Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A New Year...a New You?


BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day – Wednesday 6th January 2010
Amanullah De Sondy
Assistant Professor of World Religions
Ithaca College, New York

The oldest man in Scotland has celebrated his 106th birthday. Born in Glasgow's Gorbals, Samuel Latter, played professional football, trained fighter pilots and turned his hand to running a sweet shop during his long life and stated that he just took each day at a time through luck.

Samual’s long life has made me consider what a new year means to me. A time when statistics show that many are often depressed after the festive season’s end comes as an anti-climax, bringing back the hardship of every day life. And the ongoing chilly conditions in Scotland don’t help either. So how are we to motivate ourselves to consider a new year, a new beginning? I can’t help but think that maybe we place too much emphasis on a new year and must concentrate more on what it means to have a new day, just as Samuel does.

During the last semester I taught a course on Death and Immortality in world religions and in it I tried to get students to understand that to talk of death one must talk and appreciate life too. Life is renewed every morning we wake up, for better or worse. BBC Radio Scotland is encouraging us all to think about how a new year can mean a new you in January.

For me, as a Muslim, Islam’s traditions tell me that every day is another chance to live a full life under the vision of an all-powerful God. I find this rather liberating as it breaks me from the chains of others’ perception of what warrants a good and bad Muslim. A new year also brings great expectations and often our expectations are related to others. As the bells chimed in a new year, a friend asked me what my new year’s resolution was and without a thought I said to be content in what I have achieved. A famous Urdu poem comes to mind - life is held in the prison of time, these few moments now are the only ones free, do not lose even these my darling, do not pine for a life time.