Midnight on New Year’s Eve
Unlike most other years, I didn’t find myself watching the chimes of Big Ben, gazing at the fireworks over the Dubai sky or even simply lying in bed fast asleep.
No this year, I was on a flight 35,000 feet in the air and there wasn’t even a moment’s pause when the clocks and dates changed.
A new year is often regarded as a good time to start anew, a good time to draw a line in the sand and forget the past and consider the future.
As I look out over the window at the night sky, I wonder what changes are in store this year.
Back on land, I read an article reviewing the year just past and its conclusion that only 2 main events happened in 2008, namely the election of the first African American President in the USA and the collapse of the banking industry the world over.
Whilst significant indeed, seeing the ongoing atrocities in Gaza in January, one wonders if anything really changes at all?
I look up the definition of ‘change’ online and find the following interesting definitions from the myriad available:
- to become different: Overnight the nation's mood changed.
- to become altered or modified: Colors change if they are exposed to the sun.
- to become transformed or converted (usually fol. by into): The toad changed into a prince again.
- to pass gradually into (usually fol. by to or into): Summer changed to autumn.
The last one peeks my interest, the gradual movement from one existence into another.
I think of the following verse:
Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding
One of the great miracles of this world is that the Earth constantly moves, it constantly rotates about its axis, as well as following its orbit around the sun and that it does so with unnerving accuracy.
The world is forever changing and if we don’t move with it we will be at lost.
By (the Token of) Time (through the ages),
Verily Man is in loss,
Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.
The notion that by standing still we will become lesser people is a striking one of course, but also one which can be seen clearly in the world today. The degenerative state resulting from heedlessness is there for all to see.
But when will it all end? Will 2009 be a year of change?
Well in some respects it already has been, since those of you who know about leap seconds will know that an extra second was added to atomic clocks on the 31 Dec to reflect the reducing speed of the Earth. Apparently since 1958 the Earth has slowed down by approximately 33 seconds.
In my younger days, I used to wonder about the hadith of Dajjal and how he could rule for 40 days with one day being like a year, one day being like a month, one day being like a week, and the remainder as normal days.
Would it ever be possible for the Earth to slow down so much that one day (one rotation of the Earth on its axis) will actually take one year?
Allah knows best.
The Second Derivative
In calculus the second derivative of an equation determines the nature of change.
In normal speak, the rate of change can either be positive or negative, either increasing or decreasing.
In normal normal speak, something may be going up but it slows down as it goes up or vice versa it goes up but goes up faster as it ascends.
The analogy of a Mars bar is one I always remember from school.
The first bar of chocolate you eat yields a wonderful sense of satisfaction. The second also but to a lesser extent than the first. As you continue to eat your chocolate, the utility derived from each bar diminishes until you even reach the point where it begins to decrease (this is commonly known as the throwing up stage!!)
I’ve always compared this scenario to life in Jannah, where each taste of fruit will be better than the preceding one and so on and so forth. May Allah grant us all the ability to taste such increase.
But what’s the point you ask?
Well, the change you see in people can be reflected by the rates by which they change.
Some people never change. They wither away with time
Some people change but at a constant rate so in effect they only tread water and don’t actually get anywhere.
Then there are those who change but keep on changing and (importantly) have an aspiration to keep on changing. Those are the ones who really understand the concept.
To reinvent oneself with resolutions and good notions won’t lead to lasting change.
To rediscover oneself, however, with the knowledge of who we are, where we came from and where we are going to, will.
So whilst Obama and the economy may grab the headlines in 2008, I personally commend all those Muslims who changed their lives during the year and became better people because of it. I commend all those non Muslims who changed their religion during the year and entered into the fold of Islam and became better people because of it and lastly, but not least, I commend all those non Muslims who changed their perspective during the year and started reflecting on creation, their lives and things beyond materiality for the first time and became better people because of it.
That is indeed the sort of change I can believe in.