Date: March 2009
[New Year prayer]
O saviour of hearts and sights, guide of night and day, you who can transform our being, transform me to be the very best.
This prayer is read when we welcome the New Year. It is a fact that I have mentioned many times before. The word eid (in Persian, the anniversary of a celebratory event) is, in fact, Arabic. Its root is the Arabic word evd. Those gentlemen here who study linguistics are aware of this. It is in the same family of words as eoud, which means ‘to return,’ or ‘to refer back’ because it is something that is repeated every year and creates a transformation. Eid-al-Ghadir applies here as well, because every year the memory of Ghadir returns to us, and people talk about it.
Now whether Eid Nowruz is a religious event or not, is another issue. Some want to insist that it is not. But, Nowruz is a celebration of our ‘origins,’ it is the celebration of nature. [It is when] human beings see a transformation occurring in nature. Trees turn green, and gardens come to life. This is not something that you can deny.
This prayer, too, [read as the New Year occurs], means Dear God, who transforms our hearts and our eyes. You can acknowledge that whether you like it or not, your heart is synonymous with change. Sometimes good deeds go through your heart, and other times evil ones do. The heart of humans always turns and changes; it is constantly transformed. The eyes of humans [change] too. Basically, the word ‘heart’ [in Persian and in Arabic] has its roots in transformation and change. [The prayer says]: Dear Lord, who changes our hearts and our eyes. Oh Lord, who turn the days into nights and the nights into days. It is neither in my control nor yours. You wake up every morning and see that the sun has risen and every night you see that the moon and stars have begun to shine. God wills the changes of day and night and vice versa. Nothing that we do is in our control. Everything belongs to God and is part of his will. The prayer continues: Dear God, who changes the years as well as our emotions and thoughts. Make our emotions and thoughts the best ones possible. You [must] agree that the system of being is someone else’s will. Every breath that you take; if you don’t have air to breathe for one minute you will die. Sa’adi, the poet, says:
“Every breath that you take in causes life to continue, and every breath that you release refreshens your spirit. So, in every breath there are two blessings and an expression of gratitude [for the creator] that is necessary for every blessing. [But], who can fulfill the task of fully thanking God for the blessings?”
Now that [we see that] everything including the transformations of the whole system of existence belongs to him, let us make peace with God. Let us commit to the commands that God has sent us through his prophets. If, till now, we have deviated [from the path of God] in our hearts, let us revolutionize our hearts. Just as nature is transforming, our hearts can transform too. This is in our control. We express our regret for what we have done in the past. If we have committed a sin, we express true regret – God will forgive it. There is a passage in Qur’an that gives us hope. It says: Prophet, tell our subjects that you have performed a great waste; you have sinned. But do not give up on God’s forgiveness. God forgives all sins. These are all sentences with a grammar that emphasizes God’s forgiveness and compassion. So do not give up on God’s forgiveness. Try be [truly] repentant for your mistakes so that your hearts can transform. Learn from nature. Transform just as nature is transformed. [In spring], all the trees [that were] in hibernation awaken and blossom, and gardens become green. You too, must attempt to transform your hearts, if god is willing, just as you pray The God who transforms our hearts, to transform your heart to what is best for you.