New Year Reflections: Review and Renew

An Islamic Guide to Embracing the New Year 

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The end of the year usually brings with it a sense of reflection and evaluation. This year has been more challenging, as we experienced the difficulties of a global pandemic. Many have struggled with anxiety, fear, loneliness and loss in many ways. 

Consider the start of the new gregorian year with a sense of renewal—“for indeed, with hardship comes ease. Indeed, with hardship comes ease” (Qur’an, 94:4-5). Reflect on your relationship with Allah Most High and consider the ways in which you wish to deepen it. There’s a special blessing in recognizing this need and in returning to Allah Most High, for in every situation, He has provided a path for us to do so. SeekersGuidance has many resources to help you on this journey.  

This comprehensive guide covers many pertinent topics related to starting anew: evaluation, purpose, repentance and returning, hope, love, responding with faith in difficulty, and improving the self. It seeks to give a sense of renewal—actionable and meaningful renewal of faith through reflection.

Foreword – Shaykh Abdullah Misra

The Passing of Time is a Journey

The new year marks the movement of the Earth circulating completely around the sun in 365 and a quarter days. This is a journey that the entire world embarks on, year after year. And this journey, in the course of a year comes back to where it began. And so these are the signs of Allah Most that He uses the sun, the moon, and the Earth, for example, to have a measure of time so that we as human beings can regulate. Otherwise, we would not understand how to measure the passing of time. So this movement around the sun helps us realize that time is passing in certain increments. When we realize that time is passing in certain increments, we know that anything that is incremental is limited.  We can count discreetly that we’re moving forward and we reflect upon how much we have covered and how much we have left.  Everyone can take stock of their own lives, their own life spans, and their own journeys.

The Opportunity for Review and Self-Accounting

The idea of self-accounting, or taking one’s self to account (muhasiba), has a significant place in Islam because it is the way we review where we are with Allah Most High.  The condition of our hearts – what have we done this past year; our deeds; our improvements; our journey towards Allah Most High; have we let bad habits into our lives? These are all important questions one can reflect on as one increment comes to an end and another begins. Looking back and reflecting is common in the Islamic tradition.

As a Muslim, we look at it with one eye on Worldly Life and the other eye on the perspective of the Hereafter.  So not only what events occurred, but the pictures and the stories of the year, this happened, and this event, and this event.  “It was a very eventful year,” everyone says. 

But where were we with Allah throughout those events?

When a disaster happened – did we pray for those involved?  Did we show concern for them?  If we could, could we help them in any way?  Could we donate in any way? Could we at least make prayer for people? And if there is a pandemic, what did we do in that situation? How did we experience that? How did that bring us closer to Allah? Ask yourself – what did this do for me and my relationship with Allah and the journey of my soul to Allah?

The Opportunity for Renewal 

It is not only a time of review, but it is a time of renewal. And Allah Most High brings us back to the beginning of the cycle. These are signs for those who reflect. The idea of time being cyclical and of coming back again and again and again. Why? So you can renew. Repentance (tawba) is a renewal and a cleansing of one’s sins. It is an opportunity to repent, regret, and have a fresh start.

What can you ask from Allah? “Allah thank you for bringing another year to pass upon me,  forgive what passed that You are not pleased with. And forgive me for my sins, and give me guidance so I may please You, and grant me the best of health and states in the coming year.” 

Renew Your Intentions

A new journey calls for new intentions. And we say ‘Ok Allah, in this year, we intend to do this for your sake. Not only the temporal projects – these are the projects that I tend to do; these are the resolutions I want to make; these are the things I want to get away from, oh Allah; these are things I want to get out of my life; these are things I want to bring into my life; things I want to strengthen myself with” Spiritually, what does that mean? Exploring different aspects of our relationship with Allah Most High, and with the people that Allah wants us to have relationships with, and people who have rights and responsibilities over us.

We bring our intentions towards making and setting new goals and resolutions towards how we can move forward for Allah Most High. 

Anyone who reflects, reviews, and renews their intentions – the passing of the years and the time is a blessing for that person. They have taken advantage of that time

And for those that do not? They are in a constant state of loss. Another year has passed and then another. It is just subtracting from your age. What is the passing of another year except that we’re getting older and going toward our ultimate end?

We recommend each other towards following the truth, and towards standing up for it, and towards enjoining. Enjoining the promotion of preserving deen and preserving truth, and justice, and mercy, and all of the good things that Allah wants us to see.

We need the patience to resist sinful practices but also patience to stay on the straight path because that requires effort. Our souls are on a journey to Allah Most High. Do we stay the course and stay dedicated towards that, or do we pass our time because we want to distract ourselves from the ultimate responsibility we have, which is to face Our Creator? 

Signs For Those Who Reflect 

Every single passing day – the sun rising and the sun setting – it’s a sign from Allah. The moon is a sign from Allah; the sun is a sign from Allah. And the passing of time and the new year passing is a sign from Allah.

Look back at your year in review – your self-accounting.

Renew your faith. Renew your repentance, which is to go back.

And renew intentions and resolutions – setting our intentions so that we come into the year intending to please Allah Most High and intend to live a life that pleases Him. 

 

Articles Relating to a New Year 

Hard Questions for the New Year – Imam Zaid Shakir

We thank Allah Most High for the gifts with which we have been blessed and we seek His forgiveness for our wrongdoings and shortcomings. We also make our New Year’s resolutions for the coming year—what we intend to achieve on our journey to Allah Most High, and the traits which we wish to leave behind.

ADVICE: Bidding Farewell to this Year and Welcoming a New Year

Dua for Protection at the Beginning of a New Year muwasala.org Habib Ali-AlHabshi.pdf

Articles Relating to People of Hope

Positivity Begets Positivity by Shaykh Muhammad Carr

Despite the ups and downs of everyday life, Shaykh Muhammad Carr refers to the positive psychology of Islam which teaches us to always do our best. The Holy Qur’an and Hadith have given us clear signs and examples of how to inspire people to break any negative cycles within themselves through approaches filled with hope and possibilities. 

Asking From God – The Art of Supplication: A Comprehensive Reader

 

Articles Relating to Making a Fresh Start

Human Potential: The Gift of Turning Back

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch asks the question: did Allah Most High create us to be perfect? In short, the answer is no and the presupposition that Allah Most High seeks from us absolute perfection results in devastating despair and a defeatist mentality.

Leaving Sins, Both Manifest and Hidden

 

Articles Relating to Repentance

The Door of Repentance and Return to Allah is Always Open – Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani encourages us to always remember that we’re dealing with the Most Merciful and Most Compassionate (al-Rahman, al-Rahim). Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an to never lose hope in Him, regardless of how badly we stumble, fall, err, or sin. (Qur’an, 39:53)

Overwhelmed by Guilt?

 

Articles Relating to Having Faith in Testing Times

Coping with Life’s Difficulties by Ustadha Hosai Mojaddidi

When you’re given a tribulation or test, the appropriate response is patience (sabr). If you respond with beautiful patience, which is at the onset of belief, then relief will follow. But if you don’t show patience then your troubles will increase.

Seek Refuge in Allah from Anxiety and Grief – Shaykh Salek bin Siddina

Turning Difficulty into Ease: Reflections from Surah al-Balad

 

Articles Relating to Attaching to Allah

Being with Allah and His Messenger – Habib Umar

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “A person is with the one they love.” Thus you can gauge your love for Allah Most High and His Messenger by gauging how much you are with them.

Our Only Concern is Reliance on Allah – Shaykha Ieasha Prime

Life, The Universe and Everything – Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat

Loving Allah: A Reader

Our transaction with Allah is based upon Closeness – Advice from Habib Ali al-Jifri-Muwasala

 

Question and Answer Relating to Hope in Allah 

Losing Hope and Struggling with the Din

Shaykh Farid Dingle affirms that we should not despair of Allah Almighty’s forgiveness, and that the cycle of sinning and then repenting is part and parcel of our relationship with Him. He loves for us to repent to Him. All we have to do is keep striving.

 

Video on Renewed Intentions

Renew Your Vow With Allah, counsel from Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin mentions that the intelligent person is one who holds themselves accountable and prepares for what comes after death. Thus, we should constantly engage in this practice and strengthen our relationship with Allah Most High.

 

Podcasts on Seeking Closeness to Allah

The Importance of Repentance – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

In this podcast Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said calls the believers to realize that the real wrongdoing is in not repenting and turning to Allah Most High when one errs. Repentance is one of the key traits of the believers. Shaykh Faid emphasizes that Allah is always watching and that we should be heedful of that.

The Reality of Repentance – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Don’t Fear, Truly God Is With Us: The Unconditional Hope – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Renewing Gratitude Through Reflection – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

 

Courses from SeekersGuidance for Beginners and as Refreshers

The History of Faith: Islamic History for Beginners

In this course, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives a complete overview of Islamic history, so that you will become more aware of the lessons from past events. You will gain a better understanding of how those events led to and potentially impacted the present-day reality that we face.

The Belief of the Masses: What Muslim Youth Need to Know

Living Hearts: Ghazali’s Book of Watchfulness and Self-Accounting Explained

 

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