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Aashura

The Divine System of Allah Ta’ala

It is the divine system of Allah Ta’ala that He has afforded special virtue and significance to some things over others. From mankind, the Ambiyaa (alaihimus salaam) have been blessed with distinguished positions and elevated statuses over others. From the different places in the world, the Haramain (Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Munawwarah) have been accorded a special rank over the rest of the world. From the twelve months of the Islamic calendar, special sanctity and sacredness has been given to four specific months i.e. Zul-Qa’dah, Zul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab.


By the same token, amongst the days of the Islamic year the day of Aashura has been blessed with exclusive virtue and immense blessings.

It is reported from Abu Qataadah (radiyallahu anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “On account of observing the fast of Aashura, I have hope that Allah Ta’ala will expiate the sins of the past year.” (Ibnu Maajah 1/124, Saheeh Muslim 1/368)

The Month of Muharram and the Day of Aashura

Reward for Fasting an Entire Month

It is reported from Ibnu Abbaas (radiyallahu anhuma) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The one who observes the fast of the day of Arafah two years of his sins will be forgiven and the one who fasts during the month of Muharram, for each day he fasts he will receive the reward of fasting for an entire month.” (At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb, vol. 2, p. 46)

It is an exclusive virtue of the month of Muharram that each fast in this auspicious month is equivalent in reward to fasting for an entire month. No other month has been blessed with this virtue.

The Greatness and Virtue of Aashura

While the month of Shawwaal, Zul-Qa’dah and Zul-Hijjah have been divinely selected to accommodate the rituals of Haj and sacrifice, the month of Muharram is the month that enjoys the honour of being the month of Allah Ta’ala and of accommodating the fast of Aashura, which expiates the sins of the past year. The immense virtues and abundant blessings that this day holds could be somewhat understood through the desire and eagerness that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) expressed to meet this day.

Hadhrat Ibnu Abbaas (radiyallahu anhuma) reports: “I did not see Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) anxiously await the fast of any virtuous day more than the day of Aashura.” (Saheeh Bukhari 1/268)

It is reported from Abu Hurairah (radiyallahu anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The best of fasts after the month of Ramadhaan is fasting in the month of Allah, which is Muharram, and the best of salaahs after the faraaidh (obligatory salaah) is the tahajjud salaah.” (Saheeh Muslim 1/368)

Fasting on the Day of Aashura

Rasulullah (sallallahu Alaihi wasallam) fasted on the day of Aashura and exhorted the Sahaabah to also observe the fast. The extent of enthusiasm and passion with which the Sahaabah enlivened and upheld this mubaarak sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) could perhaps be gauged from the following Hadith.

Hadhrat Rubayyi’ (radiyallahu anha) reports that the Sahaabah observed the fast of Aashura and encouraged their children to observe the fast. The Sahaabah used to make toys for their children out of wool and if any child felt hungry and wept for food then they kept them occupied with those toys until the time of iftaar. (Saheeh Muslim 1/360)

History of Aashura

Prior to the Hijrah, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and the Sahabah observed the fast of Aashura in Makkah Mukarramah as this conformed to the Shariah of Ebrahim (alaihis salaam). Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) migrated to Madinah Munawwarah in the month of Rabiul Awwal. The following year (2 A.H.), in the month of Muharram, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) witnessed the Jews of Madinah Munawwarah fasting. Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) inquired from them as to why they were observing the fast on that day. They exclaimed that it was on that day that Allah Ta’ala delivered Moosa (alaihis salaam) and the Bani Israa’eel from the tyranny and oppression of Fir’oun and his people and Allah Ta’ala destroyed Fir’oun and his army. This is explained in the following narration:

Ibnu Abbaas (radiyallahu anhuma) said: “When Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) migrated to Madinah Munawwarah, he witnessed the Jews observing the fast of Aashura. After inquiring, they replied that this was a virtuous day. This was the day that Allah Ta’ala had delivered the Bani Israa’eel to safety from their oppressive enemy (Fir’oun and his army). In expression of gratitude and thanks to Allah Ta’ala, Moosa (alaihis salaam) fasted on this day. Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) remarked, ‘We are more worthy of following Moosa (alaihis salaam) than you.’ Thereafter, Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) continued fasting on this day and ordered the Sahabah (radiyallahu anhum) to fast as well.” (Saheeh Bukhari 1/268)

Prior to the fast of Ramadhaan becoming compulsory, fasting on the day of Aashura was Fardh (obligatory). After the fast of Ramadhaan became compulsory, fasting on the day of Aashura was optional.

‘Aaisha (radiyallahu anha) reports: “In the pre-Islamic era, the Quraish fasted on the day of Aashura. Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) also observed the fast of Aashura. After migrating to Madinah Munawwarah, Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) continued with this noble practice (of fasting on the day of Aashura) and instructed the Sahabah (radiyallahu anhum) to fast on this auspicious day (as it was made obligatory). However, after the fast of Ramadhaan became obligatory, fasting on the day of Aashura no longer remained fardh.” (Rather it was made sunnah (optional).) (Muatta Imaam Maalik, p. 240)

This remained the practice of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam and Sahaabah till the end of the life of Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam). In the 11th year of Hijri (after the fast of Aashuraa prior to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)’s demise), Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) commanded the Sahabah (Radiallahu Anhum) to oppose the Jews and to add another day of fasting together with the tenth. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that if he lived till the following year he would fast for two days.

Ibnu Abbaas (radiyallahu anhuma) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Observe the fast of Aashura and oppose the Jews by fasting a day before it or after it (as well) i.e. the ninth and tenth or tenth and eleventh of Muharram.” (As-Sunan Al-Kubra Baihaqi 4/287 / Talkheesul Habeer 2/819)

Ibnu Abbaas (radiyallahu anhuma) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “If I live until the following year, I will definitely fast on the ninth (together with the tenth).” (Saheeh Muslim 1/359)

Important lesson

While reaping the virtues of fasting on the day of Aashura, an important lesson is emphasised by means of this fast. This is the lesson of firmly maintaining one’s Islamic identity at all times, totally refraining from imitating the kuffaar (disbelievers) and even avoiding any resemblance with them. Hence, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) instructed the ummah to fast for two days i.e. the ninth and tenth or tenth and eleventh in order to oppose the Jews.

Dressing

Imitating the kuffaar can occur in any and every aspect of life. However, the most obvious and apparent is in the aspect of appearance and dressing. Imitating “others,” which is known as ‘tashabbuh’ is completely forbidden in cases where it opposes the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). So abhorred is this practice that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) has declared: “The one who imitates a nation is from amongst them.”

Thus when the dressing and appearance taught by Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is not adhered to, and the kuffaar are imitated, at times it becomes difficult or even impossible to distinguish a Muslim from a Jew, Christian or an atheist

Love to resemble Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)

The Fast of Aashura highlights the importance of avoiding any resemblance to the Jews and Christians. No person prefers to resemble the one who is his enemy. Rather, he will prefer to resemble those whom he loves. A true follower of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) will love to resemble, in fact imitate, his beloved. He would love to be identified with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), not with those who are the enemies of Islam and the Muslims.

Virtue of Spending on one’s Family on the Day of Aashura

Apart from the virtue of fasting on the Day of Aashura, Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) has also encouraged that one should be generous upon one’s family on this auspicious day.

Abu Hurairah (radiyallahu anhu) reports that Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam said, “Whoever spends freely upon his family on the day of Aashura Allah Ta’ala will bless him with abundant sustenance for an entire year.” (At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb, vol. 2, p. 48)

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Ashura

‘Ashura: A correction of misconceptions and beliefs

By Shaykh Fazl al-Rahman al-’Azami

Translation edited by Ibn Rashid Ahmad Qasmi

The virtues of the day of ‘Ashura, its importance and the reason for its significance have already come to your knowledge. The reason is that Musa (peace of Allah be on him) and the Bani Isra’il were rescued from Fir’awn and his army on this day. As a token of gratitude, Musa fasted on this day. In emulation, Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) also fasted on this day and instructed the Muslims to do the same. While the compulsion to fast on this day has been waived, the fast has still been retained in the Shari’ah as an optional but highly commendable deed. It is perhaps because of this same incident that people are encouraged to spend freely on their families on this day. Allah knows best.

Because of misleading propaganda, many people believe that the significance of Muharram and ‘Ashura is linked to the martyrdom of Husayn (Allah be pleased with him). This belief is erroneous. The Shari’ah of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was perfected during his very lifetime. How can any aspect of the Shari’ah then pivot on an incident that took place long after the demise of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace)? In fact, it occurred many years after the period of the four Khulafa’ al-Rashidun (the four righteous caliphs).

Without doubt, the martyrdom of Husayn was an extremely painful and tragic incident. However, Islam does not permit fanatical mourning because Islam is not a religion of mourning. Every page of Islamic history is filled with the blood of martyrs. If Muslims were required to mourn the death of every martyr, their every day of the year would be occupied with mourning. Among the many illustrious martyrs of Islam were ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with them). In fact, before them was the martyrdom of the sayyid al-shuhadah (leader of the martyrs) Hamza radi. Many Sahabah were also martyred during the tragedies of the battle of Mu’tah, Bir Ma’unah and the battle of Raji’. These incidents were not only tragedies for the Muslims, but even Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was extremely hurt by them. How can a Muslim forget all these and many more tragedies and remember only the incident of Husayn radi?

Rather than engaging in bereavement, Islam encourages Muslims to sacrifice their lives and wealth for the din. As Muslims, we have to think about what we have sacrificed for din when all these illustrious souls laid down their very lives?

In his book Ma Thabata bi ‘l-Sunnah, Shah ‘Abd al-Haqq Muhaddith Dihlawi (Allah have mercy on him) quotes the following extract from the book Kitab al-Sawayiq, which was written by ‘Allamah Ibn Hajar Haythami (Allah have mercy on him), who was a renowned mufti (jurist) of Makkah and one of the leading jurists and muhaddithin of his era. He writes; “One should remember that what happened to Husayn on the day of ‘Ashura was that he was martyred. This means that Allah had elevated his status and reunited him with the other members of Allah’s Messenger’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) pure family. If anyone thinks of the tragedy that occurred on this day, he should recite Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. By doing so, he will be obeying Allah command and will attain the reward that Allah has promised for those who recite Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un when a tragedy occurs. Concerning such people, Allah has mentioned; ‘These are the ones upon whom the collective and special mercies of Allah descend and these are the ones who are rightly guided.’ (2:157)”

He further writes, “On this day of ‘Ashura, one should engage only in good deeds such as fasting and should specifically avoid the baseless innovations that the Shias and Rawafidh practice. Some of these misleading practices include excessive wailing, mourning and crying. These are not among the practices of Muslims. If it were, then the day on which Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) passed a way would have been more deserving of bereavement. Muslims should also avoid the practices of the Nawasib, who are the enemies of the Messenger’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) family. Such people are ignorant. They oppose falsehood with falsehood, bid’ah with bid’ah and evil with evil. In opposition to mourning, they make the day a day of rejoicing and celebration. On this day, they adorn themselves, apply henna (dye) and kohl (antimony), wear new clothing and spend their wealth very liberally. They also prepare elaborate meals that are not prepared on other days. They regard these practices as Sunnah practices and have made them customary. However, they are actually opposing the Sunnah because none of these practices have been reported from Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace).”

“When the scholars of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and ahadith were asked about applying henna and kohl, about wearing new clothes, about taking a bath and expressing joy on the day of ‘Ashura, they made it clear that no narration has every proven that these acts were practised by Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Neither the Sahabah nor the imams of fiqh or any other scholar ever regarded such practices as being mustahab (commendable) for this day. There is neither any authentic or weak narration in this regard reported in any of the reliable Islamic books. Among the many virtues cited about this day, the narration concerning spending freely on one’s family has been established from the ahadith. However, comments have been made about the authenticity of its chain of narrators. The famous virtues of the day of ‘Ashura that are all fabrications are:

– That the person applying kohl on this day will not have any pain in the eyes for the entire year.
– That the person who baths on this day will not suffer any illness for the year.
– That there is a special salah to be performed on this day.
– That the repentance of Adam (peace of Allah be on him) was accepted on this day.
– That the ark of Nuh (peace of Allah be on him) settled on Mount Judi on this day.
– That Ibrahim was saved from the fire on this day.
– That on this day Allah sent the ram to be sacrificed in place of Isma’il (peace of Allah be on him).
– That on this day Allah returned Yusuf (peace of Allah be on him) to his father Ya’qub (peace of Allah be on him).

Because of their ignorance, the Nawasib regard the day of ‘Ashura as a day of celebration whereas the Rawafidh regard it to be a day of grief and bereavement. Both these attitudes oppose the Sunnah. Thus have the scholars of hadith stated.” (Ma Thabata bi ‘l-Sunnah, p. 16)

It is therefore evident that the above are all fabrications, save for the narration concerning spending freely on one’s family. The details of this hadith have already passed. ‘Allamah Ibn Qayyim (Allah have mercy on him) has also made it clear that the narrations about applying kohl, oil, perfume and other things specifically on the day of ‘Ashura have all been concocted. (Ma Thabata bi ‘l-Sunnah, p. 17)

Al-Dihlawi has also quoted another narration which Shaykh ‘Ali ibn ‘Arraq (Allah have mercy on him) has classified as a fabricated hadith in Tanzih al-Shari’ah. The fabricated hadith states that the person who fasts on the day of ‘Ashura will receive the reward of fasting for sixty years and for standing in salah for sixty years. In addition to this, he will also receive the rewards of ten thousand angels and the rewards of a thousand people performing Hajj and Umrah. He will also receive the rewards of ten thousand martyrs together with all the rewards of the seven heavens. This fabricated hadith also states that the person who feeds a hungry person on the day of ‘Ashura will receive the reward of feeding every poor person from the Ummah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to his fill. Furthermore it states that the person who on this day places his hand on the head of an orphan will have his status in Jannah raised by a degree for every strand of the orphan’s hair that falls beneath his hand. The other false impressions that the fabrication creates is that Allah created the creation on the day of ‘Ashura, including the heavens, the earth, the pen, the preserved tablet (al-Lawh al-Mahfuz), Jibra’il, Mikha’il and Adam (may the peace of Allah be upon them). It also states that Ibrahim (peace of Allah be on him) was born on this day, that he was rescued from the fire on this day, that the ram was sent in place of Isma’il on this day, that Fir’awn was drowned on this day, that Idris (peace of Allah be on him) was raised to the heavens on this day and that Adam’s repentance was accepted on this day. Moreover, it states that Dawud (peace of Allah be on him) was forgiven on this day, that Allah focuses His attention to His throne on this day and that Qiyamah shall take place on this day. ‘Allamah Ibn Jawzi (Allah have mercy on him) has also stated that this hadith has been concocted by a person called Habib Ibn Abu Habub and attributed to ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him). (Ma Thabata bi ‘l-Sunnah, p. 20)

After mentioning all of the above, al-Dihlawi quotes another fabrication. This fabrication states that on this day Yusuf was freed from prison, Ya’qub eyesight was restored, Ayyub (peace of Allah be on him) was cured and Yunus (peace of Allah be on him) was removed from the belly of the fish. It also states that on this day the past and future mistakes of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) were forgiven, the repentance of Yunus’ nation was accepted and the first rains fell. In addition to this, the “hadith” states that the person who fasts on the day of ‘Ashura shall have forty years of his sins forgiven and that the day of ‘Ashura was the first creation of Allah. It states that the person who fasts on this day will be rewarded like one who fasts all the time and the person who stands in ‘ibadah (worship) during the night preceding the day of ‘Ashura will receive the reward of the ‘ibadah of everything within the seven heavens. Furthermore, it states that all the Anbiya’ fasted on this day and that fifty years of a person’s future sins and fifty years of his past sins will be forgiven if on this day he performs four rak’ah salah and recites Surah Fatihah once, followed by Surah Ikhlas fifty times in every rak’ah. In addition to this, the “hadith” states that such a person will have a thousand pulpits of nur (celestial light) erected for him in the highest echelons of the heavens. It also asserts that the person who gives a single sip to another to drink on this day, his status will be like one who has not disobeyed Allah for even a moment as brief as the blink of an eye. It says also that one who feeds a poor person to his fill on this day will cross over the bridge of al-Sirat with the speed of lightning. Another concocted detail of this “hadith” is where it states that the person who gives charity on this day is like one who never refuses any beggar and someone who passes his hand over the head of an orphan will be rewarded like one who has behaved kindly to every orphan among mankind. In a similar fashion, it states that whoever visits a sick person on this day will be equal to one who has visited every sick person from among mankind.

Ibn al-Jawzi has mentioned that this narration has certainly been fabricated although its chain of narrators include all reliable narrators. It is therefore obvious that whoever concocted this “hadith” attached a reliable chain of narrators to it. (Ma Thabata bi ‘l-Sunnah, p. 21)

Everything said above has made it evident that the day of ‘Ashura is especially important because it was the day in which Musa and the Bani Isra’il were saved while Fir’awn and his arniy were drowned. It is also because of this that the fast is observed on this day. Everything else pertaining to its importance is unfounded. No injunction of the Shari’ah pertaining to this day is related to the martyrdom of Husayn. There are no special salahs to be performed and no special foods that have to be prepared either.

Although ‘Allamah Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him) has recorded a narration in his tafsir stating that the ark of Nuh settled on Mount Judi on the day of ‘Ashura, he has added that this narration is gharib (uncommon). As noticed in many of his comments, when Ibn Kathir classifies a hadith as gharib, he means that the hadith should be disregarded. We will therefore suffice only with what has been stated in authentic ahadith.

May Allah grant the Ummah the ability to remain steadfast on the Qur’an and Sunnah, remaining aloof from all acts of bid’ah and all customs. May Allah also guide them to refrain from adding baseless beliefs and injunctions to the Shari’ah.

By: Fazl al-Rahman al-A’zami

Muharram and ‘Ashura: Virtues and Laws. Azaadville: Academy for the Revival of the Sunnah

Reprinted with permission from http://jamiat.org.za

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