Welcome to 2019 but regrettably back to reality. With the festive holidays now becoming a fading memory we are back at work or to whatever station we occupy in life. Many of us may still be feeling rather ‘fragile’ and looking on at the new year with a great deal of trepidation but others will have come back recharged and full of zeal ready to face 2019 and its challenges.
It’s regrettable but not unusual that for this time of the year, some of us may have over indulged, overspent or just got carried away with the festive spirit. Now it is back to reality – school fees, books, uniforms and all the other expenses that the New Year brings. It is also that time that many of us make New Year resolutions for the year ahead. The most common ones are; to lose weight / get rid of that beer belly, exercise more, eat healthy food, quit smoking, settle down and start a family or even to spend more time with our family and loved ones, etc.
The more ‘aggressive’ ones amongst us will have resolved to go on that overseas holiday, buy ‘that’ fancy car, and other worldly pursuits like scale the social and economic ladder to higher levels. So what are yours and how do they match up? Whilst there is nothing wrong with making resolutions it got me thinking ‘why do we wait only for the New Year to make resolutions?’ How long do these resolutions last anyway, a week, a month? Surely every day that we wake up is the start of a new year in our lives.
Not only that but every day is the beginning of the rest of our lives, and every day is a day closer to the end of life as we know it on this earth. Most of these resolutions are cosmetic lifestyle changes but what about changing our inner self? ‘Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls) Quran 13:v11. Nothing wrong with desires but for any Muslim when making resolutions the most important message is: ‘Nor say of anything, I shall do so and so tomorrow without adding “Insha-Allah” (if Allah so wills)’ Quran 18:v23-24
Strangely, not many PEOPLE make resolutions about turning their lives around or embracing God. If you are one of those who makes the resolve to turn your life around – may the Almighty accept your wishes and give you the guidance and the strength to do so. Sorry, but this is the stark reality, and to some of us an uncomfortable reminder that this earthly life is temporal and that we are all on that inevitable journey to eternal life that has been promised to everyone regardless of religious persuasion. With this in mind is it not time to start making resolutions to do those righteous things that will bring us closer to our Creator?
‘To those who do good, there is good in this world – and the home of the Hereafter is even better excellent indeed is the home of the righteous……enter you the Garden because of the good which you did in the world. Quran 16: 30-32 Starting with ourselves, let us to do away with personal pride, arrogance, jealousy, greed/ avarice, mischief making, refrain from using harsh words and foul language, and all the other ‘deadly sins’. Why can’t we try to be more friendly, kind, humble, sincere, show respect, courtesy and compassion for others, be helpful, honest and truthful or maybe more charitable and humane.
Ah charity, when one talks of charity some people mistakenly associate it to mean monetary donations that the rich give to the poor. They conclude that since they themselves are not ‘rich’ and don’t have sufficient money how could they give to charity? However charity is not only about giving or making a monetary contribution – it is about doing things that make a difference to the lives of those less fortunate or even doing anything that is of good to others. A kind word, a smile, a hug, greeting a stranger, visiting the sick, consoling someone going through difficulty, making a quiet prayer for someone in need of help, forgiving a person who has hurt us or even removing a harmful object from a pathway – these are simple acts of charity, none of those are headline grabbing acts, but they can bring about a major change in our lives.
As a youngster I recall there was a saying that went something like this: sow a thought and you will reap an act, sow an act and you will reap habit, sow a habit and you will reap a character, sow a character and you will reap a destiny…….. Therefore who knows, every good deed or act, no matter how small or insignificant could be our possible means of entry into Paradise. ‘Whoever works righteousness and has faith, verily to him We will give a new life, a life that is good and pure…’ Quran 16: 97 Why don’t we all resolve to ‘make the world a better place for you and for me?
If you plant honesty: You will reap trust If you plant goodness: You will reap friends If you plant humility: You will reap greatness If you plant perseverance: You will reap victory If you plant consideration: You will reap harmony If you plant hard work: You will reap success If you plant forgiveness: You will reap reconciliation If you plant openness: You will reap intimacy If you plant patience: You will reap improvements If you plant faith: You will reap miracles
If you plant dishonesty: You will reap distrust If you plant selfishness: You will reap loneliness If you plant pride: You will reap destruction If you plant envy: You will reap trouble If you plant laziness: You will reap stagnation If you plant bitterness: You will reap isolation If you plant greed: You will reap loss If you plant gossip: You will reap enemies If you plant worries: You will reap wrinkles If you plant sin: You will reap guilt
Remember: Life is like a notebook. Two pages are already written by Allah. The First page is our Birth. The Last Page is our Death. All the other Pages are all empty. You will fill them either with good or bad deeds. Choice is yours, so will be the final Outcome.
There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White man has no kin: his kin is money”. The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.
A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies
Why, General Atiku, has the Judean setting (present-day Israel/Palestine) being the focus of so much geopolitical fervour over the ages when it is so resource-poor and is not even that agriculturally fecund being a virtual desert? Why have all the superpowers of history locked horns over it since days immemorial?
Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?
Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.
Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.
Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:
Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.
This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.
“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)
In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.
‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)
In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.
If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.
However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.
Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..
‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)
In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)
Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us. Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.
‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)
Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.