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New year — cause for celebration or reflection?

Monday, January 06, 2020

Dear Editor,

With blasts of fireworks we entered a new year. One did not need to look at a clock or any other digital device for that matter; the fireworks were a clear indication.

Over the centuries, new year celebrations have become part of every culture and tradition. It sees no boundaries, ethnicities or religions; rather, it is celebrated by everyone. The mode of observance may differ culture to culture, but it is celebrated nonetheless.

However, I beg the readers to ponder upon this point: Why do we celebrate a new year?

Christians around the globe celebrate Christmas to remember Jesus. Muslims of the world celebrate Eid to remember the sacrifice of Prophet Abraham. Each year we celebrate National Heroes' Day in Jamaica to remember our seven national heroes. In the case of a new year there is no such cause for the celebration that comes to mind.

I invite you to look at 2019, did we manage to eliminate poverty from our beautiful country? Did the traffic-related deaths decrease over the year? Did we manage to curb the murder rate? If we have made no improvement in these regards, we should ask ourselves: What are we celebrating?

As we enter 2020, we see World War III looming upon us. Nations are attacking each other; the threat of nuclear war is becoming ever more real. Global warming is affecting the entire world, including our precious island. Future generations are becoming ever more materialistic and losing sight of God. I again wonder, what are we celebrating?

Instead of celebrations, if we took New Year's Eve as a time to reflect it would be far more beneficial for our society. If we spend time pondering our shortcomings from the previous year, and search for ways to improve our lifestyle in the new year, this will surely be a better celebration. If we look for ways to “love thy neighbour”, this will be a cause of celebration. If we are spreading the message of “love for all, hatred for none”, then we are making a progress. Otherwise it is just a celebration of the mistakes we keep on repeating each year for the past hundreds of years.

Being a Muslim Imam (like a priest) for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I am constantly reminding the congregation to reflect upon the past year. I humbly request all my fellow Jamaicans to do the same. We need to get serious if we desire a better world.


Tariq Azeem