Bismillaahi Rahmaani Rahiim

I pray that this message finds you well and in continuous remembrance of Allah (SWT), as much as you are able. I am writing this letter today as a reminder to myself as much as it is a reminder to you, my fellow brothers and sisters in Islam. If you are reading this and you don’t consider yourself a Muslim, I pray that these words provide just as much benefit for you as well. As believers of monotheism, what good is piety if we don’t use what our Faith teaches us in our everyday lives? What good is religious knowledge if we don’t act in a manner befitting the underlying principles of that knowledge?

Islam is a religion of peace, charitability, prayer, patience, persistence, forbearance, acting upon good intentions while suppressing the negative, overcoming one’s own limitations, abstaining from excess, and relying upon God alone for your every need. To me, Islam is about community. While this life is a solo journey, we would never make it to the end were it not for the communities which lift us up and propel us forward. As much as we think we go through life alone, we are never truly alone; God is always with you, wherever you are.

As this New Year dawns upon us, I’d like you to take a second right now and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and reflect on the past year and give thanks for every blessing. How many hardships did you overcome? How many times did you find yourself facing an unsolvable issue, only to be saved at the last second by forces unseen? That force is none other than Allah (SWT). One of Allah’s 99 names is Al-Lateef: The Most Subtle, The Kind. Allah knows our situations more than even we do, and as such, knows exactly what we need at all times; we just have to ask Him for it.

Faith is all about developing a personal relationship with our One True God in this journey of life. The secret to any good relationship is communication, and if we don’t communicate with our Lord regularly, how can we expect Him to come to our rescue time and again? Reciting the Quran and praying the prescribed prayers are two of the best ways to stay in remembrance of Allah (SWT), and remembering Allah (SWT) is our way out of countless trials.

Allah (SWT) says in the Quran,

“So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me. Oh you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Quran 2:152-153)

No matter what affliction is facing you today, turn to Allah (SWT) and it will be lifted. After all, Allah (SWT) is the one who created everything around us. How could the One who created you not be perceptive of every tiny thing that troubles your soul? Despair not, brothers and sisters, Allah (SWT) is always within reach, waiting patiently for you to turn to Him and ask for His help. No one is beyond Allah’s (SWT) help; Allah (SWT) is Ever Merciful. If you feel like you have sinned so much that you don’t deserve Allah’s (SWT) help, say Astaghfirullah and snub that notion at the root. Such thoughts are directly from Satan’s whisperings to your soul and will serve only to keep you down, so don’t let Satan win. Remember that the door for repentance is always open for anyone who sincerely wishes to ask for forgiveness, up until the moment the angel of death approaches you to take your soul (i.e. death stares you in the face and you realize the truth) or when the sun rises from the west (signifying the end of the world).

“Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation.” (Quran 4:27)

My understanding of this verse, though I am by no means a scholar, tells me that Allah always is ready to accept our repentance because He is infinitely Merciful. The challenge is that we are tempted into believing that Allah will allow us to continue walking in an erroneous fashion with no consequence and that we can wait to repent until after we’ve had our fill of sin. Unfortunately, the pleasures of this world are such that you will never be satisfied by them. This is a trap set by Shaytaan for us all, my brothers and sisters. The underlying thought is that we will have enough time to repent because we can comfortably predict when our life will end (assuming old age).

The problem with that logic is that we don’t know if the next breath we take will be our last, let alone if we’ll live to see old age, and there is no fate worse than dying in a state of unrighteousness after switching back and forth between belief and disbelief.

“Indeed, those who have believed then disbelieved, then believed, then disbelieved, and then increased in disbelief – never will Allah forgive them, nor will He guide them to a way.” (Quran 4:137)

Those who are led by their passions, the ones who have given up on trying to get control over their base desires, will lead you to a path of deviation because misery loves company. If someone is doing good for themselves, they only want to see the same for everyone around them. If someone is clearly in the wrong, then they only want to bring everyone down to their level. It may not be done on a conscious level because human beings have a remarkable way of deceiving themselves, but the end result will be just the same. All that we can do as Muslims is to continue praying and surrounding ourselves with the best of His creation.

Stay patient, my brothers and sisters, and remember Allah often. I know that a lot of people make goals for the upcoming year on the 1st of January. My word of advice to you is to realign your priorities. Make pleasing Allah (SWT) your primary goal and all your other goals will fall into place. Live your life as if today is your last day, and that whichever deeds you accomplish will be what determine your fate in the hereafter. I know that we think we have all the time in the world, until that time runs out and we are left clutching the sheets of our deathbeds (if we are so lucky), wondering what we did with all that time. Time is a great deceiver, my brothers and sisters. Stay conscious of God and God will guide your heart in such a way that all your time will be fruitful, Insha Allah.

May Allah (SWT) protect your soul, guide your heart and grant you success in this life and the next.

Asalaamu Aleikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatahu,

Said Farah

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