New Year Night

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Written by: Rais Muhammad Umar

Whenever a problem had to be discussed in Village Moosa Khan, a meeting was called in Lala Kareemdad's Otaq. Kareemdad was known for his wisdom and justice. Moosa Khan Village was an exemplary village. There was no fear of theft or robbery, there was no hatred in the heart’s of the people. People of all sects, even non-Muslims knew no fear. All the villagers lived there happily and fearlessly even in this terrified era. All of them helped each other in one another's difficulties. They co-operated with each other in difficult times. In short the village was a haven of peace and prosperity.
The landlord and village head man Lala Kareemdad was a very pious and Allah-fearing man. He was head in name only. In fact, he considered himself a servant of the villagers. Out of his love for them he created a village welfare fund. Every villager donated in this fund according to his status and Lala Kareemdad himself donated eighty lac rupees annually. Even the labourers donated in this fund of their own free will because it was a blessing for the poor. A sweeper was appointed to sweep the village daily from this fund. Due to cleanliness, mosquitoes and flies vanished from the village. As a result people got rid of malaria and many other diseases. A primary school was established where rich and poor pupils studied together. After primary school, all the boys and girls took admission in the nearby City High School. Two vans were appointed to pick up boys and girls separately for High School. Two tutors i.e. a male tutor for boy students and a female tutor for girl students came to give tuitions to the students daily in the evening. These tutors and van drivers were paid from this welfare fund. A madrasah and a mosque were also established from this welfare fund. A qari sahib led five times prayers in the masjid and taught little children the Holy Quran. He was also paid from this fund. The literacy rate was hundred percent. All the youths of the village were highly qualified, talented and employed in prestigious institutes. All the teenagers were studying in prestigious colleges and universities. The poor students were helped from the welfare fund. The rich and the poor students had equal approach for higher and quality education. That was why all the villagers were leading peaceful and prosperous lives. But recently Fayyaz returned unsuccessful from the university. Actually, in the university he was involved in bad company. He wasted his time in futile activities instead of studies and that was why he failed in the university examination and could not get a degree. But the village headman did not leave him helpless. He bought him a good buffalo and instructed him to leave futile things and feed and look after the buffalo well and increase buffaloes from the one. But he was still interested in futile things. He announced among his friend that he would celebrate New Year night with firing in the air that year. This news upset Lala Kareemdad and he called a meeting in his Otaq. All the villagers gathered on the appointed date after Isha prayers. Due to intense cold weather a heap of fire wood was burnt to beat the cold. All the villagers sat around the fire. Lala Kareemdad welcomed them and then said, "My dear friends, the purpose of this meeting is that I want to tell you that the new year is to begin after a week. This is not our Islamic year. This is the Christians' new year. Our Islamic year begins with Muharram-al-Haraam." "Yes, Lala, you are quite right," all the villagers replied unanimously. Lala Kareemdad continued, "Brothers, as you know that the people in the city celebrate new year night with firing. But Alhamdulillah, up till now no one in our village has celebrated New Year night with firing. But I have to say very sorrowfully that the young man Fayyaz wants to introduce it this year. I wish that he gives up his evil programme. What is your opinion?" Most of the villagers agreed with Lala. But Fayyaz and his friends got annoyed and began arguing with Lala, "Lala, there is no evil in celebrating New Year night with firing. It is only a way to get pleasure. It is only a way to  express one's joy. Everyone has a right to enjoy himself." Fayyaz sat down. "Don't be impolite," Fayyaz' father Raheem Bakhsh thundered at his son. "No problem, Raheem Bakhsh. Leave him. He is a young man and hot blooded. He will understand one day."  Lala then turned and said to Fayyaz, "But son, this is the wrong way to obtain pleasure. Look! To begin with it is waste of money, secondly it may cause some mishap. Thirdly it spoils the sleep and rest of the neighbours which is against Islam." Lala's sincere instructions didn't have any effect on Fayyaz. He stood up angrily and said, "We have our rights. We are determined to celebrate New Year night and no one can stop us." Along with his friends, he marched out of the Otaq. After they had gone, Lala sighed deeply said, "Brothers, did you see how angry he was?" "Lala, don't worry. They will come to their senses one day," one of the villagers consoled him. 
Sharp at 12 o'clock, as the date changed and the new year started, intensive firing began and continued into the night.  The next day early in the morning, after offering his Fajr prayers, Fayyaz turned around and fell at Lala's feet, weeping and sobbing. "Lala, please forgive me. I was really wrong." "Son, let go of my feet and tell me what has happened. What is the matter?" "Lala, I am ruined. I have been robbed. Lala, I disobeyed you. I should have listened to you." Lala lifted him up and said, "Son, tell me in detail what has happened." Fayyaz said sadly.
"Lala, robbers took away my buffalo last night," Fayyaz said sadly. "What?" Lala cried out. "I think, this is the first robbery in our village in decades. Why didn't you shout and fire shots to inform the watchman and other villagers? We would have come running to help you." "Lala, I am weeping for that very reason. How I wish we had not celebrated New Year night. I did fire but everyone must have thought that I was celebrating New Year and so nobody paid any attention," he stopped and wiped his tears. "Lala, forgive me. Lala, forgive me please, I shall never copy the customs of non-Muslims." Lala took his hand and led him to his pen. Fayyaz saw his own buffalo standing there. "Lala, how did get this buffalo?" he asked happy and amazed. "I arranged this whole drama to teach you a practical lesson. I sent my men as robbers to rob you of your buffalo." "Lala, you have really taught me a good lesson. My buffalo could really have been stolen. You have opened my eyes. I promise I shall never celebrate New Year night again." Lala smiled and hugged Fayyaz. He silently thanked Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) for having helped him bring a young man to the right path.