Saturday, September 7, 2019

On Muharram and Ashura Fasting

“Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve (lunar) months in the register of Allah (from) the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred (that is to say, Dhul-Qaddah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab): That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them.” (At-Tauba, 9:36).

The month of Muharram is one of the four holy months of Allah (swt). They are : Rajab, Dhul-Qaddah, Dhul-Hijjah, and Muharram. Obedience in these months brings more reward and disobedience multiplies punishment.

This is the only month of the year that the Prophet (pbuh) connected to the name of Allah (swt). He called it “The Holy Month of Allah” (Shahrullah al-Muharram).
The emigration (Hijra) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) from Mecca to Medina did not take place in this month as one would tend to believe. But it was in the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal. 

Taking the 10th day of Muharram as a mourning celebration because of the death of Al-Husayn ibn Ali (ra), is not in the Sunnah. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) never ordered his companions or his community (Ummah) to take the misfortunes of the prophets and their deaths as mourning (funeral) ceremonies. So what about those who were not [even] prophets?  Therefore, it is not allowed to take the 10th of Muharram as a day of sorrow and sadness to gather for this purpose. It is true that it is very sad and grieving what happened to the grandchild of our beloved Prophet (pbuh) and the son of Hazrat Ali (ra), the 4th Rightly-Guided Caliph (Khalifa-e-Rashida). But do not make mourning ceremonies. 

Today we can explain to young people who are not aware of this tragedy about the sacrifices and martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Husayn ibn Ali (ra), his family and his companions. This is a lesson for all Muslims until the Day of Judgment, and it would be good to explain to young people about this part of our history as Muslims so that we all become brave, pious, honest, sincere and valiant as Imam Husayn ibn Ali (ra).

The important point, as I told you, is that our beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never ordered his companions or his community to take the misfortunes of the prophets and their deaths as mourning ceremonies. If for the dead prophets, our beloved prophet (pbuh) did not give the instruction to perform such mourning ceremonies, then how is it that today Muslims have trampled this instruction/ teaching and have introduced many innovations (bidat) into the pure religion of Islam? 

Nowadays we find that at the death of a close person, a section of Muslims practice Khattam or Chalisma. And besides, they prepare dishes such as brianni and they invite the mullahs and others to come and read every day for forty days. These are innovations (bidat) that did not exist in Islam. There were no Urs for the Pirs, such as mourning/ funeral ceremonies and the construction of the Dargas (mausoleums) in their memory. Today these innovations have taken a worrying scale because these acts are synonymous with associations with Allah (the Shirk).

Some Muslims practice idolatry in a different form, addressing their prayers to dead people whom they believe can intercede on their behalf with Allah. It is not surprising either that when people of other religions, especially Hindus, see these practices, they approve of them and they too go to these Dargas because these are indeed their own practices and cultures that Hindus of yesteryears, after embracing Islam introduced into the pure religion of Islam. Instead of embracing the precepts of Islam in the right way, they introduced their own beliefs by mixing them with those of Islam to create another perception of Islamic practices and all of this is very condemnable in Islam. Allah, through His Book (the Qur’an) and His Messenger (Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh)) has condemned all these practices.

The pagans of Arabia used to worship idols, and then they had faith in one God. Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions with the help of Allah showed them the right way. But what happened after the death of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)? The Muslims were divided, and there was even a hideous person like Yazeed who dismembered the healthy body of Islam, and Hazrat Imam Al-Husayn (ra) represented that blessed body! So, all this is food for thought! Muslims have a duty to reflect on all this before leaving this world. How would they dare to show themselves to Allah when they practiced this kind of Shirk by believing that what they did was good?

The Fast of ASHURA

According to a Hadith narrated by Abdur Rahman ibn As-Sakhr (ra), the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: “The best fast after the fast of Ramadan is that of the holy month of Allah, Al-Muharram.” (Muslim)

We understand from this that it is strongly recommended to fast during the month of Muharram. And as you know, fasting is for Allah and not for another. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) before the revelation of the command to fast Ramadan used to fast the day of Ashura on the 10th day of the month of Muharram in thanks to Allah for the victory that Allah had granted to Hazrat Musa (as) on Pharaoh, the great tyrant of the history of humanity. May Allah (swt) curse this Pharaoh forever. Ameen.

Muslims have a higher right over Hazrat Musa (as) than Jews, because Muslims - those who absolutely respect all Islamic precepts - are the true heirs of the prophet Moses (as).

Abdullah ibn Abbas (ra) reports: “When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) arrived in Medina, he saw that the Jews were fasting on the day of Ashura. He asked them, ‘What is this fast?’ They answered, ‘It is a good day, it is the day when Allah (swt) saved the children of Israel from their enemy. Musa (as) therefore fasted that day. ‘The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) added: ‘I have more right than you over Musa.’ He then fasted that day and commanded us to do the same.” (Bukhari)

In short, when Hazrat Musa (as) left Egypt with his followers, Pharaoh followed him with his people, including notables, councilors, Copts, and so on. The two groups were soon within sight of each other. As Pharaoh and his men approached the disciples of Hazrat Musa (as), the fear of being joined and overtaken by the tyrant increased in their hearts. But Hazrat Musa (as) comforted his people as Allah informs us in the following verse:

“So they pursued them at sunrise. And when the two groups saw one another, the companions of Moses said, ‘Indeed, we are to be overtaken!’ [Moses] said, ‘No! Indeed, with me is my Lord; He will guide me.’ Then We inspired to Moses, ‘Strike with your staff the sea,’ and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain. And We advanced thereto the pursuers. And We saved Moses and those with him, all together. Then We drowned the others. Indeed in that is a sign, but most of them were not to be believers. And indeed, your Lord - He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful.” (Ash-Shu’ara 26: 61-69).

Finding that his death is very near, Pharaoh then attested his faith to the true Lord Whom he always denied. Unfortunately, it was too late for him. When the soul reaches someone’s throat, it becomes too late to repent and return to the truth. Allah (swt) says:

And We brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh with his hosts pursued them in rebellion and transgression, till, when the (fate of) drowning overtook him, he exclaimed: ‘I believe that there is no Allah save Him in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of those who surrender (unto Him).’ - ‘What! Now! When before that you have rebelled and been of the wrong-doers? Today We will preserve your corpse so that you may become an example for those who come after you. And surely most people are heedless of Our signs!’” (Yunus 10: 91-93).

Then the sea rejected him, so that he might become an eternal example for those who reflect (for the Ulul-al-Baab). Such is the consequence of the sins of a true dictator, unprecedented arrogant. Thus is the finality of injustice and tyranny. The punishment of the afterlife is even more painful and more enduring for him. Allah confirms this fact in His Blessed Book:

“So Allah protected him [Moses] from the evils they plotted, and the people of Pharaoh were enveloped by the worst of punishment - The Fire; they are exposed to it morning and evening; and on the day when the Hour is established (it will be said to the angels): ‘Make the people of Pharaoh enter the severest punishment.’” (Ghafir 40: 46-47).

So, to celebrate this victory, the Jews fasted that day. It is a noble act that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) approved. He not only approved it but put it into practice too.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also used to fast on the 9th of Muharram. Ibn Abbas (ra) recounted in another narration that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “If I live until next year, I will fast also the ninth (day of Muharram).” (Muslim)

So, he fasted the 9th and 10th of Muharram, and he even recommended fasting one day after the day of Ashura. He said, “Fast the day of Ashura, [and] counter the Jews by fasting also a day before or a day after.” (Ahmad)

The fast of Ashura expiates the small sins committed during the past year. (Muslim). We fast on that day to thank Allah (swt) and show our gratitude to Him (swt). Even the Quraish before the advent of Islam fasted on the day of Ashura. And later, after the revelation of Allah’s command to fast the month of Ramadan, that day of fasting (Ashura) became optional.

According to Hazrat Aisha (ra): “Ashura was a day of fasting for the Quraish in the pre-Islamic era. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) also observed this day of fasting. When he emigrated to Medina, he fasted the day of Ashura and ordered his companions to do so. Subsequently, when the fast of Ramadan was prescribed, he fasted only Ramadan and left that of Ashura. So, we are free to fast that day or not.” (Bukhari)

Thus the fasting of Ashura and that of the month of Muharram as a whole are optional and should in no way be associated with the death of Al-Husayn (ra) or other dead people on this day. We must thank Allah and ask Him to protect us continually against evil in all its forms.

And kindly remember in your duahs the wife of our Naib Amir Hariz Sahib of Kerala, Razia Sahiba who is very ill, and pray also for all our members who are ill, the men, women and children in the different countries – Comoros, Mayotte, etc. – and those who have sent me emails to pray for them.

May Allah (swt) give us mercy and favour us with a continual victory over His enemies and the enemies of Islam. Ameen, Summa Ameen, Ya Rabbul Aalameen.

On this end note, I wish all my followers and other Muslims around the world: Muharram Mubarak ! Naya Saal Mubarak !

 ---Friday Sermon of 06 September 2019_06 Muharram 1441 AH delivered by Imam- Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam Hadhrat Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.