The end of the year usually brings with it a sense of reflection and evaluation. This year has been more challenging, as we experienced the difficulties of a global uncertainty. Many have struggled with anxiety, fear, loneliness and loss in many ways.

Consider the start of the new year with a sense of renewal. “For indeed, with hardship comes ease. Indeed, with hardship comes ease” (Qur’an, 94:4-5).

Imam Ilyas Anwar

Reflect on our relationship with God and consider the ways in which we wish to deepen it. There’s a special blessing in recognizing this need and in turning to God, for in every situation, He has provided a path for us to do so.

There are many pertinent topics related to starting anew: evaluation, purpose, repentance and returning, hope, love, responding with faith in difficulty, and improving the self. It seeks to give a sense of a meaningful renewal of faith through reflection.

The new year marks the movement of the Earth circulating completely around the sun in 365 days. This is a journey that the entire world embarks on, year after year. And this journey, in the course of a year, comes back to where it began. And these are the signs of God that He uses the sun, the moon and the Earth to have a measure of time so that we as human beings can regulate. When we realize that time is passing in certain increments, we know that anything that is incremental is limited. We can count discreetly that we’re moving forward and we reflect upon how much we have covered and how much we have left. 

The idea of self-accounting has a significant place in Islam because it is the way we review where we are with God: What have we done this past year; our deeds; our improvements; our journey towards God; have we let bad habits into our lives? These are all important questions one can reflect on as one increment comes to an end and another begins. Looking back and reflecting is common in the Islamic tradition.

But where were we with God throughout those events? When a disaster happened—did we pray for those involved? Did we show concern for them? If we could, could we help them in any way? Could we donate in any way? Could we at least pray for people? How did that bring us closer to God? Ask yourself—what did this do for me and my relationship with God and the journey of my soul to Him?

It is not only a time of review, but it is a time of renewal. God brings us back to the beginning of the cycle. The idea of time being cyclical and coming back again and again. So we can renew. It is an opportunity to learn and have a fresh start.

Anyone who reflects, reviews and renews their intentions—the passing of the years and the time is a blessing for that person.

Imam Ilyas Anwar is the religious leader for South Valley Islamic Community, serving them and the larger Muslim community in the Bay Area for over 20 years. He is an active member of the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County and can be reached at [email protected].

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