January is not over, so I can still talk about the new year.
“Happy New Year,” said one person to another on one New Year morning, January 1, 2019.
Nothing unusual about that, right? Well, one of them didn’t think so. Actually, he took offense. I am not kidding.
“It is not our new year. Our new year starts in Muharram. For one Muslim to greet another Muslim with a Happy New Year greeting on January 1 is haram,” he pontificated, waving an accusing finger at the greeter. (Haram means ‘forbidden by God’).
By now you must have gathered that both people Muslim. I have already ranted and raved, thrown my hands up in the air, rolled my eyes, and stopped short of …. Now that I am sober, may I share with you my take on this Happy New Year business, or rather, the take of a friend who took the time to ponder, reflect and find the answer in the Quran. Before I go into the explanation, I will give away the ending. It is not un-Islamic to offer a New Year greeting or have a new year resolution. We are talking Gregorian New Year.
Chapter 103 of the Quran is titled ‘Asr’ or ‘The Flight of Time.’ May I quote it? Its brief, so don’t click out.
“Consider the flight of time! Verily, man is bound to lose himself unless he be of those who attain to faith, and do good works, and enjoin upon one another the keeping to truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity.”
She interpreted it for me as follows:
Time is the most severe form of loss. Throughout one’s lifetime, man is in a state of loss, because time is passing and we are losing time. We are all in a catastrophic state of loss and wasting our life if we are not understanding our faith. The purpose of life is to use your time to do good work. The New Year is an acknowledgement that time has passed; another year gone by. A time to reflect on the past year and make some promises to oneself about making the best of the time God has given us in this coming new year. Sounds like a new year resolution to me. And top it off by wishing all who we come into contact with that this new year be a blessed one, a happy one, and a joyous one.
The stages of our life are like stars; each shines in its own light; and each is to be cherished. Childhood with its innocence and wonder; adolescence with its quest for discovery; youth with its vigor, beauty and charm; and the golden years with its well-earned wisdom and freedom. The passing of each stage signals a new opportunity for the next phase, to use it to grow, to better oneself and one’s family, community, and environment. I am 67, and in this moment, I feel that these are the best years of my life. I have relished the joy of raising my children; I have served my parents—may they rest in peace—I have retired from a 9-to-5 job—it was invigorating while it lasted—and now I have the freedom to indulge in everything I always wanted to do but did not have the time for; and I can use my lifetime experiences of lessons learned to my new life as a grandmother, a writer, a public speaker, and an interfaith activist. I can be there for my grandchildren in ways that I couldn’t for my children. I can spend time with friends, some new, some long-lost-but-just-found; I have time to read to my soul’s content; and be with my husband 22/7 vs. waving to each other on the streets as our cars crossed. Time is passing; another year is gone by; and I am going to utilize my time to get the most out of it: this day, this week, this month, the Gregorian year, the Hijra year, whatever year; its time, no matter which box you put it in, so I plan to reap it for all it has to offer. So help me God.
Have a Happy, Healthy, Fruitful, Joyous, Meaningful, and everything-you-always-wanted New Year. May your new year resolutions come true.