Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy New Hijri Year

Tonight is the Hijri New Year’s Eve. I have to write this post because it was on my mind for more than a while now.
This date is very dear to my heart. I’ve never really understood it till 1998, when my religion teacher told us that this day is a date to celebrate just like 1\1. She told us to light a candle on a cake and to pray for a happy new year for all of our loved ones and for the Islamic World.

That same day I went with my mother to her friend’s home. The women had three sons, the same age like me and my sisters, and we had good friendship for about a year until we developed different interest, or I guess grew up.

The guy my age, H, was the geek one but at the same time he was the one who took care of his mother, the house, the dog and the car. He was funny, caring and religious. He was Metallica’s biggest fan I’ve ever seen. At that time he was starting to learn guitar. I’ve heard about this band but I wasn’t such a big fan. But later Mettalica was the icon that I measure every band with.

At summer, when there was no electricity, we would sit on the cold ground. H plays guitar and we sing. When we’re not singing we’re sitting in the living room listening to Metallica. Sometimes we would play some games on the pc or with the youngest brother video games.

When my mother took me that day to visit them, we were chatting in the kitchen. H held a lighter in his hand and started to put his finger on the small flame, back and forth. He asked me if I’ve tried this before and I, who was afraid of fire, bragged and said yes. He handed me the lighter and I lit up the lighter with one hand and made my finger swing on the flame with the other. While I was doing so, I didn’t feel any fire but the metal edge was getting warmer and warmer. He started by saying:

“It’s amazing how this small flame have this cruel burning fire. It always makes me wonder how hell looks like.”
At that age, I’ve never really thought of Hell neither of Heaven. I knew the concept and I knew how our religion describe them, but I’ve never meditate on them. My mind escaped the moment and I don’t recall how exactly the conversation went on but I had nothing to answer but slight nods.

“Washing dishes” he continued “made me think of hell a lot. Once I used the hot water along and it burned my skin for a while and that what made me think seriously of hell. If boiling water had this effect then what about Hell?”

On that day, when I went home I started prying and I haven’t stopped praying daily since then. That year I also started reciting Qura’an during Ramadhan.

I’m no longer in touch with H, our mothers still and they exchange e-mails, phone calls and SMSs. The other day I was replying on behalf of my mother and the women told me H was doing his master degree.

Since then H has became sort of a spiritual friend of mine. Even though we’re not in touch each year on this day I include him in my prayers because he was the one who encouraged me to be a better Muslim and eventually a better person without even knowing it. Without telling me what to do or what not to do, he didn’t even ask me to pray. I wish Muslims can be like that without forcing anyone to believe in Islam but by being the good Muslim to be a good role model. I believe H made himself an example I could follow. I can sing, I can be funny, friendly, geek, smart, Metallica fan, and a good Muslim.

Happy New Hijri Year Everyone
May God bless you all

I heard form a mutual friend that H was the best guitarist in Iraq and that he’s writing his own music and he gave me two tracks composed and performed by H

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Blogger David said...

I wonder how many different New Year's Days there are in the world? My Iranian friends celebrate Nowruz in the Spring. Nowruz dates back to ancient times, long before Islam, and it is the traditional start of the Persian New Year. Other ancient cultures considered the day after the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year) to be the new year. I wonder what is the significance of January 10, or why was it chosen to be the Islamic New Year?

It sounds like your friend H made a huge impression on you Attawie! It is good to have known a friend like that.

I had several friends who played guitar in bands when I was in High School and college. I learned to play classical guitar, but I can only play by reading sheet music. My friends could hear a song and then play it. One of them composed his own songs and music. I used to wish that I had the talent to be a very good rock guitarist. I really admired some of the giants in the history of rock and roll. Jimmy Hendricks was incredible! Jimmy Page of Led Zeplin was great, too. I also really liked Eddie Van Halen.

I have listened to some Metallica, but it is a bit too rough edged for my taste. Besides, the years of my youth came before Metallica became really popular. I think that most people's tastes in music are pretty much set for life by the music they are exposed to in their teen years. However, for me I was a bit of a late comer to some of my favorite music. For example, while I was in college, I discovered that I really loved a lot of '60's rock and roll, even though it was created many years earlier. Although I love old music, I still occasionally discover a new band's music that I really like. One example is Coldplay.

I also played with fire some when I was a kid. A few times I took a bunch of matches and lined them up in curving patterns, sort of like dominoes. Then I would light one end and watch as all the matches would catch fire one after another. I was very practical with fire too. I learned to build camp fires starting with very small pieces of wood and building up to large logs. I even cooked meals over camp fires. :)

I can appreciate your outlook on the role of religion in your life. You have internalized certain principles and you follow them to live your life in a certain way and to set a good example for others. I especially appreciate your ability to be tolerant of people with different beliefs.

My perspective on religion is rather different than most people that I have met. I don't think that any religion has all the right answers. Also, in my way of thinking, there are a lot of unknowns and a lot of uncertainties. For example, I don't know how the universe came into existence. However, I am not particularly disturbed by not knowing the answer to a fundamental question such as this. My thoughts on religion are mostly regarding questions like: what must one do, or how must one behave in order to live a moral existence? Well, I think that most basic to my own principles is what some people call "The Golden Rule". One way of writing this rule is, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". A person wants to be treated well, so that person should treat other people well, it is only fair. I also think that if another person asks you for help, then help should be given, if it is possible, because some day you might need to ask for help in turn. I try not to divide people up into little artificial categories like race or religion. We are all equally human beings and all equally deserving of respect. These are just a few of my ideas. I don't believe that I have all the right answers. In fact, I am certain that I am completely ignorant of most of the answers that the universe contains. So, I try to keep my mind open to new ideas that can help me to be a better person.

I hope that your New Hijri Year has been a happy one. :) Also, I would like to wish your friend H best of luck with his musical career.

1/11/2008 11:29 AM  
Blogger attawie said...

Dear David,
10th Jan, is not the first day in Islamic or Hijri. If you like to know here’s the link. It explains it all.

About H, he was impressing because at that time I’ve never met a guy who can be a good student at school and at the same time have fun and hang out with others. As I said he was all that and religious. So the combination was rare, but now I’m proud to say I found so many Iraqi guys who have all that and maybe more.

About Metallica, I would recommend you to listen to “Nothing Else Matters” if you like this one I’ll recommend another one and than I can pull you to listen the whole lot of Mettallica ;)

Dominoes fire! That sounds interesting.

As for religion, we have this saying that I’m not sure if it was said by the Prophet Mohammed (M.B.U.H) “Religion is nothing but behavior”. And “The Golden Rule” is similar to what our Prophet said:
“None of you shall be true believers / Unless you wish for your brother / The same that you wish for yourself.”

I liked your ideas and respect you for being open-minded. There is no need to divide people into categories and I always thought of religion and believe as a personal issue. Though everyone try to make others believe in what they believe and it’s a human psych which ensure that that believe is right.

To help others is an important pillar in Islam. And about that matter I recommend you to see the movie “Pay it Forward” it’s one of my favorite movies. This movie if it was taken seriously by all we’ll definitely make a better tomorrow and earth a better planet.

As for Nawrooz, Kurdish people also celebrate this date in Iraq, and we have a national holiday on March 21st to celebrate “Spring Eid” with the Kurdish people. Here’s a little thing I found but I’m not sure 100% about it. But it’s related to an epic not a true story, that’s what I know.
PS correct me if I’m wrong.

"Nawrooz Feast (Newroz)
1) Nawrooz (or “Newroz”) means “new day”, which the Kurds recognize as occurring on the first day of spring on March 21 of every year.

2) Nawrooz began in 700 B.C, and continues up to the present. The year 2004 AD is equal to 2704 in the Kurdish Calendar.

3) The year 700 B.C. was chosen from the beginning of the Kingdom of Medes in the Zagros.

The reason for using 700 B.C. as a beginning for the Kurdish calendar because the Kurdish people consider themselves as the descendants of the Medes and the Kurdish language was originated from the Mede language.

4) The Kurds and some other nations in the area have been celebrating the Feast of Nawrooz.

5) The Nawrooz feast started in the ancient times after the people of the Zagros Highland Revolted against their tyrant king called “Al Zahak.”

The leader of the revolt against the tyrant king was a Blacksmith named “Kawa.”

6) Also the people light fire on top of the high hills and mountains as a sign of freedom on this occasion.

The story of lighting the Fire on high places:
The people of the Zagros who revolted against the tyrant King used the Fire on top of the high hills and mountains as a secret signal to each other to coordinate the timing of the revolt together at the same time against the tyrant King.

Kawa and the people began celebrating Nawrooz every year by lighting Fire on top of the hills and Mountains as a sign of victory and freedom on this occasion.

And lighting the Fire became one of the Symbols of the Feast of Nawrooz."

1/12/2008 11:05 PM  
Blogger David said...

Dear Attawie, thanks for the link about the Islamic calendar. I read through most of it. As a purely lunar calendar, I understand that holidays will move about from year to year when compared to standard calendar dates.

I think maybe I have heard "Nothing Else Matters", but I didn't know it was Metallica. I will try to find a sample on the web. I have heard that Metallica is very defensive about its music in a legal sense, so it might be hard to find, but I will try. :)

The idea that "religion is nothing but behavior" is a very good one from my perspective. I wish that everyone thought that way. Unfortunately, many people have been killed throughout history because their beliefs did not conform to someone else's standards. I think that different people can have very different beliefs and still be good people who can do good things in the world.

I have seen the movie "Pay It Forward". I really liked it, and I am glad that you did too. :) The only thing about the movie that I didn't like was the ending. I felt a profound sadness when the little boy died! It just wasn't necessary to tell a good story to kill the hero. There is no death that hurts me more than a child's. But, I so much agree with you that the world would be a better place if we could live by the principle in the movie.

I did not know that Kurdish people celebrate Nawrooz. That is very interesting. It seems like the ancient ancestors of Kurds and Persians had a lot in common. Perhaps they were once the same people, or at least were closely linked in some way. I have heard of the Medes, but I don't know anything about them. So, I will look them up.

Interesting, I read about half of this long article:

It seems that the Medes and the Persians had a great deal in common. The ancient Median Empire included most of modern day Iran and the later Achaemenid Persian Empire took over the same territory and added even more.

I enjoy learning about history. :)

1/14/2008 1:54 AM  
Blogger Konfused Kid said...

It's really amazing how can one person have extremely different and contradictory impacts on two different people, just in case you were wondering ; your H was the 'Teez' i was referring in my post entitled Konfused Kid Abandons Heavy Metal. Anyway, happy new hijri.

1/15/2008 1:54 AM  
Blogger attawie said...

Hi Kid,
I'm not that shocked about your comment. I heard form someone that H wasn't that charming guy.
I believe sometimes poeple hide who they really are and pretend to be someone else, maybe stronger or whatever, but I've only knew him on the family friendship bases.

OR, he could be that someone else you're refering to because I'm talking about maybe 8 years back. that's before he went to collage. When he joined classes I started to see him less and less.

1/17/2008 7:39 PM  

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