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1) The virtues of fasting during Muharram in general and the day of ‘Aashooraa’ in particular.
2) Differing from the Jews in the way we fast that day.
3) Remembering how Allaah gave victory to Moosaa, peace be upon him, over Pharaoh on that day.
4) Encouraging steadfastness in the performance of good deeds and ending ones life upon that.
5) How and why ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may Allaah be pleased with him, initiated the Islamic Calendar, based on lunar months.
6) Remaining firm upon piety and obedience to Allaah.
Dear brothers! We are currently in the sacred month of Al-Muharram, which is one of the four sacred months of the year (Dhu’l-Qi’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah, Al-Muharram and Rajab). This is an extremely virtuous month where there are special rewards for certain deeds, such as fasting, Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “The best fasting after that of Ramadaan is fasting during the month of Al-Muharram; and the best prayers after the obligatory ones are the night prayers.”
Among the virtues of this month is that it contains the day of ‘Aashooraa’, which falls on its tenth day. ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, narrated that: “Quraysh (the tribe of the Prophet) as well as the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam himself used to fast the day of ’Aashooraa’ during the days of Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance). When the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam emigrated to Madeenah he continued to fast it and commanded the people to do so. However, when the revelations regarding fasting in the month of Ramadaan came, he sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam gave it up and used to fast during Ramadaan instead. After this, some people continued to fast the day of ‘Aashooraa’ (optionally) whilst others gave up fasting it” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that: “When the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam arrived in Madeenah he observed that the Jews were fasting on the day of ‘Aashooraa’, so the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam asked them: “Why do you fast on this day?” they replied, “This is a great day. It is on this day that Allaah saved Moosaa and his followers while drowning Pharaoh and his people, so Moosaa fasted this day out of gratitude to Allaah. That is why we fast on this day” The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said in response: “We have more right to Moosaa than you (i.e. we love Moosaa and follow what he came with (Islaam) more than you do).” and thereupon the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam fasted this day and commanded the people to do likewise.” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
Salamah Ibn Al-Akwa’, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam commanded a man from the tribe of Aslam to call upon people and say, ‘Whoever has eaten something today, then let them refrain and fast the rest of the day; and as for those who have not eaten, let them fast because today is ‘Aashooraa’”
Abu Qataadah, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that a man asked the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam about the virtues of fasting on the day of ‘Aashooraa’, so the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam replied: “I hope that Allaah will make it a cause to expiate the sins of the previous year.” (Muslim). Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “If I live until next year I will fast the ninth along with the tenth (i.e. of Al-Muharram).” (Muslim) This was said by the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam so that his fasting would differ from that of the Jews.
As Muslims, we should be keen to fast the ninth along with the tenth of this month. If this is not possible, then we should try to fast other days of this sacred month such as Mondays, Thursdays and the mid-three days of this month (i.e. the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth). It is vital that the Muslims make provisions for their hereafter by increasing their performance of righteous deeds. Allaah says that which translates as: “So, whoever does an atoms weight of good will see it.” (Az-Zalzalah: 7).
Slaves of Allaah! Know that this is the month in which Allaah gave victory to Moosaa and his followers, despite the fact that they were vastly outnumbered, over the tyrant Pharaoh and his people. Allaah grants victory to the righteous who support His cause; He will fulfil all their wishes and never betray them. Allaah says that which translates as: “Indeed, We will support Our messengers and those who believe during the life of this world and on the Day when the witnesses will stand.” (Ghaafir: 51). So be assured while you are performing your prayers and fasting and when you are rushing to perform all other types of righteous deeds that Allaah will support you and that He will protect you. Whenever you are involved in an act of worship, Allaah will love you due to this and will give you a magnificent reward. This is because Allaah only enables those whom He loves to perform righteous deeds and He only guides those who repent to Him.
Many people have been deprived from the bounty of performing prayers, giving in charity, fasting and performing Hajj. On the other hand, Allaah has enabled you all to rush towards performing these acts of righteousness; He has made you eager to please your Lord, so rejoice and do not regress, protect these acts from decrease or rejection, always have the utmost concern for how your life will end, for this is the most important matter for yourselves.
The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “I swear by Him besides Whom there is nothing worthy of worship: A person will perform the deeds of one of the people of Paradise until there is only a arms-length between himself and Paradise; then, what has been written for him overtakes his behaviour and he will begin performing the deeds of the people of Hell and thereby enter Hell. Also, a person will perform the deeds of one of the people of Hell until there is only a hand-span between himself and Hell; then, what has been written for him overtakes his behaviour and he will begin performing the deeds of the people of Paradise and thereby enter Paradise.” (Bukhaari & Muslim). Allaah says which translates as: “And We place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no soul will be treated unjustly at all. And if there is [even] the weight as a mustard seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are we as an accountant.” (Al-Anbiyaa’: 47).
Slaves of Allaah! It is from the mercy of Allaah that He has made Islamic calculations based on the sighting of the crescent after sunset, because it is something tangible and because all the different sections of society can relate to it, regardless of their educational background. As soon as the crescent is sighted, a new month has begun, which means that a new day starts at sunset and not at the time when the sun reaches its zenith.
The Islamic Calendar was introduced during the caliphate of ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab, may Allaah be pleased with him. During the sixteenth or seventeenth year after the Hijrah, or Prophetic emigration from Makkah to Madinah, he gathered the people and consulted them regarding when the Islamic Calendar should begin. Some of them were of the opinion that it should start from the birth of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, while others held that it should start from the commencement of the prophetic message, a third opinion was that it should start from the Hijrah, while the fourth was that this new Islamic Calendar should start from the date of the death of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, adopted the opinion of starting it from the date of the Hijrah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam due to this being the point in history when Allaah distinguished between truth and falsehood by blessing the Muslims with an entity of their own in the form of the first Islamic state. When ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, consulted with the surviving companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam regarding which month the new Islamic calendar should begin with, some suggested Ramadaan, but ‘Umar, ‘Uthmaan and ‘Ali agreed to start from Al-Muharram. The reasoning behind this was that this is a sacred month and that it follows Dhu’l-Hijjah which was when the Ansaar (the Madeenan supporters of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) pledged allegiance to the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam to migrate. Therefore, it was fitting that the new Islamic Calendar was initiated from Al-Muharram.
Slaves of Allaah! We must thank Allaah for facilitating this easy way of calculation of dates, which started from the date of the migration of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam from Makkah to Madeenah. Muslims as individuals and as a nation must have distinct manners, characteristics and dealings from the disbelievers; who are not guided to the pure religion of Islaam. We must be a just nation in all our actions so that we can attain lives of peace, tranquillity and success - and attain happiness through sincere faith. If we were to do this then our relations with others would also improve, for he whose relationship with his Lord is good, then Allaah makes his relations with others good. If we rely totally on Allaah then He will be sufficient for us and grant us victory over our enemies. By doing this, the Muslim nation will live a dignified, honourable and successful life. Allaah says that which translates as: “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allaah.” (Aal-‘Imraan: 110).
Superiority, power and success can only be attained, after the help and support of Allaah, by having true and sincere faith and by enjoining good and forbidding evil. This nation will only succeed if they emulate, in faith and practice, the early generations of Muslims. We are at the beginning of a new year, so let us renew our faith, repent to Allaah and purify our hearts in order to attain Paradise, as well as the pleasure of our Lord in this life and the Hereafter. Allaah loves those who respond to His call, He grants them victory, mercy, and strengthens their faith due to their reliance on Him. Allaah says that which translates as: “…And, [O Muhammad], give good tidings to the humble [before their Lord]. Who, when Allaah is mentioned, their hearts are fearful, and [to] the patient over what has afflicted them, and the establishment of prayer and those who spend from what We have provided them.” (Al-Hajj: 34-35).