Ibaadah - Worship & Obedience of Allah ﷻ
Originally written on Sept 21, 2018 - How would you explain Ashura to someone who does not know anything about it?
An important hadith regarding the 10th of Muharram which is also referred to as day of Ashura lists some great events that happened on this day in mankind’s religious history. Muharram is the 1st month of the Islamic year Hijrah. The term ashura or ashara in Arabic means "tenth".
The Holy Prophet ﷺ has enumerated the significance of this day mentioned in Al Ghunya Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, the work one of the greatest Islamic saints Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gilani (r.a). The Prophet ﷺ has stated that:
• Allah created the heavens, mountains, oceans, pen (qalam) and tablet (lawh) on this day.
• Hazrath Ibrahim (alaihi salaam) was born, and Allah ﷺ saved him from the furnace on this day.
• Pharaoh was drowned,
• Allah ﷺ forgave the transgression Adam (alaihi salaam) ,
• Isa (alaihi salaam) was born on this day
• The day of Reckoning will occur on this day.
Of all the significant historical events that have taken place on this day, 2 in particular are connected to our history of Islam and with the life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. One took place during his life and one after his passing away. One is his ordering Muslims to fast on the day of Ashura after his emigration to Madinah. The 2nd is the martyrdom of his beloved grandson Imam Hussain (alaihi Salaam).
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: When the Prophet ﷺ came to Madinah, he found (the Jews) fasting on the day of 'Ashura' (i.e. 10th of Muharram). They (the Jews) used to say: "This is a great day on which Allah saved Moses and drowned the folk of Pharaoh. Moses observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah." The Prophet said, "I am closer to Moses than they." So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. (Sahih al-Bukhari 3942)
In other traditions it is mentioned that the fasting of Ashura was obligatory before fasting of 30 days of Ramadaan was made obligatory. Muslims were ordered to fast the 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th, 2 days instead of 1 to distinguish them from the Jews who fasted only on the 10th. Imitating the non-Muslims in any way is discouraged in Islam.
The following Verse of the Quran mentions the delivery of Musa (alaihi Salaam) and Bani Israel from Firaun (Pharaoh) and his army: (Al Quran 26:63-65) So We revealed to Musa, "Strike the sea with your staff." And it split in two, each part like a towering cliff. And We brought the others right up to it. We rescued Musa and all those who were with him.
Interestingly the day of Ashura usually coincides with the 10th day of Tishri one of the months of Hebrew Calendar. Tishri usually falls in September - October of the global Gregorian Calendar and in this year of 2018 both Ashura and tenth of Tishri are coinciding once again. The tenth day of Tishri is the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur which is still a day when Jews fast!
Another very important event for Muslims is the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (alahi salaam). There are many instances in the life of the Prophet ﷺ where he gave indications about the persecution that some people of his household will undergo after his passing away. The below ahadith testify to that:
AbdAllaah said, "Whilst we were with the Prophet ﷺ, some young men from Banu Hashim approached us. When the Prophet ﷺ saw them, his eyes filled with tears and the colour of his face changed. I said, 'We can see something has changed in your face, and it upsets us.' The Prophet ﷺ said, 'We are the people of a Household for whom Allah has chosen the Hereafter rather than this world. The people of my Household (Ahl al-Bayt) will suffer a great deal after my death." (Al Bidayah Wa Al Nihaya – Imam Ibn Kathir) - This persecution which Allah’s Messenger ﷺ prophesied came to be true in the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his family members 50 years after, who were part of Prophet’s Ahlal Bayt (household).
Narrated Salma: I entered upon Umm Salamah while she was crying, so I said: 'What causes you to cry?' She said: 'I saw the Messenger of Allah - that is, in a dream - and there was was dirt on his head and his beard. so I said: "What is wrong with you, O Messenger of Allah?" He said: 'I just witnessed the killing of Al-Husain.'" (Jami at-Tirmidhi, Vol. 6, Book of Al-Manaqib (Virtues), Hadith 3771)
The following Verse of the Quran bears witness to the event of the cloak known as Hadith e Kisaa which signifies the importance Allah ﷻ attached to the household (Ahlal Bayt) of the Prophet ﷺ: (Al Quran 33:33) And (O Wives of the Prophet) stay in your homes and do not go about displaying your allurements as in the former Time of Ignorance. Establish Prayer, give Zakah, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only wishes to remove uncleanness from you, O members of the (Prophet's) household (Ahlal Bayt), and to purify you completely - According to Ibn Abi Hatim, once when Aishah (r.a) was asked about Ali, she said, “Do you ask me about the person who was among the most loved ones of the Prophet and whose wife was the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) daughter and most beloved to him?” Then she related the event when the Prophet (peace be upon him) had called Ali and Fatimah and Hasan and Husain (may Allah be pleased with them all) and covered them all with a sheet of cloth and prayed: “O Allah, these are my household, remove uncleanness from them and make them pure.” Aishah says, “I said: I also am included among your household (i.e. I may also be covered under the sheet and prayed for).” Thereupon the Prophet replied: “You stay out: you, of course, are already included.” (Tafheem Ul Quran – Maulana Maududi)
The above verse is part of the group of verses revealed together, beginning from Verse 28 till 33. Verse 28 and the ones that follow clearly address the wives of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ , the mothers of this Ummah being part of his household. With the revelation of verse 33 Prophet covered with his cloak all 5, himself, Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain. The wives of the Prophet and these 4, both are included in the words “Members of Prophet’s Household (Ahlal Bayt)”.
What do we learn from both events?
Keeping the above in mind, Muslims should focus on spending 2 days (i.e. 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th) in the service of Allah ﷻ, by fasting, racing towards good and putting effort to prevent doing anything bad to ourselves or others especially with the intent to continue such behavior in our lives. Muslims should also remember Imam Hussain (alaihi Salaam) by learning about the Karbala event and understanding the spirit of sacrifice him and his followers displayed during the entire episode. Additionally abundant Durood and Salawaat (Peace and Blessings) should be recited on Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and his Ahlal Bayt (Household). Hazrat Anas (radi Allahu anhu) narrates that Sayyiduna Rasoolullah ﷺ said: "He who reads a single Durood upon me, Almighty Allah blesses him ten times, ten of his sins are forgiven, and he is increased ten times in stages (internally)." (Mishkaat)
What should be avoided this day?
When remembering the Martyrdom of Imam Hussain (alaihi salaam) many Muslims tend to indulge in practices such as public processions and reenactment of the tragedy, beating and hurting themselves, wailing while crying, wearing black clothes, discussing conflicts among the Prophet's companions during First Civil War or Fitnah that may lead towards unnecessary misunderstandings of the matters, many of whom did not have anything to do with Karbala incident. Going to extremes in ones veneration of the Prophet's family resulting in exaggeration. All such prohibited acts narrow down the purpose of this event to a ritualistic form and deprives the importance to derive lessons therefrom. Muslims should fully prohibit themselves from such as the Prophet ﷺ categorically prohibited these and so does the Quran.
Please also read - Fasting on 10th Muharram - Is it a Fabrication?
1. The Historical Significance of `Ashura
2. Full text of "al bidayah wan nihayah Ibn Kathir Early Days"
3. Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)
4. Tirmidhi Abwaab Al Manaqib - https://muflihun.com/tirmidhi/48