Ask Ali: On wishing Muslims a Happy New Year

Is it OK to wish Muslims a Happy New Year and what is the best way to clear the air after a misunderstanding?

Dear Ali: Is it OK to wish ­Muslims a Happy New Year these next few days? How do you usually react to or celebrate such occasions and ­greetings? TA, Dubai

Dear TA: The words “Kul aam wa anatom bekhayr” literally mean: “I wish you well on this occasion every year”, which is usually used as ­“Happy New Year”. I say it – it’s always lovely to receive ­greetings and wishes like this – and I’m Muslim.

Generally, there is nothing wrong with wishing someone good health and well-being every year and that God bless them all the time.

However, some Muslims might view that others are ­exaggerating with their New Year festivities. They feel that because Islam doesn’t promote such an occasion, and since it’s not a part of the Prophet’s sayings or ­actions (which we refer to as ­“Sunnah”), it’s not right to ­celebrate.

These Muslims have their own way of interpreting Islam’s teachings.

The general Muslim ­community around the world would be fine if someone ­simply wished them a “Happy New Year” because there is nothing “haram” ­(forbidden or wrong) in such a statement.

The occasion of New Year’s Day is a time of joy and ­gathering with loved ones, families and friends to enjoy the first day of the new year, while praying to Allah to bless them and bring the best for the coming year.

New Year celebrations vary from one country to another, from culture to culture and between certain Islamic groups and so on, and there is no right or wrong because it’s based on the intentions of those who celebrate it.

Many will reply to your wishing of “Kul aam wa anatom bekhayr” with “Wa anta bekhayr”, which means: “And I wish you to be well, as well.”

So my friend, may God bless you and Kul aam wa anatom bekhayr.

Dear Ali: If there were to be a misunderstanding ­or ­conflict between myself and an ­Emirati or an Arab, how could I solve the matter before it’s too late? RA, Abu Dhabi

Dear RA: Starting the new year with such intention and thoughts will bring peace of mind and a positive energy around you because there is nothing worth more than making sure you go to bed every night without carrying anything against others, nor others having anything against you.

This is where a classic and popular Arabic phrase comes to mind: “Al Mesaameh kareem”. It translates as “He who ­forgives is generous”, and is an indication that if you forgive others it means you are un­selfish and ungrudging.

I would recommend that you remember this phrase and ­embrace and practise it in your daily life – let go and forgive others.

This phrase can be said and used in any interaction with others, whether it has been a serious or a light misunderstanding, when you want to smooth and ease the situation.

You just utter it to the person who is holding something against you – “Al Mesaameh kareem” – with a humble and honest smile and it should ­invite the counterpart to relax and take it easy as well.

You are generous already – generous enough to feel the importance of such a subject, so you have nothing to worry about. All the best.

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question.