up against prejudice or gender bias from a person
    ” Don’t ignore half the Ummah, they are probably the better half and have
    been for the last few centuries when Muslim men gave up their duties, responsibilities,
    struggles for Islam
    ” Their jihad in the home has continued with or without support
  13. Will join a humanitarian cause
    ” e.g. illiteracy, poverty (“hateful to Allah”), third world rights, women’s
    abuse, homelessness, soup kitchens, food banks, blood donation
    ” It’s not ‘volunteer work’ for Muslims, it’s caring, guardianship for the
    creation of Allah who Allah made us a Khalifah of
    ” Being Muslim is not just about attending Halaqas and coming to gatherings
    but social justice, harmony
    ” Islam is and has been a socially conscious, useful, and egalitarian way
    of life, we believe we are only as good as the poorest, weakest amongst us
    ” Remember Abu Bakr’s speech on becoming Khalifah!
    ” Allah connects Taqwa, Iman, Ihsan and all other “religious concepts” to
    practical humanitarian work
    ” Nobody gives a damn about humans in today’s world, Islam is all about humans,
    individually and colelctively
  14. Will read, learn and memorize the Seerah and stories of Sahabah
    ” The greatest, most inspiring story on earth, never get boring, never loses
    its wow-factor
    ” The reminders and lessons of the lives of these great women and men should
    run off our tongues and permeate our minds
    ” To everything, we must know what did the Prophet do? What would he have
    done? How did Umar think? What did Ibn Masud say? Etc.
  15. Will visit a sick or dying Muslim whenever I hear about it no matter
    who, known or unknown, Paki, Indian, Arab, or Somali.

    ” Ali (RA) reported, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, ‘There is no Muslim
    who visits a Muslim in illness at morn except that 70,000 angels pray for
    him till evening, and if he visits him in evening, except that 70,000 angels
    pray for him till morning. He will have a garden of fruits in Paradise.'”
  16. Will attend at least one funeral prayer, will help carry the bier,
    and stay still burial,

    ” it becomes wajib upon you when you hear about it anyways!
    ” The feeling and atmosphere is indescribable
    ” Nothing gets your life back in order, your priorities straight, and your
    head and heart where they belong, than seeing death so near
    ” We are made to forget death in our everyday lives, it is trivialized on
    TV, nature hides death from us, but it is closer to us than our feet (Hadith)
    ” Attending a funeral, praying for another Muslim’s forgiveness, watching
    the family grieve, offering your support, secretly helping changes you (unless
    you intentionally remove it from our mind), who will pray for me? Where will
    my janazah be? Where will I be buried?
    ” Quite bleak stuff but helps to think about it every once in a while!
  17. Will honour and respect my parents so much that it shows
  18. Will befriend a Muslim who is not of my ethnic, cultural background,
    language or nationality.

    ” Get rid of latent, hidden racism and cultural jahiliyyah
    ” Look at your circle of friends, who are they? Do others feel welcome in
    your company?
  19. Will talk to my father about my plans
    ” for the future, for my studies, my marriage, my career, my personal life’s
    goals and expectations and ask for his advice and guidance, that is what he
    is there for
  20. Will stand up for a just cause when nobody else will,
    ” for Allah’s sake even if alone, will not compromise on a principle when
    everyone bends the rules, will speak the truth when everyone else got away
    with lies
    ” Think of the story of 3 who were left behind for jihad but did not lie to
    get away but Allah forgave them and honored them
  21. Will fast Mondays and Thursdays
    o Start with the fasts of Muharram
    o Prophet recommended fasting at least 3 days a month
    o Could also fast on the Days with “white nights” (13, 14, 15th of a month)
    o Develop and maintain habit of voluntary fasting, develops self-discipline,
    regularly exercises will, determination, inner strength/resolve, sense of
    accomplishment, special feeling of closeness to Allah, get a head-start on
    the week on Monday and prepare for Jumu’ah on Thursday
  22. Will pick up an Islamic art
    o Calligraphy
    o Architecture
    o Graphic Design
    o Music, Songwriting, Nasheeds, Hamds
    o Poetry and prose
    o Storytelling, writing children or adult fiction
    o Chronicling a life, a leader, your mother, a community, a masjid’s history
    o You have gift, find it, and if you can’t, support others who are trying
  23. Will make special personal dua’s
    ” for friends, classmates, young people, parents, Imam, a person I don’t like
    very much
    ” draws you close to the person from within
    ” what you wish for Allah to grant another person is what Allah will grant
    ” don’t rely on your own dua’s for yourself, pray for others so that they
    may pray for you!
  24. Will take care of my health – drink more water:
    o “We made water essential for every life,” (Qur’an 21:30) Very few people
    drink the doctor-recommended eight to ten cups of water a day. Most people
    drink only three cups of water a day or less. Even worse, many people cancel
    out what they do drink by drinking coffee, green tea or sodas which cause
    dehydration in the body. One can solve many health problems simply by drinking
    eight to ten glasses a day.
  25. Will give up bad habits:
    o The Prophet said, “Allah has forbidden you ( 1 ) to be undutiful to your
    mothers (2) to withhold (what you should give) or (3) demand (what you do
    not deserve), and (4) to bury your daughters alive. And Allah has disliked
    that (A) you talk too much about others (B), ask too many questions (in religion),
    or (C) waste your property,” (Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 73, Number 6).
    o Everyone seems to have a bad habit that harms his or her health. Drinking,
    smoking and overeating are the most popular. However, there are many other
    bad habits that are unhealthy as well, such as: drinking excess coffee or
    colas, eating junk food, harboring bad feelings for people, yelling, gossiping,
    stealing, lying, cheating, watching too much TV, gambling, and many others.

    o Keep in mind that any activity that is forbidden in Islam is unhealthy.
    Also keep in mind that any activity that starts to become and addiction (such
    as television, coffee, a friend and even your job) is also unhealthy.
    o Make a pledge to yourself to identify your addictions and stop them (in
    the case of alcohol or smoking) or at least reduce them to a healthier level
    (in the case of indulgent socializing, work and television).

  26. Will exercise:
    o “A strong Muslim is better than a weak Muslim, and there is good in both”
    o There are people who smoke, people who eat junk food, people who have a
    family history of disease and people who have stressful lives. But are very
    healthy. Why? They exercise!
    o Their enthusiasm for joining a health club, swimming and sports teams, or
    their dedication to walking once a day, or taking a KungFu class on a regular
    basis, has more than made up for their lack of dedication in other health
    areas. I do not recommend eating badly or smoking, for doing so will eventually
    catch up to you, but if you could change just ONE thing related to your health
    it should be to exercise.
    o Keep in mind that exercise can even be as simple as praying five times a
    day. Many people have compared the benefits of the Muslim prayer with those
    of yoga, and it’s far more meaningful!
  27. Will have a more positive and friendly attitude:
    o “Give Glad tidings to those who exercise patience when struck with adversity
    and say, ‘indeed we belong to God and to him is our return’ such ones receive
    blessings and Mercy of their lord, and such are the guided ones,” (Qur’an
    o Start cultivating a positive attitude. There is a mountain of physical and
    medical evidence now to support that a positive attitude can work miracles
    both on your health and in your interactions with others
    o Be happy, don’t find excuses to be depressed, lazy, give yourself credit
    o Being friendly and happy raises your threshold of anger and you will not
    be easily upset by trying situations
    o Maintain a level head, be moderate in your emotions, Allah knows we need
    more people like that in our masjids and councils and committees! :
  28. Will sleep on time:
    o “Lo! your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days,
    then mounted He the Throne. He covereth the night with the day, which is in
    haste to follow it, and hath made the sun and the moon and the stars subservient
    by His command. His verily is all creation and commandment blessed be Allah,
    the Lord of the Worlds!” (Qur’an 7:54).
    o Allah created night time for a reason – to rest, but it is amazing how few
    people use that time to actually sleep. In fact, many research studies show
    that lack of sleep can exacerbate almost any health problem from hypoglycemia
    and diabetes to pain and mental illness. Even missing an hour of sleep on
    a regular basis can harm your health.
    o Sleeping on time, after praying ‘Isha, and waking up for Fajr and going
    to the Masjid, is an amazing feeling
    o The time after Fajr is the most productive time of the day, you will get
    more done between 6-9 in the morning than you will all day. Try it with any
  29. Will pray more:
    o A man who was stung by a scorpion was brought to the Prophet [peace be upon
    him]. He said: Had he said the word: “I seek refuge in the perfect words of
    Allah from the evil of what He created, “he would not have been stung, or
    he said, “It would not have harmed him,” (Bukhari: Book 28, Number 3890).

    o ” And when I sicken, God heals me,” (26:80 Qur’an).
    o There are entire sects and groups of people who do not use conventional
    medicine at all, but, rather, use prayer as medicine. Even the Prophet himself
    used prayer alone as medicine in many instances. In addition, many new studies
    have found that prayer does have healing effects – for the prayer as well
    as the prayed for
    o People who pray live longer, healthier, are more balanced and calm. That
    is if you need medical reasons to pray more!

  30. Will keep good company:
    o “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah has cursed wine, its drinker,
    its server, its seller, its buyer, its presser, the one for whom it is pressed,
    the one who conveys it, and the one to whom it is conveyed,” (Bukhari: Book
    26, Number 3666).
    o In many cases in the Qur’an and Hadith it is mentioned that you do not actually
    have to perform a bad act to be affected by it. Muslims are encouraged to
    “hang out” with people they would like to emulate and not with those that
    are a bad influence on them. This influence, in fact, can come in many forms.

    o Do you hang out with friends that drink, smoke or consume too much coffee?
    Does your office always have donuts available for breakfast and your local
    grocer always have goodies on sale? Start hanging out with people who have
    the good habits of eating well and start shopping in stores that offer healthier
    whole grain and organic foods. Reduce time spent with people or in places
    that are a bad influence.

  31. Will laugh more, yell less:
    o Allah’s Apostle said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people
    by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger,”
    (Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 73, Number 135).
    o Laughing, instead of yelling, has enormous healing potential. Tell jokes
    to your children, listen to comedy on radio or television, buy comedy tapes,
    and read the comics in the newspaper. Laughing has been found to have therapeutic
    o On the other hand, anger has been found to reduce immune system function.
  32. Will balance my time equally between personal work, family time,
    and Islamic work:

    o Will be your greatest challenge to achieve this equilibrium
    o The division is not always constant, a dynamic process of allocating time
    and resources, changes from week to week depending on urgency and priorities
    o Use any extra time you find for personal ‘ibadah, take it as a gift from
    Allah that you found free time and use it to grow close to Him
    o Make sure you know what is personal e.g. studies, academics, career, internet,
    emailing, what is family time e.g. going out with family, house work, visiting,
    and what is the time you give to Islam and to your community e.g.
    o Don’t be satisfied with just one use of your time or thinking one replaces
    the other or being ‘busy’ is a valid excuse for abandoning one or the other
    o Allah knows, the community desperately needs our service. And there are
    plenty of programs, within our own community and without, that channel the
    efforts of volunteers to meet these needs – tutorial and mentoring programs,
    senior citizen programs, food bank and housing programs. So there is definitely
    not a shortage of opportunities to provide service.
    o Then why aren’t so many of us more involved in helping those who are in
    need? I bet that if most of us were to ask ourselves (or others) that question,
    the answer would be that we don’t have enough time. Time, time. We have empowered
    what is actually an abstract and intangible concept. We have allowed “Time”
    to become our master? even, perhaps (Astaghirullah), our Lord.
    o An Imam once offered Tafsir on the ayat in Qur’an (Sura’tul Baqarah, Ayat
    268) that reads, “The Evil One threatens you with poverty and bids you to
    conduct unseemly.” He suggested that this threatened poverty implies not only
    a loss of material resources but that of time and energy as well.
    o Many of us are too busy or preoccupied with our personal affairs to be of
    much service to anyone else, or to the community. However, we might wish to
    take note that BUSY can stand for: Being Under Satan’s Yoke (unknown author).
  33. Will act upon what I learn and learn what I act upon:
    ” Make action points from everything you learn, e.g. what can I do put a book
    I just read into practice
    ” If your reading, learning, experiences in Islam are not effecting you day-to-day
    life then it is quite useless. Learn the way of the Sahabah
    ” But also will not take ‘lack of knowledge’ as an excuse for not doing something,
    but instead use it as an opportunity to learn, that is practical useful knowledge
    that becomes wisdom, instead of just data, facts, and tidbits

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