In all probability, December 7th (in the Gregorian calender) will be the Islamic New Year, otherwise known as 1 Muharram 1432 A.H. Not being familiar with how Muslims celebrate the New Year, I had to look it up. Apparently it’s quite different in tone from the Gregorian New Year. Whereas non-Muslims make a lot of noise, dress up and go to parties and drink, Muslims see the New Year as an opportunity to reflect on where they are in life, what kind of Muslims they’ve been and how they might do better. I guess you could say it’s more like the non-Muslim practice of making New Year resolutions. But both approaches are based on the idea that the New Year is a chance to start over.
Of course, we don’t have to wait for a new year to start over. Because of Allah’s forgiveness, we can start over at any time, and in fact Muslims are encouraged to do so. Allah knows that life is difficult and that we face many challenges along the way. He is always there for us. One thing I love about the Fatiheh is the statement, “It is You alone that we are to worship and You alone that we are to seek help from.” (That’s a very rough translation!) Allah tells us through the Qur’an and our daily prayers that it is just as important for us to seek His help as it is to worship Him. That means a lot to me.
Sometimes it’s easier to worship Allah than it is to ask for His help. I think that’s partly because we don’t believe that He really will help us. Plus, it’s tiring to have to ask for help over and over. I want to ask for something once and be done with it. But I know that I am changed for the better when I ask repeatedly and faithfully for help with ongoing issues. Being human, I fail again and again to live up to the standard that Allah has for me. But as long as I rely on Him, I can have victory over and over again as well.
It’s important to see that we can and do succeed as often as we fail. Or at least that’s the ideal. Because every time we look to Allah for help, we are successful. Every time we are repentant, we are successful. Every time we start over, we are successful. Yes, we’re going to fail again, but when we repent and re-dedicate ourselves to Allah, we are triumphing over Shaitan, insh’allah. He (Shaitan) hates it when we do that!
I must give Shaitan plenty of grief. He probably thinks he has me when I miss a prayer or fail to love my fellow man. But then aha! I foil him when I repent and ask Allah to keep me on the straight path. Shaitan loves it when we fall short. But what he doesn’t take into account is that Allah is Most Merciful and Oft-Forgiving. And the man or woman who is truly submitted to Allah can never belong to Shaitan.
I don’t mean that any of us can ever be certain that we will see Paradise. But as long as we keep starting over and asking for Allah’s forgiveness, as long as we submit to Him and His will, as long as we worship Him and ask for His help, and as long as we love and serve others, we can be assured that Allah is on our side. What more can we ask?