Reflection No. 172 on Q 16:97 – A New Beginning
مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنْثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً
Man ‘amila SāliHan min dhakarin aw unthā wahuwa mu’minun falanuHyiyannahu Hayātan Tayyibah
Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure. . .
(Sūratun Nahl, No. 16, Āyat 97)
After completing the month of Ramadan and celebrating Eid, life should be different for the believer. Spirituality has been enhanced during the month and there is hope that sins have been forgiven. It is now a fresh new start.
In the verse above, Allah promises a new life to those who have faith and do good deeds. Gender or race does not matter. The only two conditions are faith in God and good deeds done sincerely. According to Tafsīr-e Namūneh, this new and pleasant life refers to life of this world. It will be a life that is positive and happy, not because circumstances are always comfortable but because faith gives patience and contentment. The quality of life improves tremendously, decreasing negativity and increasing mindfulness and focus in life.
The human ability to change and improve in all aspects of life is amazingly powerful. It can transform life. A fresh start allows this change. The end of the month of Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to make resolutions for improvement in life. According to this verse, two things are required for a new, more pleasant life, faith and good deeds. We must persevere in renewing and reinforcing both of these.
Increase faith on a constant basis after the month of Ramadan. Each person is unique and needs different inspirations to bolster faith. There is no one method that works for everyone. The Holy Quran says: Everyone acts according to his own disposition (Q 17:84) Find out what inspires your faith and do more of it, be it reading, listening to others, joining a group, taking a class . . . Make the intention to continue increasing faith during the year.
Good deeds are the natural result of faith in God and the hereafter. Faith waters good deeds and helps them bloom. Strong faith creates enhanced good deeds. Imam Ali (a) says: You should also know that every action is like vegetation, and vegetation cannot do without water while waters are different. So where the water is good the plant is good and its fruits are sweet, whereas where the water is bad the plant will also be bad and its fruits will be bitter. (Nahjul Balāgha, Sermon 154)
There is a lot going on in the world today, and believers need to be aware and mindful of their duties. It is not enough to worship God and focus on the self. Humanity is in dire need of help and we need to find out what we can do to make a difference in the world. Even if we cannot do much to remove the evil that is spreading, can we do our part to spread good? Do acts of kindness to counter the inhumanity that is becoming so rampant? Small acts of patience and kindness, unselfish words and deeds to spread good will create a ripple effect and will hopefully spread far. That is the lesson of empathy we must take from the month of Ramadan.
Source: Reflection No. 30 from Quranic Reflections, Academy for Learning Islam, Holy Ramadan 1435, Richmond Hill: 2014.