NEW YEAR’S REFLECTION: Transforming the World

“Surely God does not change a people’s situation until they change what is in themselves…”

from the Qur’ān, sūrat al-ra‘d / “The Thunder” (13): 11

We open our eyes and find ourselves, by God’s grace and mercy, in a new year, with a fresh opportunity to change ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world.  But where do we start?  How do we even begin?

Recognizing that the status quo at all levels — within myself, my family, my community, and my world — was completely unacceptable, I began wrestling with this question in my khuṭbah or sermon crafted for the occasion of the ‘īd or feast concluding this past Ramaḍān (August 19, 2012), and I humbly offer an excerpt of that sermon here:

“I hunger for a revolution of consciousness, but I recognize that this revolution will not come quickly or easily… rather, it will come from the ground up, from a radical rediscovery of our faith and the essence of all Divinely-revealed religion. We need to rediscover and so reconceptualise who we are, what we are, what we are about, and what the ultimate purpose or goal of our existence really is. In more sophisticated terms, we need to rediscover the teleological consciousness that is at the heart of all prophetic teaching: namely, that we all – each one of us – came into existence by a deliberate and purposeful act of God, that God breathed God’s own spirit into us and appointed us to be the caretakers of the creation, that God gave us the capacity for knowledge and the capacity to reflect the Divine qualities in the world, and, ultimately, that we are all passing through this world on our way back to God, who is both the origin and the ultimate goal of our existence.

The Qur’ān instructs us to “seek God’s help with patience and prayer” and it also tells us that the task before us is “a momentous thing except for those who are lowly in spirit, those who reckon they will meet their Lord and who know they are to God returning” (2: 45-46)…”

Are we humble enough to recognize that the transformation for which we so hunger and thirst must begin within our own hearts?

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