Islamic New Year 2014 | The Prophet and Kaaba

dubai 2014 new years eve fireworks, photo by robin appleby

dubai 2014 new years eve fireworks, photo by robin appleby

DUBAI, This year, the new Islamic New Year fell on October 24. The date will mark the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Medina in year 622. He led his followers over 200 miles across barren desert to escape persecution. At the time, Mecca was a polytheistic city which was viewed by many different religions as a holy center.

The frequent migrations of these many religious practitioners was to visit the Kaaba, which is a sacred stone structure that was once used to house effigies of gods and goddesses and its presence subsequently changed the city into a prosperous trade center.

When the Prophet insisted that there was only one God people were quite resistant to this credence. At that time theKaaba wasfilled with false idols and, furthermore, in the terms of all the Abrahamic religions it is required that a percentage of one's income (if possible) be given to charity. People worried that this new religious edict would harm the economy as well as their pockets.

As the Prophet Muhammad started his life as a merchant and didn't turn to religion until he was in his 30s -- people questioned both his authority to preach and his sincerity in proselytizing these new values. Consequently, he was threatened and began to fear for his life. The Prophet had heard that the city of Medina would be a sanctuary for the new followers of Islam and thus moved to there.  The first groundswell of converts to Islam were rapidly growing, and thus he found Mecca to be more welcoming.

The year of this journey, called the Hijra marked the beginning of the Islamic calendar. While the Prophet's birth and the founding of the Islamic religion are important, it was decided that the show of devotion in the face of adversary that a more powerful symbol representative of Islamic value should be adopted as the first of the calendar year.

Eventually it became safe for the Prophet Muhammad to return to Mecca. This pilgrimage, called the hajj, became required for all Muslims to make at least once in their lifetime during the 12th month of the Islamic calendar.  However, exceptions are made for those unable to travel. As well as being a personal journey, it is also a way to encourage solidarity amongst Muslims and people from all over the world from all backgrounds came and continue to gather together to give allegiance to Allah.

The Muslim calendar is on a lunar cycle versus the Gregorian calendar used by much of the West. Thus, the start of a month is marked by the first sighting of a crescent moon, and each new day begins at sundown on the previous, versus a new day starting at sun up in the West. Because the 12-months of the calendar differ in length from the more widely used Gregorian calendar, Islamic dates and holidays vary in comparison from year-to-year.

The New Year is recognized in relatively quiet way, with prayers and reflections, but as with the other major religions and in honor of their holidays, we wish our Muslim readers Sana sa'eedah!

Ambassador Steven's Death Provoked by Jones?

u-s-ambassador-christopher-stevens-funeral-photo-by-marine-barracks-washington-8th-i.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:29 PM EDT, 12 September 2012

U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, Photo Courtesy of the White House

BENGHAZI, Libya – This morning the White House confirmed that the California born U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens and four consular staffers were murdered during a mob attack on the consulate following the release of a video which denigrated the Prophet Mohammed.

Though it is unclear when and how the four diplomats died, it is surmised that they were rushed to a secret safe house after the initial attack to await evacuation by a U.S. commando unit.

Members of the evacuation team arrived from Tripoli soon after receiving notification of the escalating violence which claimed the lives of Steven and three others diplomats.

The Libyan government issued a statement immediately condemning the violence and sympathizing with the families of the murdered. Libya's Deputy Interior Minister Wanis Al-Sharif expressed surprise that the armed groups knew the location of the safe house.

"It was supposed to be a secret place and we were surprised the armed groups knew about it. There was shooting," Sharif said. Two U.S. personnel were killed there, he said. Two other people were killed at the main consular building and between 12 and 17 wounded. (Source: Reuters)

The violence was incited by a low-budget film which was made in the summer of 2011 but was recently promoted by Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who previously garnered international attention when he threatened to burn the Qur'an. He was subsequently persuaded to abandon this incendiary act by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

However, Jones remained undeterred in his efforts to provoke Muslims, and is reported to have been actively promoting the low-budget film which denigrated the Islamic faith, the Prophet Mohammed, and Arabs.

It appears that his vigorous internet promotion of the film which also portrayed Mohammed engaging in a sex act with a woman, as a fool, a philanderer, and religious charlatan, is a culmination of his original efforts to defame and inflame Islamic sentiment.

Sam Bacile, a self-proclaimed Jew and real-estate developer, wrote and produced the movie, but is currently in hiding for fear of being murdered like the Dutch filmmaker, Van Gogh, who was killed in 2004. However, that is where the comparison ends, because Van Gogh's film titled Submission was made in conjunction with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who desired to highlight the plight of women who are forced into arranged marriages.

The White House will certainly spend the next few days consoling the families of the victims while simultaneously investigating the attacks against the U.S. Embassies in both Libya and Cairo. The newly elected, President Mohamed Morsi who represents the Muslim Brotherhood has yet to issue an apology or any statement acknowledging the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Cairo which may have been more spontaneous than the apparently well-organized coordinated attack of the Benghazi embassy.

Though it is early in the process and blame has yet to be assigned, certainly a significant amount of responsibility for fomenting the unrest that precipitated the death of these four Americans needs to be placed firmly on the shoulders of Pastor Terry Jones for promoting an obscure video with the clear intent of provoking violence. He had precedence, he knew it was incendiary, and his motives are Machiavellian at most and irresponsible in the extreme.

As many have expressed today throughout Social Media outlets, this is not something that Jesus would have done because he advocated peace and ended all conflicts out of love. It is unfortunate that religions as interpreted by extremists have led to more heart-ache, tragedy, and death of human beings since time immemorial, and we would be well served to embrace tolerance in this era of greater interconnectedness.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias