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Supreme Triumph & Heartrending Tragedy

Supreme Triumph & Heartrending Tragedy
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Muslims are distinct from all other communities in every way. We end our year with the grand finale of Hajj and the martyrdom of Hazrat Umar r.a.; we begin the year with the sanctified month of Muharram and the martyrdom of the beloved grandson of the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and his family (ehle bayt). The calendar year of Islam doesn’t begin with the birthday of our Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, not from the time of the first revelation nor from the time of his ascension to heaven, but with the migration (Hijra) from an undesirable environment to a desirable place to fulfill Allah’s command.  This is our focal point, a true Muslim’s new year resolution, leaving the undesirable to move towards that which is desirable, the pleasure of Allah ta’ala and His Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam .

When others start their new year, the whole world is steeped in uncontrolled revelry and excessive indulgence. Alhamdulillah, our New Year starts with hijra, the migration from the lower to the higher realms of human existence through fasting, prayer and generosity towards others. We will herald the Islamic New Year 1437 AH with Muharramul Haram, the first month of the Islamic calendar; one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Quran says, “The number of the months according to Allah is twelve (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on the day He created heavens and the earth. Among these (twelve months) there are four sanctified.” The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, declared: “One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.”

However, this does not mean that the other months of the year are any less. All months and days belong to Allah ta’ala and He may choose whichever for bestowing His bounties. These four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that their sanctity was accepted right from the days of Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi salam and the pagans of Makkah attributed themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi salam. Hence this was upheld in the shariah of Muhammad  Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and the Holy Quran refers to these months as sanctified.

Although Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named ‘Ashurah’.  According to the Holy Companion Ibn ‘Abbas, Radi-Allahu anhu, when the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam  migrated to Madinah he found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which the Holy Prophet Musa (Moses), alayhis salam, and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “We are more closely related to Musa alayhi salam than you,” and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashurah. (Abu Dawood)

Before the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory, it is reported in some traditions, that the fast of Ashurah was compulsory for Muslims and Rasul Allah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam advised Muslims to fast on this day but join another day, the ninth or the eleventh of Muharram to distinguish from the fast of the Jews. Sayyidina Aisha, Radi-Allahu anha has said, “When the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, came to Madinah, he fasted on the day of Ashurah and directed the people to fast. But when the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadan and the obligatory nature of the fast of Ashurah was abandoned. Whoever so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes can avoid fasting on it.” (Abu Dawood). However, Rasul Allah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, continued to fast on the day of Ashurah.  Abdullah ibn Musa, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, preferred the fast of Ashura on the fasts of other days and preferred the fasts of Ramadhaan on the fast of Ashurah (Bukhari and Muslim). In short, it is established through a number of authentic ahadith that fasting on the day of Ashurah is Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and makes one entitled to a great reward.

Muharram brings with it special blessings but at the same time reminds us of Karbala, the clash between the forces of truth (Haqq) and the forces of evil (baatil), and the martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, during his battle with the Syrian army. No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu and his family is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of Ashurah is not based on this event because the virtue of Ashurah was established during the days of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, much earlier than the birth of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu. In fact,, it is one of the merits of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu and his family, that their martyrdom took place on the day of Ashurah which added eminence to the already illustrious day. Subhan Allah!

The Sunnah acts on this day, as mentioned before, are fasting on 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th, supererogatory prayers and charity to one’s family and others, as according to some traditions, one should be more generous to his family on the day of Ashurah by providing more food to them on this day as compared to other days. This last tradition is not very authentic but some scholars like Baihaqi r.a. and Ibn Hibban r.a. have accepted them as reliable.

Misconceptions, like not holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram, making some special dish on this day or holding mouming ceremonies in the memory of the martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu , are contrary to the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. If the death of an eminent person on a particular day makes that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day of the year free from this bad luck. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, have liberated us from such superstitious beliefs. Rasul Allah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has forbidden us from holding mourning ceremonies on the death of any person and said, “He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah.” (Sahih Bukhari)

May Allah ta’ala make the coming year and all years to come, times of heightened imaan, peace, health, wealth and happiness for all Muslims. Aameen.

Source: Albalagh, Mufti Taqi Usmani d.b., Maulana Tariq Jamil d.b.

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