Fatwa: Should Muslims celebrate New Year? It is about building an integrated America.
A majority of Muslims celebrate New Year’s Eve like a majority of
people in every group. However the orthodoxies in most faiths shun the
celebrations. They falsely equate it with alcohol and lewdness and simply
cannot think beyond their programmed binary mindset of Haram and Halal.
On the other hand, I urge fellow humans not to judge a people by
the acts of a few. If you know 100 people closely, 97 of them would be good
people and if you knew only those three, then you tend to be prejudiced, not a
good thing for you or anyone.
I urge fellow Muslims to think and act, and hold on to the
temptations to react. Muslims can become relevant again by going back to the
basics and start thinking and questioning every dished out belief. Doesn’t
Quran point out repeatedly to read, to think and to see the signs?
In the next two days many a fatwas will be hitting the market, and
a “few” – yes absolutely only a few will take pride in amplifying and
multiplying them on the net, as though it is an act of purifying Muslims. By
the way sticklers to the traditions are a part of every faith group. No one can
cast the first stone.
This essay addresses the issue that has kept Muslims in silos,
ghettos, clusters or in a tiny pond. The fatwas are indeed a problem but free
speech must be valued over everything, free speech is a God-given right from
the day Adam was given a choice. Let people believe in whatever they want, but
let them not compel others to fall in line with them. You live your life and
let others live theirs. Islam strictly prohibits compulsion of any kind against
God’s words are universal and are applicable to all aspects of
life. We should not pull tricks and discretion on God’s words, then his words
would not be universal and truthful.
The word Fatwa is nothing more than an “opinion” in English
Language, and here is my opinion about New Year. Muslims should get out and
celebrate it with fellow humans.
My knowledge is based on the instructions from Prophet Muhammad
(Pbuh), who said that it is the responsibility of every individual to read and
understand the book, Quran is the only reliable book he has left as guidance.
All other books were invented later, we should no doubt seek wisdom but never
put them on par with Quran.
Bad Fatwas are the reason for Muslims to remain on side lines.
Many of the Fatwas are a cause of ghettoization of Muslims. Do you recall the
fatwa of the mufti of Ottoman Empire declaring it Haram to print Quran after
the printing press was invented in 1450? That prevented ordinary Muslims from
having direct knowledge of the Quran for 400 years, wasn’t it against Prophet’s
instructions? There are many such stupid Fatwas that have been obliterated over
the years, and a lot more need to go. Reason should take over. If it is not
common sense, then it is not Islam. If it does not add to building cohesive
orderly societies, then it is not Islam.
Muslims should celebrate New Year’s Eve. Allah has created all
things for the humans to enjoy, he has laid everything for the man between
heaven and earth (Quran 55:10 “And the earth has He spread out for all living
beings”) and man should be thankful and celebrate the gift of life and gift of
sustenance on every possible occasion including New Year. New Year is a mile
stone and should be a day of accountability of one’s action in the past year
and correct the course for the next year, we should be grateful for this
opportunity. Quran 55:13, ”Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye
(Please read verses 1 through 16 of chapter 55, Sura Rahman to
appreciate the creator and celebrate life.)
God calls himself “Rabbul Aalameen” (creator of universe) and
calls the Prophet the Rahmatul Aalameen (source of mercy for universe). Should
Muslims restrict themselves or should they be servers of the universe, of all
people? Isn’t the role of Muslims to contribute towards peaceful societies and
be a part of the society and not apart from it? Shouldn’t Muslims be a mercy to
mankind? You cannot do anything if you are not a part of the society.
The reason Muslims have conflicts with fellow Americans is because
they don’t mingle, and most of the relationships are shallow. How would anyone
know them? How would people get rid of the myths about Muslims if they don’t
get to know them closely in different aspects of life? Of course, every faith
or political group has something or the other that holds them from being one
with others and they all need to work on knowing each other. Indeed that is the
case with most immigrants, one of my Hindu friends says she stopped dating a
white guy because there was not much to talk with him.
Ok, you don’t want to go to someone’s house for dinner or go to a
party because they drink alcohol or eat pork. That should not be a barrier
unless your will power is weak or you are incapable of holding yourselves.
(Hindus, Jews, Jains, Buddhists, Bahais. Sikhs and all others have one problem
or the other like Muslims, we all need to raise above this to build one
Every human will be an angel if there was no opportunity to do
wrong, an average human will resist all the temptations that go against his or
her will. There is an unverified story that Buddha would sit nude among naked
dancing girls and chose not to be tempted or have an erection, such was his
will power. If you have a strong faith you can be anywhere and be with anyone
and not get blown away with seductions. It is time to test your own faith.
Let me share an example from a few years ago, our group from
Memnosyne Foundation went to Mexico to inaugurate the medicine garden that my
philanthropist friend Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk had donated to the Mayan Indians
to continue to traditions of shamanic healing. We stayed in an all paid resort
near Chichen Itza with unlimited drinks and food at our disposal and every one
in our group had a ball. Three of us did not drink Alcohol - Mary Ann, Tanaka
(a Shinto Priest) and I. I did not make a big deal about it, nor did I stick
religion into it. We just did not drink and had a good time knowing our
friends. Of course they knew I was a Muslim and respected me for following my
path without anything less about others. When we go to the dinner parties,
others eat pork and I don’t, it is my choice. I am a part of the society and
not apart from it.
Aren’t Muslims supposed to be peacemakers, harmony establishers,
goodwill nurturers and contributors to cohesive societies? How do you do that
if you don’t mix with people? How do they know that you are a good human being
and not what Fox News had portrayed you to be? It behooves for Muslims to
celebrate New Year along with friends. It is the right thing to do and that is
how we create secure societies. The more we know about each other, the greater
the trust would be.
As believers in universal God and universal prophet, shouldn’t
their humanity be universal as well? Isn’t what God clearly says in Quran?
Whether you are a Jew, Christian, Muslim or whatever, if you are good to fellow
beings (His creation) your reward is with Him. Look it up in Quran, this verse
is repeated nearly a dozen times in different formats. If the early Muslims had
lived aloof, no one beyond Arabia would have known them. This trend to live in
silos began in 1969 and we need to reverse it. Caring for his creation is the
highest form of worship and you can care only by being with them.
Let Muslims be a part of the whole, let them be with other people,
this is an opportunity to build relationships, and opportunity to let fellow
Americans know that Muslims are good human beings. The more we integrate the
more we become one with fellow humans, bringing a sense of security to each one
of the 322 Million of us; the Americans.
Let the New Year be celebratory. Gather up your neighbors who are
not going to parties, bring your own food and drinks and get to know each other
as fellow Americans who have a common destiny; safety, security, job, home,
children, volunteerism, grand children and retirement in peace.
Muslims must celebrate the New Year in a variety of ways within their
How do you plan your next year? Look for the article on Huffington
# # #
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America where
every American feels secure. Mike Mohamed Ghouse is committed to his life mission of building cohesive work places, communities and nations. He works for an America where everyone of the 322 million Americans feels secure without apprehension or fear of the other.
He leads the Center for Pluralism in research and activism and brings Americans Together on the plane of religious, political, social and cultural pluralism. Pluralism is simply an attitude of respecting the otherness of other and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of us.
He is a pluralist, thinker, writer, activist and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, politics, Islam, human rights and foreign policy. He is a news maker, interfaith wedding officiant and a community consultant and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.
Dr. Ghouse has appeared in over 300 national TV and 700 Radio shows including 125 on Fox News. He has published over 3500 articles on the topics he speaks.
His Google profile has been visited by over 35 million individuals with thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, yahoo groups and personal lists.
He is the founder and CEO of the Center for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress. The bottom line to his work is security- no one should feel insecure about his or her religion, race, ethnicity, or other God-given uniqueness. Each one of us should look forward to retiring in peace and living without apprehensions or fear of the other.