slip-sliding away…..

Archive for October, 2007

New year’s resolution

Posted by Yacoob on October 13, 2007

Firstly, I wish every reader and their families and friends Eid Mubarak. I hope this day is filled with special moments, timeless memories, and the greatest joy. And also, in this time of celebration, remember those who are in need – who do not have, and need our help and support not only during Ramadaan and Eid, but throughout the year. I don’t only mean financial support, or food or clothes; I also mean time – the most valuable of our resources. Spending time with those who don’t have others to spend time with – whether they are without family or friends on this day, or whether they are alone permanently, because they’re in a strange town, or for whatever reason.

Giving and sharing is something which should become second nature to us, and I hope it is something we can take from this month of Ramadaan and make a permanent part of our lives.

Onto the topic of the post:  New year’s resolution.

For me, my annual cycle runs from Ramadaan to Ramadaan. Eid ul-Fitr, for me, marks the beginning of my new year. I know that Islamically there is a different date for the new year, and in the Gregorian Calendar it’s obviously January 1st – but I think personal measurements like this are important, and this Eid, each year, marks the beginning of my new year.
      
So, as is customary to many people, a new year means new year’s resolutions.
   
Ramadaan is the perfect training ground and classroom, because in it, Allah shows us the very best of ourselves: what we are capable of achieving, the very best we can be – in character, in ibadah, in speech, in action, in thought, in everything.
  
So the last few years, at the end of Ramadaan / on Eid, I’ve made a list of the things I want to take out of Ramadaan; lessons, self-development goals, improvements, etc.
   
On this day of Eid, our slates are wiped clean. All our sins are forgiven, and we have a clean start. (NB: This doesn’t apply to major sins – Tauba must be made for those)
So this is another reason to make it the personal start of the new year.
        
My biggest resolution, my biggest ambition for the new year, is Taqwa.
      
We’re often told that Taqwa means “consciousness of Allah”, or “fearing Allah” – and I always understood that, but understood it kind of superficially. You could say the impact of that word – the true meaning as it relates to me personally – didn’t make it’s impact on my heart; until now.Now I understand what it is – what it is to me, and this understanding, I hope, is the key to trying to consciously work towards this goal.
   
My personal definition of Taqwa – as it relates to me – is as follows:

  • A deep, intimate, and permanent (i.e. absolutely constant) awareness of Allah.
  • Knowing He is WITH me. Not just as some ‘external’ entity ‘watching’ me – but actually WITH me. (As He says, He’s “closer than your jugular vein”).

We can’t comprehend HOW He is “with” us – but we don’t have to. Allah does not fall into the realm of space or time, because space and time are created – and He is the Creator of those things. So it’s not for us to wonder ‘where’ He is, or ‘How’ He is…but just to know that He is; and most importantly on a personal level, that He is WITH US.

Your definition may be different; and a scholar may differ too – but at the end of it all, it boils down to your personal relationship with Allah. And no book, no scholar, no one else can ‘instruct’ you on what your relationship with Him is. It’s the most personal thing you have.

My resolution is:

  • To remember this Taqwa, treasure it, nurture it. Let it underlie every intention I have, every decision I make, every action I take.In short, I want this Taqwa to be my guide in life.
  • And in protecting it, to keep away from anything that would undermine or harm my relationship with my Creator.That bond, that deeply intimate personal relationship with my Creator, is the most important thing to me. And every act, and every influence, every thing that threatens that relationship – is an act, an influence, and a thing that I want to stay away from; because to lose this relationship would be to lose everything, to be totally hopeless both in this world and the next.

So, I know this is a big ambition – but like so much in life, I don’t intend to try and achieve it all in one go. Little by little, starting with the core, I hope to work at this, and insha-Allah eventually achieve this goal – this goal which is not one-off, but continuous and eternal.

The biggest challenge would probably be the ‘protection’ part of this goal – keeping away from the influences and things that I want to avoid.

But, Alhamdullilah, unlike previous years, I have more going for me this year. I’m on the brink of starting a new life, a stage on which I believe I am capable of reaching my potential, becoming the best I can be, insha-Allah.

So, this is the time to take the opportunity.

I have the will to achieve this new year’s resolution. I now need to work on the way to doing it. And, insha-Allah, I’ll soon have the environment / structure in place to support me in getting there.
  
In closing, whatever your personal annual cycle is, and however you make your resolutions and plans for your life, I hope that this month of Ramadaan has built you up to a position of strength; a platform from which you can move forward and advance towards becoming the person you dream you can be.

 

Posted in Meanderings, Ramadaan | 4 Comments »

Prepare

Posted by Yacoob on October 1, 2007

As you no doubt know, and will probably be hearing about, the Night of Power – Laylatul Qadr – is drawing near. In fact, this Tuesday night is the 21st night of Ramadaan; the first of the odd nights in the last 10.

We are taught so many times about the tremendous, unimaginable benefits of this night. We are advised to seek this night on the odd nights of the last 10; and we should not just assume that it is the 27th night.

With this post, I’d like to share a simple and beautiful advice that was passed on to me a year ago. The advice applies to such a night, and indeed any occassion where you are guaranteed of having your duas answered (such as the last third of the night, before Fajr).

Obviously, you want to be maximising your ibadah on this night; and, it has been said, the essence of ibadah is supplication – talking to Allah, asking from Allah, drawing closer to Allah via this most intimate of acts.

The advice is this:

Prepare.

Prepare for this night. Write down all the things you want to make dua for (remembering, of course, that you shouldn’t ask for anything Haraam!). Let your heart, your mind, go free, and write down all you dream of, all you want, everything you need, everything you want – both for yourself and your duas for other people.Write it all down, and keep it with you – privately – in preparation for this night.Don’t rely on everything being kept in your head (and heart). Don’t let yourself think that on this night, in your supplications, you will remember everything you want to ask for.

Maybe you would – I don’t know – but the advice is to be sure, make sure – write it down.

This most private of documents, most intimate of requests, keep with you, and remember to take it with you when you begin this night. Your list – your ‘wish’list, if you want to call it that, is for no one but Allah. So do not be embarassed to write down whatever it is your heart and mind desires. Keep it private, of course, but the main thing is that do not let self-consciousness, or fear of someone else reading it, restrict this process for you.

Find a place where you are alone and can do this. Then do it. And afterwards, protect it – keep it as private as you need to keep it.

So, that’s the advice: Prepare.

May each and every one of us find this night, and draw closer to our Creator through this most special of acts.

And, as a final thought, another advice which has been passed on to me:

A Hadith which talks about the reward for making salaah in different places: at the Kaba; in the Prophet (S.A.W.)’s Masjid in Medina; at Al-Aqsa; in the battlefield (one salaah in the battlefield is like 2 million salaahs).

But, greater than all of that, in the sight of Allah, is 2 rakats in the middle of the night, when everyone else is asleep.

So, I hope, in each of these last 10 nights (not just the odd nights), we can all try to take full advantage of this tremendous act, which is so pleasing to our Creator.

It is only by submitting to Him that we attain true success. And in order to draw closer to Him, we should make the efforts to go beyond just the ‘required’ ibadah.

So, put aside your mind, and try to overcome all obstacles, and open your heart; and insha-Allah you’ll receive all the blessings and mercy which truly will bring Jannah to you in this world, as well as take you to Jannah in the Hereafter.

PS: More on the topic of dua can be found on Zahera’s latest post:
http://zahera.blogspot.com/2007/10/day-20-dua-weapon-of-believer.html

 

Posted in Ramadaan | 3 Comments »

 
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