A New Year’s celebration: prayer, charity and good-will to all

His Holiness leading the first dawn prayers of 2020 at the Mubarak Mosque, Tilford, Surrey

Zafir Malik

Dawn broke today over the picturesque Mubarak Mosque in Surrey as nearly 1500 hundred men, women and children prepared to go home after performing the tahajjud– pre-dawn voluntary prayers and the fajr prayers . This was not an isolated event – indeed throughout the world thousands of Muslims woke up to start the New Year offering prayers in their local mosques or own homes. 

Muslims are not alone in beginning the New Year with prayers, as do many other religious groups . But while other religions may make a point of marking such occasions, for a Muslim, this is just another day.

Indeed, some may choose to celebrate by spending New Year’s eve drinking and making merry. However, the Qur’an instructs that the life of a Muslim has two objectives: to fulfil the rights of God, and to fulfil the rights of mankind. So, at every occasion including New Year’s Day, Ahmadi Muslims will seek the opportunity to fulfil their duties in both. That is why, before 5am on New Year’s morning, worshippers, men women and children, descended on Islamabad, Tilford in the Surrey countryside to offer voluntary prayers.

As for the second command, hundreds of Ahmadi youth across the UK and in other countries, will today head to their local town centres and carry out the famous “New Year’s Clean Up” by voluntarily helping clean up streets across the country. This way they will ensure that they begin the year by fulfilling these two vital tenets of their faith 

Where do these youths get their inspiration from? Humans are impressionable and often look to other people or other things for inspiration. For Ahmadi youths, there is one person who lives and breathes these two commandments every moment of his life. He is the Caliph – Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba– Spiritual Guide to Millions of Ahmadi Muslims across the world. His guidance on New Year celebrations, is that this is a time to self -reflect on what was one’s spiritual growth in the last year. The year must begin with a new resolve for spiritual growth and the best way to begin a year is to bow in prostration to our God. This instruction is beautifully illustrated by an incident reported by the fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Community, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, prior to becoming Caliph. 

Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad(rh) stated: ‘Once I was in the UK for New Years Eve. Countless people had gathered at Trafalgar square; on this night, people are usually engulfed in all sorts of indecent acts and as soon as the clock strikes midnight, they think they are free to do anything they please, losing all sense of morality and religious obligations. That night, by chance I happened to be at Euston Station. So I decided to offer nawaafil– voluntary prayers – which was nothing special on my part, as by the Grace of Allah the Almighty, the majority of Ahmadis begin the New Year in the same manner. I laid out a newspaper to offer my prayers. After a few minutes, I felt as if someone was standing beside me. I had not yet completed my prayers when I heard someone weeping. Upon completing my prayers, I saw an elderly English gentlemen crying profusely. I became deeply concerned and thought that perhaps he was sympathising with me, thinking that maybe I had gone mad. So I asked what was the matter with him? He replied: “There is nothing wrong with me, but my people have lost their senses. At this time, my people are engrossed in all sorts of immoral acts and there is only one person who is remembering their Lord. This thought had such a profound effect on my heart that I was unable to hold back my tears.” He then repeatedly said the words: “God bless you, God bless you.” Thus, even if the entire world mocks at us, an Ahmadi youth should not care one bit, for he has every right to exercise his freedom and is answerable to God Almighty alone.’