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Blessings of the Islamic New Year

by Musa Bukhari


Allah has blessed us with another (Islamic) New Year. What a gift! New beginnings are such huge gifts because they allow us a time to rest, renew, and look forward to exciting things! May Allah increase us in gratitude to Him for the blessing of beginnings, ameen.

However, it doesn’t make sense to talk about beginnings without talking about endings as well. There is a hadith that talks about this very important phenomenon of beginnings and endings.

Sahl ibn Sa’d reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

“Verily, a man may appear to people as doing the deeds of the people of Paradise, yet he is among the people of Hellfire. Verily, a man may appear to people as doing the deeds of the people of Hellfire, yet he is among the people of Paradise.”

In another narration, the Prophet said, “Verily, deeds are only judged by their endings.”

Although the Prophet (SAW) is talking about a person’s lifetime and how they lived their life vs. how they ended it, i.e. in which state they died, we can apply this to the way we start and end our years, our months, and even our weeks. There are so many lessons to be learned from this one hadith. Allah has four months that He has singled out as “His” months, i.e. they are sacred to Him. Two of these four months are Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram. It’s because Allah wants to draw our attention to the way we end our year as well as how we start it.

In a secular world, when New Year’s rolls around, the overwhelming focus is on partying and setting resolutions for the upcoming year. Little to no attention is given to how one spent the past year. “New year, new me.” I have repeatedly seen this message appear on my social media around New Year’s. At first glance, it appears positive. But if you look a little deeper, it is anything but the contrary. You see, this statement shows an obsession with running away from the past, wanting to run away from things we may have done, things that we don’t want to think about. But sometimes, moving forward is impossible without addressing the wounds of the past. Tawbah is impossible without regret over our past actions. Authentic growth is impossible without analysing and reflecting over our mistakes in the past.

The past, present, and future are part of a cycle. The past informs the present, and the present informs the future. When we look back, we should do so with the intention to heal ourselves in the present so that we can have a better future with the help of Allah, inshaAllah. Seek Allah and never rely solely on your efforts. If you are broken, Allah will heal you. If you are lost, Allah will guide you, and there you will meet the mend after the break. There you will meet the whole of you. The beauty of mindful endings is that they lead to new beginnings.

Abu Dharr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Fear Allah wherever you are, follow a bad deed with a good deed and it will erase it, and behave with good character towards people.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi)

This hadith no doubt has a literal meaning of fearing Allah and being conscious of Him no matter what physical space we find ourselves in, i.e. at home, in the market, at school, with friends, on vacation, etc. But we can also apply this to the places of our lives we find ourselves in, in the different seasons of life. Do we fear Allah in times of difficulty and in times of ease? Do we fear Allah in public and in private? Do we fear Allah when it is easy and when it is difficult?

A Muslim is cognizant of Allah and reflective of his/her deeds, especially during these sacred months. Do we not take account of ourselves during Ramadan? So should we take account of ourselves at the end of Dhul-Hijjah. When we reflect upon our deeds in the past year, do we find things we don’t like, things that may have displeased Allah? If so, what is our course of action? Well, like the Prophet (SAW) said: “follow a bad deed with a good deed and it will erase it.” How can we ensure that our New Year is better than our past year? By making an intention, by making a plan, and by making lots of du’a to Allah (SWT) to keep us guided and steadfast. Anything that is beloved to Allah is bound to have barakah in it. Anything that is sacred by the command of Allah is bound to transform our hearts if we respect the sanctity of the thing/time in question. Allah says in Surah Al-Hajj:

“And whoever honors the symbols of Allah, it is certainly out of the piety of the heart.” (22:32)

The secret of transforming our hearts is to honour the sanctity of the limits set by Allah and to rush to obey Him always, but especially in those months that He has singled out for His obedience, like the blessed month of Muharram.

May Allah allow the reminders from the Qur’an and Sunnah to penetrate our hearts. May Allah give us good endings and good beginnings, filled with aafiyah and barakah. May Allah forgive us and have mercy on us. Ameen.

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