And leave those who have taken their religion for a play and an idle sport, and whom this world's life has deceived, andremind (them) thereby lest a soul should be given up to destruction for what it has earned; it shall not have besides Allah anyguardian nor an intercessor, and if it should seek to give everycompensation, it shall not be accepted from it; these are theywho shall be given up to destruction for what they earned; theyshall have a drink of boiling water and a painful chastisementbecause they disbelieved. Al-Quran [Al-Anaam (Cattle, Livestock) Surah:6 - Verse:70]
Allah's Messenger Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said: Islam is based on the following five principles:
1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle.
2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity).
4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)
5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.
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|By Mufti Taqi Usmani
|Muharram is the month with
which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar. It
is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy
Quran says, "The number of the months according
to Allah is twelve (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on
the day He created heavens and the earth. Among these
(twelve months) there are four sanctified."
|These four months, according
to the authentic traditions, are Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah,
Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Quran
are unanimous on this point, because the Holy Prophet
(Peace Be Upon Him), in his sermon on the occasion of
his last Hajj, declared: "One year consists of
twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three
of them are in sequence; Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-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.
|In fact, every month, out
of the twelve, is originally equal to the other, and there
is no inherent sanctity that may be attributed to one
of them in comparison to the other months. When Allah
Almighty chooses a particular time for His special blessings,
the same acquires sanctity out of His grace.
|Thus, the sanctity of these
four months was recognized right from the days of Sayyidina
Ibrahim, alayhi salam. Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed
themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi salam, they observed
the sanctity of these four months and despite their frequent
tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these
|In the Shariah of our Noble
Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), the sanctity of these months
was upheld and the Holy Quran referred to them as the
|Muharram has certain other
characteristics special to it, which are specified below.
During the Month
|The Noble 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 the
month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet one who fasts
in these days out of his own will 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 or voluntary fasts.
|The Hadith does not mean that
the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved
only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary,
each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one
should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.
Day of 'Ashurah'
|Although 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'.
According to the Holy Companion Ibn 'Abbas, Radi-Allahu
anhu. The Holy 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 the Holy Prophet Musa (Moses), alayhis salam,
and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and
the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this
from the Jews, the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), said,
"We are more closely rotated to Musa, alayhi salam,
than you," and directed the Muslims to fast on
the day of 'Ashura'. (Abu Dawood)
|It is also reported in a number
of authentic traditions that in the beginning, fasting
on the day of 'Ashura' was obligatory for the Muslims.
It was later that the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory
and the fast on the day of 'Ashura' was made optional.
Sayyidina 'Aisha, Radi-Allahu anha, has said:
|"When the Holy Prophet
(Peace Be Upon Him), came to Madinah, he fasted on the
day of 'Ashura' 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 'Ashura' was abandoned. Whoever
so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes
can avoid fasting on it." (Sunan Abu Dawud)
|However, the Holy Prophet
(Peace Be Upon Him), used to fast on the day of 'Ashura'
even after the fasting in Ramadan was made obligatory.
Abdullah ibn Musa, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that the
Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), preferred the fast of
'Ashura' on the fasts of other days and preferred the
fasts of Ramadhaan on the fast of 'Ashura'. (Bukhari and
|In short, it is established
through a number of authentic ahadith that fasting on
the day of 'Ashura' is Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Peace
Be Upon Him), and makes one entitled to a great reward.
|According to another Hadith,
it is more advisable that the fast of 'Ashura' should
either be preceded or followed by another fast. It means
that one should fast two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram
or the 10th and 11th. The reason of this additional fast
as mentioned by the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him),
is that the Jews used to fast on the day of'Ashura alone,
and the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), wanted to distinguish
the Muslim way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore,
he advised the Muslims to add another fast to that of
|Some traditions signify another
feature of the day of 'Ashura. According to these traditions,
one should be more generous to his family by providing
more food to them on this day as compared to other days.
These traditions are not very authentic according to the
science of Hadith. Yet, some Scholars like Baihaqi and
Ibn Hibban have accepted them as reliable.
|What is mentioned above is
all that is supported through authentic sources about
and Baseless Traditions
|However, there are some legends
and misconceptions with regard to 'Ashura' that have managed
to find their way into the minds of the ignorant, but
have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very
common of them are these: This is the day on which Adam,
alayhi salam, was created. This is the day when Ibrahim,
alayhi salam, was born. This is the day when Allah accepted
the repentance of Sayyidina Adam, alayhi salam. This is
the day when Qiyaamah (doomsday) will take place. Whoever
takes bath on the day of 'Ashura' will never get ill.
|All these and other similar
whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions
referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit.
|Some people take it as Sunnah
to prepare a particular type of meal on the day of 'Ashura'.
This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic
|Some other people attribute
the sanctity of 'Ashura' to the martyrdom of Sayyidna
Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, during his battle with the Syrian
army. No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain, Radi-Allahu
anhu, is one of the most tragic episodes of our history.
Yet, the sanctity of 'Ashura' cannot be ascribed to this
event for the simple reason that the sanctity of 'Ashura'
was established during the days of the Holy Prophet (Peace
Be Upon Him), much earlier than the birth of Sayyidna
Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu.
|On the contrary, it is one
of the merits of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, that
his martyrdom took place on the day of 'Ashura'.
|Another misconception about
the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky
month, for Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, was killed
in it. It is for this misconception that people avoid
holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram.
This is again a baseless concept, which is contrary to
the express teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.
If the death of an eminent person on a particular day
renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can
hardly find a day of the year free from this bad luck
because every day is associated with the demise of some
eminent person. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy
Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), have liberated us from such
|Another wrong practice related
to this month is to hold the lamentation and mouming ceremonies
in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu
anhu. As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one
of the most tragic events of our history, but the Holy
Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), has forbidden us from holding
the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The
people of jahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over their
deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes
and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Holy Prophet
(Peace Be Upon Him), stopped the Muslims from doing all
this and directed them to observe patience by saying "Innaa
lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'oon". A number of
authentic Ahaadith are available on the subject. To quote
only one of them:
|"He is not from our group
who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the
manner of the people of jahiliyyah." (Sahih Bukhari)
|All the authentic jurists
are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type
is impermissible. Even Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu,
shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister
Sayyidah Zainab, Radi-Allahu anha, at 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." (Al-Kamil, ibn Kathir
vol. 4 pg. 24)
|It is evident from this advice
of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, that this type of
mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the
memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every
Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings
of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), and his beloved
grand child Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu.
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