The sanctity of Muharram

Updated 30 October 2014
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The sanctity of Muharram

Muharram is the month that marks the beginning of the Hijrah calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Qur’an says, “The number of the months according to Allah is 12 (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on the day in which He created heavens and the earth. Among these (12 months) there are four sanctified.”
These four months, according to the authentic traditions are the months of Dul Qaada, Dul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Qur’an are unanimous on this point, because the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in his sermon on the occasion of his last Haj declared: “One year consists of 12 months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Dul Qaada, Dul Hijjah, Muharram and the fourth is Rajab.”
The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that their sanctity was accepted even by the pagans of Makkah.
When Allah Almighty chooses a particular time for His special blessings, then it acquires sanctity out of His grace.
Thus, the sanctity of these four months was recognized right from the days of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him).
In the Shariah of our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) the sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Qur’an referred to them as the “sanctified months.” The month of Muharram has certain other characteristics peculiar to it, which are specified below.

Fasting during the month
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has said: “The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of Muharram.”
Although the fasts of Muharram are not obligatory, the one who fasts in these days out of his own will and choice is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewardable ones among the Nafl (voluntary) fasts.

The day of Ashurah
Although the month of Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named Ashurah.
According to Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet (peace be upon him), when migrated to Madinah, found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which Prophet Musa (Moses) (peace be upon him) and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its water.
On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “We are more closely related to Musa than you” and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashurah. (Abu Dawood)
It is also reported that in the beginning fasting on the day of Ashurah was obligatory for Muslims. Later fasting in Ramadan was made obligatory and the fast on the day of Ashurah was made optional. Sayyidah Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) has said: “When the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madinah, he fasted on the day of Ashurah and directed the people to fast. But when the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadan and the obligatory nature of the fast of Ashurah was abandoned. One can fast on this day, if he so wills, or can avoid fasting, if he so wills.”
However, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast on the day of Ashurah. Abdullah Ibn Masud reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) preferred the fast of Ashurah to the fast of other days and preferred the fast of Ramadan to the fast of Ashurah. (Bukhari and Muslim)
According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of Ashurah should either be prefixed or suffixed by another fast. It means that one should fast on the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th. The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Prophet (peace be upon him) is that the Jews used to fast on the day of Ashurah alone, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) wanted to distinguish the Islamic-way of fasting from that of Jews.
However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to Ashurah, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some of them are:
• This is the day in which Adam was created.
• This is the day in which Ibrahim was born.
• This is the day on which the Qiyamah (dooms-day) will take place.
• Whoever takes bath in the day of Ashurah will never get ill.
All these are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not authentic.
Some people take it as Sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal on the day of Ashurah. This practice, too, has no basis in Islamic.
Some other people attribute the sanctity of Ashurah to the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (may Allah be pleased with him). No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of Ashurah cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of Ashurah was established during the days of the Prophet (peace be upon him) even before the birth of Husain.
Another misconception about Muharram is that it is an unlucky month because Husain was martyred in this month. It is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in Muharram. This is again a baseless concept which is contrary to the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah.
Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain.
As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying “Inna lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji oon.” A number of authentic Hadith are available on the subject.
To quote only one of them: “He is not from our group who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah.”
Even Husain shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Zainab not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said:
“My dear sister, I swear upon you that you, in case I die, shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death.”

Courtesy: islamicity.com


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.