Celebrating the Muslim New Year
Could we possibly wish each other,” Happy New Year”
By: Abida Rahmani
The new Muslim or Hijri year 1441 ha just arrived. In Hijrah calendar the Lunar year is followed according to moon sighting. It consists on twelve months but is 10 days shorter to solar or AD calendar every year. That is why its seasons and days keep on moving. The Ad calendar or Christian calendar is followed all over the world .Whole of the Muslim world, except Saudi Arabia follows their schedules in Ad Calendar. Muslims follow their religious rituals according to Lunar or Hijrah calendar. Saudi Arabia follows Hijri Calendar in all its official and regular work. They have set up an Ummul Qura Lunar calendar, based on a lot of research.
Most of the Muslims do not celebrate this New Year as they celebrate January 1st. A fall of gloom is felt in Muslim society, when Muharram comes closer. More over a prominent sect gets prepared for mourning and lamentations all clad in black mourning dresses.
The Significance of Hijrah in Islam
During the reign of Umar bin al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) the companions RA agreed to start the Islamic calendar from the year when Messenger of Allah saws made hijra (migration) to Medina and established the first Islamic State. As we enter the blessed month of Muharram and the year 1435 .It is critical for us the Muslims, to realize that this event not only marks the beginning of our calendar, but more importantly it commemorates the establishment of the nucleus of the first Islamic state.
The Month of Muharram
Muharram is the first month of the Hijri calendar and is one of the four sacred months concerning which Allah says, "Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein" (At-Tawbah 9: 36)
Muharram is called so because its meaning is a sacred (Muharram) month.
Although Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named 'Ashurah' The Holy Prophet saws, when migrated to Madinah, found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which the Holy Prophet Musa (Moses) and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet, saws said, "We are more closely related to Musa (AS), than you," and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of 'Ashura'. (Abu Dawood)
In short, it is established through a number of authentic ahadith that fasting on the day of 'Ashura' is Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, saws, and makes one entitled to a great reward.
According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of 'Ashura' should either be preceded or followed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th. The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet, saws, is that the Jews used to fast on the day of'Ashura alone, and the Holy Prophet, saws, wanted to distinguish the Muslim way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to that of 'Ashura'. This practice got started before the advent of Ramadan Fasts.
Misconceptions and Baseless Traditions
However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to 'Ashura' that have managed to find their way into the minds of the ignorant, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very common of them are these: This is the day on which Adam, alayhi salam, was created. This is the day when Ibrahim, alayhisalam, was born. This is the day when Allah accepted the repentance of Adam, alayhi salam. This is the day when Qiyaamah (doomsday) will take place. Whoever takes bath on the day of 'Ashura' will never get ill.
All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit.
Some people take it as Sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal on the day of 'Ashura'. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic sources.
Some other people attribute the sanctity of 'Ashura' to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, RA during his battle with the Syrian army of Yazid . No doubt, the martyrdom ofHussain, Radi-Allahu anhu, is one of the most tragic episodes of Islamic history. Yet, the sanctity of 'Ashura' cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of 'Ashura' was established during the days of the Holy Prophet, saws, much earlier than the birth of Hussain RA.
On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidna Hussain RA that his martyrdom took place on the day of 'Ashura'.
Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Hussain, RA the grandson of Holy Prophet SAWS was killed mercilessly in it. It is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept, which is contrary to the express teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet saws have liberated us from such superstitious beliefs.
Lamentations and Mourning
Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Hussain, RA. As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Holy Prophet, saws, has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of jahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Holy Prophet, saws, stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying "Innaa lillaahiwa innaa ilayhi raaji'oon". A number of authentic Ahaadith are available on the subject. To quote only one of them:
"He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah." (Sahih Bukhari)
All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is impermissible.
Let us greet the New Hijri year with optimism and prayers for the success, unity and prosperity of Ummah. Wish you all a very happy and blessed new Hijrah year!
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihiwasallam) said that seeking knowledge is a way to Paradise. He (sallallahu alaihiwasallam) said: "Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to Paradise easy for him." (Narrated by: Al-Bukhari)