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New Year, New Leaf

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FEATURE BY Dr. Wael Shihab-The New Hijri Year occasion is a time for reflection, assessment, and planning for the coming year. One should seize this occasion by assessing his work in the past year(s) and planning to lead a better life in the coming year. It’s high time for reflecting on and studying one’s relationship with God, with his own self, and with people.

In the occasion of the new year, one remembers that days and years that pass bring him closer to the time of his death. Therefore, he should prepare himself for departing the world by improving his relationship with God and with people. After death, one will miss the great opportunity of correcting his mistakes and will then get the outcome of his work in this world. The new year constitutes a real opportunity for correcting one’s mistakes before it is too late.

According to `Umar ibn Al-Kattab’s sincere advice, one should bring himself to account before he is taken to account and weigh his deeds before his deeds are weighed on the Day of Judgment.[1] Checking one’s deeds in this world helps in realizing one’s shortcomings and correcting his mistakes. The new year, therefore, could be a stop in one’s life to weigh his past deeds and better plan for the future.

Be Careful, It’s a New Leaf

The new year is like a new leaf. A Muslim should be careful to fill it with what pleases God and helps him lead a happy life in this world and in the hereafter. One’s wrongdoings should be corrected with no delay. Good deeds should be increased and maintained.

At the beginning of the new year, one should check his relationship with God and with people. If one finds out that he fails to carry out some religious duties, he has to resolve to make up for any missed obligations. He should observe his daily prayers, dhikr, religious practices, etc. Also, one’s relationship with people should be maintained and improved in case of any mistakes.

Repent, God Accepts It

One is advised to start the new year with repentance and starting a new leaf with God and people. Repentance, with its basic conditions and requirements, is highly recommended. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“Oh people, repent to Allah, for indeed, I repent to Allah 100 times every day.” (Muslim)

God accepts people’s repentance whatever their sins are. Allah forgives all sins as He, Almighty, is the Most forgiving, the Most Kind. Allah Almighty says,

{Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.} (Az-Zumar 39:35)

So, the new year is a golden opportunity for a Muslim to renew and maintain sincere repentance. Repentance, moreover, cannot be considered as valid unless one takes the following steps:

-One must feel deep remorse for the sins one has committed.

-One must refrain from it totally while also abstaining from all those leads or circumstances that led him to such a sin in the first place.

-He must be firmly resolved never to sin again, and immediately becoming occupied in whatever good deeds that he can in order to wipe out his past sins.

-All of the above involve sins violating the rights of Allah; if, however, one’s sins violate the rights of human beings, then he must also do whatever it takes to return or compensate or redress the grievances of the person he has wronged. Paying the aggrieved person his dues or compensating him in whatever ways possible becomes an essential condition of valid repentance.

Once accomplished, repentance, as stated above, will undoubtedly wipe out one’s sins, and guarantee him a clean record. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “One who has repented of a sin (sincerely) is like one who has never sinned at all.”

Don’t Miss the Opportunity

The new year occasion is a chance to review one’s deeds and relationship with God and with people. Islamic events constitute opportunities to understand Islam and reform people’s behaviors. Days and years bring one’s closer to his death time; so a Muslim should be careful not to miss any opportunity to translate Islamic teachings into practice.

Finally, we should never lose hope in gaining Allah’s pleasure and forgiveness. The new year is like a new leaf that should be filled with good deeds and behaviors. Let’s repent to Allah and maintain good relationship with all people and work to spread Islamic values of justice, freedom, and equality. ONISLAM

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  1. How does one think of Muharram, as the New Year, without thinking of Husayn and Karbala. This is not about propaganda. This is about the killing of the grandson of the Prophet and 72 of his followers. In South Africa we are still trying to work out whether the killer of Chris Hani should be given medical parole. Yet, many of us do not even know who Husayn is, who his mother, father, grandmother and Aunties were. Yet we talk about reflection about a New Year and wishes for the New Year. If we do not know Husayn then we do not know who we are. “Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn”. This is a hadeeth of the Holy Prophet. The Quran says that the Prophet asked for nothing else but that we love his family (Quran 42: 23). In the engagement on the 24th of Dhill Hijjah in the 10th year of hijrah – with the Christians of Najran – 20kms from Sanaa the current capital of Yemen, the family was clarified in Quran 3:61 nd in Sahih Muslim Vol 2 p.287. Let not the mufti dismiss this as propaganda. Husayn was killed. This was a Prophet who engaged with other communities of faith and no faith around him. But Husayn – whom Imam Shafee says love was made compulsory in the Quran and whomsover does not love Husayn does not have salaah – was murdered by the order of one that we say May Allah be pleased with him. Yes, that is what Imam Shafee says and the mufti dismisses it as propaganda. We remember the killers of Imam Haron, Chris Hani, Rashaad Turner, Neil Aggget, Ahmed Timol and Steve Biko amongst others. Yet we do not want to identify the killers and killing of Husayn. Ya Husayn, I have done my duty. Please tell the Prophet, Fatima, Ali, Hasan and Zaynab that I have done my duty. I have reminded those around me that we have a duty to love you and to take a stand against those who killed you. Husayn tell the martuyrs in the struggle against Apartheid – because the Quran says martyrs do not die – Husayn do tell them that I have done my duty. May my words count in my favour and those of my family and friends when our tongues can no longer speak. Husayn do ask your grandfather to intercede for me and my family and friends. And Husayn you know the identity of the mufti who has dismissed accounts of those who killed you as propaganda. Husayn do tell your grandfather and Fatima Zahra about whom was revealed Surah al-Asr that I have done my duty.

    1. I can see it is that time of the year again. Muharram jitters! We have to start getting out of this either one way or the other mind-set with regards to Muharram? It simply just further perpetuates the sectarianism that is so prevalent amongst us. Some will pay importance to this tragic event and express an emotional attachment to the events of Karbala and there is no issue with this. However, we cannot expect others to do so as well and then vilify them for “ignoring” Karbala during Muharram? There were numerous other events which mark the first ten days of Muharram and my personal view is that allowing one particular tragic event to be the focal point further provides the basis of separation in an already fractured society. This does not detract from the significance of Karbala. Many in our community, from all schools of thought actually DO know the story of Kerbala if they feel that it is important enough to investigate and learn about the fate of the Prophet’s (SAW) family. Many also DO know of the injustice suffered by members of the family of the Prophet (SAW) and many also DO know the distortion of history and narratives around this event. However, they acknowledge it and they move on. Who-ever has viewed the tragedy as propaganda conjured up by a particular sect is on his own mission and does not speak on behalf of ordinary Muslims irrespective of his clerical rank. However, he is free to hold that view. What some in our community are saying is that they cannot understand why the significance of this event has to be presented as an over-bearing facet of this period at the expense of all the other events which also took place around the 1Oth of Muharram including those related to other Prophets (Peace upon them all). Those who wish to mark this period solely on the commemoration of Karbala are free to do so within their own right and those who choose to acknowledge the period of Muharram in a broader sense can also do so. It does not have to be either this way or that.

      1. My dearest Nur,

        I am neither Sunni or Shia. I am a Muslim who makes up his own mind and I will fight for the right of every person, Muslim or not to have freedom of conscience, association and expression. If one wishes to believe in Allah or not, that right is enshrined in the Quran. When the Khawarij rose up against Sayeduna Ali he told told them, I will not deny you your rights from the Bat al-Maal or entry to the mosque or the market. But if you take up arms against the Caliphate then we will retaliate. This was the man who was trained by the Prophet from before he was six years old.

        In the Quran we are told to love the family of the Prophet. So we do not have an option in this matter. How do we love someone when, we are informed that he is dead, or that he has been killed and we turn the other way? How do we, who are to love the one who – the Prophet, like many of us with children know, would not rise from sujud, because Husayn was on his back – was killed and to put salt in the wound, it is rejected as propaganda on our radio station.

        This is not a fight about history, but principle. If we compare Husayn and Yazid then the Quran says that every people will be raised with their imam. Again this is not about Shia Imamate. The hadeeth of the Prophet says that if you die without knowing the imam of your time then you die in a state of ignorance. This is about leadership in the broadest sense.

        حدثنا عبد الله حدثنى أبى ثنا أسود بن عامر انا أبو بكر عن عاصم عن أبى صالح عن معاوية قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من مات بغير امام مات ميتة جاهلية
        Prophet(saw) said: Whoever died without an Imam he dies a death of jahilyyah (pre-islamic times). (MusnadAhmed volume 4 page 96).

        Why are we prepared to choose Mandela and Mbeki every time – not that they were blameless- before we choose Zuma yet when it comes to Husayn and Yazid then we are confused? Why do we get upset about Nkandla and do not get upset about the excesses of Banu Umayyad. We argue that Zuma’s daughter does not have the qualification or experience to be a Chief of Staff yet he holds the position. However, we lack the courage to do the same when it comes to Yazid.

        In our salat we make salawat on the family of the Prophet, which includes Husayn, yet when the time that he has died we are distracted. Every Friday in the second khutba in many mosques we read salawat on the names of the khulafa rashidoon and the sahaba. , Fatima Zahra and the youths of jannah led by Hasan and Husayn. Yet when the time comes to defend Husayn we have other things to do or we are ambivalent.

        These are

  2. NUR, very nicely written for a cop-out or PR job, but without responding point for point because MIQDAD has proven you wrong or deficient on several issues let me say :

    yes your right that sectarianism is dogging us negatively, but its not fueled by talking about the historical truths of karbala, or uhud or mubahilla or hudaybiyya or even the haj which abu bakr led but relinquished because he felt bad that ali ibn abu talib had according to prophet sawa instruction read out the verses of surah tauba himself only

    the verses were a precedent of warning any and everybody who opposed and fought muslims and islam of a response of arms, something discarded since the prophets sawa demise….

    so to revisit that great quranic instruction as well as the sunnah of prophet sawa is taboo and sectarian? thats exactly what imam hussain a.s brought back to islam and arrested the political slide

    to call it an emotional attachment to karbala is to say the least, disrespectful of the prophet sawa and regarding the quran, unislamic

    i have heard yes, that people are reminded to remember those events, i also know that folk who dont know or remember it are not vilified, the vilification are always against those who minimise or even “crapify” it

    other events? like? you mean like the ones once i listened to for 30 minutes plus during jumuah in surrey estate by sh irafaan abrahams about nabis adam , ibrahim , musa, yunus, isa a.s regarding what happened to them? in the end he said : nou jamaatulmuslimeen al die hadith wat ek nou gelees het is alles swak hadeeth maar as ons alles tesame sit dan is dit sterk

    like putting 12 cups of weak tea in a pot then you get a strong tea? even 10 year olds know better

    some say that those of us who recite salawaat and standing nogal, are “overbearing” , yes of course some folk from all sides go “overboard” regarding many issues, but its better to be overbearing so others can ask you to hold back etc, than not to do anything at all except pay lip service

    1. Abe,
      PR Job for who and for what? Your response exactly proves my point. I am not arguing against commemoration or rememberance or any other form of interaction in whatever form it takes to the event. What I am saying is that their are degrees to which people feel that this event is a marker during this period and that will drive their response to whether they feel it should be publically or privately remembered or not. All the historical references which you have presented have no bearing on this fact. Anything is subject to interpretation. This is a fact, whether you agree with this notion or not. The events may be historically right or historically misunderstood. Thats not the issue. The issue is that space should be created for any Muslim to either commemorate or not commemorate based on his understanding and interpretation of history without prejudice of being vilified by either side. If you cannot understand that then this conversation is pointless.

      1. Dearest Nur,

        I share your view that everything can be interpreted. Although, not all interpretation are equally valid. Some are indeed better than others.

        When Imam Haron was martyred, many leading and ordinary Muslims believed that he should seek assistance from his kafir boeties. Even his newspaper dissociated themselves from him in an editorial. They said that he was on their editorial board for his religious opinions and not his political views.

        With Husayn it was the same. He was killed by the order of someone whom no one knows where he is buried today. There can not be an interpretation that says that Yazid was right and Husayn was wrong. What is even worse is that the son of Sa’d ibn Waqqas, one of those who made the bayat on behalf of Medina for the Prophet to make hijrah, he was a general in the army that killed Husayn. At least Hurr saved himself from eternal disgrace by joining Husayn at the last moments in Karbala.

        Everyone has the right to an opinion, right or wrong. But we cannot have different sets of facts. Some of our leaders are creating facts. Many of the ordinary people do not know much better. Leave the Shias alone on this matter. Even assume that they are over-reacting. Then go to the Kokni communities when they remember Husayn. These are signed up Sunnis. But they will never give their children the names Muawiyah and Yazid. Salafis, Deobandis and Wahabis praise Muawiyah and Yazid. How does Muawiyah, who joined Islam when Mecca was defeated, become the Caliph within twenty years. Something went wrong seriously. Then his son takes the lead and wants to force Husayn to swear loyalty to him. Husayn was taught by the Prophet, Fatima Zahra and Ali. Husayn grew up in the presence of Abu Bakr, Umar, ibn Abbas, Abu Dhar, Talha and Zubayr, Ayesha, Hafsa and Salama. All of them could testify about the character of Hasan and Husayn and of Yazid. None had a good word to say about Yazid.

        So interpretation yes. Alternative facts is actually the creation of another universe.

        By the way, the Jews did not leave Egypt on the 10th of the first month of the lunar year. It was on the 15th. Their festival is from the 15th and lasts for 7 full days. If ot was one or two days one could understand. It is almost a week later. We are struggling to create alternative facts to divert the attention of people from the breathtaking tragedy that leaves even angels weeping. Ya Husayn, labbayk …

      2. NUR, in short, the cop-out or pr doesnt have to be for any other, its yours,
        you have the idea that as some misguided say, ali was right as was muawiyya, it was just a difference of clash of “opinions”,
        a christian sulaiman khattani wrote something like this: muawiyya looked at the circumstances deliberated according to his aql acted and took possession for some time, ali looked at the circumstances deliberated (differently) according to his aql acted (differently) and took possession OF time
        ie he acted NOT according to OPINION but according to quran sunnah and his aql based on quran
        if the history of islam and the doings and lives and occurrences of prophet sawa and his family a.s and sahaba have as you say “no bearing” on the issues then youre misguided, the quran and etc proves that we HAVE to learn from the past,
        if as you say the history could be misunderstood then we are obliged to correct it and not sweep it under the carpet
        i have come across folk who dont understand why others dont even want to look at the issue from their own sources, ive come across criticism yes, but not vilification at least not organised, as the organised uucsa mjc jamiats et al for the past few years going from masjid to masjid to vilify the shia
        surprisingly many sunnis are saying openly that they NEVER heard about these events
        know why? except for folk from the indian sub-continent and especially the ones attached to the sufi orders NO one else has previously spoken about it
        in fact a few months ago sh fuzail soofee of durban a sunni alim was invited to lecture at panorama masjid on ahlul bayt a.s, he used quran authenticated hadith and history only on VOC, most questioners heard the details for the first time, sh riyaad fataar phoned to ask : what shia program is going on there? so much for the “some” you refer to, the real majority are being intellectually blackmailed with anti shia nonsense halftruths and lies

        1. In the first year the armmy of Yazid killed Husayn and 72 others
          In the second year his army attacked Medina and many sahaba and tabi’een were killed
          In the third year his army attacked Mecca and damaged the kaaba.

          But we do not have the courage of our convictions. We call this sectarian propaganda.

          His father applied for amnesty when Mecca fell. Forget Ali, Hasan and Husayn. Think about how his father treated Abu Dharr. Then be brave and be just for that is the closest to taqwa (Quran). There are numerous other Sahaba of the Prophet over whom Muawiya just walked. Look at the ANC after 1994 and that is what happened with many comrades of the Prophet. Those who remained principled suffered and were pushed aside.

          How we ever landed in this awkward situation is mind-boggling.

  3. Great post! Thanks for sharing. Really very useful and informative post about new year new leaf. One should seize this occasion by assessing his work in the past year(s) and planning to lead a better life in the coming year. It’s high time for reflecting on and studying one’s relationship with God, with his own self, and with people.

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