Muharram – A Month of Rewards and Hope

Muharram – A Month of Rewards and Hope

The month of Muharram marks the Hijrah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ from Makkah to Madinah – to new beginnings – to the glory of Islam.

It also marks Allah helping Prophet Musa عليه السلام and his people when they were being chased by Pharaoh in the most impossible of conditions. There was certain death in front and behind them, all hope lost and despair everywhere. Then the impossible happened and the help of Allah arrived for the promise of Allah is never false nor late. It has perfect timing. A path forward opened which none could have imagined in their wildest dreams. Yet for Allah it’s as easy as, “كُنْ فَيَكُونُ” – “Be, and it is”

The Sahaba left everything they had and followed their Prophet ﷺ just like Bani Israel followed Musa عليه السلام. What separates the two groups and their imminent success/destruction was their adherence to the command of their Prophet.

The times might have changed, the people might have changed, the Pharaoh of the times might have changed but Allah remains The Most Powerful and Ever in Command. If tawakkul (complete faith in Allah) can part the Red Sea, then how big are our problems in comparison?

What is Muharram?

The blessed month of Muharram is the first month of the Hijri calendar and is one of the four sacred months concerning which Allah Almighty says:

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِندَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَقَاتِلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ كَافَّةً كَمَا يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ كَافَّةً وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ

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 the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous (who fear Him).
[Surah At-Tawbah, 36]

Ibn Abbas said that this phrase – “so do not wrong yourselves during them…” referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.

Just like when it’s the time for a sale or let’s take into account the latest launch of Apple’s iPhone, people went absolutely crazy. Standing in line for hours at an end, spending enough money on a single mobile that could feed so many poor families as a whole. Now we don’t say that this is wrong and we shouldn’t enjoy the blessings that Allah has bestowed us with.

The point that I am trying to get across here is that this month of Muharram is a blessing from Allah to us. It is in this month that we should rake in as many rewards as we can. Take full advantage of Allah’s rewards and mercy which get doubled and tripled by His will in this blessed month.  When we increase the degree of our worship Allah will increase his “promotions” for us. No, this is one plus I can confidently say that we won’t be duped by the Before-After sale scam. If we go in this month wanting to please Allah, the rewards will be magnified to numbers we can only imagine. This right here is one promotional offer we cannot afford to miss out. The awesome part being if you tell others about this promotion and they come to it, then whatever good they do, you also get a reward for it as if you did it yourself. I mean how cool is that? At the same time we must avoid sinning also, because the degree of punishment increases or intensifies as well.

We see the wisdom of Allah by selecting these months in the words of Al-Izz ibn Abdus-Salaam who said that Allah makes certain times and placed sacred or blessed in order to encourage his servants for righteous deeds and bestow a greater reward for them. [Qawaa’id Al-Ahkaam]. Such is our Rabb, The Most Merciful, The Most High.

We know the Hijri calendar is pinned to the Hijra, but how did Muharram become the first month of the year when the Hijra itself took place in Rabi’ al-Awwal?

The idea of counting the year’s was Umar Ibn al-Khattab’s رضي الله عنه idea. The idea of pinning it to the Hijra was from Ali Ibn Abi Talib رضي الله عنه. Now when the year was chosen they realized they needed to pick a month to start the year with. It was Uthman bin Affan رضي الله عنه who said we all come back from Hajj and start our records anew, so let’s make Dhul Hijjah the final month of the year. And therefore Muharram became the first month of the year.

Among the proposals given to Ameer ul-Mu’mineen Umar ibn al-Khattab رضي الله عنه to start the new calendar were:

  1. Adopt the Persian calendar
  2. Adopt the Roman calendar
  3. Begin from the date of the demise of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
  4. Begin from the date of the first revelation.
  5. Begin from the migration of Muslims from Makkah to Madinah.
  6. Begin from the birth of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

The Caliph, Umar Ibn al-Khattab رضي الله عنه was inclined to choose the date of the Hijrah because it is known when it occurred, and the Sahaba al-Kiraam agreed with him.’’ [al-Bidayah wa’n-Nihayah, 3/251-253]

So What Can We Do?

1. Fasting

Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The best month for observing Saum (fasting) next after Ramadan is the month of Allah, the Muharram; and the best Salah next after the prescribed Salah is Salah at night (Tahajjud prayers).” [Muslim].

Imam al-Suyuti said: “I was asked as to why Muharram is singled out as the ‘month of Allah’ from the rest of the months, although other months have equal merit or even more than it, such as Ramadan. I found the following answer: for this is an Islamic name unlike the rest of the months, for their names were there during the times of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance). As for the name Muharram it was known as Safar al-Awwal during Jahiliyyah, after it was Safar al-Thani. When Islam came Allah called it Muharram, so it was attributed to Allah because of this consideration.”

In a month which is beloved to Allah, our beloved Messenger ﷺ gave us another good news;

Abu Qatadah reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was asked about observing the fast on the tenth day of Muharram, and he replied, “It is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year.” [Muslim].

Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “If I remain alive till the next year, I shall also observe fast on the ninth of Muharram.”[Muslim]

Narrated Ibn Abbas: I never saw the Prophet ﷺ seeking to fast on a day more (preferable to him) than this day, the day of ‘Ashura, or this month, i.e. the month of Ramadan. [Bukhari]

Abu Uthman an-Nahdi said, “The Pious Predecessors and Successors used to venerate three sets of tens: The first ten (days) of Muharram, the first ten (days) of Dhul-Hijjah, and the last ten (days) of (the blessed month of) Ramadan. [Ad-Durar al-Manthur]

Fasting is one of those acts which are very dear to Allah. This is an act about which Allah doesn’t specify any reward but just says that he will take care of it as it is done solely for him We can let our imagination run amok and still fail to fathom just how brilliantly Allah will bless the one who fasts to please Allah.

2. Give Charity

Giving charity is one of the best things we can do. As we know everything we do is being multiplied by Allah in our accounts. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه الله stated in Madarij Al-Salikeen: “If those who give Sadaqah [charity] knows that their Sadaqah falls on Allah’s Hand before the hand of the poor, then surely, the joy of giving would be more than the joy of receiving.”

So why pass on such an offer. This is an investment which will surely reap tons and tons of good. So go ahead, don’t hold back and give charity like mad.

The Ulema of the Hanabila say that people in the month of Muharram should generously spend on their dependents (family).

It is narrated on the authority of Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-As that he said, “Whoever fasts on the 10th of Muharram, it is as though he has fasted the entire year. And whoever gives charity on this day, it is like the charity of an entire year.” [Recorded by Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali in his Lata’if al-Ma’arif from Abu Musa al-Madini]

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ is reported to have said, “One who generously spends on his family on the 10th of Muharram, Allah will be generous on him for the entire year.” [Recorded by Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali in his Lata’if al-Ma’arif from Tabarani in his al-Awsat and Al-Bayhaqi in his Shu’ab al-Iman]

Ibn Mansur asked Imam Ahmad رحمه الله, “Do you know of a Hadith that says, ‘One who generously spends on his family on the day of ‘Ashurah, Allah will be generous to him for the entire year.’”

He replied, “Yes. It was narrated by Sufyan Ibn ‘Uyaynah from Ja’far al-Ahmar from Ibrahim Ibn Muhammad Ibn al-Muntashir – who was one of the best people of his time – that the following had reached him: ‘One who generously spends on his family on the day of ‘Ashurah, Allah will be generous to him for the entire year.’”

Sufyan Ibn Uyaynah رحمه الله said, “I have practiced this for fifty or sixty years and have found nothing but good in it.”

It also said that Jabir رضي الله عنه said, “We have practiced this and found it to be so.” Abu al-Zubair and Shu’bah رضي الله عنهم have also said the same.

It should be noted that although there is a difference of opinion about the authenticity of the chains of the hadith at hand. Both these narrations are considered dhaif (weak) with problems in each chain that narrates this. Those who deem it weak include Imam Ahmad, Imam al-Daraqutni, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim, Imam Ibn Taymiyah, Imam Tabarani, Sheikh al-Albani etc.

Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “In one of the famous athar is from the narration of Ibrahim bin Muhammad al-Muntashir from his father who said  – “it has reached us that” –  this  “reaching”  is broken and  it is not known who said it and it was most likely fabricated when trouble appeared between the rafidhis (shia) and the nasibis and when they (raafidah) took the day of Ashura as the day of mourning,  the nasibis put these sayings (athaar) which require to spend on this day (on oneself and family) and be taken as a celebration (eid) – and both of them (mourning & celebrating) are from falsehood. [Iqtida Sirat al-Mustaqim 2/132]

On the other hand, these narrations have been authenticated by Imam al-Suyuṭi. Imam al-Kurdi graded this as hasan in al-Hawashi al-Madaniyyah. Imam al-Bayhaqi strengthened this tradition considering the multiplicity of chains. Imam al-Haskafi authenticated it in al-Durr al-Mukhtar, and likewise Imam Ibn Abidin in Radd al-Muhtar.

End of the day, it’s best not to depend on these narrations or propagate them. As for charity in general, all four madhaib are in agreement that generosity and increased spending on the family on the day of ʿAshurah is an encouraged practice.

3. Dhikr

We already know how by doing Dhikr we get so many rewards. By doing dhikr in this month just makes the math a lot more complicated and the rewards way more easier and abundant. Just keep in mind the multiplication part and you will be boosted to do it. This has got to be the easiest way to earn rewards. We can literally do it anywhere and everywhere. Let’s have a quick look at some amazing deals.

سُبْحَانَ للّهِ x 100 times = 1000 Rewards Added/1000 sins removed [Muslim]

سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ = A date palm is planted for him/her in Jannah. [Tirmidhi] (So much for FarmVille huh?)

سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ x 100 = Sins forgiven even if they were like the foam in the sea. [Bukhari]

لاَ إِ لَـٰهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَحْـدَ هُ لاَ شَـرِيْكَ لَـهُ ، لَـهُ الْمُـلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْـدُ ، وَهُـوَ عَلَـى كُلِّ شَـيْ ءٍ قَدِ يْرٌ  = Reward as given for manumitting ten slaves + 100 Good Deeds + 100 Sins Deducted + Shield for him from Shaitan on that day till night [Bukhari]

One has to only glance at a day in the blessed life of our beloved Rasul ﷺ and we will find so many more words of dhikr to beautify our day, hearts and souls.

4. Visit The Sick/Orphans

This will be a huge Iman booster and will make you realize and thank Allah for His blessings upon you and around you. Having a family that is in good health is also a very important blessings that we take for granted a lot of the time.


5. Uphold Family Ties

Might be tough for some but hey you get rewarded for talking to that uncle so why not. Take this time to be very good and dutiful to your parents and ask them to make dua for you. The dua of parents is a luxury which many don’t enjoy. Cherish and treasure it while you can. Allah loves those who are dutiful to their parents and if the parents are happy, then Allah is also happy with His slave.


6. Smile

While you are out there meeting family and friends, might as well smile. Just a small smile from you could liven up the day of your brother and change their mood for the better. Not just that, it also instills a sense of confidence and support within the person. Plus with all the stuff happening around us in the world, we definitely need a lot more smiles.


7. Reading the Quran

Mathematically speaking from a rewards perspective, reading the Quran is the best thing we can do. For every letter of a word in the Quran we get 10 rewards. Just imagine finishing the Quran and then Allah multiplies it for us out of his bounty. Sitting and actually calculating the rewards is worthless as we cannot put a cap or a number on the rewards Allah bestows upon His slave. Iqra!


8. Sunnah

Try fulfilling as many Sunnah acts as possible. This is highly pleasing to Allah as we imitate and copy the acts done by our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to please Allah. There is a reason he was sent to us and is the Best of Examples.

Another very important aspect would be to teach the people and especially the children and the teenagers the Seerah of the Prophet ﷺ. Many are hesitant and gloss over our history which speaks about what lead to the Battles of Jamal and Siffeen, the Battle of Karbala, the martyrdom of Hussain رضي الله عنه and the Ahlul Bayt in general. This is an approach which has a very bad long term impact on the upcoming generation. If they don’t learn it from us and the balanced scholars, they will the hear the twisted versions of it from the Shia and other misguided sects which will lead to many doubts and controversies.

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. So what is so special about this day?

Different Stages of the Fasting of Ashura

Level 1

The Makkans used to take the 10 of Muharram as a day of sanctity. Something from the remnant teachings of Prophet Nuh or Ibrahim must have reached them regarding it. The Quraysh used to change the coverings of the Kabah on the 10 of Muharram and the Prophet ﷺwould fast this day both before and after attaining Prophethood.

Aishah said: The Quraysh used to fast on the day of Ashurah in pre Islamic days. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ would fast on it in pre-Islamic period. [Abu Dawud]

Level 2

When the Prophet ﷺ migrated to Madinah, the Prophet ﷺ found that the Jews were also fasting the 10 of Muharram.

Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet (ﷺ) came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He asked them about that. They replied, “This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued Bani Israel from their enemy. So, Musa fasted this day.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “We have more claim over Moses than you.” So, the Prophet fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast (on that day).[Bukhari]

Fasting the day of Ashurah used to be an obligation and the sahaba would train their children to fast it as well. The Prophet ﷺ used to send out messengers informing the people to fast.

Narrated Salama bin Al-Akwa`: Once the Prophet (ﷺ) ordered a person on Ashura to announce, “Whoever has eaten, should not eat any more, but fast, and who has not eaten should not eat, but complete his fast (till the end of the day). [Bukhari]

Level 3

When the fasting of Ramadan was prescribed in 2AH and it became an obligation, the fasting on Ashurah became a recommendation.

Aishah reported that when fasting during the month of Ramadan was made obligatory the Prophet ﷺ said: “He who wishes to observe this fast may do so, and he who wishes to abandon it may do so.” [Muslim] This 9th day is called Tasu’a.

Alqama reported that Ash’ath b. Qais went to Ibn Mas’ud while he was eating on the day of Ashura. Thereupon he said: Abu Abd al-Rahman, it is the day of Ashura (and you are eating). Upon this he said: Fast was observed on (this day) before the (fasting) in Ramadan was made obligatory, but when it was made obligatory, (fasting on the day of Ashura) was abandoned. So if you are not fasting, then take food. [Muslim]

Level 4

The last stage of this was after Fath Makkah when Allah revealed the ayat of the completion of the religion. The Prophet ﷺ was ordered to inform the people about not imitating or likening their actions to that of the disbelievers as Islam was unique.

Ibn Umar narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “He who imitates any people (in their actions) is considered to be one of them.” [Abu Dawud].

From this we see that the Prophet ﷺ was commanded to differentiate his actions and not fast solely on the 10th of Muharram like the Jews did exclusively.

Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) had said: “If I live till the next (year), I would definitely observe fast on the 9th, and the narration transmitted by Abu Bakr is: “He meant the day of Ashura.” [Muslim]

This was specific to the development of the fast of Ashurah on the 10 of Muharram. As for general fasting, our Sheikh, Ibrahim Nuhu حفظه الله stated, “Fasting went through 3 stages:

1. Maintaining the order prescribed upon the earlier nations. They had to fast 3 days every month. In addition to this, once the Prophet ﷺ reached Madinah, fasting Ashura (10 Muharram) also became an obligation. These are among the Sunnan now instead of an obligation.

2. Revelation of the Ayat of Ramadan:

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

3. The month of Ramadan (is that) in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and (wants) for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that (to) which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. [Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 125]

This Ayah abrogated the first stage. Now, it was obligatory upon the Muslims to fast but they were given an option. They could either fast or feed the needy instead. This option was removed and fasting became obligatory upon everyone except those with a genuine excuse.

4. The people couldn’t eat once they had slept. This caused a lot of hardship to the companions of the Prophet ﷺ. Allah revealed the ayah:

أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَائِكُمْ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَخْتَانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنكُمْ فَالْآنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ وَلَا تُبَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمْ عَاكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ

It has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your wives [for sexual relations]. They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He accepted your repentance and forgave you. So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you. And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. Then complete the fast until the sunset. And do not have relations with them as long as you are staying for worship in the mosques. These are the limits [set by] Allah , so do not approach them. Thus does Allah make clear His ordinances to the people that they may become righteous. [Surah al-Baqarah, Ayah 187]

This brought the fasting of Ramadan the way we know of today.”

Narrated Ibn Abbas: When the Prophet ﷺ arrived at Madinah, the Jews were observing the fast on Ashurah and they said, “This is the day when Musa became victorious over Pharaoh,” On that, the Prophet ﷺ said to his companions, “You (Muslims) have more right to celebrate Musa’s victory than they have, so observe the fast on this day.” [Al-Bukhari]

After this we see another narration from Ibn Abbas who said, “I never saw the Messenger of Allah ﷺ so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other time than the day of ‘Ashurah’ and the month of Ramadan.” [Al-Bukhari]

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Fasting the day of ‘Ashura’, I hope, will expiate for the sins of the previous year.” [Muslim]

Things just seem to get better and better now doesn’t it. Till now our good deeds were getting multiplied. Allah being The Most Generous told us that fasting on this day would erase a WHOLE years worth of minor sins. Sheikh Bilal Ismail حفظه الله highlight an important point. It is not a given that those fasting will by default be forgiven. It depends on Allah’s acceptance. We should ask Allah not only for the tawfique to fast but also to accept the fast.

Another important narration in this regard is from Abdullah Ibn Abbas who said, “When the Messenger of Allah ﷺ fasted on Ashurah and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, `O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, `If I live to see the next year, InshaAllah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ passed away before the next year came.” [Muslim]

It is recommended to fast the ninth in addition to the tenth of Muharram to mark a difference from the practice of the Jews. Sheikh Bilal Ismail حفظه الله elaborates and states, “We have our own identity, sets of values and beliefs. There is no harm in standing out, rather it is something to be proud of. We do not blindly follow whatever they practice. A little bit of action gets a mighty reward from Allah. Allah wants to give us the opportunity to change. It is up to us to decide now.”

Controversies

A Day of Mourning?

The Shia dampen the mood of the Blessed Month of Muharram and instead of celebrating the mercy of Allah, they take it as a month of mourning on the martyrdom of Hussain رضي الله عنه.

So many people take it to be a month where marriages etc are impermissible as it is a month of mourning. This is completely baseless and an innovation. A principle needs to be understood here. If the Shariah has not singled out a day to be a day of religious mourning (or evil), no incident in the world can make it into a day of mourning. There is no day of mourning or evil in the Shariah of Muhammad. If the Shariah has not singled out a day to be a day or religious celebration (Eid), no incident in the world can make it into a day of Eid. No death or birth is to bring something new into the religion.

The pages of Islamic History are filled with the blood of the martyrs. Should we begin to mourn the martyrdom of the sahabah alone, every other day would be a day of mourning. Thus, to attribute the significance of Ashurah to the martyrdom of Hussain رضي الله عنه is baseless. In fact it was a blessing of Allah upon him that he was granted martyrdom is this blessed month. Therefore, the host of baseless customs with regard to his martyrdom must be discarded. There are two extremes and both are to be rejected. One side that makes it a month of mourning (Shia) and those that make it a month of widespread celebration (Nasibi and Khawarij). The Ummah stays in the middle and does not exaggerate in either.

If martyrdom was to be taken as a day of mourning, then so many Prophets of Allah were killed by their people, Hamza ibn al-Mutallib was mutilated and martyred, Umar ibn al-Khattab was stabbed and assassinated (1 Muharram), Uthman Ibn Affan was brutally assassinated, Ali Ibn Abi Talib was assassinated, and likewise other sahaba who are documented to have a higher rank than that of Hussain. We do not see the Prophet ﷺ or his companions mark their martyrdom with days of mourning or anything remotely similar.

Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah comments, “Since Hasan and Hussain are the leaders of the youth of Jannah, and were born after the Hijrah in the period of the domination of Islam, they did not face the difficulties and hardships that the righteous people faced before them. Therefore Allah bestowed favours upon (Hasan and Hussain) as He willed and wished, through trials so that the ranks of both of them may be elevated.  And that was out of their honour and respect and not out of their disgrace, just as Allah honoured Hamza, Ali, Jafar, Umar and Uthmaan and others through martyrdom. [Raas Al Hussain]

Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury حفظه الله once asked a Shia, “Why do you beat yourself and mourn?” The man replied that they mourn at the death of al-Hussain. The Sheikh further pushed him and said, “Why do you mourn, when without a doubt Hussain is in Jannah. Not only is he in Jannah, but he is of the leaders in Jannah as the Prophet ﷺ described to us. The Shia and the Sunnis agree on this that Hussain is of the People of Jannah.”

We need to remember the teachings of our Prophet ﷺ, who even taught us the Adab of mourning, “It is not lawful for a Muslim woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for more than three days, except for her husband, for whom she should mourn for four months and ten days.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

Cursing The Sahaba (Tabarra)

These days are marked by cursing cursing and spreading lies against the sahaba of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. The prime targets are our mother Aisha, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and Umar al-Faruq رضي الله عنهم. Our mothers stature is cemented in the Quran and will be recited till the Day of Judgement. Imam Ahmad said that anyone who insults Abu Bakr, Umar or Aishah is not considered a Muslim.

Overall, Allah says in the Quran,

وَالسَّابِقُونَ الأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالأَنصَارِ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحْسَانٍ رَّضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُواْ عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي تَحْتَهَا الأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ذَلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ‏

And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun and the Ansar, and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success. [Surah Tawbah, 100]

Cursing and speaking ill of the sahaba is speaking ill of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ. It indicates that the Prophet ﷺ wasn’t intelligent enough to surround himself with the right people, or he was not good enough to give them tarbiyah and rectify them, and that Allah Allowed His Messenger ﷺ to be surrounded by such people and Allowed the religion to be preserved and transmitted through them. Ajeeb!

Narrated Abu Saeed al-Khudri: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Do not abuse my companions for if any one of you spent gold equal to Uhud (in Allah’s Cause) it would not be equal to a Mud or even a half Mud spent by one of them.” [Bukhari]

1 Mudd = 2 Handfulls or approximately 510 to 750 grams. Such is the monumental and gigantic status of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ. If this is what the Prophet ﷺ has mentioned about his companions in general, then what about:
– The People of Badr,
– Muadh Ibn Jabal: On whose death, the Arsh of Allah shook,
– The 10 Promised Paradise,
– The Wives of the Prophet ﷺ

The esteemed Sheikh, Dr. Abdul Kareem al Khudayr said, “The background of this hadith being that there was once an altercation that broke out between Khalid Ibn al-Waleed and Abdur Rahman Ibn Awf and in due course, Khalid reviled Abdur Rahman. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said while addressing Khalid ibn Waleed: ” Do not abuse my companions!”

He ﷺ said this statement to Khalid ibn Waleed, and Khalid (as we know) was someone through whom Allah aided Islam! This shows how mighty the station and status of all companions is! If the Prophet ﷺ can get upset and reprimand a companion when abuse occurs between the companions themselves , then how about when a non-sahabi does the same (ie curses the companions) while having no weight in Islam?”

In another narration, Ibn Umar reported: The Prophet ﷺ said, “The curse of Allah is upon the one who insults my companions.” [al-Mu’jam al-Awsaṭ]

It was narrated that al-Bara’ said: I heard the Prophet ﷺsay: “The Ansar: no one loves them but a believer and no one hates them but a hypocrite. Whoever loves them, Allah will love him, and whoever hates them, Allah will hate him.” [Bukhari]  

They also try to show – as though the Blessed Family of the Prophet ﷺ hated these two men. You want to know the status of these 2 men? See where they are buried today and who is their neighbour.

Imam al-Awza’i said: “Whoever curses Abu Bakr has apostatized from his religion and his blood is halal.” [Ibanah as-Sughra] Why did he make such a strong statement? Because anyone who curses Abu Bakr has rejected the Quran and gone against it.

Imam Abu Zar’ah al-Razi said: “If you see a man criticizing one of the companions of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, then know that he is a heretic.”

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: “If you see a man mentioning one of the companions of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ in a bad way, then call his Islam into question.”

Imam al-Dhahabi writes: “The person who speaks in bad terms or curses the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ, is deemed to have left the fold of Islam. He is cut off from the group of the Muslims due to this action. If he seeks to attribute a fault to the Companions of the Prophet, he is considered a Munafiq (hypocrite)’. [Al-Kabair]

Asim al-Ahwal narrates that Abul Aliyyah said explaining the Ayah – اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ – Guide us to the Straight Way – “That it is the Nabi ﷺ and his two Companions, Abu Bakr and Umar. Asim said I mentioned this to Hasan (Al-Basri) and he said: “Abu’l Aliyah spoke & advised with the truth.” (Imam al-Marudhi, al-Sunnah] Abul Aliyah was a senior successor who was born during the time of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ but accepted Islam during the reign of Abu Bakr. He was considered the most knowledgeable on the Quran after the Sahabah. (Siyar 4:208)

Here’s a family tree of the Family of Ali رضي الله عنه showing just how much love they had for Abu Bakr and Umar. If anyone deserves to be called the Shia of Ali or the Shia of Ahlul Bayt, without a doubt it is Ahlus Sunnah.

Ali x Fatima Family Tree
Ali x Fatima Family Tree

Ali x Other Wives Family Tree
Ali x Other Wives Family Tree

Narrated Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiya: I asked my father (Ali bin Abi Talib), “Who are the best people after Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) ?” He said, “Abu Bakr.” I asked, “Who then?” He said, “Then `Umar. ” I was afraid he would say “Uthman, so I said, “Then you?” He said, “I am only an ordinary person. [Bukhari]

Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqir said: “Whoever doesn’t know the virtue of Abū Bakr and ‘Umar رضي الله عنهما is surely ignorant of the Sunnah.”[Abu Nu’aym in al-Hilyah]

It was narrated from al-Hasan bin Zaid bin Hasan: My father told me, from his father, that Ali said: I was with the Prophet (ﷺ) when Abu Bakr and Umar (رضي الله عنهما) came and he said: `O Ali, these two are the leaders of the middle aged people of Paradise and its youth, after the Prophet (ﷺ) and Messengers.” [Ahmad]

Narrated Ibn Abbas: When (the dead body of) Umar was put on his deathbed, the people gathered around him and invoked (Allah) and prayed for him before the body was taken away, and I was amongst them. Suddenly I felt somebody taking hold of my shoulder and found out that he was Ali bin Abi Talib. Ali invoked Allah’s Mercy for Umar and said, “O Umar! You have not left behind you a person whose deeds I like to imitate and meet Allah with more than I like your deeds. By Allah! I always thought that Allah would keep you with your two companions, for very often I used to hear the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, ‘I, Abu Bakr and Umar went (somewhere); I, Abu Bakr and Umar entered (somewhere); and I, Abu Bakr and Umar went out.”‘ [Bukhari]

Our Sheikh, Dr. Ibrahim Nuhu said, “Most of the people who talk and fight are ignorant of their religion. Their religion is based on a very shaky foundation. Try and detach them from their deviated sources. Many a times when we tell them what their own books teach, they will be shocked. For such people, don’t mention any other names. Teach them by referencing everything to the Sunnah and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and you will see good results InshaAllah.

The sahaba are one entity. You cannot separate them where you love a group from them and hate another. Show such people the love and respect that the sahaba had among themselves. Umar married into the house of Ali. Ali named his children after Abu Bakr and Umar. If they were against each other then would they act like this? If a person curses the sahaba and speaks bad of them, then in reality they are accusing Allah of not choosing good companions for His Messenger ﷺ. It is an insult to the Prophet ﷺ himself that he did not keep good company in his life. Even culturally, we know that if you want to know about a person, you look at his friends.

In reality, this is a way such evil people are trying to attack the Sunnah. If the sahaba fall, the Sunnah falls, as the Sunnah has reached us only through the service of the sahaba. It is enough for anyone and everyone to know that Allah, the All Knowing has mentioned in the Quran that He is Pleased with the sahaba.”

Attributing Divinity to Hussain

People also call upon Hussain رضي الله عنه in dua and set him up in a divine position. But Hussain is free from all this. When he left Madinah, he had tawakkul on Allah alone. When he was in Makkah, he had tawakkul on Allah alone. When he arrived at Kufa, he invoked Allah to help him against the tyrants. When he was in Karbala, standing against the enemies, he was supplicating to Allah alone to grant him power and patience. When his children were martyred, he praised Allah on their sacrifices. When he entered the battlefield, he asked Allah to help him with his blessed sword. He set an example for this Ummah that a Monotheist will prostrate only to Allah whatever the situation is.

He didn’t invoke anyone other than Allah to help him in his fight against falsehood. There is no report from any group that Hussain invoked the Prophet ﷺ, his father Ali, his mother Fatima, his brother Hasan رضي الله عنهم in the battlefield. Salutations to the martyr of Karbala, the grandson of Prophet ﷺ, the chief of the youth of Paradise, the preacher of Tawheed.

Carrying Out Processions, Self Flagellations, and Building Domes (Taziya)

Taziya originally means condolence or expression of grief. In Persia, it used to depict and reenact the martyrdom of Hussain and in India it used to refer to mourning processions that carried miniature mausoleums (intended to depict Karbala) across the streets and buried on the 10th. This practice was a gift from India to the Shia.

Another origin story that seems to be more established is that this practice was established by the evil Mongol King Taimur, also called Timur the Lame or Tamerlane as he was paralysed from the right side fo the body. Taimur Lang used to visit shrine of Hussain in Baghdad every year during Muharram. In 1398-99 A.D. (800-801 A.H.) he was unable to visit the shrine due to his invasion in India where he eventually overthrew Muhammad Shah Tughlaq in Delhi. He ordered to make a replica of shrine, so that he could perform the rituals. To appease him some mud from Karbala was brought and due to the shortage of time, the replica was made by bamboo and papers in 801 AH. Looking at this, Sultans in the Awadh region and those around Delhi also started imitating this practice. Likewise to appease these rulers, their followers and subjects (Muslims and non-Muslims) also started making a fanfare out of it till this practice spread across the lands. Since then this practice called ‘taziadari‘ came into existence.

This practice was continued in the time of the Mughal rulers as well. Sheikh Maqsood ul Hassan Faizi explained – Starting from the first Mughal Emperor Babur to the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and also the last powerful Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb there was only one Shia Emperor, and his name was Nasir-ud-din Muhammad better known as Humayun. He became a Shia as he sought help from the Persian Empire to regain his kingdom. After gaining victory in India via Persian help, some of Humayun’s family members were married off to Shia women. In Persia or Iran, on the 10th of Ashura, people used to come to mourn at the grave of Hussain. Coming to Iran on a yearly basis was not feasible so they started making taziya and replica graves or domes and mourn similar to the way in Iran to commemorate the Day of Karbala.

As the years went by, many things kept getting added into it.  The people were influenced heavily by Hindu ceremonies and aped them. The Hindu festival of Dusshera (a holiday marking the triumph of Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, over the 10-headed demon king Ravana,) was celebrated for 10 days, and so these Muslims also started celebrating and carrying out processions for 10 days in Ashura. Just like there is a fight depicted in Hindu beliefs and stories of Ramlila, they depicted the fight of Karbala here.

Even the Shia in the Arab lands wrote that such was unheard of for them and it originated in India. Seeing the success and the crowds that such things pulled, it was adopted by Shias around the globe as well. Participating in such processions is completely impermissible and a grave sin as these taziya are venerated, worshipped, and called upon. Other than the grave sin of shirk, it is the epitome of imitating and propagating the practices of the disbelievers.

Self-flagellation is another very infamous practice associated with Muharram. Sheikh Ebn Husssein writes in detail on this practice, a few points from which to shed light on this are – It is a form of devotional practice of flogging oneself with whips or other instruments that inflict pain as a sign of remorse or repentance. This is completely impermissible in Islam. Self-flagellation rituals are said to be first found practiced among the members of several Greco- Roman and Egyptian cults and the Sparta Arthemis Orthia. The cult of Isis in Egypt and the Dionysian cult of Greece practiced flagellation. Women were flogged during the Roman Lupercalia to ensure fertility. Self-punishment in the form of self-flagellation known as the mortification of the flesh in Christianity has its origins in fourth-century Europe and was a common practice until the medieval era. Mortification of the flesh is undertaken in order to repent for sins and share in the Passion of Jesus and the imitation of his suffering and death by alleged crucifixion, similar to how self-flagellation is understood in Shi’ism as a means to imitate saint Hussain in bleeding and to share some of his pain. Hindus have a number of self-punishment rituals and festivals such as Garudan Thookkam and Thaipusam.

Although not all Shias practice extreme forms of self-harming and Self-flagellation rituals such as Tatbir/Qameh Zani (the striking of one’s head with blades, swords, knives, etc.) or Zanjeer Zani with blades (repeatedly striking the back with a chain of blades), yet a number of major ‘Ayatollahs’ of Qom, Iran, do sanctify, condone and encourage extreme self-harming rituals, even on infants! And whether it includes bloodletting or not, whipping oneself with chains (as done in many regions of Iran) is a pagan heresy unknown to Islam, brought to Iran by the Safavids who copied it from the Christians and spread it to the rest of the Shia communities from Iraq to the Indian Subcontinent.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah.” [Bukhari] Such a practice is known as ‘Noha’ or ‘Matam’ in the subcontinent.

Even Hussain رضي الله عنه , shortly before his martyrdom, had advised his beloved sister Zainab, to not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said, “My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death.” [Ibn al-Athir’s Al-Kamil]

Happy New Year?

Being that start of the Hijri Calendar, people get a bit too excited and start celebrating it just like the others celebrate the New Year of the Gregorian Calendar. We need to calm down, like seriously. Instead of spamming social media we can spend this time actually multiplying our deeds like a good businessman and not fighting online wars if saying it is permissible. Make dua to Allah, help a person in need, and be of use to the society. It is a time to reflect.

Allah says:

‏يَٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌۭ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍۢ ۖ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَبِيرٌۢ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ ‎

O you who have believed, fear Allah . And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allah . Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. [Surah al-Hashr, 18]

Our Imam, the Imam of Ahlus Sunnah, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said: “I do not initiate the greeting but if someone greets me I return the greeting, because responding to the greeting is obligatory. But being the first to offer congratulations is neither Sunnah nor forbidden.”

There is no specific dua to be recited on the onset of the new hijri year. The new year was pinned to the month of Muharram and established at the time of Umar ibn al-Khattab. This means that it was not known during the time of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and hence not a legislated part of the Shariah.

Shaykh Ibn al-Uthaymeen advised, “If someone congratulates you then reply (i.e. make dua that Allah makes it a good and blessed year), but do not do it yourself (i.e. do not begin it yourself by congratulating someone initially) – I do not know that the Salaf used to congratulate each other for the arrival of the new year of Hijrah…”

A person can make general dua for goodness and seek blessings from Allah. Other than making general dua there is no proof from the sahaba of a specific dua for Muharram or the starting of the new year. To say that a dua is to be specifically recited at this time or is connected to Muharram, or is to be recited a specific number of times, then it falls into the realm of religious innovation and becomes quite problematic.

The only dua remotely connected is narrated on the authority of Talhah bin Ubaidullah who reported: At the sight of the new moon (of the lunar month), the Prophet (ﷺ) used to supplicate:

‏اللهم أهله علينا بالأمن والإيمان والسلامة والإسلام، ربي وربك الله، هلال رشد وخير

O Allah, let this moon appear on us with security and Iman; with safety and Islam. (O moon!) Your Rubb and mine is Allah. May this moon be bringing guidance and good.” [Tirmidhi].

al-Hafidh ibn Hajar states the following supplication in al-Isabah fi Asma’a al-Sahabah under the biographical account of Abdullah ibn Hisham: The companions of the Apostle of Allah ﷺ would learn supplications as they would learn the Quran. If a new month or year came upon them they would supplicate:

‎اَللّٰهُمَّ أَدْخِلْهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالْأَمْنِ، وَالْإِيمَانِ، وَالسَّلَامَةِ، وَالْإِسْلَامِ، وَجِوارٍ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ، وَرِضْوَانٍ مِنَ الرَّحْمٰنِ

“Oh Allah make it a time of security and Iman; with peace and Islam and keep us from Shaitan and may al-Rahman be pleased with us.”

Sheikh Mohammed Daniel states that Imam Bukhari has used the same chain of narrators who narrated this dua in his Sahih as well.

Many of our brothers have fallen into superstition and bid’ah and attribute things to this month like bad luck, abstaining from marriage and what not. We should be aware of such things and try clarifying the matter and show them the love and mercy of Allah.

Know that this is the month in which Allah gave victory to Musa عليه السلام and his followers, despite the fact that they were vastly outnumbered, over the tyrant Pharaoh. Let us make constant and sincere dua from the heart that Allah elevates us like he elevated Musa عليه السلام and His People and not humiliate us any further and forgive us for being so weak in our duty towards him. We should be assured that while we are performing our prayers, fasting and rushing to perform all other types of righteous deeds that Allah will support us and that He will protect us. Whenever we are involved in an act of worship, Allah will love us due to this and will give a magnificent reward. This is because Allah only enables those whom He loves to perform righteous deeds and He only guides those who repent to Him.

May Allah accept this from us and multiply for us our good and divide our bad and replace it with even more good from his immense bounty.

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