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THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ISLAMIC YEAR

Shaikh Mohammad al Uthaimeen

This is the time of beginning of a new Islamic year, which was initiated after the Hijrah, or emigration, of the Prophet Mohammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and which marked the formation of the first Muslim society. Later, purely as a consequence of continuous “Wahi” (divine revelation), that informal society transformed into a nation with an independent Islamic territory under the rule of Muslims.

The Muslims had no formal annual calendar until the caliphate of Hadhrat ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab. In the third or fourth year of his caliphate, Hadhrat ‘Umar received a message from Hadhrat Abu Moosaa Al-Ash’ari, who suggested that their future correspondence be confirmed with the appropriate date. Therefore, Hadhrat ‘Umar gathered some of the surviving Sahaabah (Companions) of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and consulted them on this matter. Some of them suggested adopting the Persian Calendar; others proposed adopting the Roman Calendar; others still proposed that the Muslims should form their own calendar and that it should start from the birth of the Prophet Mohammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam); another group agreed but thought that the new Islamic Calendar should start from the day on which the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) embarked upon his mission; another group believed that this new Islamic Calendar should begin from the emigration of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) while a final group believed that should start from his departure from this mortal world. After a discussion they agreed unanimously to adopt the position of those who held that the Islamic Calendar should start from the year when the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) emigrated from Makkah al Mukarramah to Madinah al Munawwarah and that the first month of this new Calendar be that of Al-Muharram. This is because Al-Muharram is a sacred month and because it follows Zul-Hijjah which is the month in which the Muslims perform Hajj, or the pilgrimage, which is the last of the five pillars of Islam that was enjoined upon the Muslims. Al-Muharram also follows the month in which the first group of Ansaar (the Madeenan supporters) of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) pledged allegiance to him which was prior to his migration to Madinah al Munawwarah. This pledge of allegiance was one of the introductory acts of the emigration itself and therefore Al-Muharram was deemed the most suitable month to start the Islamic Calendar by the Sahaabah of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam).

It is truly saddening that some Muslims have chosen to use the Gregorian Calendar instead of the Hijri Calendar. The Gregorian Calendar has no relation with Islam and although it has been in existence for longer than that of the Hijri Calendar, that is no excuse for the Muslims to adopt it. It is well known that the Sahaabah of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) would hate that any Muslim would use the Roman or Persian Calendar.

We are about to witness a new Hijri year, the calculation of which depends upon the sighting of the moon. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) said that which translates as:

“Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve (lunar) months in the register of Allah (from) the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion (i.e. way), so do not wrong yourselves during them...” (At-Tawbah:36)

These are the months that Allah has appointed for the whole of mankind. He has said that which translates as:

“They ask you (O Muhammad!), about the new moons. Say ‘They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj (pilgrimage).” (Al-Baqarah:189)

Therefore, we know that these months, based on the lunar calendar, were appointed for all of mankind and not just for the Arabs. This is due to the fact that the lunar months can very easily be detected and calculated by the sighting of the crescent-moon, which marks the end of the month and the beginning of a new one.

This is not the case with the Gregorian Calendar, which does not rely on any logical or visible signs as regards its calculation of months; rather, each month in this calendar ranges between twenty-eight and thirty-one days without a single logical reason for such variation. Recently some plans were proposed to modify the Gregorian Calendar, but Christian priests and Jewish rabbis resisted them vehemently and so these plans had to be scrapped.

Look at how the Christian and Jewish theologians opposed the change of these imaginary months, because they realise the danger that such a change would introduce into their beliefs, while the scholars of the Islamic religion are silent, rather some of them actually approve of replacing the Islamic Calendar, which Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has appointed for all mankind, with the man-made Gregorian Calendar. When Imam Ahmad was asked about the Persian Calendar, he showed extreme abhorrence towards it.

We are about to receive a new Hijri year and it is not from the Sunnah to celebrate it or to congratulate one another on its advent. For the Muslims, the passage of years does not constitute a real cause of happiness; rather, what counts is the amount of time spent in obedience to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) during these years. The years that have passed will be considered as successful if they were spent in obedience to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and miserable if they were spent in disobedience of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Therefore, the most evil person is he who has lived a long life and has committed evil deeds throughout. It is a must that we receive our days, months and years while in obedience to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). We must bring ourselves to account, redeem ourselves from our bad deeds and duly perform our responsibilities towards our wives, children and relatives.

Fear Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and perform the responsibilities about which you will be questioned on the Day of Resurrection. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the Almighty, says that which translates as:

“O you who have believed! Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are (appointed) angels, harsh and severe, they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.” (At-Tahreem:6)

Discharge responsibilities properly and know that your limbs will testify against you on the Day of Resurrection. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says that which translates as:

“Until, when they reach it, their hearing and their eyes and their skins will testify against them of what they used to do. And they will say to their skins, ‘Why have you testified against us?’ They will say, ‘We were made to speak by Allah, who has made everything speak; and He created you the first time, and to Him you are returned. And you were not covering (i.e. protecting) yourselves (By fearing Allah) lest your hearing testify against you or your sight or your skins, but you assumed that Allah does not know much of what you do. And that was your assumption which you assumed about your Lord. It has brought you to ruin, and you have become among the losers.’” (Fussilat:20- 23)

The advent of every new year is marked by many Muslims with sincere resolutions and plans to improve and become closer to their Lord, but the days and hours slip away while the peoples conditions remain the same, the inevitable result of such failures will be loss and disgrace in this world and the next. Therefore, we must invest our time in obedience to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and make sure that our spiritual condition is improving from year to year; for the more time runs away from us, the closer we are drawing to our graves.

I swear by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) that improvements in our worldly lives do us absolutely no good if our spiritual lives are not improving at the same time. I also swear that none can attain honor and dignity without submitting to the Lord of the worlds. Safety, tranquility and welfare cannot be attained except by adopting the methodology of the messengers of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Be very clear that if any of you see welfare and pleasure accompanied with sins and deviation, then this is definitely a mere respite that has been given by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) ahead of a total ruin. Thus, we must all stand firm in the obedience of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in order to protect ourselves from His punishment. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the Almighty, says that which translates as:

“…And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers! that you might succeed.” (An-Noor:31)

Fear Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and be aware of the ultimate wisdom of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in who He chooses as messengers from angels and mankind. Be aware also of the fact that He favors certain times and places over others. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) favored Makkah al Mukarramah over all other places and chose Madinah al Munawwarah, the abode of the Prophet (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s migration, after this, the next most virtuous place in the sight of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) is Bait Al-Maqdis, or Jerusalem, which was the abode of the majority of His prophets. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has also favored certain months, days and nights more than others. The number of months is twelve, as decreed by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) when He created the heavens and the earth. Among these twelve are four sacred months, Zul-Qa’dah, Zul-Hijjah, and Al-Muharram, which are successive and the month of Rajab that comes between Jumadal-Aakhirah and Sha’baan. The best day which the sun rises on is Friday and the night of Al-Qadr is more virtuous than a thousand months. Therefore, we must all esteem that which Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has magnified.

The scholars of Islam maintain that the rewards for good deeds are multiplied in times and places which are favored by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and vice versa for bad deeds. The proof of this is from Allah’s saying which translates as:

“They ask you concerning the sacred month – about fighting therein. Say, ‘Fighting therein is great (sin), but averting (people) from the way of Allah and disbelief in Him and (preventing access to) the Sacred Masjid (in Makkah) and the expulsion of its people therefrom are greater (evil) in the sight of Allah. And Fitnah (Polytheism and Disbelief) is worse than killing’. And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they are able. And whoever of you reverts from his religion (to disbelief) and dies while he is a disbeliever – for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and Aakhirah (the Hereafter), and those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.” (Al-Baqarah:217)

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the Almighty, says concerning the Sacred Masjid in Makkah that which translates as:

“Indeed, those who have disbelieved and avert (people) from the way of Allah and from the Sacred Masjid (in Makkah), which We made for the people – equal are the resident therein and one from outside; and whoever intends (a deed) therein of deviation (in religion) or wrongdoing – We will make him taste of a painful punishment.” (Al-Hajj:25)

We are about to witness to these Sacred Months; therefore, must not wrong ourselves during them. We must stay well within the limits defined by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), fulfill all His obligations, shun all His prohibitions and fulfill the rights of the people.

Be aware that Shaitaan (Satan) has taken it upon himself to use all necessary means to seduce all of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s servants, except those who are sincerely devout to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). Shaitaan is keen to distract people from righteousness and divert their attention away from Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s religion and towards vice and evil. If Shaitaan notices that a person is inclined to righteousness, he will use all available means to discourage and hinder that person from doing any good deed, if he fails in this, he will soon devise another plot against this person and so forth. Shaitaan starts with attempting to seduce a person into committing the most destructive of sins. If he fails in this, he will try with less dangerous sins and so on. Once he succeeds in seducing a person into sin, he will delude them into delaying their repentance and belittling the magnitude of their sins. Shaitaan will also fool people into believing that someday, they will give up the sins tha
t they are currently indulging in, while knowing very well that such a day may never come. After underestimating the magnitude and grievousness of sins, one is easily lead by Shaitaan to more destructive ones, until such a person may eventually leave the religion altogether. The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) referred to this type of gradual demise when he said:

“Beware of minor sins, whose example is like that of  a group of people who went into the middle of a valley and collected sticks, each returning with a stick of wood (which amounted to enough) to cook the whole groups bread. When a person is inclined to commit sins which they belittle, these sins will (accumulate and thus) lead to such a person’s ruin.”

Beware of the tricks and evil plans of Shaitaan. Know that he takes many different approaches to seduce people; either through sowing doubts in their souls concerning the unity of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa); diverting them from performing the Salaah and belittling its importance; inducing people to withhold Zakaah, or obligatory charity, or spend it in ways other than that demanded by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa); tempting people into indulging in acts and sayings that render their Sawm (Fasting) null and void; hindering them from performing Hajj by giving plentiful reasons for its delay; trapping them in ungratefulness and maltreatment of their parents and severing family ties; luring them into deceit and dishonesty by committing betrayal and fraud; enticing them to blind materialism through unlawful earnings such as interest-based transactions, extortion, bribery etc.; and a countless number of other avenues that will lead to a person’s utter ruin. After Shaitaan has lead a person astray, he abandons
him, at the very time when he is most in need of a supporter! Take heed of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s saying regarding Shaitaan’s delusion of Adam and Eve when they lived in Jannah (Paradise) and were permitted to eat all its fruits except the fruits of a certain tree, which translates as:

“O Adam, dwell you and your wife in Jannah (Paradise) and eat from wherever you will but do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.” (Al-A’raaf:19)

But Shaitaan tempted them by saying that which translates as:
“But Shaitaan whispered to them to make apparent to them that which was concealed from them of their private parts. He said ‘Your Lord did not forbid you this tree except that you become angels or become of the immortal’. And he swore (by Allah) to them, ‘Indeed I am to you from among the sincere advisors’. So he made them fall, through deception. And when they tasted of the tree, their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten together over themselves the leaves of Jannah. And their Lord called to them, ‘Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you that Shaitaan is to you a clear enemy?’” (Al-A’raaf:20-22)

This means that Shaitaan degraded them and made them become relegated from the superior ranks of obedience. Another example of Shaitaan’s deception and subsequent abandonment is when he urged the tribe of Quraish, which was the tribe of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam), to go to Badr, which is a place between Makkah al Mukarramah and Madinah al Munawwarah, and fight the believers — and then turning his back on them. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says that which translates as:

“And (remember) when Shaitaan made their deeds pleasing to them and said, ‘No one can overcome you today from among the people, and indeed, I am your protector’. But when the two forces sighted each other, he turned on his heels and said: ‘Indeed I am disassociated from you. Indeed, I see what you do not see; indeed I fear Allah. And Allah is severe in penalty.’” (Al-Anfaal:48)

Here is yet another example of Shaitaan forsaking man after deluding him, which translates as:

“… Like the example of Shaitaan when he says to man ‘Disbelieve.’ But when he disbelieves, he says, ‘Indeed I am disassociated from you. Indeed I fear Allah, Lord of the Worlds’. So the outcome for both of them is that they will be in the Fire, abiding eternally therein. And that is the recompense of the wrongdoers.” (Al-Hashr:16-17)

“And Shaitaan will say when the matter has been concluded, ‘Indeed Allah had promised you the promise of truth. And I promised you, but I betrayed you. But I had no authority over you except that I invited you, and you responded to me. So blame not me; but blame yourselves. I cannot be called to your aid, nor can you be called to my aid. Indeed I deny your association of me (with Allah) before. Indeed, for the wrongdoers is a painful punishment.” (Ibrahim:22)

What you are feeling in terms of reluctance to perform good deeds and carelessness towards your bad deeds is only a result of the trickery of Shaitaan. When you feel like this, you must seek the protection of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) from Shaitaan, as this is the only way to achieve salvation.

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the Almighty, says that which translates as:
“And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Shaitaan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing. Indeed those who fear Allah — when an impulse touches them from Shaitaan, they remember (Him) and at once they have insight.” (Al-A’raaf:200-201)
 

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