By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
"O Allah, You are Everlasting, Eternal, the Ever-Living, Generous, Merciful and Compassionate. This is a new year and You are the Eternal Sovereign.
"I beseech You to protect me from Satan and deliver me from the fire and help me to control inordinate lust and occupy myself in that which brings me near to Your presence; O Lord of Might and Power, through Your Mercy, O the Most Merciful.”
The above passages are an English translation of a supplication in eloquent Arabic that is recited by the faithful in Iran on the star of the Calendar Year, known as Nowrouz or New Year – 1396 solar hijri, in accordance with the auspicious migration of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) from Mecca to Medina.
The Muslims of Iran (and other parts of the world as well, especially in the Persianate World where Iranian culture and language have left indelible marks on their lifestyle, from the Balkans to the Subcontinent and the western parts of China), beseech the One and Only Allah to protect them from devilish temptations and the dangers posed by fire and inordinate lust, in order to make the New Year a prosperous and morally healthy.
At the exact time Planet Earth completes its annual orbit around the Sun (13:58:40 hours on 20th March this year), hands will be raised towards heaven by those seated at the traditional Haft-Seen table in their homes, and by those who gather in millions at the holy shrines in Iran of the descendants of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) – of Imam Reza (AS) in Mashhad, of Hazrat Fatema al-Ma’soumah (SA) in Qom, of Shah Abdul-Azim al-Hassani in Rayy-Tehran, of Seyyed Ahmad Shah Cheragh in Shiraz, and of the other Imamzadehs.
Qom’s Jamkaran Mosque, which is associated with the Lord of the Age, the Prophet’s 12th and Last Infallible Heir, Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his advent), will also be hosting a huge gathering, since it is believed that the Awaited Saviour of mankind, will reappear on the Spring Equinox to cleanse the Planet of all vestiges of oppression and corruption by establishing the global government of peace, prosperity and justice.
The supplication on their lips, which the radio and TV channels beam, is:
"Ya Moqallab al-Qoloub wa'l-Absaar;
"Ya Modabber al-Layl wa'n-Nahaar;
"Ya Mohawwel al-Howl wa'l-Ahwaal;
"Hawwil Halana ila Ahsan il-Haal."
Rendered into English it means:
"O' Transformer of Hearts and Eyes;
"O' Regulator of Day and Night;
"O' Rotator of Time and Situation;
"Change our state to the most excellent of Situation.”
These supplications are proof of the fact that it is All-Wise Allah, Who is the One and Creator, without any partner, assistant or advisor in His designs, created the entire universe, shaped the Milky Way and other galaxies, fashioned the solar system, made the Earth (like the other planets) spin on its axis while revolving around the Sun – in order to determine day and night, the cyclic change of weather conditions, computation of the year – and created winds to interact with sunlight and the salty seas to set in motion the clouds for raining down fresh water on the soil to make it bloom with vegetation of different kinds for the thriving of birds, animals, and insects of various hues and colours – all for the benefit of the Best of Creation, that is Mankind.
"It is Allah Who sends the winds and these (winds) raise a cloud; then We drive it toward a dead land and with it revive the earth after its death. Likewise will be the resurrection [of the dead].” – Holy Qur’an 35:9
This means that the Spring Equinox, when verdure freshness brightens the environment and flowers bloom, is not the work of any human mind, neither has it anything to do with mythology, nor is it a narrow nationalistic phenomenon.
It is all the handiwork of the All-Merciful Lord, and it is for this very reason that the New Day of Spring (Nowrouz in Persian and Iranic cultures and Eid al-Omm or Day of Mother Earth in the Levant and Egypt), is celebrated as a manifestation of the Glory of God with prayers and supplications.
Interestingly, this year, Nowrouz or the Spring Equinox, is occurring a day after the anniversary of the blessed birthday of the Noblest-Lady Ever, the Prophet’s Immaculate Daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA).
Thus, the coincidence of the New Year festivities with celebrations for the auspicious 20th of Jamadi al-Akher augurs well for the Islamic Republic and the Iranian people, who since the grand victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 have been marking the Birth Anniversary of the epitome of feminine virtues, as "Women’s Week” and "Mother’s Day”.
Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA) needs no introduction. For the Prophet, she was the Immaculate Daughter, to the extent that she became known as "Omm-e Abiha” (Mother of her own Father), for the extreme care the little girl took in protecting the Prophet from the mischief of the pagan Arabs, following the death of her mother, Omm al-Momineen (Mother of all True Believers), Hazrat Khadija (SA).
For Imam Ali (AS), she was the Exemplary Wife, who eventually sacrificed her life in defence of his life and his "wilayah” or divinely-designated right of leadership, while he in turn used to say: One look at Fatema’s face would make the vicissitudes of life vanish.
For her sons, Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS), and for her daughters Hazrat Zainab (SA) and Hazrat Omm Kolthousm (SA), she was the Devout Mother who groomed them to be guardians of faith, humanitarian values, courage, patience and the spirit of sacrifice.
For Women aspiring for proximity to God with the welfare of family, friends, and society in mind, she remains the "Model-Par-Excellence” of feminine virtues and rights.
No wonder, these qualities make Hazrat Zahra (SA), the Pride of the Virgin Mary (SA), and this is the reason when the Saviour of Mankind, her Infallible Offspring Imam Mahdi (AS) will emerge, Prophet Jesus (AS) will reappear and serve as his lieutenant.
Indeed, reflecting on these realities makes Nowrouz a much-blessed to celebrate for Iranians and the faithful around the world.