Three days ago I wrote a post about the Islamic New Year. One thing I said was that it was like the custom of making New Year Resolutions, which non-Muslims often incorporate into their New Year celebrations. And since Muslims observe their New Year by reflecting on their relationship with Allah and their fellow man, I thought it would be appropriate to list the ways I hope to improve in the coming year (both Gregorian and Islamic). A couple of years ago, I made up my New Year Resolutions by arranging them by “projects.” I found it helpful to emphasize areas in which I wanted to improve more than individual resolutions.
So here are my projects for 1432 and 2011:
My Faith Project: This has to be at the top of my list because it influences the outcome of all my other projects. I want to grow as a Muslim and that means finding ways to show (and feel) my submission to Allah. Faithfulness in prayer and reading the Qur’an. Learning more about the Sunnah and the ahadith. Worshiping Allah by my every action and thought. Being grateful for all He has given me. Practicing da’wa and du’a. Loving and serving my fellow man. Fasting. Observing the festivals. Fighting the greater jihad.
My Family Project: I’m married. I have four grown daughters, one grandson and another grandchild on the way. I also have wonderful in-laws: my husband’s family and my new and old sons-in-law and their families. I have one sibling, a sister, her husband and all my nieces, nephews and grand-niece and nephew. I have two cousins I’ve recently renewed contact with. I even have ex-in-laws (as well as exes) who will always be a part of my life. I pray that I will be a better wife, mother, grandmother, in-law, sister, aunt, great-aunt, cousin and ex-wife and ex-in-law. The hardest one for me to ask help for, because I don’t even want to, is my relationship with my ex, the father of my children. We don’t even speak to each other. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing! But I’m willing to see what Allah has in store for me in that area.
My Friend Project: I’ve never made friends easily and, until I became a Muslim, I could count on one hand the number of good friends I had. Now I have so many brothers and sisters in Islam who are also my friends. I’ve become very close to some of them which amazes and thrills me. The only problem is that most of them are from foreign countries and are on the brink of moving away, either to go home, or to work and live in another state. I’ll have to try extra hard to keep up contact with them. One thing I hope to do better is to pray for them. They have so many things going on in their lives: new jobs, new homes, new babies! May I be a faithful and giving friend.
My Fellow Man Project: I really need to improve in this area. I’m terrible about giving to strangers. Oh, I give money to charities, but I don’t give anything personally. There are so many things I could do, things I’ve thought of doing but just never followed through with. I know that Allah has given me talents and qualities that can be put to use helping my fellow man and that it is wrong of me to not use them in that way. One reason why I don’t do more for others is complacency: I’m more comfortable staying in my little circle of family and friends. Another reason is fear: that I won’t like what I’m doing, that I’m not up to the challenge, that I won’t follow through.
My Fitness Project: I joined a gym six months ago, and although I’ve improved my fitness level, I haven’t lost one pound (and I need to lose at least thirty!). I also need to quit smoking. And I need to be better about check-ups and screening tests (I am almost 60, after all!). I definitely need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less sugar and fats. But most of all, I need to realize that becoming more fit is one way to follow Allah, not only because I am His creation, or because I want to live a good long life in which to serve Him, but also so that I have more energy and stamina for all the things He wants me to do.
My Focus Project: I struggle with depression and anxiety. I also have Attention Deficit Disorder, Inattentive. Add to that mix the medications I take and it’s a recipe for disaster. I have a lot of trouble focusing on what I need to do. I even have trouble focusing on what I want to do! It takes me forever to write a post because I get so distracted and also because I lose track of what I want to say. Sometimes I think the reason I write at all is to help me to remember what I think about things. Needless to say, this trouble with focusing bleeds over into other areas as well: I have trouble with prayer, with remembering birthdays and special occasions, and with following through ( that could be another “F” project!) on anything I start.
If you’ve read this far, you deserve kudos, because I’m sure this has been boring. I’m not the only one, by far, who wants to be a better believer, family member, friend, and human being. I certainly am not the only one who wants to lose weight, quit smoking and get fit. And let’s face it, one reason why people make up lists like these is because they have trouble with focus and follow-through. The truth is, I could add to this list ad infinitum. But I hope to up my chances of success by using the project model. Maybe you’ll find it helpful for you, too.