MUHARRAM is the first month of the Islamic, Hijrah calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which Allah Ta’ala says, ‘The number of months in the sight of Allah are twelve (in a year) – So ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; Of them four are sacred: That is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves therein.’ (Surah Taubah).
The four months, according to authentic Ahaadith, are the months of Zhul-Qa`dah, Zhul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. The sanctity of these four months was observed in the Shari’ah of all the Ambiyaa (Prophets) (AS).
‘Allah Ta’ala made them (i.e. the four months) sacred and increased their sanctity. Hence declared a sin therein more severe and increased the virtue of good deeds and (also) the reward thereof.’ (Ibn Katheer).
THE MONTH OF MUHARRAM
The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadan is the fast during Allah’s month of Muharram and the best of Salaats besides the Fardh (obligatory Salaat) is the Tahajjud Salaah (performed after midnight). (Sahih Muslim).
THE DAY OF AASHURA (10th OF MUHARRAM)
The tenth of Muharram, known as the day of Aashura, is a very significant day in the Islamic calendar. The holy prophet Mohammed (SAW) has exhorted the Ummah to fast on this day. Hadhrat Aaisha (RA) reports that Nabi (SAW) ordered the observance of the fast of Aashura. However, when the fast of Ramadan became compulsory, Nabi (SAW) left the fast of Aashura (i.e. the compulsion). Thereafter, whosoever desired kept this fast and whosoever desired, (not to keep it) did not observe this fast’. ( Bukhari, Vol 1).
Ibn Abbaas (RA) says, ‘I did not see Rasulullah (SAW) anxiously await the fast of any day, which he gave preference to over other days, but this day (of Aashura) and the month of Ramadan ( Bukhari, Vol. 1).
VIRTUE OF THE FAST OF AASHURA
With regard to the blessing of this fast, Nabi (SAW) was asked regarding it’s virtue. He answered, ‘It is a compensation for the sins of the past year.’ i.e. the sins of one year that has just gone by will be forgiven. Muslim, Vol. 1).
Note: Only minor sins are forgiven. For the forgiveness of major sins, Towbah (repentance) is a prerequisite.
THE FAST OF AASHURA
Ibn Abbaas (RA) narrates that when Nabi (SAW) came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the day of Aashura, he inquired, ‘What is the significance of this day on which you fast?’ They replied, ‘This is the day Allah saved the prophet Moosa (AS) and his followers and drowned Fir’oun and his army, thus Moosa (AS) fasted on this day as a token of thanksgiving. Therefore we too fast on this day.’ ( Muslim, Vol 1).
Rasulullah (SAW) said, ‘We are more worthy of Moosa (AS) and nearer to him than you.’ Thereafter, he fasted on this day and ordered the Sahaabah (companions) to fast on this day. ( Muslim, Vol. 1)
Rasulullah (SAW) is reported to have said, ‘Observe the fast of Aashura and oppose (the way of) the Jews. Fast a day before it (also) or a day after it.’ (Baihaqi, Vol 4)
Hence, one should fast for two days: Either the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th. To fast only on the 10th of Muharram is MAKROOH (reprehensible) and bears semblance to the Jews.
GENEROSITY TO ONE’S FAMILY
Besides fasting on the day of Aashura, being generous to one’s family and spending more than what is normally spent on food, etc. is an act of great merit. It is mentioned in a Hadith, ‘He who will be generous to his family on the day of Aashura, Allah will be generous to him for the entire year.’
The day of Aashura is regarded by many people as the day of mourning the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Hussain (RA). To attribute the significance of Aashura to Sayyiduna Hussain (RA)’s martyrdom is totally baseless because the sanctity of Aashura is proven, beyond doubt, from the time of Rasulullah (SAW), whilst Sayyiduna Hussain (RA) was martyred fifty years after the holy prophet Mohammed (SAW) left this earthly abode. The fact that the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Hussain (RA) occurred on the Day of Aashura has absolutely no bearing on the significance of this day nor is the sanctity of this day derived from this event. On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyiduna Hussain (RA) that he was martyred on the Day of Aashura.
RESPECT WHAT ALLAH HAS HONORED, FOR VERILY TO HONOR THINGS DUE TO VIRTUE WHICH ALLAH HAS ACCORDED THEM IS AMONG THE TRAITS OF THE INTELLIGENT.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HIJRAH (Islamic Year)
A religion contains within itself entirely all that it needs for its later growth and development. The ‘Hijrah’ migration of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and those of his Sahaaba (companions) (Radhiyallaahuanhum) who were ‘the first to lead the way’ from Makkah Mukarramah to Madinah Munawwarah in order to settle down there was not only an important event but a turning point in the history of Islam which evidently contributed to the progress and generation of Islamic heritage.
Undoubtedly the Hijrah took place according to Allah Almighty’s Will; since the Prophet of Allah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) would take no such step except under Allah’s instructions in Whose Knowledge migration must have been the required course. In the eyes of the Muslims, the birth of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and forty years later, the beginning of the revelation of the Noble Qur’an were two events of singular importance but the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) signified neither of the events as the commencing epochs of a calendar reckoning. Before the Hijrah to Madinah Munawwarah, a number of companions of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) had migrated to Abyssinia and were there when the Hijrah took place. But the migration to Abyssinia too was not made the starting point of the Islamic calendar. Thus, after the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) having signified the beginning of the calendrical reckoning from Hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah). The second Khalifah, Hazrath Umar (Radhiyallaahuanhu) made it compulsory for the dates to be inscribed on all official correspondence.
Basically the Hijrah institutioned three important aspects of life: social, economics and political.
In the social aspect when the first revelation was made to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) a period of twelve (12) years was devoted by him to inculcate religion in the minds of individuals while no pattern of a collective life based on true religious concepts could be presented to the world. The situation in Makkah Mukarramah during the earlier part of the Prophet’s (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) career was that in a house-hold while the father was a believer, the son was an infidel, or the wife a believer and the husband an infidel. There were only a few houses where the entire family were Muslims. The status of the Muslim individuals in Makkah Mukarramah gave rise to the misconception that Islam, or believing in, the Noble and in the prophet was one’s personal affair; it pertained only to the hereafter and had nothing to do with collective life.
It was only after Hijrah that people began to see clearly that Islam is a way of life which pays attention to and reforms every facet of human existence, giving directions regarding almost every moment of one’s conscious time. The Hijrah also made the Arabs in particular, to see as to what was a Muslim house-hold and a Muslim society. Hence, only after this event the world could see the aspect of social decency and decorum under Islam.
A second reason for the importance of Hijrah is in view of its economic aspect. The economic effects were due to the permanent migration to Madinah Munawwarah by the Muslims. The matchless hospitality of the people of Madinah Munawwarah to the migrating Muslims, not only provided a shelter and a new peaceful home for the newcomers, but the Ansars (of Madinah) with a note-worthy passion of self-sacrifice accepted the incoming Muslims with great zeal and love. When after Hijrah, the companions and the followers of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) shifted from Makkah Mukarramah to Madinah Munawwarah, trade came into contact with agriculture and artisanship resulting in an economic revolution for the place. The migrants from Makkah having been taught and reformed by Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) himself for nearly 13 years, were not carefree and irresponsible men; they were God-fearing and righteous. The Ansars helped the migrants to the extent of being ready to divide all their belonging between themselves and the Muhaajirs. But the latter were not prepared to accept a status of mere idle dependants; so every one of them adopted ways and means to earn righteously for their own selves and did not like to be permanent burden on others.
Initially, the Muhaajirs worked as laborers in the fields and gardens and construction works. Later they, being traders, started small trading activities which brought them into an economic competition with the Jews of Madinah Munawwarah. One aspect of the economy revolution was that the Muhaajir traders paid the right price to the growers for their produce since Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) had forbidden the practice of acquiring products on reduced prices in return of loans given to the artisans or to the cultivators.
Thus, it was only after Hijrah that agriculture, industry and trade freely helped one another to bring about an integrated, balanced and unfettered economy for the Muslims.
The third reason which made the Hijrah a very important event is the political freedom for the Muslims. Before Hijrah the Muslims had no say in any matter, internal or external. They were a minority against whom the hearts of the majority were full of enmity – the Muslims were an insignificant part of a set of dominating unbelievers in Makkah Mukarramah.
The Hijrah made the Muslims masters of their internal affairs, external relations and matters relating to war and peace. There was great understanding among the Muslims, for instance, in case a difference occurred between the Muslims and non-Muslims, the final decision was to be made by the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). This showed that an autonomous Muslim set up was coming into existence. This was a beginning of a city-state which, within the life-time of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) or within a period of ten (10) years, expanded so as to encompass the entire Arabian peninsula. It is thus evident that the event of Hijrah turned a few hundred persons into a highly successful society. The expansion of Muslim dominations during the following centuries is a historical record. All this was possible due to the shaping of events as the result of Hijrah.
Source: Jamiatul Ulama (JHB) & Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)
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