1. Get vaccinated
Don’t delay - do your part to slow the spread of Covid. Vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against Covid-19, and getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from contracting the disease. Clinical trials have shown Covid-19 vaccines to be safe and highly effective at preventing severe disease, and today, vaccines are making a significant contribution to preventing deaths from Covid-19. As vaccines are rolling out and immunity is building among societies, it is important to continue to follow all of the recommended measures that reduce the spread of the virus. While we are still learning about the Omicron variant, scientists broadly agree that being vaccinated is vital to avoid severe illness.
2. Help someone with their mental health
In Muslim belief, the human mind is accorded an elevated status and importance. The mind is the faculty through which each individual can achieve knowledge of Allah and His creation. Thus, preservation of a sound mind is among the foundational principles of Islam's ethical code, which strives to ensure the dignity and honour of each individual throughout the course of life.
It is important to remember that mental health conditions are treatable. Any one of us may take on the responsibility — the ‘ability to respond’ — to someone who needs a person to speak to, a shoulder to lean on, or the encouragement to see a professional.
3. Protect the environment
In the Qur’an, we are advised to live in harmony with the natural world that supports us and gives us life, and not to upset the delicate balance we find in nature. We have been entrusted by Allah to leave behind a healthy and sustainable environment for future generations. As such, all acts, large or small, to care for the natural and built environments are in keeping with the ethics of Islam.
4. Make smart choices
It is human nature to constantly crave more. Corporations have made an industry out of tapping into the consumerist desires of our psyche. We sometimes tie our happiness to the things we own, but we also observe that people with less can be just as happy. Instead of filling voids in our life by spending money on material things, take a moment to think about where to draw the line between economic security and excessive spending.
The pandemic has highlighted the unpredictable nature of the world, and the global economy is likely to have ups and downs over the coming year. Now is a time to be prudent with finances.
5. Learn something new
A worthy new year’s resolution is to spend more time learning. “The most self-sustaining wealth is the intellect,” which “gives one mastery over one's destiny,” is among the sayings attributed to Hazrat Ali. Being online means it has never been easier to learn or try something new. Many courses from reputable institutions are now available in virtual form. You can choose to spend time learning a new language, trying a new recipe, practicing a musical instrument, or engaging in a new hobby like knitting, painting, or meditation. You might decide to read a new book, or maybe several! Not only will you be developing yourself personally and/or professionally, you’ll also acquire knowledge to better prepare for our next tip.
For many centuries, the tradition of giving of one's time, knowledge, and resources has been a prominent feature and a key ethical principle of the Ismaili community. Volunteering aligns well with the Jamat’s long-standing values of kindness, generosity, and care for others. In his literary masterpiece The Prophet, the renowned author and poet Kahlil Gibran wrote, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give…” Now, more than ever before, volunteering offers the opportunity to contribute to the greater good of humanity.
7. Use technology responsibly
When trying to be helpful, we sometimes share information on WhatsApp groups with colleagues, family, and friends. However, this information is not always accurate. Forwarded messages might contain useless, incorrect, or even harmful information and advice. Don’t be a misinformation superspreader. Before sharing WhatsApp or social media messages, question the source, use fact-checking websites, and only take advice from official, trusted institutions. By taking a moment to think about the factual basis of the news we consume and forward, we can stem the spread of misinformation.
8. Redress the balance
Our lives today are incredibly demanding, with many responsibilities and worries. We have our work, schoolwork, families, aspirations, and anxieties all pulling us in different directions. With so many competing priorities, how can one be calm and centred?
Mawlana Hazar Imam has spoken many times of the intertwined nature of faith and world, and emphasised the importance of a balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life. See if your life is currently unbalanced in one direction or the other, and strive to strike a steady equilibrium.
9. Engage with difference
Try to learn about a person from a different background to yours. This could be someone from another religion, race, or culture, or it could be someone differently-abled, mentally or physically. They could be your neighbour, or a historical figure from a different continent.
It is stated in the Qur’an that Allah created all humans from a single soul, and that difference adds to the beauty of the world. This is the essence of pluralism. More than creating a merely tolerant world, let’s build one where diversity is embraced as a condition for peace, prosperity, and harmony.
10. Draw lessons from adversity
The poet, writer, and activist Maya Angelou once said, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
2021 was a difficult year for many of us. Yet, we can remain thankful, as challenging times tend to teach us about ourselves and what we need to flourish. An accompanying dose of humility and self-awareness should also be welcomed. There’s plenty about 2021 that you probably cannot wait to leave behind. But for each of us, there might also be some valuable lessons to take forward into the new year.