By Mas`ud Sabri
Member, The International Union for Muslim Scholars
In reality, most people celebrate the New Year, and many of us - Muslims - take part in these celebrations. However, isn't it better to have our special celebration? I do not mean by the word "celebration" a feast or an occasion for us to celebrate, as this contradicts the nature of feasts in our life as Muslims. But, we need to have a predetermined course of action whether you call it a celebration or not. I ask frankly and directly: What will we do at that time, when people disobey their Lord?
Now, I will suggest some advice to abide by at the time of New Year.
Houses of the Obedient, Not Places of the Disobedient
If people go to bars, night clubs, hotel discos, or any other places of prohibited and futile amusement, let's go to mosques. They are the houses of the Almighty and the refuge of every pious. By going to mosques, we take refuge in the Almighty. Furthermore, if we go there, seeking His protection when most people indulge in debauchery, He (Exalted and Glorified be He) may have mercy upon us and guide the others to the right path.
In mosques, there is a spiritual celebration, as Muslims may pray, remember the Almighty, ask for His forgiveness, or attend a religious lesson. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Whenever a group of people get together in one of the houses of Allah (i.e. the mosque), reciting the Book of Allah (i.e. the Qur'an), and learning it among themselves, sakinah (calmness) will come down on them, (divine) mercy will cover them, the angels will surround them, and Allah will mention them among those who are with Him." (Muslim and Abu Dawud)
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) also narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Almighty Allah has angels who go about on the roads seeking those who remember Allah. When they find some people remembering Allah, they call to one another and say, "Come to what you are looking for;" and they surround them with their wings till the space between them and the lowest sky is fully covered. Almighty Allah asks the angels (although He is best informed about every thing), "What are My slaves saying?" They say, "They are exalting You, praising You, glorifying You, and remembering Your greatness and majesty." He asks, "Have they seen Me?" They reply, "No, indeed, they have not seen You." He asks, "How would they act ifthey were to see Me?" Thereupon they reply, "If they were to see You, they would engage more earnestly in worshipping and glorifying You and would extol You more." He would say, "What do they beg of Me?" They say, "They beg You for Your Paradise." Allah says, "Have they seen My Paradise?" They say, "No, our Lord." He says, "How would they act if they were to see it?" They reply, "Were they to see it, they would more intensely eager for it." He asks, "Against what do they seek My protection?" They (the angels) answer, "Our Lord, from the hellfire." He says, "Have they seen the hellfire?" They say, "No. By Your honor, they have not seen it." He says, "How would they act if they were to see it" They say, "If they were to see it, they would be more earnest in getting away from it and fearing it." He says, "I call you to witness that I hereby grant pardon to them and confer upon them what they ask for; and grant them protection against what they seek protection from."
Praying at Night Is an Honor
People celebrate the New Year at night by holding parties full of nudity, dancing, and drinking. Let's, on the other hand, make Qiyam Al-Layl (praying at night) our celebration of that night. If every lover whispered to his love, let's whisper to the Almighty and supplicate Him humbly and earnestly. If the people felt the sweetness of the celebration, let's feel the sweetness of standing before Him. If they like their friends' company, let's enjoy the Almighty's company. If the disobedient call one another asking for spending a happy night, let's ask the Almighty to make us always stand before Him and not to deprive us of the sweetness of such a thing.
Moreover, let's verify our belief in Him by prostrating ourselves to Him; as He (Exalted and Glorified be He) says,
[Only those who believe in Our Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) are those, who, when they are reminded of these Ayat, they fall down and prostrate, glorify the praises of their Lord, and they are not proud. Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and they spend (charity in Allah's cause) out of what We have bestowed upon them. No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.](As-Sajdah 32: 15-17)
By doing so, we will wait for the great reward of the Almighty that the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned in the hadith that reads, "In Paradise , there are rooms whose outside can be seen from the inside and inside can be seen from the outside. Almighty Allah has prepared them for those who are gentle in speech, who feed the poor, who fast regularly, and who pray at night when people are asleep." (Ahmad)
If the celebrators think that they win by their disobedience, let's win Paradise and the blessing of the Almighty; as He (Exalted and Glorified be He) promised us saying, [Verily, the Muttaqun (pious) will be in the midst of Gardens and Springs (in Paradise). Taking joy in the things which their Lord has given them. Verily, they were before this Muhsinun (doers of good). They used to sleep but little by night [invoking their Lord (Allah) and praying, with fear and hope].](Adh-Dhariyat 51: 15-17)
If people wait for one another, let's wait for the coming of the Almighty - in a manner that befits His perfection and His majesty -to beg Him. As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Our Lord (Exalted and Glorified be He) comes every night down to the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying, "Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to their invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant them their request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive them?" (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Actually, we have to rejoice at this worship that the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised us to abide by, as he said, "Keep up praying the night prayer. It was the way of the virtuous who came before you, it draws you nearer to your Lord, atones for your sins, and forbids you from evil." (At-Tirmidhi)
Ask for Allah's Forgiveness
If the people enjoy their amusement, let's enjoy asking Allah for forgiveness; as He (Exalted and Glorified be He) says, [Seek the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant you good enjoyment.] (Hud 11:3)
If they keep on saying honeyed words to their sweethearts, making advances to them, and saying what pleases them, let's keep on asking the Almighty to forgive us and pardon the disobedient. Let's raise our hands to supplicate Him,
O Allah! You are my Lord. None has the right to be worshipped but You. You created me and I am Your slave. I am faithful to my covenant and my promise (to You) as much as I can. I seek refugee in You from the evil that I have done.I avow your blessings on me and I avow my sins before You, so please forgive them; as no one can forgive sins except You.
I seek the forgiveness of Allah, the One Whom no one is God but Him, the Alive, the One Who needs none and I repent to Him.
Approach Allah Through His Words
Every lover meets separately with his sweetheart to talk to each other and enjoy the sweet words, then let's enjoy the talking of our Lord to us and read His Words to know what He wants from us and what He likes for us. We have to enjoy reading the Qur'an, in order to have a purified heart. Also, we should always consider the words of `Uthman ibn `Affan (may Allah be pleased with him), "If the hearts were purified, they would not become tired of reciting the Qur'an."
Every one of us should know that he or she is before the Almighty Who talks to him or her alone; thus, he or she should follow the orders, avoid the prohibited actions, and know the merit of the Qur'an. It was narrated that one of the pious said, "The Qur'an is a true guide and a lamp spreading light. Thus, one should open his eyes and see the light; as thinking is the heart of the clear-sighted, and the enlightened resorts to light in case of darkness."
Also, it was narrated, "Whenever calamities obscure your vision like pieces of dark night, turn to the Qur'an, as it is a reliable intercessor, a truthful arguer. Whoever places the Qur'an before him, will be led to Paradise, and whoever puts the Qur'an behind him, will be driven to the hellfire. The Qur'an is the guide that shows the best path, it is the book in which there are details, declaration, and acquisition. It is the arbiter without jest. It has the exoteric and the esoteric. Its exterior is judgment and its interior is knowledge.
We have to know that reciting the Qur'an is one of the reasons, by which the Almighty protects His servants against expediting their torture. It was narrated in a tradition that the Almighty is about to torture all the people of the earth when they commit sins or perpetrate offenses; but when He sees the aged going to perform prayers at mosques and the children learn the Qur'an, He shows mercy upon them and delays their torture.
The following are some suggested advice to abide by at that night (New Year's Eve). They may not take a lot of time; but they may lead us to come closer to the Almighty:
1. Maintain the night's adhkar (Remembrance of Allah).
2. Be keen on observing the congregational prayers at the mosque during that day, especially the `Isha' and Fajr prayers (respectively, Dawn and Evening prayers).
3. Sleep early after the `Isha' Prayer, and wake up early to begin your program.
4. Recite the Qur'an for half an hour, i.e. reciting about a juz' (part).
5. Ask for Allah's forgiveness for a hundred times. You can read, "O Allah! You are my Lord. None has the right to be worshiped but You. You created me and I am Your slave. I am faithful to my covenant and my promise (to You) as much as I can" or any other form of asking Allah for forgiveness.
6. Observe the Sunnah and the supererogatory prayers at that day.
7. Wake up an hour before the Fajr and pray two or four rak`ahs, and ask for Allah's forgiveness.
8. Supplicate Almighty Allah much before the Fajr Prayer for you and for all the people to guide them to the right path and strengthen them to keep it.
9. Go to the Fajr Prayer before the Adhan (Call to Prayer) and pray the two rak`ahs of tahiyyat al-masjid (greeting prayer on entering the mosque) and wait for the Prayer.
10. Maintain the adhkar that follow the Prayer and do not forget the morning's adhkar.
* This article was originally published on IslamOnline.net Arabic site and was translated by Ahmad M. Hasan.