Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year) Begins on November 25 at Sundown
The Islamic New Year is a time for Muslims to think about resolutions for the upcoming year. This day marks the beginning of the month known as Muharram within the Islamic calendar. In 622 CE, the Prophet Muhammed was believed to come from Mecca to move to Medina where he helped establish the first Islamic community. Al-Hijra is not a major holiday to Muslims and suprisingly does not come with many prescribed traditions.
As Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate the Islamic New Year, prominent scholar Imam Shamsi Ali reflected on the tumult of 2011 and his hopes for the next 12 months.
Though Ali feels the global community missed out on some opportunities in 2011 to foster peace and understanding, he said he was particularly happy that the Arab Spring changed the face of the Middle East, dispelling the notion that Islam is anti-Democracy. “In my view Islam and Democracy are hand to hand, there is no contradiction of the two,” Ali said. “To witness people who lived under dictatorship, they are now uprising, I think it is a good sign.“
Since Islam follows the lunar calendar, the day on which Muslims celebrate their New Year varies. This year, the New Year runs from sundown on November 25th until sundown on November 26th.
Muslims typically celebrate the New Year by engaging in self-reflection, either individually or collectively, Ali said. The Islamic New Year is the first day of the sacred month of Muharram, and marks the migration of the Prophet Muhammad in 622 CE from Mecca to Medina.
“We seek forgiveness on shortcomings of the past,” said Ali, imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, the city's largest mosque. “And we are being thankful for the good we already achieved or obtained in the past. At the same time, we are putting our new visions and renewed commitment to do better in our coming days.“
As for the upcoming year, Ali says he hopes for a morepeaceful and just world. “I hope that those who are struggling for freedom and injustice, they will obtain their justice and freedom whoever they might be,” he said. “I hope that the partnership between peoples, especially between peoples of different religions, can be empowered so we can change the notion that the religions have been the source of conflict into religions being the source of goodness and kindness.”
The Muslim forgiving the Christian is a bitter pill to swallow for many in Texas and in states beyond. The human encounter of the “Arab Slayer” and “victim” may have given rise to a whole new drive towards reconcilation…a corrosively virtuous canker that would have eroded the raison d’etre of capital punishment and destabilised the very foundations of the Texas penal system. So it had to be crushed before it was too late.
Odyssey staff member Jennifer Crumpton was interviewed in late October for Radio Islam, based in Chicago. The interview was conducted by Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, the current Chairman of A Parliament for the World's Religions, and can be found at radioislam.com listed under Monday, Nov. 7. The interview was prior to a lot of the recent violence and upheaval around #OWS. The discussion deals primarily with why and how the inter-faith community in New York united to support the new democratic energy of #OWS by forming Occupy Faith NYC.
Imam Feisal Rauf is the founder and CEO of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA Society) and the Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, a mosque in New York City, 12 blocks from Ground Zero. He is also the chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, which he founded in 2004. He has dedicated his life to building bridges between Muslims and the West and is a leader in the effort to build religious pluralism and integrate Islam into modern society.