Leave that which does not concern you: A guiding philosophy for 2024

Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam
New Year 2024
timmossholder | Unsplash

With just two days left for the new year, many will be pondering their New Year’s resolutions. Some may still cling to resolutions they abandoned in previous years, while others aspire to implement goals they failed to maintain in 2022, let alone 2023. That is to say, changing one’s habits for the better—assuming all resolutions aim to enhance one’s life—is not an easy task when burdened with too much and piling onto the list of never-ending desires for the year. It is often said—and anyone familiar with William H McRaven would know where I’m going with this—that to make a change, one must start with small things. Even by simply making your bed, you would have completed the first task of the day, ultimately causing a domino effect within the spheres of your life, both practically and psychologically. This concept is further echoed in Atomic Habits by James Clear.

With that said, we are now faced with the monumental task of choosing – whether it be a small, minute task or a significant change – what change we desire to make in our lives. If done consistently throughout the year, these choices can shape us into better, healthier—both physically and mentally—and happier humans. The key, however, is not in what you choose, but in remaining consistent with your choice. This philosophy was well understood by the Holy Prophetsa of Islam, who, even in matters concerning faith, stated that God is pleased with the consistency of His servants, even if they only do a little. One might assume that when it comes to faith, the more you do, the better, right? However, it is actually deeper than that; there’s more beneath the surface.

Hazrat Aishara reported that Allah’s Messengersa said: “The acts most pleasing to Allah are those which are done continuously, even if they are small.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab salati al-musafireena wa qasriha, Hadith 783b)

Hazrat Aishara, too, when doing any act, did it continuously. (Ibid.

The saying of the Holy Prophetsa very clearly establishes that the consistency of actions holds far greater value in the Eyes of Allah than the sheer quantity of the deeds. This encourages believers to incorporate small but consistent acts of worship into their daily lives, recognising their significance in earning Allah’s pleasure. 

And so, if we are to change, add, or subtract anything from our lives for a more fruitful life, here is one thing we can all do. It is narrated in a hadith of Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi:

مِنْ‭ ‬حُسْنِ‭ ‬إِسْلاَمِ‭ ‬الْمَرْءِ‭ ‬تَرْكُهُ‭ ‬مَا‭ ‬لاَ‭ ‬يَعْنِيهِ

The Holy Prophetsa said,  “Indeed, among the excellence of a person’s Islam is that he leaves what does not concern him.” (Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab az-zuhd ‘an rasulillahsa, Hadith 2317)

It is truly a demonstration of great excellence when a person can steadfastly abandon inessential, needless distractions and focus on what is essential to their righteous conduct. Not only does this encourage us to prioritise and focus on essential aspects of faith and life, but it can also aid in aligning us to give up useless and idle talk.

In a nutshell, when we leave those things that do not concern us, we open up avenues to build on ourselves. We can enhance our spiritual focus by spending more time looking within than out; gain peace of mind by ignoring irrelevant matters that can contribute to mental tranquillity; attain improved relationships that may be falling apart; help in time management; and help in avoiding gossip and backbiting; and the list can go on. 

Whether it’s people’s problems or secrets, there is no need to pry. There’s no need to enquire about things that do not personally concern or benefit you. The time spent on such trivial matters could be better used to aid people who will benefit from your help. Nothing good can come from dwelling on and discussing things that have no relevance to you. So, if you’re considering making a positive change this year and if you aspire to improve yourself in any way, try out this simple method: leave that which does not concern you. By doing so, you will gift yourself with more time—time that you can invest in self-improvement, peace of mind, and fostering better relationships. Enter 2024 with a fixed mindset: leave that which does not concern you.   

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