Staring at the keyboard for what seemed like a long time, I was wondering to myself about what to write for my new article which was based on the New Year.
After reasoning with myself, I concluded that I had to penetrate under the skin of the concept and must feel it ardently to be able to express myself. But would I go through all that just so I could come up with something interesting and worth reading? My mind argued. Was it only about being able to express myself just so I could create a well articulated essay?
Renewing my intentions and reminding myself of the purpose of this work, which was to earn the pleasure of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) and to be able to help someone in some way, I began to explore the various possible ways I could relate to the theme in order to have a heartfelt response that would not only be beneficial for me but would also prove to be valuable for the readers, bi ithn Allah (by the will of Allah) simply because I believe that what comes from the heart reaches another.
I recalled that after becoming a practicing muslimah, I had stopped celebrating New Year, which resulted in it being insignificant for me in every respect. Ironically, this indifferent attitude towards it prevented me from realizing that I was blessed with more time to strive to acquire khair (goodness) for the hereafter, as well as the urgency of life slipping away from me as each passing day was taking me closer to the afterlife.
The deeper I probed into the topic, the more it seemed probable to me that it could be a sign to modify my character and make positive changes in my life.
So I consciously started planning for the year ahead. Recollecting the recent ‘metamorphic’ years of my life from being a rather ‘liberal’ muslimah to a practicing one, with erratic, impulsive and inconsistent levels of iman (faith) and amal (deeds), I realized that this year I had to sincerely and earnestly hatch a concrete and practical ‘Self Transformation Plan of Action’ or a ‘What Not to Do’ list to work towards preparing for my eternal abode.
I reasoned that contentment in this life and perpetual bliss in the afterlife depended on two facts; establishing a strong bond with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) and being a proactive and productivemuslimah by having a substantial purpose in life. In short I needed to have a vision, an aspiration that would stretch beyond my physical existence in this world. And that, I knew, could only happen if I refocused on what was permanent and ever lasting.
In order to redirect my life I had to understand why I felt the need for a fresh start this year and what was lacking in my spiritual self. Apparently,ritualistically, there seemed no obvious loopholes but something somewhere was missing that I could sense but couldn’t exactly pin point and then, after long hours of self analysis, I came to the conclusion that the ‘Self Transformation Plan of Action’ had to wait as I was clueless about where and how to begin.
In my continual pursuit of finding tangible methods of acquiring nearness to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa)I realized that what I had overlooked was that I needed to love Him enough to be able to get closer to Him, which required self scrutiny.
“What do you suggest happens when you love someone in a special way?”
I started interrogating my poor mind. “Well…you think of them all the time, you find reasons to talk about them, you crave to be with them, you adapt to their likes and dislikes, you acknowledge their littlest favour and cherish it as much as you can, you consider their pleasure above your own, you fear their displeasure and cannot bear to imagine that they would turn away from you as a consequence of your actions,” my mind bombarded back. This is how my mind understood true love to be, which its Creator has narrated in the guiding manual, The Glorious Quran.
“And those who believe have intense love for Allah.” (2:165)
The more I speculated the more my thoughts untangled and it gradually started to make perfect sense. I could see where I needed to work to improve the relationship with my Creator. I no longer felt the need for a ‘Self Transformation Plan of Action’ or a ‘What Not To Do’ list that I felt would have helped me, as there was nothing I could’ve devised on my own that was not already there for me in the Quran and Sunnah.
What needed to be rectified were my intentions and sincerity towards my Creator. “Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) has created us with body, soul and intellect therefore He wants us to worship Him in every way while utilizing all three. The problem starts when we perform our regular rituals like programmed dummies without paying attention to what we’re doing, while deep down wondering why despite observing the rituals, our life is devoid of a sense of fulfillment, peace, contentment and reliance on Him (subhanahu wa ta’alaa)” my mind lectured me again.
All this made me realize that I need to consciously think about Allah to be able to think about Him subconsciously. I should crave to meet Him (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) so I can hope to be near Him in the hereafter. I have to prioritize Him in my life so that He will prioritize me in my afterlife. I need to remember Him amidst everyone so He won’t let me be alone when I am finally left in my grave. I have to be mindful of His likes and dislikes and place them above mine so that He will suffice me in forms that are beyond my comprehension. My love for Him must grow to the extent that I cannot bear the thought of Him turning away from me. And lastly, to acknowledge one of His tremendous gifts, my life, I need to utilize it in the way that is most pleasing to Him (subhanahu wa ta’alaa).
Finally, I decided that my internal self needed amendment for the external damages to be fixed. The feeble soul needed nourishment and reinforcement to be able to take charge of the nafs (lowly self, prone to sins). I desperately needed a new beginning and this New Year would, inshaAllah prove to be a blessing in disguise, I resolutely declared to myself.
“It’s not as easy as you presume. The road to Jannah is full of hardships and not one but two enemies to tackle. Shaitan paves your path with temptations while your nafs is always ready to aid him,” a meek sinister voice sternly warned me.
“But the more you strive towards your Rabb the more you’ll find Him by your side. If He had to forsake you He wouldn’t have guided you. The tougher your trials get, the stronger His help will be,” my mind reassured me. This new beginning will inshaAllah, lead towards a better end of this phase of my existence and head towards a perpetual life of being happy ever after. Bi ithn Allah (by the will of Allah).