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Giving New Year resolutions another chance

In the spirit of New Year resolutions doing the rounds, I have a story to share. My friend Rabiaa Dani gave up making resolutions a long time ago. She found it hard to keep her promises made at the start of each year. The issue had given her a lot of grief over the years. Frustration ensued when her New Year resolutions went out of the window, often culminating with her beating herself up.

The first few days were good but she would falter after the first week. She felt bad about her lack of willpower and would feel depressed and unworthy of respect or value. So she decided that she would no longer make them. However, unknown to her, she would review this decision at the end of 2017.

What happened? Rabiaa and her husband attended a talk by Ustaz Dato' Badli Shah bin Alauddin at Komplex Darul Baraqah in Manjoi, Ipoh, Perak on December 28, 2017. The Ustaz from Pahang is one Rabiaa's favourite preachers and she hardly misses his religious talks on television. This was the first time she had seen him in person and she was looking forward to absorbing the valuable nuggets of wisdom that Ustaz Badli Shah consistently provides at every session. The Ustaz did not disappoint and Rabiaa went away feeling that her life right now was prime time for resolutions, that the decisions she made now would determine the quality of her life in this world and the world hereafter we will all eventually return to. Her husband felt the same way and the pair had lots to talk about on the way home.

Ustaz Badli Shah began his talk by urging Muslim listeners to emulate the determination of animals to survive despite daunting circumstances. He gave the example of migratory birds whose survival instincts have astonished scientists and researchers. Why do they endure hardship to travel thousands of kilometres to warmer places when winter arrives. This article offers "fresh insight into why and how they do it." Malaysians must be like the migratory birds, said Ustaz Badli Shah. Malaysians need to develop coping skills to facilitate their resilience to personal and professional upheaval now and in the future.

Birds do not kill themselves when the going is rough; why should humans feel that ending their lives is the only solution to their problems. If plan A does not work there is always plan B, C, D, E until Z. Why stop at C? When you hit  a snag, turn to God the Almighty for help. Make dua, recite zikir (remembrance), read the Quran and do not miss the obligatory prayers.

"If you do not get what you like, like what you get," said Ustaz Badli Shah. "Do not give up easily when attempts at improving yourself fail." Rabiaa felt that the Ustaz was talking directly at her when he said this. An optimist will have a better chance of overcoming adversity than a pessimist.

Try not to judge yourself harshly and underestimate your capabilities. Each individual has talents unique to herself or himself. Focus on these talents or keistimewaan (strengths) as you find ways to overcome your troubles.

The elderly also have a special place in Ustaz Badli Shah's talk. It would foolish to ignore or dismiss the contributions of seniors, he reminded listeners, many of whom were golden agers. Younger members of the audience heard that retirees have an important role to play in their lives -- personal and professional -- and they would do well to remember this. No one is too old to change nor to make contributions to society and country. History has many stories of people who achieve success at a relatively late stage.

As this is the time of the year for resolutions perhaps a decision to reevaluate our relationship with our Creator would be a good start to 2018. We need to seek forgiveness from Him for all our  transgressions. We also need to reassess our ibadah (acts of worship) to ascertain if we have truly done our best. Have we also performed well at the workplace? Do we cheat our superiors by being dishonest?

There is also the issue of our relationship with family, extended family, friends and neighbours. How are we doing in this department?  Last but not least, let us introduce non-Muslims to the beauty of Islam.

We can all benefit from a certain amount of seclusion for contemplation and introspection. Rabiaa is ready to keep her resolutions. How about you?

Happy New Year!




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