Commentary on New Year



Abdullah Ibn Umar RA said: The people of Jahiliyah used to fast the day of Ashura when ramadhan (fasting) was prescribed,the prophet SAW then said;
He who wishes should fast it....Bukh+Mus, BM.

Happy New Year! Saturday or Sunday ushers in the new year and new month of muharram 1420AH.The Hegira calendar based on the prophets immigration to medina should be used by Muslims with or without the Gregorian calendar in parallel. It is ironical that we remember the Gregorian  events-new year, Easter, Christmas - dates that lack any coincidence or relationship with religio-historical events even in Christianity.
Although, that will continue to be claimed perhaps to the end of time. The Christian new year, for instance, previously began not on 1st January. Doubts have been cast about whether prophet Isa (AS) had anything to do with 25th December. Both hegira and Gregorian  calendars have astronomical basis, the hegira following the lunar cycles. Allah (SWT) recognizes these 12 lunar/hegira months as making a year. Although the Gregorian  year has a better seasonal (solstice/equinox) correlation i.e. 23 December is always in winter, the hegira year also has such cyclical relationship. A peak winter in Ramadhan would be repeated only every ~33years-a tribe from Nigeria aptly put it as the difficult 3 to live to see - i.e. it is difficult for an individual to live to see three such cyclical changes, or 99years a century.
The first month of the year Muharram has the Ashura day which has a lot of Allah's blessings in it. In another narration the prophet SAW has said he who fasts the Ashura day will have his preceding one years sins forgiven; we should therefore to start the new year with a clean slate by fasting that date. On arrival to Medina the prophet (SAW) met the Jews fasting Ashura because of its blessings-the day they were saved from their enemies particularly the pharaoh and Moses (AS) fasted it, the prophet (SAW) then said, "I have more right to (copy) Moses than you have and he fasted Ashura and commanded its observance. Some Ulamaa say it is referred to as Ashura - the tenths - because;

1 - It coincides with 10 Muharram (26 April 99).
2 - Allah (SWT) blessed 10 of his prophets among other things - forgiving Adam (AS), upliftment of Idris (AS), saving of Noah (AS), birth of Abraham (AS) and saving him from fire, saving Yunus (AS) from the belly of the fish etc...on Ashura.
3 - Yet others say it is so called because of 10 blessings Allah (SWT) has bestowed on this Ummah among others-having the month of ramadhan, the night of Qadr, the first ten days of Dhul Hajj, the Friday etc...all these are blessed times we await in the coming year.

Most Ulama agree ashura coincides with 10 Muharram-or 26 April 99- but suggestions of the day being 9 or 11 Muharram have also been advanced. In any case fasting of that day 26 April is strongly recommended,but by no means is it compulsory as pointed out by the prophet (SAW) in the textual hadith above,where he emphasised it is optional.Similarly fasting the Tasua 9 Muharram and the first ten days of the new year are advocated.When one wakes up eating food on the ashura (forgetful),the prophet SAW has said he could complete the day fasting should one wish.One wonders the basis of the desire to eat to excess on the day,a not uncommon tradition in certain areas of Nigeria.

May Allah SWT give us the best in the new year 1420AH,the ability to remember to fast 10 Muharram(26 April 99),the reward therefrom and forgive us our sins-amen.


Abdulrazaq G. Habib

Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 23:44:11 +0300
Subject: HADITH-2 M/FQ-RL-(Equality and Piety)

Bismillahir RHRH,
Assalamu alaikum WRWB,

Abu Huraira RA reported that, the prophet SAW said; Allah does not look to your faces or towards your riches but He sees your hearts and (the nature of) your deeds...Mus.M.

Although there are certain subtle biological differences between and within races, these have not been shown to affect human behavior in any significant sense. However from time immemorial most civilizations have not been impartial among their citizenry. Discriminating factors have usually been inherent-racial, origin, gender, birth etc- and material- wealth, power etc. In Islam, on the other hand, all people are fundamentally regarded as equal. Allah (SWT) says:

"O mankind...We have created you into nations and tribes...Truly, the noblest of you with Allah is the most pious" (49:13).

Both the Quranic verse and the text of the hadith above emphasize that only piety differentiates and makes one nobler in Allah's sight--nothing else.
The prophet (SAW) never discriminated based on racial factors; That is why Abu Dharr al-Ghifari notwithstanding his position as a high ranking companion of the prophet, when, once in a rage called Bilal "O son of a Negress" the prophet did not tolerate this much of intemperence on his part admonished him and said, You still exhibit the evil traits of Jahiliyah. Islamic history is replete with examples of blacks and people of diverse origins that have risen to responsible positions in the Ummah. Alas, black man has not as yet been regarded as an equal in Judeo-Christian material world of today.

Once asked about the best of people the prophet SAW reemphasized-the best of them in Allah,s sight is the most pious. There are instances where he favoured freed slaves even over his close companions like where he advised a Quraishi lady to marry Usamata (RA) over Mu'awiyyah Ibn Abu-Sufyan (RA). Contrast this with western slavery where once a slave always a slave. Remember Chicken Georg-in Alex Hailey's Roots-who, despite his father being an American plantation owner, remained to the end of his life a slave; talk less of equating him with a freeborn man. The opportunity for realization of the dream of equality of sons of former slaves and former slave owners lies only in Islam. Yet again he advised another another lady to marry a Hijjam (blood cupper), a perceived lowly profession....and stressing that people are like the teeth/prongs of the comb, no difference from one another only by piety. May Allah (SWT) increase us in piety-amen. 
Another form of discrimination that the prophet SAW admonished against is that of pride of ancestry though he acknowledged that people will not discard four things from Jahiliyah of which is pride of ancestry. It is strongly condemned.
Allah (SWT) says we are created as nations and tribes and the common denominator for us has always been Islam. Origin and tribal variables should not in any sense differentiate us. At a lower level, human behavior rests, not on biologic factors, but rather on individual/communal socialization processes-norms, values and cultural aspirations. These parameters are subject to modification by supreme factors of knowledge and the deen - Islam, the ultimate social moulder. We should strive to stand united, for in that lies our strength, and until we term ourselves as equals in both words and deeds unity will remain ever like a mirage.

We pray Allah (SWT) strengthens and unites the Ummah, amen.