Best Days of the YearZubair Akram
When we were children, we would always look forward to the summer holidays. I remember the excitement that would ensue as we would enter the months of June and July at school. The long days would pass painfully slowly, maths class would feel especially tiresome, and fun-days and school-trips would mark the end of the academic year. After a long wait, the summer holidays would finally start.
Following all of the anticipation, I would often notice that the reality was unmistakably anticlimactic. The novelty of being at home would soon wear off, and quite simply, it became boring. ‘What shall I do?’ I’d pester my mum. ‘Read a book’ she’d suggest. Growing into teenage years however, many of us would quite happily do nothing all day long. Staying at home and watching TV sounded like an ideal routine. This was our ‘well-deserved’ break after a long year of working hard. The summer holidays marked a time that was unashamedly ours.
As the years continued to pass through GCSEs, A-Levels and University, looking back, I realised that many summers had been wasted. Most of them in fact, weren’t even remotely memorable. I came to the realisation that this time could instead be used for self-reflection and personal growth.
In recent years, some of the most blessed days of the year have fallen in the summer. Ramadhan feels as though it just ended, but already, we find ourselves in the midst of Dhul-Hijjah. These seasons of worship offer us the ideal opportunity to reform, rectify and refine our inner states. The Prophet (saw) said:
“There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” (Bukhari)
Too often, we tend to limit our perception of good deeds to prayer, fasting and charity. While these are fundamental acts of worship, we must diversify our focus. In these blessed days, we must strive for righteousness in everything that we do. An easy way to do this is to think in terms of service. First, we are servants to Allah, and therefore must prioritise our private worship and personal relationship with our Creator. Building on this, we can then question further.
How can I better serve my parents?
How can I be of service to those in need? How can I offer my financial, emotional and spiritual support to those who may need it?
How can I serve my community?
How can I serve the Masjid – the house of Allah?
How can I serve my own needs, by recognising my inherent need for improvement?
These are a few questions that can help us to aim for righteousness in every sphere of our lives. As these blessed days enter and leave, and the years and decades continue to elapse, we must instil within ourselves the concept of continual growth. There is always something to learn. There is always a skill to improve. While we are alive, there is always a chance to get better. Allah (swt) blesses us with these special times periodically throughout the year, to prompt us to cleanse ourselves, reflect and regain focus. In what remains of these days, let us then work with a greater level of sincerity, commitment and reflection.