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What Are Your New Year Resolutions?

The last days of the year are perhaps the most hectic times of our lives. Everyone is busy wrapping up what has remained unfinished, an incomplete project, an undecided relationship or an unsaid word. Among all these noises, one might stop for a moment and look back at the 365 days that have passed so quickly, and how they have gone by. “What have I accomplished? What are the mistakes that I am repeatedly making? Have I reached my goals? Have I become a better (or worse) person? Have I even changed? How much have I fulfilled my responsibilities as a Muslim?” these are the questions that we always ask ourselves at this time of the year. And when the last seconds of the year come, we start thinking of the days that are before us; of our new resolutions, plans, and decisions. 2018 or 17 are not different if our days are not going to be more productive and better than before. 


Look back at the past, Plan to Be Better in Future

new year resolutions, past, present, future

Islam recommends us to evaluate ourselves regularly and look back at our actions [i]. However, this does not mean that you should just remember your past mistakes, regret making them and do nothing. Every new day is a chance for us to put aside one bad habit and go toward the perfect version of ourselves, not being satisfied with our past achievements and always setting new goals.


Loser, Winner, Cursed

new year resolutions, winner, loser

According to Imam Ali (AS), you are a loser if your two days (or two years, two weeks, etc.), are spent the same, meaning that you have not improved or have not added anything to your life. This could be reading a book, watching a worthwhile movie, planting a tree, caring more about your parents, etc.  The worse thing is when you are degrading and your present day is no better than yesterday. This kind of person is cursed, Imam Ali (AS) believes. You win the cup if you live a better and more productive day than yesterday! Of course a day, or two days, etc. are only metaphors, and they can mean any span of time. What is important is how you pass these moments, days or years.


Have a Life Purpose

new year resolutions, purpose, plan, Islam 

The new year is also a chance to renew our goals and purposes. I know that it might sound like a cliche, yet it is impossible to deny the importance of motivation or a drive to push you and make you ambitious. You might have many purposes, some long-term and some short-term, some financial or spiritual. And do not just think about your goals, but take action toward achieving them [ii]. Islam guides us toward becoming a better person and thus sets specific goals for Muslims to be aware of in their lives. A Muslim’s ultimate purpose which will spread in all aspects of his/her life and every decision and every move is to get as near as possible to that eternal source of blessing and peace, Allah, and be worthy of His worship [3].   


Be a Better Person Regarding Allah, Yourself and Others

Being ambitious is not enough. It is important to feel responsible as well. Islam differentiates three people as the ones to whom we hold some responsibilities, which have to be fulfilled simultaneously; including Allah, ourselves and others. Our first and foremost responsibility is toward Allah, our One, and Only Creator. Perhaps a few minutes before the New Year is the best time to think of His blessings to us and decide to appreciate them more through worshiping Him sincerely and devote some time of our life to praying. Secondly, we are responsible for ourselves; taking care of our mind and spirit, having a plan for our life and continually following it, observing a healthy lifestyle, etc. And finally, we have some responsibilities toward others, other human beings, other creatures, our surroundings, etc. To be a better person, we should be careful in our interactions with other people, be conscious of how we treat the environment and animals and strive to build a better world. 

Make a New Year Resolution, keep Doing it, Evaluate Your Outcome 

new year resolution, plan, Islam

You can start a new year with a plan for your next 365 days. As Muslims, our life plans should always reflect our Islamic values. Having that in mind, think of what you want to achieve; how you can better fulfill your responsibilities toward Allah, yourself and others as enumerated in Islam (specify the actions that you should commit and the things you have to avoid doing to guarantee your commitment to those responsibilities), or where you want to be this time next year. Have a look at the big picture and set little goals which will lead you to that ultimate purpose and help you become a better Muslim.
Then, keep track of your plan during the year, observe your progress and see how much of your plan you have fulfilled and to what extent you have been devoted to your Islamic responsibilities. As Imam Ali (AS) beautifully puts, you should strive to build your life as if you have eternity before you, and at the same time be aware of the day (i.e., The Day of Judgment) that you will be questioned about your actions and manners in this world [4].
The last days of the year are like the exam days, but this time you would examine yourself. As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) puts, when it comes to evaluation, you should be harder on yourself than when you are evaluating other people’s deeds [5]. You would evaluate whatever you have done up to that time and how much of that big picture that you had in your mind has completed.  
Finally, if we are willing to make the most of our lives, we have no other choice than be aware of our every step and every action that we take. And, every new year marks our promise to ourselves and Allah to be the best we can and continue going toward this goal.   

  

Notes:

[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Evaluate yourself before you would be evaluated [by Allah on the Judgment Day]” [1].
[ii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “Your efforts make you worthy” [2].


References:

[1] Al-Hurr al-Aamili, Wasā'il al-Shīʿa, vol.16, p.99.    
[2] Nahj al-Balaghah, Wisdom no. 47.
[3] Quran (36:61)
[4] Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili, Wasā'il al-Shīʿa, vol.2, p.535.
[5] Ibid, vol.16, p.98.

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