The Fresh Breeze of 1435

The first leaf that turns bright purple, the first snowflake that falls, and the first bright yellow daffodil that peeks its way out of crystal white snow – their newness takes my breath away.

Today we greet the new Islamic year of 1435. It comes to us unblemished by sin, unmarked by tragedy, and unspoiled in its possibilities. It is a fresh breeze that comes to blow away despair and frustration. It is a new year. It is a new chance.

In January, people will make resolutions for 2014, and will join gyms, buy books, and cut up their credit cards. The concept of a resolution is also relevant to the month of Muḥarram as it is a month of tawbah (repentance) and forgiveness.

The month of Muḥarram is the month in which the hijrah began. In the dead of night the Muslims snuck quietly out of Mecca, leaving behind their homes, property and family members. They risked their health to obey the Prophet ﷺ. They left behind their houses because a new home for the fledgling community was to be raised in Yathrib – City of the Prophet ﷺ. They went on hijrah to join with the waiting Anṣār and build a new ummah. They went forth in commitment to a belief in One God and His prophet. They went forth in absolute tawakkul (trust) – the tawakkul that includes full effort and complete conviction in the Grace of God. They went forth bringing their whole selves and whole lives to Allah.

In the month of Muḥarram, centuries before, Moses was granted victory over Pharaoh; belief in One God triumphed over idolatry and human arrogance. Fasting on this day is a confirmed sunnah, and the beloved companion ʿAmr b. al ʿAas may God be pleased with him would say, “Who fasts the day of ʿāshūrāʾ, it is as though he fasted an entire year, and who gives charity on the day of ʿāshūrāʾ, it is as though he gave charity for an entire year.” Thus Muslims celebrate the day of ʿāshūrāʾ in fasting and good works.

In this year of 1435, let us hold in our mind’s eye the hijrah and ʿāshūrāʾ. Let us begin the year clinging to belief, soaked in tawakkul, and in victory over our sin and spiritual deficiencies. Let us begin our resolutions now, and not wait for January. Let us make our own spiritual hijrah.

The Hijrah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ had three components:

1.A goal – get the Muslim community safely to Medina.
2.A plan – the Prophet ﷺ laid an elaborate plan that included stealth, the blessing of God and perplexing his would-be assassins.
3.A companion – Abu Bakr may God be pleased with him was chosen as the Prophet’s companion on his ﷺ hijrah, and he fulfilled his role with vigilance and joy. Indeed it is said that Abu Bakr may God be pleased first felt what was meant by ‘tears of joy’ when the Prophet ﷺ told him he would be his companion on the road.
Our spiritual hijrah also must have a goal, a plan and (at least one) companion.

Big Goals:

Farḍ prayers.
From day one to the end of the year, let us commit to not missing a single farḍ prayer. Let us make hijrah from the comfort of our beds, and self-consciousness at work and school to the joy and confidence of prayer.
Tahajjud: the tahajjud revolution is in full swing with more and more women waking up for tahajjud across the world. Prayer at night is an essential part of the worship life of the believer. Allah (swt) speaks to us in Sūrat al Insān, when we are told to spend the night in prostration and glorifying Him, {And of the night, prostrate yourself to Him, and glorify Him during the long night.} (al Insān: 26}. In Sūrat al Isrāʾ Allah (swt) is very specific about the necessity of this sunnah prayer, {And rise from sleep during the night – it is an additional prayer for you. Perhaps your Lord will raise you to an honored position.} Raise us to an honored position… indeed the Muslim Ummah is in dire need of this. Let this year, 1435, be the year where Muslims are raised to an honored position through our tahajjud.
Behavior: Muʿādh bin Jabal said, “The last instruction I received from the Prophet ﷺ when I put my foot in the stirrup was “Beautify your manners for the people O Muʿādh!” Let 1435 be a year without slamming doors and screaming voices. Let us learn to ‘be the change we want to see in the world’. In our homes let us be the instigators of joy and happiness. In our communities let us think of creative ways to coax Muslims back into the mosque (perhaps we first need to find out where it is!) In the wider community let us be of those whose very presence reminds others of God and His prophets.

Basic plan:

Plan to pray all of the prayers at the beginning of the time.
Buy a new alarm clock or download a smart alarm or get on a tahajjud tree/worship thread.
Put our good behavior on project level and work to instill new habits every day.

The Elusive Companion.

1.Ask Allah to send a friend as He sent the Prophet ﷺ Abu Bakr may God be pleased with him
2.Be brave – go somewhere new and look for a friend.
3.Be willing to be someone else’s companion (this is not only about ‘me’ remember – it’s about a better year for all of us).
The new year reaches out to us. Its unblemished goodness beams up at our ummah and hopes that this will be a year of peace for our countries, twelve months of active kindness, and three hundred sixty-five days of Muslims returning to their prayer carpets. The new year looks to us to make it a year wherein the ummah blossoms into the people we were meant to be, those who {enjoin the right and prevent the wrong} (Sūrat Ᾱl ʿimrān, 110). Let us rise up to fulfill this trust.

In every season of 1435, let us embrace the beauty of this new year. When the first snowflake falls, let it find us out from under thick comforters and standing in prayer at night. When spring flowers dance in the breeze, let our voices be reciting Quran. When the summer sun warms our backs, let us be warming the hearts of others. And when fall comes again, and the leaves change to purple, gold and bright-flaming red, let us be of those whose prayers remain green and strong – let it be that not a single obligatory prayer has been missed. Then next year, when 1436 shows its innocent face, let us put 1435 in our book of deeds without regret, but with hope. Hope for our ummah, hope for our families, and hope for our very selves.

Happy New Year every one. May it be truly happy.

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