Muharram – The Muslim New Year

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In every culture, the dawn of a new year is often cause for celebration and goodwill. People generally look forward to the New Year, and verge upon it with enthusiasm and eagerness. In Singapore, recent year-end celebrations have taken on gargantuan proportions, with fireworks, loud music and foam parties all thrown into the mix.

Nevertheless, as Muslims, we should not be affected nor buoyed by any of this merrymaking. We too have our ‘celebrations’ to mark the end and start of our own Islamic Year. Incidentally, the past few years have seen the New Years of the Muslim Hijri calendar – which is a purely lunar calendar – occur around the same period as that of the Gregorian calendar. This year, 1st Muharram 1432 falls on the 7th of December 2010.

What does Muharram mean to the average Muslim these days? Sadly, given our preoccupation with the dunya, not much. This writer will reluctantly admit he was guilty of planning his December holidays without factoring in the important events which take place during the month of Muharram, namely the Day of Ashura which falls on the tenth of the month. On this day, Shia Muslims spend the day in mourning, in remembrance of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet s.a.w., while Sunnis fast in commemoration of the rescue of the people of Israel by the Prophet Musa a.s. from Pharaoh.

However, with the advent of modern technology, it has now become much simpler to keep track of important dates in the Islamic calendar. Yours truly has only recently begun using Google Calendar, a free time-management web application which allows the user to add Islamic ‘holidays’ such as the Birthday of the Prophet and the start of Ramadan to his calendar. iPhone users will no doubt wax lyrical over their own Islamic calendar apps. Those days of furiously scribbling into bulky organizers are well and truly over.

Unfortunately, while the tools for observing events in the Islamic calendar are seemingly limitless, as Muslims the onus is still upon us to realize the significance of such events. It’s of little use knowing that Muharram is approaching if we do not find it within ourselves to pay heed to its approaching. Thankfully, in Singapore, mosques will usually hold mass supplication sessions on the eve of 1st Muharram, beginning about half an hour before Maghrib and ending with the Isya’ prayer. Indeed, there can be no excuse for us to be missing out on such an important gathering. If you’re still blur over the when and the where, please refer to the below listed events. Now, you have absolutely no excuse to miss the ushering of the Muslim New Year.  (Aren’t you glad you read this article?)

Another common practice of our pious predecessors would be to recite the ayat al-Kursi (Quran 2:255) a total of 360 times together with the Basmallah (bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm) beginning from the start of Muharram. It is said that those who practice this will be protected by Allah throughout the year. Others advocate fasting on the Day of Asyura, as mentioned earlier in this article.

The Muslim New Year brings with it much hope and a renewed sense of optimism for the faithful. Many will attempt to increase their piety through good works and see Muharram as a herald to a new beginning; one that involves greater submission to Allah and the further safeguarding of one’s thoughts, words and actions.

May this Muharram be a blessing to us all. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.

Listed Events

Event When Where Organiser
MAJLIS MAAL HIJRAH & FORUM:Kebijaksanaan Sayyidina Umar Merasmikan Tahun Hijrah 6 Dec 2010 Assyakirin Mosque Assyakirin Mosque
Ushering in Islamic New Year with Dua 6 Dec 2010 Malabar Mosque Malabar Mosque
Majlis Maal Hijrah 1432H 6 Dec 2010 Abdul Aleem Sidique Mosque Abdul Aleem Siddique Mosque
Sambutan Maal Hijrah 6 Dec 2010 Al-Istighfar Mosque Al-Istighfar Mosque

Written by Shahnawaz Abdul Hamid

Email: [email protected]

Facebook: www.facebook.com/shahnawaz.a.hamid

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