The beginning of a new Islamic year
August 20 2020 09:46 PM

Khutbah by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-’Uthaimeen

This week marks the beginning of a new Islamic year, which was initiated after the Hijrah, or emigration, of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and which marked the formation of the first Muslim nation within an independent Islamic territory under the rule of Muslims.
The Muslims had no formal annual calendar until the caliphate of ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him. In the third or fourth year of his caliphate, ‘Umar received a message from Abu Moosaa al-Ash’ari, may Allah be pleased with him, who suggested that their future correspondence be confirmed with the appropriate date.
Therefore, ‘Umar gathered some of the surviving companions of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and consulted them on this matter. Some of them suggested adopting the Persian Calendar; others proposed adopting the Roman Calendar; others still proposed that the Muslims should form their own calendar and that it should start from the birth of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam; another group agreed but thought that the new Islamic Calendar should start from the day on which the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, embarked upon his mission; another group believed that this new Islamic Calendar should begin from the emigration of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, while a final group believed that should start from his death.
After a discussion they agreed unanimously to adopt the position of those who held that the Islamic Calendar should start from when the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, emigrated from Makkah to Madinah and that the first month of this new calendar be that of Al-Muharram. This is because Al-Muharram is a sacred month and because it follows Dhu’l-Hijjah which is the month in which the Muslims perform the Haj.
Al-Muharram also follows the month in which the Ansaar (the Madinan supporters of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) pledged allegiance to the Prophet which was prior to his migration to Madinah. This pledge of allegiance was one of the introductory acts of the emigration itself and therefore Al-Muharram was deemed the most suitable month to start the Islamic Calendar by the companions of the Prophet.
We have just ushered in the new Hijri year. Allah said that which translates as: “Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e. way], so do not wrong yourselves during them...” (At-Tawbah: 36)
These are the months that Allah has appointed for the whole of mankind. He has said that which translates as: “They ask you [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say ‘They are measurements of time for the people and for Haj (pilgrimage].” (Al-Baqarah: 189).
Therefore, we know that these months, based on the lunar calendar, were appointed for all of mankind and not just for the Arabs. This is due to the fact that the lunar months can very easily be detected and calculated by the sighting of the crescent-moon, which marks the end of the month and the beginning of a new one.
This is not the case with the Gregorian Calendar, which does not rely on any logical or visible signs as regards its calculation of months; rather, each month in this calendar ranges between 28 and 31 days without a single logical reason for such variation.
O Muslims! We are in the new Hijri year. It is not from the Sunnah to celebrate it or to congratulate one another on its advent. For the Muslims, the passage of years does not constitute a real cause of happiness; rather, what counts is the amount of time spent in obedience to Allah during these years. The years that have passed will be considered as successful if they were spent in obedience to Allah and miserable if they were spent in disobedience of Allah. Therefore, the most evil person is he who has lived a long life and has committed evil deeds throughout. It is a must that we receive our days, months and years while in obedience to Allah. We must bring ourselves to account, redeem ourselves from our bad deeds and duly perform our responsibilities towards our wives, children and relatives.
Servants of Allah! Fear Him and perform the responsibilities about which you will be questioned on the Day of Resurrection. Allah the Almighty says that which translates as: “O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are (appointed) angels, harsh and severe, they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.” (At-Tahreem: 6).
Discharge responsibilities properly and know that your limbs will testify against you on the Day of Resurrection. Allah says that which translates as: “Until, when they reach it, their hearing and their eyes and their skins will testify against them of what they used to do. And they will say to their skins, ‘Why have you testified against us?’ They will say, ‘We were made to speak by Allah, who has made everything speak; and He created you the first time, and to Him you are returned. And you were not covering [i.e. protecting] yourselves [By fearing Allah] lest your hearing testify against you or your sight or your skins, but you assumed that Allah does not know much of what you do. And that was your assumption which you assumed about your Lord. It has brought you to ruin, and you have become among the losers.’” (Fussilat: 20- 23).
Servants of Allah! The advent of every new year is marked by many Muslims with sincere resolutions and plans to improve and become closer to their Lord, but the days and hours slip away while the people’s conditions remain the same, the inevitable result of such failures will be loss and disgrace in this world and the next. Therefore, we must invest our time in obedience to Allah and make sure that our spiritual condition is improving from year to year; for the more time runs away from us, the closer we are drawing to our graves.
O servants of Allah! I swear by Allah that improvements in our worldly lives do us absolutely no good if our spiritual lives are not improving at the same time. I also swear that none can attain honour and dignity without submitting to the Lord of the Worlds. Safety, tranquillity and welfare cannot be attained except by adopting the methodology of the messengers of Allah. Be very clear that if any of you see welfare and pleasure accompanied with sins and deviation, then this is definitely a mere respite that has been given by Allah ahead of a total ruin. Thus, we must all stand firm in the obedience of Allah in order to protect ourselves from His punishment. Allah the Almighty says that which translates as: “...And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” (An-Noor: 31).
All praise is due to Allah. We praise Him, seek his assistance and repent to Him. We seek Allah’s protection from the evil of our souls and from the wickedness of our deeds. Whoever Allah guides will never be misguided and whoever Allah misguides will never be guided. I testify that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, with Whom there is no associate. I also testify that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. May Allah bless him, his family, his companions and all those who truly follow them until the Resurrection Day.
O  people! Fear Allah; be aware of the ultimate wisdom of Allah in who He chooses as messengers from angels and mankind. Be aware also of the fact that He favours certain times and places over others. Allah favoured Makkah over all other places and chose Madinah, the abode of the Prophet’s migration, next to Makkah in preference, after this, the next most virtuous place in the sight of Allah is Bayt Al-Maqdis, or Jerusalem, which was the abode of the majority of His prophets. Allah has also favoured certain months, days and nights more than others.
The number of months is twelve, as decreed by Allah when He created the heavens and the earth. Among these twelve are four sacred months, Dhu’l-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, and Al-Muharram, which are successive and the month of Rajab that comes between Jumada Al-Aakhirah and Sha’baan. The best day which the sun rises on is Friday and the night of Al-Qadr is more virtuous than a thousand months. Therefore, we must all esteem that which Allah has magnified.
The scholars of Islam maintain that the rewards for good deeds are multiplied in times and places which are favoured by Allah and vice versa for bad deeds. The proof of this is from Allah’s saying which translates as: “They ask you concerning the sacred month - about fighting therein. Say, ‘Fighting therein is great [sin], but averting [people] from the way of Allah and disbelief in Him and [preventing access to] the Sacred Mosque [in Makkah] and the expulsion of its people therefrom are greater [evil] in the sight of Allah. And fitnah [polytheism and disbelief] is worse than killing’. And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they are able. And whoever of you reverts from his religion [to disbelief] and dies while he is a disbeliever - for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter, and those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.” (Al-Baqarah: 217).
Allah the Almighty says concerning the Sacred Mosque in Makkah that which translates as: “Indeed, those who have disbelieved and avert [people] from the way of Allah and from the Sacred Mosque [in Makkah], which We made for the people - equal are the resident therein and one from outside; and whoever intends [a deed] therein of deviation [in religion] or wrongdoing - We will make him taste of a painful punishment.” (Al-Hajj: 25).
O people! Do not wrong yourselves during the Sacred Months. Stay well within the limits defined by Allah, fulfil all His obligations, shun all His prohibitions and fulfil the rights of the people.
Be aware that Satan has taken it upon himself to use all necessary means to seduce all of Allah’s servants, except those who are sincerely devout to Allah. Satan is keen to distract people from righteousness and divert their attention away from Allah’s religion and towards vice and evil. If Satan notices that a person is inclined to righteousness, he will use all available means to discourage and hinder that person from doing any good deed, if he fails in this, he will soon devise another plot against this person and so forth. Satan starts with attempting to seduce a person into committing the most destructive of sins. If he fails in this, he will try with less dangerous sins and so on. Once he succeeds in seducing a person into sin, he will delude them into delaying their repentance and belittling the magnitude of their sins. Satan will also fool people into believing that someday, they will give up the sins that they are currently indulging in, while knowing very well that such a day may never come. After underestimating the magnitude and grievousness of sins, one is easily led by Satan to more destructive ones, until such a person may eventually leave the religion altogether.
Servants of Allah! Beware of the tricks and evil plans of Satan. Know that he takes many different approaches to seduce people; either through sowing doubts in their souls concerning the unity of Allah; diverting them from performing the prayer and belittling its importance; inducing people to withhold zakah, or obligatory charity, or spend it in ways other than that demanded by Allah; tempting people into indulging in acts and sayings that render their fasting null and void; hindering them from performing Haj by giving plentiful reasons for its delay; trapping them in ungratefulness and maltreatment of their parents and severing family ties; luring them into deceit and dishonesty by committing betrayal and fraud; enticing them to blind materialism through unlawful earnings such as interest-based transactions, extortion, bribery etc.; and a countless number of other avenues that will lead to a person’s utter ruin.
After Satan has lead a person astray, he abandons them, at the very time when they are most in need of a supporter! Take heed of Allah’s saying regarding Satan’s delusion of Adam and Eve when they lived in Paradise and were permitted to eat all its fruits except the fruits of a certain tree, which translates as: “O Adam, dwell you and your wife in Paradise and eat from wherever you will but do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.” (Al-A’raf: 19).
But Satan tempted them by saying that which translates as: “But Satan whispered to them to make apparent to them that which was concealed from them of their private parts. He said ‘Your Lord did not forbid you this tree except that you become angels or become of the immortal’. And he swore [by Allah] to them, ‘Indeed I am to you from among the sincere advisers’. So he made them fall, through deception. And when they tasted of the tree, their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten together over themselves the leaves of Paradise. And their Lord called to them, ‘Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you that Satan is to you a clear enemy?’” (Al-A’raaf: 20-22).
This means that Satan degraded them and made them become relegated from the superior ranks of obedience. Another example of Satan’s deception and subsequent abandonment is when he urged the Quraysh, which was the tribe of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, to go to Badr, which is a place between Makkah and Madinah, and fight the believers – and then turning his back on them. Allah says that which translates as: “And [remember] when Satan made their deeds pleasing to them and said, ‘No one can overcome you today from among the people, and indeed, I am your protector’. But when the two forces sighted each other, he turned on his heels and said: ‘Indeed I am disassociated from you. Indeed, I see what you do not see; indeed I fear Allah. And Allah is severe in penalty.’” (Al-Anfaal: 48).
Here is yet another example of Satan forsaking man after deluding him, which translates as:
“... Like the example of Satan when he says to man ‘Disbelieve.’ But when he disbelieves, he says, ‘Indeed I am disassociated from you. Indeed I fear Allah, Lord of the Worlds’. So the outcome for both of them is that they will be in the Fire, abiding eternally therein. And that is the recompense of the wrongdoers.” (Al-Hashr: 16-17).
“And Satan will say when the matter has been concluded, ‘Indeed Allah had promised you the promise of truth. And I promised you, but I betrayed you. But I had no authority over you except that I invited you, and you responded to me. So blame not me; but blame yourselves. I cannot be called to your aid, nor can you be called to my aid. Indeed I deny your association of me [with Allah] before. Indeed, for the wrongdoers is a painful punishment.” (Ibraheem: 22).
Servants of Allah! What you are feeling in terms of reluctance to perform good deeds and carelessness towards your bad deeds is only a result of the trickery of Satan. When you feel like this, you must seek the protection of Allah from Satan, as this is the only way to achieve salvation.
Allah the Almighty says that which translates as: “And if an evil suggestion comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge in Allah. Indeed, He is Hearing and Knowing. Indeed those who fear Allah – when an impulse touches them from Satan, they remember [Him] and at once they have insight.” (Al-A’raaf: 200-201).

Why do our morals change across situations?
The morals of the believers are not supposed to come into play exclusively at times of ease and convenience. In fact, true morality self-manifests during the moments of hardship, adversity, and crisis. Some people may seem well-mannered with a polite attitude and bashful conduct as long as they are calm and the surrounding circumstances are convenient and favourable. However, when they are subjected to anger or experience hardship, unfortunate conditions, and the like of adverse circumstances, they turn into completely different people, far from the well-mannered people you knew!
Sadly, a person (who was once well-mannered) would turn into a bad-tempered, fierce, verbally abusive, harsh, intimidating, and vulgar transgressor! We see this saddening transformation quite often, and the extent to which someone’s character can change is quite shocking. Is this how distant Islamic morality is from our hearts and souls, due to which it fails to change such qualities?
It was narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention), said: “A believer is neither a slanderer nor a curser, nor is he obscene or vulgar.” [Saheeh At-Tirmithi: 1977] Ibn Battaal, may Allah have mercy upon him, said that “obscene” means the one who is verbally abusive and commits obscene actions. “Vulgar” means foul-mouthed (An-Nihaayah). How could a person turn into one who fits such a bad description denounced by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, in a single moment because of a situation or a word or a dispute!
We used to think that foolish people are those who are poorly-educated, ill-mannered, and have these sinful (evil) qualities. However, we were shocked to find many people whom we thought to be educated fitting the description as well!
Al-Qurtubi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “A vulgar, foul-mouthed person is described as foolish because vulgarity is only compatible with ignorance and small-mindedness.”
Some people would argue that their obscenity and vulgarity are justified by the fact that they have been angered, that the situation called for it, that other people triggered them by their misbehaviour, or that calmness in such situations is harmful and passive! There is no doubt that this is an erroneous way of thinking that may incur evil consequences on people. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “…and if a man verbally abuses you or shames you for something in you that he knows about, do not shame him for something in him that you know about; let him bear the evil consequences of it (his abuse), and you receive the reward for it, so do not curse.” [Saheeh At-Targheeb: 2782]
Al-Qaari, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Obscenity and vulgarity are entirely blameworthy qualities that are unbecoming of the believers…” He added: “He who is guided by Allah should avoid it (obscenity and vulgarity); accustom his tongue to good, polite language; and follow the example of the Prophets of Allah, for they are the most excellent role models.” [Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh]
There are also people who use foul, vulgar, and reprehensible words under the pretext that they were commonly used by the early Arabs! Al-Maawardi, may Allah have mercy upon, him said: “What falls into the category of vulgarity and foul language in terms of the obligation of avoiding it is all what seems disgraceful and reprehensible, even if it may be considered good and acceptable after search and deliberative contemplation.”
An-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Scholars said that euphemisms should be used in such situations when a person would feel ashamed to use overt language. Accordingly, sexual intercourse should be euphemistically referred to as engaging in intimacy, consummation of marriage, cohabitation, and the like… Likewise, urinating and defecating should be euphemistically referred to as answering the call of nature or relieving oneself instead of using overt words like urine or stool. Similarly, euphemism should be used for the (physical) defects that people may be ashamed to express overtly, such as leprosy, halitosis, body odour, and the like.
“Beautiful euphemistic expressions that convey the intended meaning should be used in situations like the abovementioned ones and their like. Know that such euphemisms may be used as long as there is no need to use overt language. If there is a need to use it for the purpose of clarification and education and it is feared that the addressee would not understand metaphors or would understand something different, then, in this case, one should use overt language instead to ensure that the addressee understands the correct meaning, and this is the rationale for using overt language in some Ahadith. As explained above, this was to ensure that the addressee understands the intended meaning in these contexts, as it should be given priority over mere politeness.” [Al-Athkaar]
The people who need adherence to morality the most are the callers to Allah. It is unbecoming of them to act contrary to their moral principles, and their refined morality should rather manifest in all situations, regardless of how intense those situations are and no matter how wicked their opponents may be. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or remain silent.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhari: 6475] These, then, are the distinct manners of the believers. A believer should always speak good or remain silent. Speaking good has many manifestations, and silence could be of great benefit when no good could be spoken.
Verily, bashfulness is at the very core of the believers’ morality and the central moral value of Islam. Whenever a person adheres to bashfulness, he assumes control of himself and (becomes able to) change his bad morals. Therefore, we should be perfectly mindful of integrating it in educational curricula and practicing it in our lives. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Bashfulness is not to be found in anything but that it adorns it, and obscenity is not to be found in anything but that it mars it.” [At-Tamheed: 9/257]
‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “The most wicked quality a believer may have is obscenity.” It is the most wicked of all bad morals because it makes a person unsafe (to be around) and his reactions would not be trusted.
Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “Shall I tell you what the worst diseases are? They are obscenity and bad moral character.” According to this wise man, Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays, obscenity is among the most serious diseases to which people should assign care to treat it.
Al-Qaasimi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “A person’s speech mirrors his virtues and soundness of his mind. Therefore, you should confine your speech to what is good, speak little, and beware of repugnant language as it alienates the honorable people from you and instead attracts the wicked ones to you.”
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