Norouz, the Season of Spiritual Development
Spring is the sign of God for guiding humans towards betterment and perfection. It is the emergence of freshness in the world of nature as well as in the life of human beings. Thus, Norouz or the New Year in Iran, from the viewpoint of Islam, is an incentive for renewed progress and development of the self and the society, by taking stock of ourselves and the environment in which we live.
It is a time of spiritual revitalization as well, in view of the narrations from the Infallible Imams of the Blessed Household of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). That is the reason at the time of Tahveel or the exact moment that Planet Earth completes its annual rotation around the Sun, we Muslims in Iran raise our hands towards heaven and supplicate to the One and Only Creator of the entire universe the following prayer in Arabic: say:
Ya Moqallab al-qoloub wa’l-absar,
Ya Modabbar al-layl wa’n-nahar
Ya Mohawwal al-howl wa’l-ahwal
Hawwil halana ila ahsan il-haal,
Translated into English it reads:
“O Rotator of hearts and eyes.
O Regulator of the day and night,
O Transformer of state and conditions
Turn our state into the best of states.
According to Islam, the world of nature is manifestation of the power and glory of Allah. Thus, the beauty of nature and the arrival of spring, accompanied by the greenery of the grass, the plants, and trees, and the blooming of flowers of various colours, is an invitation to us from the Lord Most High to contemplate on nature and become better cognizant of Him and His endless bounties. The holy Qur’an, in several ayahs, reminds us of these facts and directs our attention towards the Day of Resurrection, when all mankind, after being dead will be raised to life for the final judgement: For instance ayah 9 of Surah Fatir reads:
“It is Allah who sends the winds and they raise a cloud; then We drive it toward a dead land and with it revive the earth after its death. Likewise will be the resurrection [of the dead].”
The famous exegete of the holy Qur’an, the Late Allamah Seyyed Mohammad Husain Tabatabaei, in his exegesis titled al-Mizan, writes regarding this ayah, that this is a reminder by God of the eventuality of the Day of Resurrection and the raising to life of the dead. The seasonal cycle of the resurgence of nature and the coming to life of the seemingly lifeless earth in spring ever year, is an indicator of the Power of God over all things, and the fact of the dead being raised to life. Thus, by contemplating upon spring, we should remember the eventuality of the Day of Resurrection, and consider the changes in nature as a reminder to us reform our life, and strives towards development of the self, especially of our spiritual aspects.
One can avail of the freshness of nature through different ways. One of these ways is internal changes within us. The renewed growth of nature and the changes which take place every year in spring, as well as in our own environment, with the cleaning of houses, the decoration of streets, the wearing of new clothes, the exchange of visits among family members and friends, and the joy on the faces of everybody, should instill in us the feeling to do good, and to become better cognizant of God by abstaining from the forbidden things and acts, and performing whatever obligations the All-Wise Allah has decreed for us. Norouz thus means expressing gratitude to the All-Merciful Lord for His abundant favours, and for having guided us towards Islam and the genuine teachings of the Messenger of Mercy, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). Actually, Norouz in the light of the sayings of the Infallible Imams of the Prophet’s Household, is an opportunity for us to polish ourselves spiritually and the time to promote peace and welfare in society. As the Commander of the Faithful, the Prophet’s divinely-designated vicegerent, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), has said: “Eid is the day on which you haven’t committed any sin.”
The leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says that Norouz is a spiritual occasion of national and international importance, and a symbol of innovation, freshness, strengthening of ties of kinship, consolidation of friendships, and promotion of kindness in society. Spring begins with the freshness of nature and its beauties. Norouz means a new day in human history and a new development in human life. Norouz means the day on which some of the immortal events in human history and civilization have taken place. The Prophet’s 6th Infallible Heir, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) has said: Norouz is a new day for mankind, associated with the Father of the human race, Adam. It was also the day on which the Ark of Prophet Noah, following the huge deluge, berthed on dry land. As a matter of fact, the Spring Equinox was also the day of blessings for the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger, Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). It is thus a new day for humanity.
The Iranian nation is indeed proud to have preserved Norouz, as a national event, when other nations had lost the significance of the Spring Equinox.