Welcome 1435: Muharram and a new year in the Islamic calendar
by Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Source: Islamic City
Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Quran says, “The number of the months according to Allah is twelve months (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on the day in which He created heavens and the earth. Among these (twelve months) there are four sanctified”.
These four months, according to the authentic traditions are the months of Zhul Qa’dah, Zhul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Quran are unanimous on this point, because the Holy Prophet in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, has declared:
“One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Zhul Qa’dah, Zhul Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.”
The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that their sanctity was accepted even by the pagans of Makkah.
In fact, every month, out of the twelve, is originally equal to the other, and there is no inherent sanctity, which may be attributed to one of them in comparison to other months. When Allah Almighty chooses a particular time for His special blessings, then it acquires sanctity out of His grace.
Thus, the sanctity of these four months was recognized right from the days of Sayyidina Ibrahim. Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim they observed the sanctity of these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these months.
In the Shariah of our Holy Prophet the sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Quran referred to them as the “sanctified months”.
The month of Muharram has certain other characteristics peculiar to it, which are specified below.
Fasting during the month
The Holy Prophet has said:
“The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of Muharram.”
Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet, the one who fasts in these days out of his own will and choice is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most reward-able ones among the Nafl fasts i.e. the fasts one observes out of his own choice without being obligatory on him.
The Hadith does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.
The day of Ashurah
Although the month of 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. The Holy Prophet , when migrated to Madinah, 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) and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its water.
On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet said, “We are more closely related to Musa than you” and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashurah. (Abu Dawood)
It is also reported in a number of authentic traditions that in the beginning, fasting on the day of Ashurah was obligatory for the Muslims.
It was later that the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory and the fast on the day of ”Ashurah was made optional. Sayyidah Aishah has said:
“When the Holy Prophet came to Madinah, he fasted on the day of Ashurah and directed the people to fast it. 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. One can fast on this day, if he so wills, or can avoid fasting, if he so wills.”
However, the Holy Prophet used to fast on the day of Ashurah even after the fasting in Ramadan was made obligatory.
Abdullah Ian Masud reports that the Holy Prophet preferred the fast of Ashurah to the fast of other days and preferred the fast of Ramadan to the fast of Ashurah. (Bukhari and Muslim)
In short, it is established through a number of authentic hadith that fasting on the day of Ashurah is Sunnah of the Holy Prophet and makes one entitled to a great reward.
According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of Ashurah should either be prefixed or suffixed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th of it. The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet is that the Jews used to fast on the day of Ashurah alone, and the Holy Prophet wanted to distinguish the Islamic-way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to that of Ashurah.
Some traditions signify another feature of the day of Ashurah.
According to these traditions one should be more generous to his family by providing more food to them on this day as compared to other days. These traditions are not very authentic according to the science of Hadith. Yet, some Scholars like Baihaqi and Ibn Hibban have accepted them as reliable.
What is mentioned above is all that is supported through authentic sources about Ashurah.
However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to Ashurah that have managed to find their way into the minds of the ignorant, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very common of them are these:
This is the day in which Adam was created.
This is the day in which Ibrahim was born.
This is the day in which Allah accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Ibrahim.
This is the day on which the Qiyamah (dooms-day) will take place.
Whoever takes bath in the day of Ashurah will never get ill.
All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit.
Some people take it as Sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal in the day of Ashurah. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic sources.
Some other people attribute the sanctity of Ashurah to the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain during his battle with the Syrian army. No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of Ashurah cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of ‘Ashurah was established during the days of the Holy Prophet much earlier than the birth of Sayyidina Husain.
On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidina Husain that his martyrdom took place on the day of Ashurah.
Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Sayyidina Husain was killed in it. It is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept which is contrary to the express teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. Such superstitions have been totally negated by the Holy Prophet . If the death of an eminent person in a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day, free from this bad luck, out of 365 days of the whole year, because each and every day has a history of the demise of some eminent person. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet have made us free from such superstitious beliefs, and they should deserve no attention.
Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain.
As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Holy Prophet has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased relatives or friends through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Holy Prophet stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying “Inna lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji oon”. A number of authentic hadith are available on the subject.
To quote only one of them:
“He is not from our group who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah.”
All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is absolutely impermissible. Even Sayyidina Husain shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Sayyidah Zainab not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said:
“My dear sister, I swear upon you that you, in case I die, shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death”.
It is evident from this advice of Sayyidina Husain that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Holy Prophet and his beloved grandchild Sayyidina Husain.
Blessings of Muharram
It is the first month of the Islamic Calendar.
The meaning of the word:- The word “Muharram” means “Forbidden.” Even before Islam, this month was always known as a scared month in which all unlawful acts were forbidden, prominently the shedding of blood.
A blessing of Muharram:- There are many bounties of this month, especially the tenth of Muharram.
Two of the many virtues of the 10th of Muharram:-
On this day he who spends more lavishly for the sake of his family members, Allah Taala will bestow blessing upon the sustenance of the following year.
Abu Qataada has related that the Prophet has reported to have said, it is my thought that by fasting on the 10th of Muharram Allah Taala will pardon the sins of the past year. (Tirmidhi)
Events of Muharram
Hadhrat Hussain was martyred in this month.
Shaykhain Tirmidthi & Haakim have narrated from Anas that the following verse:
“Allah may forgive thee of thy sins that which is past and that which is to come.” (Al-Fath) was revealed on the 10th of Muharram.
The Prophet Muhammed went to defeat Bani Muhaarin and Bani Tha’laba (Tribes of Bani Gatfan) in the year 4 A.H. (Asahhus-siyar).
Muharram and Aashura
By: Sheikhul Hadith Sh. Ml. Fazlur Rehman
THE SACRED MONTHS
From among the months of the Islamic year, the “Ashurul Hurum” (Sacred Months) enjoy a greater significance. Hafiz Ibn Katheer (Allah be pleased with him) has quoted the saying of Hadhrat Qatadah (Allah be pleased with him) in his famous tafseer. He writes:
Allah Ta’ala has indeed distinguished some of His Creation from among man and Jinn, He has chosen Messengers. He has granted special virtue to His remembrance (Zikr) over all speech and talk. From the land He has chosen the Masaajid. He distinguished the Day of Jumu’ah (Friday) from amongst the days and Laitatul Qadr (the Night of Power) from amongst the nights. Therefore respect what Allah Ta’aala has honoured for verily to honour things due to the virtue which Allah Ta’aala bestowed upon them is among the traits of the intelligent”. [Tafseer Ibn Khateer, vol 2 pg 369].
The sanctity of these four months was observed in the Shari’ah of all the Ambiyaa. Hence all preached to their followers that any act of obedience and virtue in these months earn an increased reward. Likewise any transgression or disobedience perpetrated in these months is more severe and the sin is multiplied. In the Shari’ah of various Ambiyaa, wars and fighting (even for just causes) too was forbidden. [Extracted from Ma Ariful Qur'aan, vol 4, pg 370].
THE MONTH OF MUHARRAM
The Rasul of Allah Ta’aala has described the fasts of this month as the best fasts after the month of Ramadaan. In a Hadith Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said:
“The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadaan is the fasting of Allah’s month of Muharram and the best of Salaats besides the Fardh (obligatory Salaat) is the Tahajjud Salaah (performed after midnight)”. [Sahih Muslim, vol 1, pg 368].
“He who fasts on the Day of Arafat, his fast will be a compensation for the sins of two years and the one that keeps a fast in the month of Muharram will receive a reward of thirty fasts for each fast (in the sacred month)“. [At Targheeb Wat Tarheeb, vol 2, pg 114].
FASTING ON THE DAY OF ASHURA (10TH OF MUHARRAM)
Ibn Abbaas (Allah be pleased with him) says:
“I did not see the messenger of Allah Ta’aala anxiously await the fast of any day, which he gave preference to over other days, but this day (i.e. the Day of Ashura) and this month (i.e. the month of Ramadaan)” [Suhih Bukhari, vol 2, pg 268].
In various Ahaadith an explanation is given as to why Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) kept this fast and exhorted his companions to do the same. A narration of Sahih Muslim concisely explains the reason Ibn Abbaas (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the Day of Ashura. Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) inquired of them, “What is the significance of this day on which you fast?” They replied: “This is a great day. On this day Allah Ta’aala saved Moosa and his people and drowned Firown and his nation”. Thus Moosa (peace be upon him) fasted on this day as a token of thanksgiving, therefore, we too fast on this day. The Rasul of Allah Ta’aala said:
“We are more worthy of Moosa (peace be upon him) and nearer to him than you”. Thereafter he fasted on this day and ordered his companions that a fast be kept on this day. [Suhih Muslim, vol 1, pg 359].
From the above Hadith it is clear that the fast of Ashura is linked to the salvation of Moosa (peace be upon him). Besides this no other Hadith of this category (Sahih) explains the reason for Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) having kept a fast on this day.
FORGIVENESS OF A YEARS SINS
With regards to the blessings of this fast, it is recorded in a narration of Sahih Muslim that Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked regarding (the virtue of) the fast of Ashura. Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) answered:
“It is compensation for the sins of the past year, i.e. the sins of the year that has just gone by will be forgiven”. [Sahih Muslim, vol 1, pg 368].
SPENDING FREELY ON ONE’S FAMILY
Besides fasting on the day of Ashura, being generous to one’s family and spending on what is normally spent on food, etc. is a very meritorious act. Certain scholars are of the opinion that the Ahaadith in this regard are not authentic. Hence, there is no special virtue for increased generosity on the Day of Ashura. However, this is not correct. To substantiate this, Allama Sakhawi (Allah be pleased with him) writes:
“He who will be generous on his family on the Day of Ashura, Allah will be generous to him throughout the year.” This Hadith has been transmitted by Tabrani and Baihaqi in his book “As-Shaub” and Fadaail-ul-Awqaat and Abu Shaikh, all of them having narrated it from Ibn Masood. Tabrani and Baihaqi have also transmitted it from Abu Saeed (Allah be pleased with him). In his book “Ash-Shaub”, Baihaqi has also narrated this Hadith from Jaabir and Abu Hurairah.
Baihaqi therefore says:
“The chains of narrators of these Ahaadith are`Daeef’ Weak, However, when they are considered collectively, the chain of narrators becomes strong (i.e. the Hadith becomes reliable)”.
Allamah Shaami too has indicated towards the authenticity of this Hadith. He says:
“The hadith of generosity upon ones family is an established and authentic (Sahih) narration as mentioned by Hafiz Suvuti in `Ad-Durar’”. [Shaami, vol 2, pg 155].
RECTIFICATION OF BELIEF
Many erroneous beliefs exist regarding the Day of Ashura. It is necessary that such beliefs be discarded. The day of Ashura is regarded by many as the day of mourning the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husein (Allah be pleased with him). To attribute the significance of Ashura to the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husein (Allah be pleased with him) is baseless. The significance of Ashura is from the time of Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) whilst Sayyidina Husein (Allah be pleased with him) was martyred fifty years after the passing of Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The significance of Ashura is attributed to many such occurrences and events, most of which are not proven by authentic sources.
Similarly, refrain from participating in the innovations of those who harbour hatred for the Ahlul-bait (the family of Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), or the innovations of the ignorant; those who oppose corruptions with corruption, innovations with innovations and evil with sin. Hence, they display great joy and happiness. They regard this day as an occasion of merrymaking and adornment and indulgence in Khidaab, applying surmah, wearing new clothes, sending lavishly and cooking various foods which are not generally prepared. All these actions are regarding as Sunnah by these ignorant people whereas the true Sunnah is to shun these practices, since no authentic narrations sanctioning such actions has been recorded. [Ma thabata bis Sunnah, pg 254].
Regarding the various beliefs about the significance of the Day of Ashura; many of which are often quoted in our time; Sheikh Muhaddith Dahlawi (Allah be pleased with him) writes:
It is said that:
a. The person who applies `surmah’ on the Day of Ashura will not have sore eyes for the entire year.
b. The person who takes a bath on this day will not fall ill till the next year.
c. The person who spends freely on his family on the Day of Ashura, Allah Ta’aala will increase his sustenance for the whole year.
As for claims such as:
1. The virtue of Salaah on this day.
2. On the day the repentance of Adam (peace be upon him) was accepted.
3. Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was removed from the fire.
4. Ismail (peace be upon him) was saved from being sacrificed.
5. Yusuf (peace be upon him) was returned to Yaqoob (peace be upon him).
All the above are FABRICATIONS EXCEPT the Hadith of spending freely on one’s family. However one of the narrators is not absolutely reliable” [Ma thabata bis Sunnah, pg 254].
From the list of fabrications which have been quoted from Sheikh Muhaddith Dahlawi (Allah be pleased with him), the Ark of Nuh (peace be upon him) settling on the mountain will be excluded from being a fabricated Hadith. This exclusion is due to the Hadith which appears in the “Musnad” of Imaam Ahmad (peace be upon him) vol 2, pg 259.
The Day of Ashura is a great day. While observing it’s greatness, let us shun all innovations and unfounded customs which deprive us of blessings and reward. Let us firmly cling onto the Qur’aan and Sunnah and attain success of both the worlds. Ameen.
Source: This is a summary of a booklet which was compiled under auspicious guidance of Sheikhul Hadith Sh. Ml. Fazlur Rehman of Darul Uloom, Azaadville, South Africa.
Islamic new year a time of contemplation and spiritual renewal
By: Sheikh Haisam Farache
Milestones are markers fundamental to the human psyche. As we near the end of the calendar year, outside of the controversies surrounding the months of Ramadan and Zul Hijah, have we given any thought to the other months of the Hijri (Islamic) calendar? In fact, could we even say that we know the Islamic months and could we recall them in order?
It is especially imperative for Muslims living outside of Muslim majority nations to maintain a connection to Allah through the specific Prophetic acts of worship encouraged during each particular month and to understand the significance of the Islamic months as they relate to the life of a Muslim.
This week marks the end of the Islamic Year 1433 and with it, the opportunity for a new dawn in nearness to our Creator in 1434, Insha Allah. It is an opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and to ask Allah to forgive our sins and the sins of our brethren. Additionally, it is a time to look forward to new beginnings and to seek greater closeness to Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) by striving to embody our own humanity through consciousness of Allah and service to others.
The first month of the Islamic year is the Month of Allah, commonly called Muharram and it is one of the scared months, whereby the reward for one’s deeds are multiplied, as are the penalties for sins. The month of Muharram contains a special day, the tenth day. It is narrated in Prophetic traditions that the tenth of Muharram was the day Allah decreed for emancipation of Bani Israel (the children of Israel – Prophet Jacob – peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) from the tyranny of the Pharaohs. The Jews were freed from their slave hood and the tyrants were dealt the justice of Divine intervention.
In a time and place where those who submitted to the Divine will of Allah were methodically persecuted because of their beliefs; by being enslaved, having their children systematically killed and their women systematically assaulted, the relevance of the story of Bani Israel in Egypt bares particular significance for those who submit in contemporary times and are subject to current trends of a similar nature. Therefore, the significance of Ashura must be more profound to the believer as we approach the end of 2012.
It has also been mentioned that the tenth of Muharram was the day Allah selected to save the people of Prophet Nuh (Noah- peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) from the floods. The common thread in the stories of the Prophets Nuh and Musa (peace and blessing of Allah be upon them both) are that Allah changed the circumstances of the people once they sincerely repented for their misgivings and they firmly entrenched themselves in the ways of their respective Prophets.
The above scenario is identical for the people of our time; if we yearn to have our grievances alleviated and to establish justice and peace, we must repent to Allah and become righteous. Without this vital step, our condition will not change and our sorrows will deepen. Other practical solutions need to be implemented but without internal change in our perceptions and external change in our actions, Allah’s divine assistance will not grace our lives or the lives of humanity. This realization and application is the fundamental step!
How can one day have so much significance? The Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) is recorded as saying in the fasting of the day of Arafah, I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and in fasting the day of Ashura I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it. Therefore, the All-Mighty Lord of the Mercy and Grace pardons a whole year of minor sins and the abovementioned repentance is required to expiate the major sins. Once people repent the divine assistance of Allah begins to descend.
When the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) migrated to Medina, he witnessed the Jews fasting Ashura and he asked why they fasted this day. He was told it was the day Allah emancipated the Musa and his followers from the Pharaohs, so Prophet Musa used to fast this day in gratitude to Allah. A Prophetic tradition states that the best sawm (fasting) after sawm in the month of Ramadan is during the month of Allah, known as Muharam. In particular the fasting of the tenth day of the Muharram, known as the Day of Ashura. The Prophet recommended fasting on the tenth and also the ninth of Muharram.
What else can one do to ensure the maximum benefit from the month of Muharram and in particular the tenth day? Another Prophetic tradition related that whoever fasts `Ashura it is as if s/he has fasted the entire year and whoever gives charity on this day it is like the charity of an entire year. Giving charity in secret appeases the wrath of Allah and expedites the Divine Mercy of Allah. The Prophetic acts of fasting and giving charity are causes that Allah uses to improve the human condition, both individually and socially.
For those in a dilemma about which days to fast, the scholars have stated that if there is confusion about the beginning of the month, one should fast for three days, to be sure of fasting on the ninth and tenth days. The difference of opinion of the scholars is indeed a mercy for those who believe.
Furthermore, leading up to New Years Eve (1 January), people, generally, begin to think about their life and some even make resolutions about how they will approach the new year and their work, health and relationships. Could I suggest that believers also use the beginning of the Islamic New Year to also make New Year’s resolutions? Instead of resolutions about material progression, the resolutions of a believer would and should be about one’s progression on the path of enlightenment and nearness to the Creator.
My suggestion would be that each person makes specific intentions for the year regarding; the amount of money one donates to charity, the amount of time one spends volunteering, the amount of time one wastes on idle pursuits (such as the internet, chatting, DVD’s and the like), memorizing verses of Quran or Prophetic traditions, making quality time to spend with family, assisting one’s mother and/or father, speaking well with one’s siblings, furthering Islamic knowledge, serving those less fortunate and thanking Allah for the all blessing and bounties for which He has bestowed upon us. In addition, it helps to write down intentions and to regularly review those intentions in order to fulfill those commitments to yourself.
I ask Allah to accept all our deeds for the previous year and to pardon all of our sins, I also ask Allah to make the upcoming year one of great prosperity and advancement for all who proclaim to submit to the Divine will of the Most Merciful Creator of all that is in existence.