On last Monday night, all across the globe people were celebrating the end of one year and ushering the New Year, 2013 in pomp and style. There were magnificent fireworks displayed in every single country, each trying to outdo the other. New York carried on the age old tradition of gathering thousands of men, women, and children at Time Square. As everyone waited for the 1,070 pound ball drop from a height of 141 feet, the crowd was kept entertained with live musical performances. This has always been a great New Year’s Eve party.
While a great majority of people around the world were counting the minutes to midnight and ringing in the New Year with champagne, music, and dancing, a group of Muslims belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community gathered at the Baitur Rahman mosque in Silver Spring, MD for a sleepover event. A hundred and fifty men, women, and children brought their air mattresses and sleeping bags to spend the night at the mosque on New Year’s Eve. The idea was to welcome the New Year not in the traditional revelry that one is used to, but to really express gratitude and humility to God who is the bestower of all things.
Sarah Malik, president of the women’s auxiliary of the Silver Spring chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community came with her 11 year old daughter, Esha Bhatti. It was the first sleepover for both mother and daughter.
“I really enjoyed the feeling of sisterhood. All of us came with only one purpose in mind- to connect with God and have a spiritual experience,” Malik said.
The members arrived for the night prayer, Isha, which started at 7:30 p.m. followed by dinner. The program included workshop discussions about various issues such as, how to raise morally upright children. There was also a question and answer session.
Esha Bhatti was one of the questioners. “I want to start wearing a hijab when I begin middle school next year. So, my question is, how to get started,” Bhatti asked. She was concerned that her school mates might make fun of her or tease her because of her head scarf. The moderator answered her simply by telling her that if anyone asks she should say that it is her religion (Islam) which mandates the head scarf because it is a symbol of modesty. The Qur’an commands Muslim women to not display their beauty. Hair, being one of the most beautiful parts of a woman’s body, is to be covered.
There were fun and game activities for all ages. Above all, it was a great way to hang out with each other. The event concluded with the late night optional Prayer, Tahajjud and the early morning Prayer, Fajr. The National Vice President and Missionary-in-Charge, Nasim Mahdi led the Prayer followed by a short commentary. He reminded the congregation about how blessed the Muslims are to be able to pray and speak to God directly and develop a relationship with Him. He added that just like man needs earthly food for his bodily nourishment, similarly he needs spiritual nourishment which comes only by forming a relationship with one’s Creator. This New Year’s Eve is one in which we should pray to God for world peace, pray for each other, and pray for humanity.