So it's that time of year again. When the days are short, the nights long and you have large amounts of time off from your school/ college/ workplace for Christmas/ New Year etc… We may take advantage of being able to lie in till later than usual, laze around the house in our pajamas well past Dhuhr and slowly catching up with TV shows, chores or career related assignments.
Essentially, this will be a few days off like any other few days off in the years before. We'll trudge back to our normal lives with little to show apart from a slightly expanded waistline and the reduced bags under our eyes. But it could all be so different. How? Well, for starters – we could use this time (one of the most precious commodities that Allāh has given us) to kick start something new… something life changing. Here are just a few ideas:
1. Read an Islamic book
Whilst most of us will almost certainly be stocking up on nourishment for our stomachs during the break, many will be neglecting intellectual and spiritual nourishment that comes from gaining Islamic knowledge. We all have a book or two that we wish we could read but we just can't find the time. Well, this is that time. Want to know exactly why Khālid b. Walīd was one of the greatest generals of all time? Interested in learning all about the fiqh of raising children? Looking for Islamic inspiration at a low point in your life? There's a book for all of that and more.
2. Aḥadīth at home
Winter break is a time where everyone is at home with schools and offices being shut across the country. This quality family time could be spent going to multiple dinner parties and flicking through Christmas specials on TV. But it could also be spent a bit more constructively with the family briefly sitting down together to go through a ḥadīth. Get the kids interested by involving them in debate on the meaning or application of the ḥadīth, or even getting them to prepare some ḥadīth themselves, will reap rewards for decades to come. The family that prays together stays together.
3. Attend an Islamic event
Here in the West, we are very lucky that there are a variety of Islamic events organized for the winter break. Many of these are family friendly and there is usually something for every taste around. Whether it is fiqh, tafsīr, sīrah, or comparative religion – you'll find a talk or course organized somewhere for you and your friends or family. All you need is the desire to learn and the willingness to travel. Grab your younger brother or sister, that friend who just needs a push in the right direction, or even your parents and make the journey. The trip there and back could be a real chance to open up about where you (and they) are going Islamically and what could be done about it.
4. Inspire children at your Mosque
There are mosques in which the children are inspired and entertained by their elders in a way that makes them keep coming back for more. Sadly, these mosques are very few and far between. We could just sit at home and complain that the mosque isn't welcoming enough, or we could try and do something about it. This winter, why not put on a talk for children around a subject they may find vaguely interesting? All it needs is the willingness to share a story, some nifty advertising, and a desire to inspire rather than bore. You can talk about literally anything, from the real story behind Christmas and 'Īsa , to what parents are looking for in prospective son-in-laws. If you do it right, the cool feeling of seeing someone get closer to the faith through you sharing knowledge with them will keep you coming back for more week after week.
5. Organize a fundraiser
Unfortunately there is no shortage of Muslims in the world who are in desperate need. Whether it be in Burma, Gaza, Syria, or in many African nations – a relatively small amount of money could be the difference between life and death. This winter, why not organize a fundraiser at your home or mosque where people come together for an evening of ḥalāl entertainment, food, and social activism? Show them pictures of the suffering people, share some stories, and then encourage donations. Not only will you have a chance to spend a pleasant evening with friends and interesting strangers, but you'll be doing your part to make the world a better place. Once you start, you'll be so filled with an indescribable sense of purpose and peace that it'll be difficult to wait till your next one.
The only limits to the amount of good and perpetually beneficial things that can be done during your current break are your desire to make a practical change and the spark to get you going in the first place. Get off the sofa, turn off the computer and open the door. A world of possibility awaits.