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Bookkeeping Resolutions

by | Jan 11, 2021

It’s once again that time of year where we change calendars, size of pants and we make resolutions; resolutions that we vow to keep. Yeah, highly unlikely! Most new year resolutions are broken before taking the next one. Only 9% make good on them and 25% break them within the month of January. So what is up with the whole idea of making a resolution in the first place.

Why does it have to start in the new year?

Why do I feel obliged to make one?

Why do I suck so badly in respecting them?

All legitimate questions, and questions that we shall visit one by one.

First off, the 1st of January is a terrible date to start something. Most people in western countries are off work and have just been in family gatherings based on consumption; so this is a highly unsuitable time to make a resolution. As for the date itself, it is purely arbitrary; it just happens to be the first day of the year. If we would think this way in normal terms, people would say “I will be wiser with my money” on income tax deadline day, or “I will study harder at school” on the last day of school. The only reason why January 1st has become synonymous with resolutions is because it is the beginning of something. 

Now, making a resolution and having the resolve to get through it are two completely different aspects. Often, when one makes a resolution, it often involves change. And change is not something that your self or body enjoys. Therefore, you turn into water and revert back to the path of least resistance. Which is great for the water cycle, but you end up back at square one. It is easy to feel compelled to change out of guilt, out of logic, out of… Whatever is the reason. But it is hard to change. That is why one should not impose a drastic change in one day, but work in increments.

…for Allah does not get tired (of giving reward) till you get tired, and the best deeds to Allah are the incessant ones though they were few.

Sahih al-Bukhari 5861

It is useless to go on a severe no-carb diet for 3 weeks and then squander it at the first sight of a Twinkie. It is useless to read the Quran 5 times in the month of Ramadan and forget it in your drawer the rest of the year. It is useless to subscribe to a gym if you don’t even have the intention to go.

So resolutions should be attainable and gradual. You should make resolutions throughout your life. They should even be on a daily basis. One should revise his situation every day. It is reported that Omar ibn Al-Khattab said:

… Judge yourselves before you are judged…

Jami’ Al-Tirmidhi, Book 37, Hadith 2647

If merchants bookkeep to see the progress of their commerce, it might just be a good idea to follow suit. Make a list of your hits and misses of your day, your week, month and year. Make a progression sheet of what you want to do and how will you reach your goal, and feel free to look back at your work to reassess or to forge harder ahead. And don’t get demoralised by a lack of progress, for it is often guilt that gets you to change but it is also guilt that makes you despair when you take a step back.

As to why we suck in general when it comes to resolutions… It’s because we are human, we suck at a lot of things. That is why when it comes to resolutions, you need a drive and a commitment system to keep you moving along. You remember those statistics from before… well, those people used will power to get through their resolution. Personally, I have no will except with the power of Allah. If he becomes your drive and your commitment system, resolutions become way easier.

Why? First off, your resolve is only as strong as your drive and your commitment system. And let’s be honest, we can easily weasel our way out of any system. But try hiding yourself from Him while you shove a Twinkie down your throat. Try calling in sick when He knows you want to catch the game live instead of pulling in your shift at the local food bank. Try refusing a few bucks to a person in need when you know the reward He has prepared for those who give. It is this desire and fear that should drive you. The desire of pleasing Allah and to obtain his favor; and the fear of his wrath and punishment.

…Indeed, they used to race in doing good, and call upon Us with hope and fear, totally humbling themselves before Us.

Sourat Al-Anbiya (21 – 90)

This is what the prophets were used to doing. Now, if you come up with a better resolution strategy, I’m all ears; but I won’t hold you to it if you give up by mid January.

As for yours truly, don’t think that I am the pinnacle of resolution taking; I have my good share of faults. For instance, I am a grade-A procrastinator. It’s true, I am. If you want to know how good (or bad) of a procrastinator I am… let’s just say that it took me almost 5 years to call for an electrician to check a non functioning light fixture and socket in our master bathroom, and that is with a wife and kids. So after succumbing to countless appeals from my significant other, I finally (huge understatement) had an electrician come over and he fixed the problem. But that is not the end of the story; the problem wasn’t really up to the electrician to solve. You see, all I needed to do is to push the reset button on the GFCI outlet, which also had the light fixture wired to it… click… just the reset button… true story… copyright, stamped it! Imagine my embarrassment, not in front of the electrician, but in front of “she who must be obeyed”… I mean I procrastinated for 5 years… No, not to renovate… No, not to change the sink… but for a click… On another note, just to deflect a little from me, there is actually a great TED talk on the subject of procrastination by Tim Urban which is really worth the see.

So after this ordeal, I changed… a little. While I still procrastinate, I do get things rolling and done a lot more and a lot faster. I used the Asbab needed (ways, reason, methods) and I make Dua (imploration, ask for help, prayer). These two components, as we have mentioned before (Blog on Good Logistics do not guarantee Victory, but Bad Logistics will guarantee Defeat), are the two keys to success in any venture. So I make check-off lists, give myself time and double it for good measure (Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law). Moreover, I do Adhkar (mentioning of Allah, mention grace) every morning and evening and give special importance to the following passage, for it resonates louder with me than other parts:

My Lord! I seek refuge in You from lethargy…

Narrated by Muslim, Riyad As-Salihin, 1455.

And with these two features (Asbab and Dua), Allah has permitted me to get better in this regard… true story… copyright, stamped it!

Final Exam – Day of Judgement

Good Logistics do not guarantee Victory, but Bad Logistics will guarantee Defeat

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

When I mean bad, I mean something that everyone will agree to as fundamentally wrong. I don’t mean what is acceptable to modern standards, but fundamentally evil. Not only there is no evil within what is ordained, but it can only be depicted as righteous and good when looked at as a whole. Here are some Islamic principles that are listed in the Quran:

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.”

And do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weight in justice. We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you testify, be just, even if [it concerns] a near relative. And the covenant of Allah fulfill. This has He instructed you that you may remember.

And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.

Surah Al-Anam (6 – 151-153)

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 90)

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.

And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”

Your Lord is most knowing of what is within yourselves. If you should be righteous [in intention] – then indeed He is ever, to the often returning [to Him], Forgiving.

And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully.

Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.

And if you [must] turn away from the needy awaiting mercy from your Lord which you expect, then speak to them a gentle word.

And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent.

Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, Acquainted and Seeing.

And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.

And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].

And do not approach the property of an orphan, except in the way that is best, until he reaches maturity. And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned.

And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with an even balance. That is the best [way] and best in result.

And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.

And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.

All that – its evil is ever, in the sight of your Lord, detested.

That is from what your Lord has revealed to you, [O Muhammad], of wisdom. And, [O mankind], do not make [as equal] with Allah another deity, lest you be thrown into Hell, blamed and banished.

Surah Al-Isra (17 – 23-39)

Most of the accusations come from people who do not agree with the standard of morality or virtue that is ordained in Islam. For instance, the Hijab for women; not being allowed to have a sip of wine or not even having a girlfriend… These practices have become customary in “modern” civilizations, yet they are considered illicit in Islam. Society is always faced with dumbing down standards and laws to curtail the desires of the majority. But the fundamental question remains; what makes it right now but made it wrong before (and vice versa)? This type of thinking induces decadence. Virtues and morals become trivial, unattainable utopias, unrealistic… mockeries.

This was the same discourse used by the people of Lot thousands of years ago when they wanted him and his family out of their city.

But the answer of his people was only that they said, “Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure.”

Surah Al-Aaraf (7 – 82)

Wow! Accused of being too pure… It’s like someone who says: “Ah! He gets on my nerves because he is too polite.” or: “look at her; she thinks she is so superior! She doesn’t even want to dress like us.” and the classic: “Look at that geek; he thinks that his A+ is going to stop him from that face pounding.” What is it that makes that person’s conduct wrong in the first place; what did he do to deserve this reprimand? Is it high self-esteem (or lack of it)? Is it because a person is different (where his difference is not accepted)? Is it because of jealousy (or more likely envy)?

It is sad to see that we have reached a point where righteous conduct is ridiculed and marginalized. Someone who gives his seat on the bus is looked at awkwardly; a student who says Mam and Sir is called a suck-up; a 16-year-old virgin is made fun of. But, as we have seen, this attitude has been present for millennia, all depending on the context and stage in which a society is to be found.

But in the end…

And it will be said to those who feared Allah, “What did your Lord send down?” They will say, “[That which is] good.” For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous –

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 30)

Faith

the process of belief