Muharram: The Month of AllahFrom As-Sunnah Bimonthly Islamic NewsletterThe Islamic Year initiates with a sacred month – the month of Allah: Muharram
“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year) so was it ordained by Allah on the day, when he created the Heaven and the Earth; of them four are Sacred – that is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein….” [Soorah at-Tawbah (9): 36]The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “The year is of twelve months, four of which are sacred; three consecutive months Dhul-Qidah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab…”[Saheeh al-Bukharee] and he said: “The best of fast after Ramadaan is in the month of Allah – ‘Muharram’ and the best of prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer during night.” [Saheeh Muslim]The phrase ‘Allah’s month’ connecting the ‘month’ to the name of Allah is a grammatical structure, signifying the importance, status and adoration of this month with Allah. One should be very careful to avoid sins in this month because just as good deeds have a greater reward in this month, sins are in it more abominable. Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) commented about the (above-mentioned) verse “…so wrong not yourselves therein….” [Soorah at-Tawbah (9): 36] saying: “It is referred to all the months, but four months were singled out and made more sacred, violation of these months is a grave sin; sins committed during these months are more serious, and good deeds during these months will be more greatly rewarded.”
THE MOST VIRTUOUS DAY OF THIS MONTH
The most virtuous day of this month is the day of Ashoorah – the tenth of Muharram. It is reported in Saheeh al-Bukharee, when Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) came to Madeenah, he saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashoorah. He said: ‘What is this?’ They said: ‘This is the day when Allah saved Moosa from drowning, so we fast on this day.’ Then he said: “We have more right to Moosa than you.” So he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) fasted on this day and advised the Muslims to do the same.Also, Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) narrated: “When Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) observed the fast of the day of Ashoorah and ordered (the Sahabah) to fast, they said: “O Messenger of Allah! It is a day revered by Jews and Christians.” Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “The coming year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth (also).” [Saheeh Muslim, vol: 1, p: 359]
Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) also reported: “I never saw the Prophet more keen to fast on any day other than the day of Ashoorah and any month than the month of Ramadaan.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee]
The phrase ‘more keen’ of Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) indicates that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) looked forward to fast on the day of Ashoorah in order to earn the reward for doing so, he Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): “Fasting the day of Ashoorah, I hope will be an expiation of sins for the year before.” [Saheeh Muslim v: 1, p: 368]Thus, the day of Ashoorah is mercy from Allah and an opportunity for one to get his sins forgiven. It is recommended for the Muslim Ummah to fast both the tenth and the ninth of Muharram since Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) fasted the tenth and intended to fast the ninth. Another important thing to be understood here is that voluntary fasts are expiation for minor sin, as long as one completely refrains from major sins and is always cautious about minor sins. Some people who are deceived rely greatly on voluntary worships (like the day of Ashoorah or the day of Arafat) – to the extent that some of them say, fasting on Ashoorah will expiate for the sins of the whole year, and fasting on the day of Arafat will bring extra rewards.
One should bear in mind that fasting in Ramadaan and praying five times a day are much more important than fasting on the day of Arafat and Ashoorah. When the two things (performing the obligatory worships and avoiding the prohibitions) are put together, they have the strength to expiate for minor sins. Thus, the month of Muharram is a very sacred month. However, a number of innovations have been added to it based on false beliefs, extremism and ignorance, such that special gatherings are held, mourning and wailing, tearing one’s garments and grieving. Also, from the innovations is what people commemorate in this month as a celebration, like cooking special foods, buying the provision of the year on this day, etc.
The story behind these practices can be put in picture from the death of Husayn Ibn Ali (radhi allahu anhu) (the grandson of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). He was martyred by sinful and wrongdoers on the day of Ashoorah and this created a great tribulation among the people. It was because the Rafidhi group made an outwardly show of allegiance to the Ahl-e-Bayth (the Prophet’s (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) family), although inwardly they were either heretics or ignorant or disbelievers and bound by whims and desires.Another group were the Nasibi, who hated Ali (radhi allahu anhu) because of troubles and killings that had occurred between them. Both these groups were misguided.
It is reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “In (the tribe of) Thakeef, there will be a liar and an oppressor.” [Saheeh Muslim] The liar was al-Mukhtaar Ibn Abi Ubayd al-Thaqafi, who was a Rafidhi and he killed Ubayd Allah Ibn Ziyaad (the governor of Iraq), who had equipped the killers of Husayn Ibn Ali (radhi allahu anhu). This person proved to be a liar, when he claimed Prophet-hood and that Jibreel came to him with Divine revelation. As for the oppressor, he was al-Hajjaj Ibn Yoosuf al-Thaqafi, who was a Nasibi. A great fighting took place between these two groups and they both took different turns on the death of al-Husayn Ibn Ali (radhi allahu anhu) and they both went to extremes; one wailed and mourned in order to show their sorrow and the other rejoiced due to enmity and they both were wrong because of the following reasons:WHAT SHOULD ONE DO UPON HEARING THE NEWS OF DEATH?
Indeed, the death of al-Husayn Ibn Ali (radhi allahu anhu) was a tragic event in the Muslim history. However, it should be treated like any other tragedy. To commemorate a certain day or days of mourning is not sanctioned by Islam – such practices show ignorance. Islam teaches that when a disaster strikes or when one hears about a Muslim’s death, the believer should remind himself that all good and bad comes from Allah and he should bear the agony with patience and fortitude because Allah says: “Give glad tidings to al-Saabiroon (the patient ones), who when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.’ They are those upon whom are as-salawat (the blessings meaning who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are guided ones.” [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 155-157]
And the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) is reported to have said: “There is no man who suffers a calamity, and when he is remembered it, even if it is old, he says: ‘Inna lillahi wa Inna ilaihi raji’oon’ ‘Truly to Allah we belong and truly to Him we shall return.’ Allah will give him reward equal to the reward He gave him on the day he suffered the calamity.” [Musnad Ahmad and Ibn Majah]Hussain is the narrator of this report and it is communicated by Fatima (radhi allahu anha) who herself was present at Karbala. This is how Allah honors the believers, thus if the incident of al-Husayn’s (radhi allahu anhu) death is mentioned today after such long time and the believer says: “Truly to Allah we belong and truly to Him we shall return” then this would bring him reward.
But Shaytaan made the opposite attractive to those who are mislead; they grieve and wail, recite poems of grief and narrate stories filled with lies. Whatever truth there may be in these stories, they serves no purpose other than the renewal of their grief and sectarian feeling, and the stirring up of hatred and hostility among the Muslims and cause much trouble for the Ummah and also help the Kuffar by doing so.The second group, Nasibi and those who try to fight evil with evil, corruption with corruption, lies with lies and bid’ah with bid’ahs opposed the Rafidhi by fabricating reports in favor of making Ashoorah a day of celebration in order to indicate their stance. They perform special acts of worship, slaughter animals, wear kohl and henna, etc. These groups are equally misguided and guilty of inventing such practices; both of them are in error and their practices are equally undesirable. By such practices they have deprived themselves of fasting on the blessed day of Ashoorah, though fasting on this day is in agreement with the Sharee’ah. This is what Shaitaan intends that we be distracted from the right way and once he succeeds in his plan, it is immaterial for him which groups is joined by people as both ones are misguided.
Thus, both these groups go against the Sunnah, and our way is the way of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, because Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Those of you who live after my death will see many disputes. I urge you to adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of my rightly guided Caliphs who come after me. Hold onto it as if biting it with your teeth. Beware, of newly-innovated matters, for every innovation is a going astray.” And he said in his last sermon: “I leave behind me two things, the Qur’aan and my example, the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray.”Finally, we ask Allah to grant us the ability of sincerely worshiping Him and in accordance to the Sunnah of His beloved Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).