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It’s Monday. The beginning of a new week, a week of limitless possibilities. I wake up from my bed and immediately thank my lord for giving me the opportunity to witness another beautiful day because I could have breathed my last breath in my peaceful slumber. I clean up my bed and start to reflect on what I want to accomplish throughout the day. What motivates a human, is it the thought of becoming successful? What does success mean anyway, wealth, health, status, happiness? How can we truly achieve happiness in life? Gratefulness, something we all lack, is the ability to recognize that we are privileged to have all these blessings we never even think twice about. To be able to wake up on a bed under a roof on top of my head, to have access to clean water and a variety of foods, to have a loving family, to have access to education, healthcare, and religious worship places are just a few blessings we take for granted. Even the ability to walk on two legs, move both arms freely and at will, eat and digest foods without difficulty, hear sound, see what is in front of us, taste, and feel both physically and mentally are all privileges we overlook. Something I have been trying to do recently is writing down a few things I am grateful for everyday in the morning so that I can feel more content about my life. This has helped me to become optimistic about the future.

Humans have a constant habit of comparing themselves with others and this is why we don’t have much gratitude. We always compare ourselves to those who have more than us and we feel that we are not good enough and don’t have enough. In fact, what we should do instead is look at people who have nothing or very little and take in just how privileged and lucky we are. We make peace with ourselves when we begin with gratitude.

As a Muslim, it is my duty to offer the five daily prayers; Fajr (dawn), Zuhr (midday), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (sunset) and Isha (night). Going to the mosque can sometimes feel slightly tedious and unmotivating, especially when it is not right under my building anymore like it used to be in my old building. As I get ready for the morning prayer, I put a black toupee on my head, which is a hat Muslim men wear. My favourite toupee is blue but I like the other toupees as well. As I wear something that clearly distinguishes me as a Muslim, I reflect upon my values, what I am becoming and who I want to become. I think about the uncomfortable gazes on the street and how some people might feel uncomfortable because of how I look. I let that motivate me to be an example of what a Muslim should be. What does it mean to be a Muslim? To be a Muslim means to be compassionate and have good intentions at heart with sincerity in action. To never lose hope and continue moving forward in life believing that everything will happen exactly as it is supposed to.

As I walk by Freshco to the nearby mosque, Masjid Rahmah, I always see many of my Muslim brothers walking by and exchanging salam with each other. I say assalamualaikum to them, which means “peace be upon you” in Arabic. I try to be friendly and have a smile on my face. Sometimes, all it takes to help someone feel better is a big, warm smile.

Respect is one of the most fundamental aspects of Islam. There will always be people who treat others with disrespect and malice but one should never judge them for that. It is about being a better person and despite what others try to do to you, kindness should be the response to give back. Many times I wanted to get back at someone who mistreated me and hurt me. However, I realized that all revenge does is give a temporary feeling of satisfaction but it never resolves anything in the long run. Respecting others and behaving in a well spoken manner will soften the heart and give peace to the mind. It will also motivate others around us to act in a similar way. Respect correlates to gratefulness because it becomes easier to respect others when we are grateful and respect ourselves. We don’t need to be envious of others when we can be the best version of ourselves or better by accepting ourselves and whatever we have without comparing and feeling bitter about what others have.

The sun sets and it is nearing night. Time goes fast. As my day comes to an end, I reflect towards everything I have done and whether doing these things was beneficial. I sit on my prayer mat by myself and start pondering about what purpose I served throughout the day. I think about what I achieved and whether it will help me strive closer to the person I want to become. I think about the things I said to others and whether they were hurt by me. I think it is very important to think about the interactions we have with others because if someone is hurt by our words or actions, we should apologize as soon as possible. The real tragedy will be if we hurt someone but we don't realize it until it's too late. Seeking forgiveness from others will remove despair from our hearts because it will free us from negative emotions and thoughts, as well as allow us to live in the present with less regret.

I have felt sorrowful and detached from everybody in my life. I never lost hope because I am strongly attached with my religion and culture. I try to look at obstacles as a blessing because through them we can learn several things. I also think they are tests of gratitude. For instance, when we become sick, we almost never look back to the times when we were perfectly healthy but when we are healthy, we aren’t thankful to not have any illnesses. The lesson here is to never take things for granted. Constantly remind ourselves of the hardships we faced and the fact that we got through them, standing where we are now. This will refine our sense of gratefulness and allow us to grow as a person.

I feel a strong sense of belonging with my culture and through it I have discovered a welcoming community of great friends, teachers and family. Stay positive and always be hopeful of the future. If something we desire so deeply is not given to us despite working hard, there is certainly something better planned for us instead, whether that be in 5 or 20 years. In the end, it always works out because when we accept what we have is enough, we can never be downhearted. Learn to not want more but do more with what you have, and you will become a person of true virtue.

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