10, 9, 8, 7, 6…… THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS.
EVERY year by this time, as the New Year rolls around, most of us get ready to hit the ‘NEW YEAR SCENE’. From newspapers to the Internet, Facebook friends to classmates, everyone seems to be talking about ‘THE MOST AWAITED DAY OF THE YEAR’: “THE NEW YEAR’S EVE”.
JANUARY 1, 2013… it is as if it was just yesterday, that we caught ourselves writing this date in our books, and here we are… celebrating the start of another brand new year- 2013
Mahnn… life sometimes just flies by, isn’t it? A whole year just zipped past us < zzwwingg…!!! > And we didn’t even notice! We didn’t even shed a small light on where we are headed! Ever asked yourself -“Where did the last year go? What’s in store for me in the new year?” Why ‘celebrate’ the New Year which might even mark the beginning of a whole new series of tragic events in our lives? Why???
We have lived through 2012, witnessed the events it brought along with it. From the earthquake measuring 6.9 in Argentina – killing many on the New Year’s Eve, Many dynamic leaders were assassinated, many lost their precious loved ones or committed suicide, and many more suffered miscarriages…
Yet, these were the same people who were welcoming 2012 with countless firecrackers, gift- giving ceremonies, parties, countdowns and what- not? They didn’t even have the foggiest idea that they would soon be among the ruins of the earthquake-buried deep, or swept away by the same waves they enjoyed surfing. Little did they realise that their end was near, that they were on the brink of their lives.
And let me remind you, that you or me could have been the victim of the Libyan War, or the heavy rain in Central America that killed 84 .
Why! For all we know, we could have been visiting relatives in the AMRI Hospital in Calcutta, only to be found later by the rescue workers, half burnt.
Were these our expectations of 2012? Hadn’t we hoped that 2012 would mark a new beginning of happiness and joy?
I understand, you will now argue – hey, you win some you lose some; 2012 not only brought tragedy but also ecstasy. What about all those awards achieved by millions, finally getting paid for their hard work, many finding their way on the ‘Top Ten Whatever’ list, and breaking the records-making it to the headlines, I have no option but to agree. 2012 has been the year of happiness for many too.
But can I raise a question at this point? How do all those itsy- bitsy number of people who made it to the red carpet or the ‘Top 10 lists’ compare to the massive destruction which killed millions in Japan? It’s like comparing one small tree to an entire big forest!
The point is, my dear brothers and sisters, for every day, every month, every year, that we live by; we are one step closer to the end of our life. Does this make you happy?
For a moment consider a cancer patient who was told that he had exactly seven days to breathe. Now tell me, by the end of each day, would he be happy or sad, a day closer to his end? The same goes for you and me, and the entire universe- for every year that whizzes past us, we are one year closer to our end, one year closer to meeting our Lord, one year closer to the Day of Judgement.
So WHY CELEBRATE THE START OF THE NEW YEAR WHEN IT COULD BE THE LAST OF OUR LIFE?
Time once passed, will never come back. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said;
“Lose no time to do good deeds before you are caught up by one of the seven calamities awaiting you- a starvation which may impair your wisdom, a prosperity which may mislead you, an ailment which may damage your health, an old age which may harm your senses, a sudden death, the Dajjal, or Doomsday, which is indeed the hardest and most bitter”.[At Tirmidhi]
So instead of planning the big bashes, and going around wishing everyone a ‘Happy New Year’, why not engage in some other beneficial activity, in the obedience of Allah which will guarantee positive results? Or maybe in praying voluntary prayers and supplicating sincerely to the Almighty to make the upcoming year one of guidance and goodness?
Apart from this sensible explanation, let me shed some light on how the New Year Celebrations began:
The Romans dedicated January 1, to Janus, the God of gates, doors and beginnings. This clearly suggests that New Year celebrations are found to be Pagan traditions.
Among the 7th century pagans of Flanders and Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts on the New Year. Most countries in Western Europe adopted January 1, as the New Year officially, somewhat before they adopted Gregorian calendar.
Some churches celebrate the ‘Feast of Circumcision’ of Christ on January 1, based on the belief that if Jesus was born on December 25, then according to the Jewish traditions, his circumcision would have taken place on the eight day of his life (January 1).
All these prove that this day has paganism behind it, let alone the fact that neither our Prophet (peace be upon him) nor the companions after him ever celebrated it. It is clearly the practice of the non- Muslims and has no base in Islam. Why then take part in their celebrations or encourage them by wishing them New Year?
Prophet (peace be upon him) has been recorded saying that:
“A person will be considered to be with one whom he loves.”[Sahih al Bukhari; Vol.8 #189]
Last year, I too, like most of my friends, was eagerly awaiting the New Year’s Eve. I had made a list of new habits as my New Year resolution (which never really worked out) and looked forward to enjoy another year of joy and happiness, and methodically erase the unpleasant memories of my past year. I was the only one in my family, unlike my parents and siblings, who was quite fond of celebrating the New Year. My mom, who never really allowed my celebrations, would keep telling me that it wasn’t permissible for a Muslim to celebrate the New Year. Her constant reminders would do little to change my stance – after all what did she know about being NORMAL!
My arguments with her would sound something like this:
“Why is celebrating the New Year not permissible in Islam? If it was not permissible, then why are thousands of Muslims all over the globe welcoming the New Year in an amazing way? I don’t find any verse from the Quran or Hadith that condemns celebrating the New Year!”
I would go on and on till my mum would be stumped!
Every time I thought along these lines my frustrations would mount and I would be convinced all the more that there was definitely no harm in celebrating the New Year, in a Halaal way of course! I would rage with envy as I saw my friends prepare the ’guest-list’ for the New Year’s party. Yah, you got it right, and I never get to hold my own parties or attend one. But hey, nobody can stop me from calling my buddies late in the night, wishing them a ‘HAPPY NEW YEAR’ without my parent’s knowledge, or texting messages. And of course the ever-sociable FB status on my wall would definitely sport a cheerful New Year’s greeting. What was my solace for not attending the parties? Celebrate it in school with my friends, cut cakes, and have a Pepsi or even a cake fight!
But this year things are different. Alhamdulillah, I’ve given up celebrating the New Year! I’m no more a ‘huge fan’ of New Year parties nor do I like to discuss the never-accomplished resolutions. Once again, as the New Year approaches and all around I see the same hoopla taking place, I’m no longer envious, no longer despaired and my house is quiet without the constant arguments. What brought about the change you ask? It’s not the Fatwas of the Ulema or my mom’s endless lectures, but because I just realized something:
I am disobeying Allah, my Lord, who has provided me with everything in life. He deserves my obedience more than anyone else.
There is no point in celebrating the New Year, as we actually are losing one more year from our lives.
There is no ‘special day’ required to start a new life, to form good habits, or to overlook the disappointments of the past year. Every day, every hour, every minute and every second of our lives is a fresh new chance.
In short, if you remember the catch phrase from the cartoon Chicken Little – “Each day is a new day”, then that’s the positivity required to make any day of my life a new one, any day a new beginning – a New Year.
So, WHEN are you celebrating your New Year?
Wise indeed, are those who grab all the available opportunities before being handicapped by obstacles. So seize the day! for earning the irreplaceable good that we will so regret not collecting on a Day when none benefits the other.
Do I still hear a Happy New Year from you? Let me leave you to answer the question.