Embracing Spiritual Resolutions in the New Year

Dr Qurratul-Ain Anni Rehman, London

It is in our nature to look forward to the future and to wish and hope for something better for ourselves, our families and the world at the start of the New Year. There is also an element of self-reflection on our failings and achievements over the past year and we may make New Year’s resolutions. The most popular resolutions of 2024 in the UK are: to do more exercise, save money, lose weight and eat better.[i]

However, how often do we make and reflect on our spiritual goals?
In the Holy Qur’an, Allah has commanded us to reflect not just at the end of the year, but constantly. “O ye who believe! fear Allah; and let [every] soul look to what it sends forth for the morrow. And fear Allah; verily Allah is Well-Aware of what you do.” (Surah al-Hashr, Ch.59: V.19)

Hazrat Musleh Maud (may Allah be pleased with him) who established Lajna Imaillah explained to the whole community that we should continuously self-reflect to see if our practice and decisions are in accordance with the Holy Qur’an and Hadith. When we consider that only Allah is aware of how long we have to live and what the future holds for us, we should aim to live every day as if it is our last and avoid procrastination.

While making resolutions is necessary and beneficial in our long-term progress, keeping them is not easy. According to YouGov only 31% of those who say they made resolutions for 2023 managed to keep them all, while 16% admit they didn’t keep any of their resolutions.[ii]

This is why the Holy Qur’an offers guidance and hope for those difficult periods when breaking a habit or permanently adopting a virtue becomes difficult. The Holy Qur’an records the advice of Hazrat Luqman that he gave to his son:
“‘O my dear son! observe Prayer, and enjoin good, and forbid evil, and endure patiently whatever may befall thee. Surely this is of those matters which require firm resolve.” (Surah Luqman, Ch.31: V.18)

Keeping to any resolution requires the firm belief that it will lead to a good end ultimately, however difficult the path to attain the goal. This is why Allah reminds us that “…If you believe and be righteous, you shall have a great reward.” (Surah Aal-e-Imran 3:180)

In the work environment we are encouraged to set SMART goals, which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Can these be translated to our spiritual outcomes? For example, rather than resolving to ‘be a better Ahmadi Muslim’ we could resolve to pray two nawafil (voluntary prayer) every single day for the next year, or resolve to write to Huzoor for prayers every week for the next year. Once these manageable steps become regular habits they are embedded and are likely to naturally continue, to be built on after another time interval.

The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) understood human nature long ago and said, “Allah loves deeds which are done regularly, be they only a few.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah be his Helper) reminds us to consider what efforts we’ve made to achieve the purpose of our lives in the previous year and what pledges we have made for the next one. He said:
“We need to self-reflect how much we fulfilled our pledges last year and if there were any deficiencies how can we make good this year. The Promised Messiah, on whom be peace, said: ‘Only that person joins our Jamaat who makes our teaching his modus operandi and puts it in practice according to his strength and endeavour.’” (www.alislam.org/friday-sermon/2015-01-02.html)

Our focus in this world as the Jamaat of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) is towards God. This focus was demonstrated in the example of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV, (Allah have mercy on him) in an incident before he became Khalifa. When it was time for the New Year, took a newspaper and placed it on the floor of a London train station and performed some nawafil (voluntary prayers). After finishing, he saw an Englishman in tears watching him. He asked him what the matter was and the Englishman replied, “The whole world is getting drunk and you are the only one that remembers God at this time”.

Huzoor (may Allah be his Helper), repeatedly reminds us that we should be proud of our religion, to do the right thing and never worry about being ridiculed by others because we are only answerable to God.

Lajna Ima’illah UK has always been at the forefront of sacrifices whether it be of time, children or wealth. Living in the West we must seek to navigate our families around the pitfalls of superficial glamour and materialism to stay on the path that leads to Allah the Almighty. In doing so we can be hopeful of heaven for them not only in the hereafter but also a heaven on Earth.
The second century of our beloved Lajna Imaillah has also begun. Our goals have been set. Huzoor (may Allah be his Helper) has said that Ahmadi women must not be content unless 100% of the Lajna members reach the highest standards of worshipping Allah and strive to spread the teachings of Islam. Huzoor stressed: “You cannot rest easy until all members of Lajna seek to convey Islam’s teachings and fulfil their duties to ensure the moral and spiritual training of the next generation. Only when you reach such heights will you have fulfilled your objectives…”

At the turn of 2023, there appears to be more uncertainty than ever about the future of the world. If there was ever a time to start the New Year with prayer and prostration rather than parties and pretensions, it is now. Pray for all the innocent people caught up in conflicts all over the worlds. Pray for the elderly, children and women in Gaza. Always pray for our Beloved Huzoor (may Allah be his Helper) and his family who stays awake at night to pray for all of us.

May Allah enable each and every one of us to achieve our personal spiritual goals and collective goals given to us by our beloved Khalifa. May Lajna Imaillah UK go from strength to strength taking every child, Nasirat and Lajna member along in its progress.

[i] https://yougov.co.uk/society/articles/48223-what-new-years-resolutions-are-britons-making-for-2024
[ii] ibid