Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Party like it's 1427!

Ooooooooh, will the new moon be seen? After a week of cloud, rain & fog, I chewed my nails down to the quick trying to predict the day of Muharram, the Islamic New Year's - soley because it meant a midweek holiday for me. A moveable date, based on (what else?) the lunar calendar, it had to be called in Morocco by Tuesday night at the latest to conform with the prescribed number of days in the Islamic month. Confused? - don't be. Nonetheless no moon was sighted on Sunday .... ahhh, the suspense!!! I could just picture our jetskiing King Mohammed VI wearing out the palatial Berber carpets as he runs from window to window looking for the elusive moon. But last night, the moon miraculously made its appearance signalling not 6 more weeks of winter but Day 1 of the Islamic year 1427. I can only hope that the "ringing in" of the new year (or more accurately, the sighting of the new moon) will not be accompanied by the wholsesale slaughter of ruminants. Thusfar, my grass-chomping friends seem to have gotten off lightly as the only buying frenzy that I perceived in our neighbourhood grocery store was for chocolate and potato chips.
So will 1427 be a stellar year for Muslims in Morocco, and world-wide? Was it a crackerjack year for the infidel world when 1427 C.E. (or A.D. for the politically incorrect) rolled by 579 years ago? Let's see.
1427 saw:
* The first witch hunts begin in Switzerland
* English cardinal Henry Beaufort is ordered by the Pope to campaign against heretical Hussites in Germany (Beaufort ultimately fled in the face of battle)
* Thomas á Kempis' Imitation of Christ hits the best seller's list
* The Celestine Order is established in France
* In their rapacious quest for world supremacy, the Portuguese reach the Azores
* Bremen is turfed from the Hanseatic League (not even its instrument-touting animals could help)
* Hundreds of gypsies arrive at the gates of Paris & are summarily sent packing
* Writer Qu You dies (surely you read any one of his 40-volume series The Record of Jiandeng?)
* Lincoln College (at Oxford) is founded
Hmmmmm ... not the best of years. Perhaps it will be a better year for Islam. Perhaps I will actually believe King Mohammed VI when he admonished Moroccans to "uphold the noble ideals of Islam, that go hand in hand with the universal values, through advocating peace, moderation, openness, and decrying extremism, ostracism and terrorism". A new year is about nothing if not hope. Happy Muharram.


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