Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Virtues of Allah’s Sacred Month of Muharram

Is Muharram an Important Month?

Given that we are entering the month of Muharram, there are few things to be noted about this particular month.

Allah’s sacred month of Muharram is a blessed and important month, not just because it is the first month of the Hijri calendar, but also because it is one of the four sacred months concerning which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily, the number of months with Allaah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allaah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” [al-Tawbah 9:36]

Abu Bakrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumaada and Sha’baan.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 2958).

Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity.

Allaah’s words (interpretation of the meaning): “so wrong not yourselves therein…” mean do not wrong yourselves in these sacred months, because sin in these months is worse than in other months.
It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas said that this phrase (so wrong not yourselves therein…) referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.

What Can We Do In Muharram?

Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘The best of fasting after Ramadaan is fasting Allaah’s month of Muharram.’” (reported by Muslim, 1982).

The phrase “Allaah’s month”, connecting the name of the month to the name of Allaah in a genitive grammatical structure, signifies the importance of the month. Al-Qaari said: “The apparent meaning is all of the month of Muharram.” But it was proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never fasted any whole month apart from Ramadan, so this hadeeth is probably meant to encourage increasing one’s fasting during Muharram, without meaning that one should fast for the entire month.

It was reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to fast more in Sha’baan. It is likely that the virtue of Muharram was not revealed to him until the end of his life, before he was able to fast during this month.
(Sharh al-Nawawi ‘ala Saheeh Muslim).

What Day or Days Should One Fast

Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came to Madeenah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Aashooraa’. He said, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allaah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Moosa fasted on this day.’ He said, ‘We have more right to Moosa than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 1865).

The virtues of fasting ‘Aashooraa’

Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said: “I never saw the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of ‘Aashooraa’, and this month, meaning Ramadaan.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 1867).

The meaning of his being keen was that he intended to fast on that day in the hope of earning the reward for doing so.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “For fasting the day of ‘Aashooraa’, I hope that Allaah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Reported by Muslim, 1976). This is from the bounty of Allaah towards us: for fasting one day He gives us expiation for the sins of a whole year. And Allaah is the Owner of Great Bounty.

It is mustahabb (encouraged) to fast Taasoo’aa’ with ‘Aashooraa’

‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said: “When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) fasted on ‘Aashooraa’ and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘If I live to see the next year, inshallaah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed away before the next year came.” (Reported by Muslim, 1916).

On this basis it may be said that there are varying degrees of fasting ‘Aashooraa’, the least of which is to fast only on the tenth and the best of which is to fast the ninth as well. The more one fasts in Muharram, the better it is.

The strongest reason for fasting the ninth along with the tenth is being different from the People of the Book. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade imitating the People of the Book in many ahaadeeth, for example, his words concerning ‘Aashooraa’: ‘If I live until the next year, I will certainly fast on the ninth day.’” (al-Fataawa al-Kubra, part 6, Sadd al-Dharaa’i’ al-Mufdiyah ila’l-Mahaarim )

Ruling on fasting only on the day of ‘Aashooraa’

Shaykh al-Islam said: “Fasting on the day of ‘Aashoraa’ is an expiation for a year, and it is not makrooh to fast only that day…” (al-Fataawa al-Kubra, part 5). In Tuhfat al-Muhtaaj by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, it says: “There is nothing wrong with fasting only on ‘Aashooraa’.” (part 3, Baab Sawm al-Tatawwu’).

Fasting ‘Aashooraa’ – for what does it offer expiation?

Imaam al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

“It expiates for all minor sins, i.e., it brings forgiveness of all sins except major sins.”

Then he said (may Allaah have mercy on him):

“Fasting the day of ‘Arafaah expiates for two years, and the day of ‘Aashooraa’ expiates for one year. If when a person says ‘Aameen’ it coincides with the ‘Aameen’ of the angels, he will be forgiven all his previous sins… Each one of the things that we have mentioned will bring expiation. If there are minor sins for which expiation is needed, expiation for them will be accepted; if there are no minor sins or major sins, good deeds will be added to his account and he will be raised in status… If he had committed major sins but no minor sins, we hope that his major sins will be reduced.” (al-Majmoo’ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, part 6, Sawm Yawm ‘Arafaah).

Correcting Some Common Misconceptions About This Month & Fasting on Aashooraa

Some people who are deceived rely too much on things like fasting on ‘Aashooraa’ or the day of ‘Arafaah, to the extent that some of them say, “Fasting on ‘Aashooraa’ will expiate for the sins of the whole year, and fasting on the day of ‘Arafaah will bring extra rewards.” Ibn al-Qayyim said: ‘This misguided person does not know that fasting in Ramadaan and praying five times a day are much more important than fasting on the day of ‘Arafaah and ‘Aashooraa’, and that they expiate for the sins between one Ramadaan and the next, or between one Friday and the next, so long as one avoids major sins. But they cannot expiate for minor sins unless one also avoids major sins; when the two things are put together, they have the strength to expiate for minor sins. Among those deceived people may be one who thinks that his good deeds are more than his sins, because he does not pay attention to his bad deeds or check on his sins, but if he does a good deed he remembers it and relies on it. This is like the one who seeks Allaah’s forgiveness with his tongue (i.e., by words only), and glorifies Allaah by saying “Subhaan Allaah” one hundred times a day, then he backbites about the Muslims and slanders their honour, and speaks all day long about things that are not pleasing to Allaah. This person is always thinking about the virtues of his tasbeehaat (saying “Subhaan Allaah”) and tahleelaat (saying “Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah”) but he pays no attention to what has been reported concerning those who backbite, tell lies and slander others, or commit other sins of the tongue. They are completely deceived.” (al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, part 31, Ghuroor).


At 5:20 AM, Blogger zanjabil said...

Jazakallahu khayran.

I'm trying to follow the Muslim months during the year. It's good to be aware of time in relation to the moon, and the deen.


Post a Comment

<< Home