COMMENTARY: Should Muslims celebrate the Christians’ New Year?

RAJAH BUAYAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews /31 December) — After midnight today will be 2014, a New Year, according to Christian Era. Should we Muslims join the celebration?

It must be categorically stated, and I so believe, that Islam did not enjoin celebration of New Year or Amon Jadeed — not even one that would be based on Lunar Hijrah Calendar, but I can hardly find either, an Islamic religious restriction in doing so. Fact is, Muslims in the Philippines have no tradition of celebrating New Year or Amon Jadeed.

There are a myriad of things Islam did not enjoin but we opt to do because it brings comfort and enjoyment or has something good in it — go on, do it, as long as they are not categorically prohibited by the Glorious Qurán and the beloved Prophet Muhammad, God’s be peace and blessings be upon him and his descendants.

The need to mark the beginning of the Solar-based Gregorian Calendar is almost impossible in this western dominated world of ours.

MARKING the start of a calendar and CELEBRATING a New Year are two different things but one may mark an event by celebrating it.

For me, celebrating with the rest of Filipinos and the western influenced world, welcoming the Gregorian New Year is a way of marking the commencement of a calendar that influences most of my material activities. I enjoy the sights and sounds — it’s exhilarating!

I have deep sense of my Islamic Faith but I feel nothing wrong witnessing a global big bang for welcoming a New Year celebrated in the country where I live. I join with the rest of Filipinos who celebrate the New Year. It’s a comfortable way to feel united with the dominant mood of jubilation worldwide.

If I live in a country where this Gregorian New Year is not celebrated, probably, I would not have to take time out to celebrate it. I would just mark it for reference in material transactions. If I live in China, then probably, I would join the big, big celebration of the Lunar-based Chinese New Year.

Islam interfaced with dominant cultures in many countries which resulted to adoption of solar calendar system that complimented with the Lunar-based Hijrah calendar. The Persian calendar was modified with guidance from Omar Khayyam, a renowned Islamic astronomer, thus adopted in Iran and Afghanistan for administrative and cultural purposes. New Year based on the Islamized Solar based Persian calendar is celebrated by Muslims in these countries including those in Pakistan, India, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and elsewhere.

I propose that Muslims in the Philippines may celebrate the coming of Gregorian New Year just as Muslims in many other countries celebrate the Islamized Persian New Year or Muslims in China celebrate the Chinese New Year. But if one opts not to join the celebration of a New Year, then there should be nothing wrong with that — but a truly Islamic faithful would have to exercise spiritually rewarding act of patience, trying to rest the night away, while others make a lot of noise and flashes.

Anyhow, immediately after midnight marking January 1, whether a Muslim joins the celebration of the New Gregorian Year or not, it would bring a lot of good for your earthly life and the hereafter if you do Qiyamul Layl (read Qurán, do Tahajjud and read duá). And you may want to fast whole day of January 1, seeking to be freed from the trap of materialism and base desires, after having been awed by the big bang of the New Year.

Good traditions are good to practice or build, as one seeks higher plane of existence, seeking union with the Greater Force in the Universe.

Happy New Year to all! May you be prosperous and gain more peace this 2014! (Datu Zamzamin Ampatuan is on his first term as mayor of Rajah Buayan in Maguindanao. He was 26 when President Corazon Aquino appointed him Director of the Department of Trade and Industry in Maguindanao in 1989. In the Arroyo administration, he served as Executive Director of the Office of Muslim Affairs, lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Administrator of the Southern Philippines Development Administration and Energy Undersecretary)