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THE NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION IN LIGHT OF THE ISLAMIC TEACHINGS

The New Year’s Celebration In Light of the Islamic Teachings

 

INTRODUCTION

 

All praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides, none can misguide him. And whoever he misguides, none can guide him. I testify that none has the right to be worshipped in truth except Allah, who has no partners. And I testify that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.

 

To proceed:

 

I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaytan. In the name of Allah, the Most-Merciful, Ever-Merciful:

 دَسْنَهَا مَن خَابَ وَقَدْ مَن زَكْنَهَا قَدْ أَفْلَحَ

 

“Indeed! He who purifies his soul will attain success, and he who corrupts it will be doomed.” (Surah Ash-Shams 91:9-10]

 

The reality of the Christian calendar

 

Many calendars are prevalent in this world, the most popular being the English calendar and the Islamic calendar. The English calendar became prevalent a long time ago, with January being its first month and December being its last month. Hence, it is common that when December ends, having a New Year’s Celebration has become a common practiced festival.

It is correct to say that it is important for every lively nation to arrange and determine a fixed date for the start of a new month or year. Hence, we see that the past nations used to arrange fixed dates which were of importance to them to start a new month or year.

Some people used to set important events as their fixed date. Some used to appoint the rise and fall of the kingdom of their kings as their fixed date. The Jews used to appoint the day they abandoned the Holy Land as their fixed date. The Christians made up a fixed date for Isa when he left this world. The Arabs appointed the incident of the Elephant as their fixed date. Similarly, the Muslims appointed the Day of Emigration as their fixed date during the reign of the rightly guided Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab.

 

The origin of the Christian calendar:

 

 It is mentioned in the work ‘Farhangi Asifiya’ that the word ‘Christian’ in reference to time according to the Christian belief refers to:

“The time that started with the birth of Isa, but later became the time that started with the death of Isa in accordance with the English dates.” [See: Farhangi Asifiya 3/297]

 

 The Christian priest and author of the dictionary ‘Qamus’, F.S. Khairullah also says:

 

“Commonly, it is said that Isa was born in the year 11 A.D. According to the scholars of the Bible, the abbreviation A.D. (Anno Domini) means: “The year of our Deity who we worship’. However, when people are informed that Isa was born 4 or 5 years before A.D., they are stunned. What one should ponder upon is that the Christian calendar was organized in the sixth century. The monk Dionysius Exiguus declared his formation of the Christian calendar in 526 A.D., but his calculations unfortunately had an error of four years. He assigned the Messiah’s birth according to the Roman calendar year, which was 754, but Herodius the great, who popularized the execution of children in Bethlehem, died in the year 760 of the Roman calendar. It is apparent from this that the Messiah’s birth occurred a few months before this incident, in fact he was born in the beginning of the year 749 of the Roman calendar, which is at the end of 5 B.C. When this mistake was discovered, it became impossible to rectify the numerous books which conveyed this error, so the Christian calendar was left as it is.” [See: Qamus Al-Kitab p.912]

We learn from the lives of important personalities in the past that passed away that they did not value or give any importance to the birth and death dates, otherwise they would have valued it and celebrated it for themselves during their lifetime. We also learn that the true followers of these important personalities never focused too much on the miscellaneous acts of the ones who they followed. Hence, addition of these events by the late comers is considered to be nothing but a custom and innovation.

 

Celebrating the New Year according to the Christian calendar:

 

The celebration of the New Year first occurred on the 1st of January, 1600 A.D. in Scotland. This is the reason why the Christians accept it as the start of their new year, despite it opposing the date of birth which they assigned to Isa. That is, they assign the 25th of December as the birthday of Isa, but begin the new year a week later after the 31 of December ends. In our time, the New Year according to the Christian countries, non-Christian countries and westernized nations is an important festival which is to be celebrated and congratulated upon others on the 31 of December when it hits 12:00 at night. Muslims also take part in this celebration. As a result of this, we unfortunately see the Islamic civilizations, cultures and teachings in utter ruins.

 

HOW CAN WE MAKE THE NEW YEAR BLESSED?

 

Even though the Islamic calendar starts from Muharram and not January, the Christian calendar is more prevalent in our societies. Schools, colleges, universities, offices, shops and many other places rely upon the Christian calendar for their affairs. Hence, we find it reasonable to mention some points regarding this subject:

 

Purify your souls:

 

To prevent yourselves from committing sins is known as ‘purification of the soul’. This has two aspects:

1) To ward off sins and cleanse those that exist within you.

2) After cleansing yourselves, be firm upon righteousness and good deeds and keep on increasing in it.

‘Soul’ here refers to yourself or your personality. Hence, the connotation of ‘purification of the soul’ is to eliminate sins and nurture yourself upon goodness.

To purify yourself may look easy on paper, but it is extremely difficult when it has to be put into action. But this is exactly what this Deen intended, for the one who succeeds in performing this act will be granted the everlasting favors and blessings in Paradise. To fail in this act will take one to the pits of the Hellfire. It is on this basis that the Qur’an mentions a clear-cut statement on this matter by dedicating a subject to it.

To enter Paradise, it is important that a person tried his best to rid himself of sins. In simple words, purification of the soul is a condition for entering Paradise. Allah said:

 

 جَنَّتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَذُلِكَ جَزَاءُ مَن تَزَكَّى

 

“Gardens of Eternity, under which rivers flow, abiding therein forever. Such is the reward of those who purify themselves.” [Surah Ta-Ha 20:76] And Allah said:

 

 قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكْنَهَا وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسْهَا

 

“Indeed! He who purifies his soul will attain success, and he who corrupts it will be doomed.” (Surah Ash-Shams 91:9-10]

“Indeed! He who purifies his soul will attain success, and he who corrupts it will be doomed.” (Surah Ash-Shams 91:9-10]

In the end, if a person meets his Creator with his sins, but his good deeds overweighed them, Allah will forgive his sins by His Mercy, purify him and enter him into Paradise. As for those who contaminated their inner and outer body with sins and met Allah in that state, He will outright refuse to purify them. We learn from this that the basis for purification is a person’s own actions. Hence, Allah said:

 إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَشْتَرُونَ بِعَهْدِ اللَّهِ وَأَيْمَنِهِمْ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا أُولَئِكَ لَا خَلَقَ لَهُمْ فِي الْتَاخِرَةِ وَلَا يُكَلِّمُهُمُ اللَّهُ وَلَا يَنظُرُ إِلَيْهِمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيِّمَةِ وَلَا يُزَكِّيهِمْ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

 

“Those who trade the covenant of Allah and their oaths for a small price, they will have no share in the Hereafter. Allah will neither speak to them, nor look at them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them, and for them there will be a painful punishment.” [Surah Aal-Imran 3:77]

 

Some questions to ponder upon:

 

1) Another year has passed from our lives! How can we rectify and improve ourselves this year?

2) Have we purified ourselves from minor sins?

3) Will we make it a habit of ourselves to stay away from major sins this year?

4) Have we increased in worshipping Allah in comparison to the previous year?

If any of these questions are answered with ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know’, then by Allah! Forget one year, a thousand years will pass by and you will not benefit from time going past you.

 

Value your time:

 

The worldly life and the wealth and joys in it are all temporary and will cease to exist. Every soul will remain in this world till its appointed time, then wake up in the realm of the Hereafter which is continuous and everlasting. As Muslims, we believe that death is a reality. If we still believe in this as part of our creed, yet live a life of negligence in this world, then it is truly a strange matter! Remember that every second of the ‘time’ we spend in this world is invaluable. Time is such a special creation of Allah that you cannot purchase it using any currency. Its capital is so strongly guarded that it provides benefit in this life and the Hereafter. If a person buries anything he deems valuable, he does so hoping that he will find it sometime later, and sometimes, he does find it. Time on the other hand is such a special creation of Allah that once it passes by, no one should expect that it to be recovered, for time that passes by will never return.

As Muslims, we should be better than people of other beliefs and value our time more, for we know that this life is a cultivating ground for the Hereafter. Whatever we sow in this world, we shall reap it in the Hereafter. If we plant seeds of good deeds and praiseworthy acts, we will receive success and salvation as our fruits on the Day of Judgment. Allah said:

 

كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا هَنِيئًا بِمَا أَسْلَفْتُمْ فِي الْأَيَّامِ الْخَالِيَةِ

 

 “[They will be told] Eat and drink joyfully for what you did in the days gone by.” (Surah Al-Haaqah 69:24]

 

The polar opposite of this is that if one does not value his time in this world and lives a life of negligence, laziness and  relaxation in it by disobeying Allah, doing evil and accumulating sins, he will have to face humiliation and regret on the Day of Judgment. Allah said:

 
 أَوَلَمْ نُعَمِّرْكُم مَّا يَتَذَكَّرُ فِيهِ مَن تَذَكَّرُ وَجَاءَكُمُ النَّذِيرُ فَذُوقُوا فَمَا لِلظَّالِمِينَ مِن نصير

 

“[They will be told] Did We not give you long enough lives to take heed for anyone who wished to take heed? And the warner did come to you. So taste! The wrongdoers will have no helper.” (Surah Al-Fatir 35:37]

 

Some narrations of the Prophet will be presented now so that the reader understands the importance he placed on valuing one’s time.

The Prophet said:

 نِعْمَتَانِ مَغْبُونٌ فِيهِمَا كَثِيرٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ، الصِّحَّةُ وَالْفَرَاغُ.

 

 “There are two favors regarding which the majority of people are in loss: Health and free-time.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 6412]

 

Allah bestows the invaluable favors of health and free time on His servants, so many people are deceived into believing that these favors will last with them forever and will never be removed or decreased. This in reality is from Shaytan’s whispers. The Rabb Who Alone grants these great favors is also the Only One who can take these favors back at any time whenever He wants. Hence, we should value these invaluable favors and utilize them effectively in the best manner.

The Prophet said:

 لا تَزُولُ قَدَمًا عَبْدٍ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ حَتَّى يُسْأَلَ عَنْ عُمْرِهِ فِيمَا أَفْنَاهُ وَعَنْ عِلْمِهِ فِيمَا فَعَلَ وَعَنْ مَالِهِ مِنْ أَيْنَ اكْتَسَبَهُ وَفِيمَا أَنْفَقَهُ وَعَنْ جِسْمِهِ فِيمَا أَبْلَاهُ.

 

 “On the Day of Judgment, the servant of Allah will remain standing in His court until he is asked about four things: How he spent his life, how much did he act upon the knowledge he acquired, how did he earn wealth and spend it, and for what did he wear out his body for.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2417; Sahih]

 

Are we prepared to answer Allah on the Day of Judgment regarding our life, knowledge, wealth and body? Are we fulfilling the rights of these four bestowed favors upon us by Allah? To answer this, every single person needs to assess himself and then move towards rectification. In this manner, we will be saved from feeling ashamed and humiliated in front of Allah on the Day of Judgment.

The Prophet said:

إِنْ قَامَتِ السَّاعَةُ وَبِيَدِ أَحَدِكُمْ فَسِيلَةً، فَإِنْ اسْتَطَاعَ أَنْ لَا يَقُومَ حَتَّى يَغْرِسَهَا، فَلْيَفْعَلْ

 

“If the Last Hour is established and a person has a date-seed in his hand, if he has the ability to plant it before he is taken into account, he should do so.” (Musnad Ahmad 12981; Sahih]

 

Look at how the Prophet is exhorting his followers to value time and perform good deeds, that if the Day of Judgment has arrived and if one has the ability to perform an atoms worth of good deed in the realm of the Hereafter, he should hurry and rush to perform this good deed and not be negligent in this.

Even after being made aware of these crystal-clear statements of the Prophet on valuing one’s time; if someone shows negligence in this affair and wastes his days and nights on games, pointless conversations, food, drinks, travelling, tourism and sleep, then one can only pity this person. This is why Umar bin Abdul Aziz said:

“The Day and the Night perform acts upon you, so upon you in to perform acts in them as well.” [See: Makarim Al-Akhlaq li-Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya 47]

 

The Prophet said:

 

 اغْتَنِمُ خَمْسًا قَبْلَ خَمْسٍ: شَبَابَكَ قَبْلَ هَرَمِكَ، وَصِحْتَكَ قَبْلَ سَقَمِكَ، وَعِنَاءَكَ قَبْلَ فَقْرِكَ، وَفَرَاغَكَ قَبْلَ شُغْلِكَ، وَحَيَاتَكَ قَبْلَ مَوْتِكَ.

 

 “Take advantage of five before five: being young before reaching old age, being healthy before becoming ill, being rich before facing poverty, utilizing free-time before being busy, and living your life before facing death.” (Mustadrak Al-Hakim 7846; Sahih]

 

After giving special importance to youthfulness, health, richness and free-time, Allah placed one’s entire life in opposition to death in this Hadith. Just like how a person faces oldness after youthfulness, sickness alongside wellness, poverty accompanying richness and busyness surrounding leisureness, a person will certainly face death after living in this world. Now this affair is in your hands; how do you spend your youth, health, wealth and free-time in his lifetime? All of these important moments in life have a profound effect on a person’s condition. If we busy our youth, wealth, health, free- time and life in righteousness, then it is obvious that we will receive goodness in this life and the Hereafter. If we do not value these valuable assets, then we will certainly have to face the outcome of our choices. This is why Allah admonished the Believers by saying:

 يَتَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنسَهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

 

 “O you who believe, fear Allah, and let every soul consider what it has sent forth for tomorrow. And fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is All-Aware of what you do. Do not be like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. It is they who are the evildoers.” (Surah Al-Hashr 59:18-19]

 

Value your health:

 

Health is from the most important aspects in our lives, because it is the invaluable gift which lets us work and perform good deeds for Allah alone.

It is a tragedy however, that we do not value our health, despite it being one of the best blessings Allah has bestowed upon us. This is the reason why year after year passes by from our lives, yet we do not recognize this invaluable favor of health. This is why Ibn Qayyim said:

“Favors from Allah are of three types: A favor which is acquired by a person and he recognizes it, a favor which a person anticipates for and he strives to attain it, and a favor which a person acquires but he is doesn’t recognize it.” [See: Al- Fawa’id 1/348]

 

Regarding this third favor, the Prophet said:

 

 نِعْمَتَانِ مَغْبُونٌ فِيهِمَا كَثِيرٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ، الصَّحْةُ وَالْفَرَاغُ.

 

 “There are two favors regarding which the majority of people are in loss: Health and free-time.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 6412]

 

Value your life:

 

O servants of Allah!

The life that Allah granted us is in fact a great favor from Allah upon us. If you want to realize how great a favor this is, remember your loved ones who once upon a time co-existed with you, but have now passed away. Their time in this world came to an end, which is why you do not find them amongst you anymore. But remember that as each year passes by, to the point that we reach the age of sixty, only then does Allah not excuse us for what we do. If sixty years of life didn’t make you rectify yourselves, then remember that no one will save us from Allah’s punishment.

The Prophet said:

 أَعْذَرَ اللَّهُ إِلَى امْرِئٍ أَخْرَ أَجَلَهُ حَتَّى بَلْغَهُ سِيِّينَ سَنَةٌ﴾

 

“Allah does not accept the excuse of anyone whose death was delayed till he reached sixty years of age.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 6419]

And the Prophet said:

 

 اغْتَنِمْ خَمْسًا قَبْلَ خَمْسٍ: شَبَابَكَ قَبْلَ هِرْمِكَ، وَصِحْتَكَ قَبْلَ سَقَمِكَ، وَعِنَاءَكَ قَبْلَ فَقْرِكَ، وَفَرَاغَكَ قَبْلَ شُغْلِكَ، وَحَيَاتَكَ قَبْلَ مَوْتِكَ. “

 

Take advantage of five before five: being young before reaching old age, being healthy before becoming ill, being rich before facing poverty, utilizing free-time before being busy, and living your life before facing death.” [Mustadrak Al-Hakim 7846; Sahih]

 

So my dear friends! Value your lives! Otherwise it may be that the year passes by, and we pass away with it while being in a state of heedlessness.

 

Develop a time-management plan:

 

At the start of the new year, successful people and successful organizations start their planning on how to utilize this new year in the best and most effective manner. They set a goal to achieve in this new year to obtain the most benefit from their business, and then strive to the best of their ability to achieve this benefit.

 

More important than planning in these worldly matters is that we start planning in performing righteous deeds. We should plan the following things:

 

 1) I did not pray last year, but I will not miss a single prayer this year.

 2) I did not seek knowledge of my religion, so I will learn about Allah’s words in the Qur’an and the words of our beloved Prophet this year.

 3) I used my organs to commit every type of sin last year, but I will prevent my tongue, ears, heart, hands, feet and other bodily organs from committing any sin this year.

4) I was on bad terms and spoke disrespectfully with my parents, loved-ones and numerous contacts last year, so I will refrain from committing this sin this year.

 5) I turned away from Allah’s commands and did not stay away from His prohibitions last year, but this year I will rush towards Allah’s commands and abandon that which He prohibited.

My dear Muslims! If you wish to welcome the new year in the manner mentioned above, there is no harm in doing so. To welcome it in any other manner or celebrate its arrival will not bring an atoms weight of benefit towards you.

 

Worry about the Hereafter:

 

My dear mothers and sisters!

Just like how the year came by and came to an end, our worldly life will end one day. So remember what comes at the end of this, and that is the Hereafter, because the Prophet instructed you to do this.

He said:

 كُنْ فِي الدُّنْيَا كَأَنَّكَ غَرِيبٌ، أَوْ عَابِرُ سَبِيلٍ.

 

 “Be in this world like a stranger or a traveler.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 6416] This is why Ibn Umar used to say:

 

 إِذَا أَمْسَيْتَ فَلَا تَنتَظِرِ الصَّبَاحَ، وَإِذَا أَصْبَحْتَ فَلا تَنْتَظِرِ الْمَسَاءَ، وَخُذْ مِنْ صِحْتِكَ لِمَرَضِكَ، وَمِنْ حَيَاتِكَ لِمَوْتِكَ.

 

 “If you are alive in the evening, do not expect to be alive till the morning and if you are alive in the morning do not expect to be alive till the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and from your life for your death.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 6416]

When the Prophet was asked about the smartest one among the Muslims, he said:

 

أَكْثَرُهُمْ لِلْمَوْتِ ذِكْرًا وَأَحْسَنُهُمْ لِمَا بَعْدَهُ اسْتِعْدَادًا أُولَئِكَ الأَكْيَاسُ.

 

 “The ones who remember death the most and prepare for life after death in the best manner; they are the smartest.” [Sunan Ibn Majah 4259; Sahih]

 

Prepare for death before death reaches you:

 

When everyone will certainly leave this world, then how excellent it would be that a person takes his provisions of leaving before leaving this world? And the provisions of leaving this world which are carried on in the Hereafter are righteousness, turning towards Allah and good deeds.

 

 

Reference:
Book title: New Year’s Celebration – In Light of the Islamic Teachings
 Author: Shaykh Zubair bin Khalid Marjalvi حفظه الله

 

 

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