Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ashura - History and Significance

Pre-Script : I normally avoid writing or speaking in public on matters I am less informed or lack the capability to defend my own understanding before others. Though Muharram or rather the day of Ashura was one of those topics till yesterday, Alhamdulillah I have somewhat a clear understanding of the day’s significance, its history and the mountains of myths and the moles of facts surrounding it. This post is seriously not a dictation or what Muslims do or are supposed to do, it’s my understanding and I am sharing it with the world. Anyone who feels I am wrong at my reasoning can very well share their views so we may have a better understanding from all points of views. After all we all strive to be better for here and hereafter.

Day of Ashura, the 10th of Muharram (first month of Islamic calendar) has great significance throughout Islamic history. It’s a notable fact that Islamic New Year starts from the very first day of the month of Muharram but still Muslims keep fast on Ashura i.e 10th of Moharram and a day before it or a day after it. It’s because there is no concept of any New Year celebration in Islam (as if a new cycle of the moon around earth will affect the stars in your constellation!) and fasting on Ashura is not synonyms to celebrating New Year.

According to me a new year, irrespective of it’s guiding planet, religion, state or country, does not change your life, your family, your resolution s or anything or anyone around you. It even does not change your academic year. So if everything remains same, what’s the point celebrating a day which likes all others day in the calendar, will come back on the same day next year too! Honestly I see no point in making resolutions, going partying or having Pizza with family on New Year coz that something I can do any day in the whole year. And avoiding all these saves a lot of money. Trust me! Again these are my points.

Coming back to Ashura. In India and may be a lot of countries abroad, Muharram for some part of Muslim community, is reduced to wearing black, cutting yourself, crying and mourning loud in Public and carrying beautiful Tajiyas from one place to another. And all this in the name of remembering the Martyrdom of Hazrat Hussain (R.A.), the Grandson of our beloved Prophet Huzur S.A.W.

Firstly, the fasting on Ashura is what our Prophet followed in his lifetime due to its historic significance. It actually started when once our beloved Prophet (S.A.W.) observed Jews fasting and asked them the reason of fasting on Ashura. They told that Hazrat Musa (A.S.) fasted on this day out of gratitude since on this very day Allah delivered to them and saved him and his family from Pharoah and Pharoah’s army was drowned. And as any Muslim will know how closer we are to Hazrat Musa (A.S.), Prophet fasted on that day and asked us to fast (not obligatory) too but on two days instead of a single day so that we may be prevented from following what’s not our religion. (As related in Bukhari and Shahi Muslim)

As Hazrat Hussain (R.A.) was martyred long after Prophet left us to carry our deen ourselves, it is clear that his fasting had no connection with the Martyrdom of Hazrat Hussain (R.A.). And it’s not something he asked us to observe before he completed our religion on us.

(Allah (God) says: Today I have perfected your "Deen"(way of life), and have completed my favor upon you (mankind) and have chosen for you Islam (Submission to the will of God) as your "Deen"(way of life) (Quran 5:3)

An addition to the Prophet's tradition will only mislead us, knowingly or unknowingly.

Secondly, the reason behind fasting on Ashura is reflecting our love and gratitude for Allah and acknowledging what he has provided us and provided our Prophets and their followers in the past.

Thirdly, can someone really think that our great Lord will like us to be in pain, to wear black, to mourn and to cut our self? Is Lord that unmerciful? Certainly Not. He is the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. He understand the pain we go through on losing a beloved so he has prescribed mourning, which is not bad but has restricted that to 3 days, a mere 3 days so that we may understand the cycle of life and move on with the pain and strive better for here and hereafter.

Muhammad (saws) who said: ‘It is not permitted for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to mourn for any dead person for more than three days, except for a husband, (in which case the period of mourning is) four months and ten days. (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 4926).

Then why all this mourning suddenly on the day of Ashura? Why there is all this cutting and shouting on the day we are supposed to keep fast and reflect on ourselves. Is it just that from all the days in the year we only remember the bravery of Hazrat Hussain (R.A.) on the day of Ashura? That we forget the values which Hazrat Hussain (R.A.) cultivated in him on all other days? Is our love for him is of only one day? Again NO! We love him, his bravery, his values, his love for Islam, his concern for the next generations of Islam, his aim and vision for which he sacrificed his life, his determination of not bowing down before falsehood, throughout the year.

I do feel sad that the early generations of Islam were prevented from enjoying his caliphate and direction too soon. But I am also one who certainly believes that crying is not going to benefit the soul of Prophet’s grandson. It’s remembering, treasuring and cultivating his values, character and direction in ourselves. If you really love Hazrat Hussain (R.A.), in my opinion, you should live him in yourself and not drain him in your blood and pain.

And as I quoted earlier our deen has already been completed on us and everything after that is Biddah. Mourning is not only wrong but it’s also repelling us from observing one of the most grateful of grateful days, Day of Ashura which our Prophet loved to observe. Of course I am aware of Biddat-e-Husna concept but I don’t see any good in observing mourning, moreover are we more learned than the early generations of Sahabis, if not yes, then when and which of the Sahabis observed Ashura like Muslims do today?

Finally, I have been pointing all through that this day is a day to be grateful about, indeed it is, and we get a lot of reason to observe Lord’s bounty on us on this day.

  • On this day: Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam ('Alaihis-Salaam) after his exile from Paradise;
  • Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) saved Sayyidina Nuh ('Alaihis-Salaam) and his companions in the ark;
  • Allah extinguished the fire in which Sayyidina Ibrahim ('Alaihis-Salaam) was thrown by Nimrod;
  • And Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) spoke directly to Sayyidina Musa ('Alaihis-Salaam) and gave him the Commandments.
  • On this same 10th of Muharram, Sayyidina Ayyub ('Alaihis-Salaam) was restored to health (from leprosy);
  • Sayyidina Yusuf ('Alaihis-Salaam) was reunited with his father Ya’qub ('Alaihis-Salaam); Sayyidina Yunus ('Alaihis-Salaam) was taken out from the belly of the fish;
  • and the sea was divided as the nation of israel was delivered from captivity and Pharoah’s army was destroyed.
  • ‘Ashura is also the day when Sayyidina Dawud ('Alaihis-Salaam) was forgiven; the kingdom of Sulaiman ('Alaihis-Salaam) was restored;
  • Sayyidina Isa ('Alaihis-Salaam) was raised to Jannah and Sayyidina al-Husayn (Radiyallahu 'anh) (the Holy Prophet’s, Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam, grandson) achieved the honor of Martyrdom.
(These are mentioned as what scholars have determined as the specialties of that day in Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, Sayyidina Abdul Qadir al-Jilani)

The benefits of this fasting are also numerous. Huge enough to get you out of bed before fazr on the next Ashura.

After All this, let us pray that Allah guide all of us to the right path and we strive harder to be a Perfect Muslim as what was our beloved Prophet Huzur (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam), on this day of Ashura. Aameen!


Yayathy said...

I don't know anything about this. Thanks for the shared information. I can tell you one thing, god is not unmerciful in any aspect......


mf husain said...

Well written gul...Imam-E-Husain himself had strictly warned his women n other remnants not to cut or moan after he has been slaughtered.....but to be such kind of practice is absolutely not warranted..

One more thing...u hve portrayed the imp. of the day of Aashura...but u skipped another important aspect which is the lesson which Imam-e-Husain wanted to convey through his ultimate sacrifice...yy was it required for the Prophet's son to sacrfice his soul...yy did he leave his Haj 4 this great task ...y did he take women n kids along wid him in his journey...n so on

Ilyas said...

Jazak-Allah! Well described...

Anonymous said...


as i said...we are here only to gain our knowledge..thats the prob wid Islam...many dont even try to know what it is all about...just believe what there eyes ask them too...

anyways...God's in no way is Him and He ll love back :)

Anonymous said...

@fatin...i tried mentioning that he dint wanted to bow down before falsehood...the whole history would have bored my reader :P...wanted to convey the message without being long :)

may be inshaallah i ll wrote it about that next ashura :)

Anonymous said...

@Ilyas..thanks :)

Anonymous said...

I inclination not approve on it. I regard as polite post. Specially the appellation attracted me to read the intact story.

Anonymous said...

Opulently I acquiesce in but I think the post should have more info then it has.

HHH said...

Musnab of Ahmed, Al Mojamul Kabir of Tibrani and Tarikh of Ibne Asakir and other books too have recorded this tradition from Anas Ibne Malik that he said:

"Malik sought the permission to visit the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.). He was granted the permission when the Prophet was inside the house with Umme Salma. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.) said, ‘Umme Salma, please guard the door and do not allow anyone else to enter."

Umme Salma was maintaining her vigil when Husain Ibne Ali (a.s.) came, pushed opened the door and entered. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) embraced him and kissed him. Malik enquired, "Do you love him?" "Yes", replied the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.s.)." Surely your people will soon kill him. If you wish I can show you the place where they will kill him?"

He replied, "Yes".

He said, "Then he took a handful of dust from the place where he will be killed and he showed this dust to us. It was red in hue. Umme Salma took it and kept it in her cloth.

Thabit said: "We used to say, ‘It certainly is Karbala.’"14

1 Sahih Muslim, 2:636. Kitabul Janaiz, Chapter 6.