MUHARRAM & YOU: 10 Things You Need to Know to Benefit from this Month!

Assalamualaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
• What Muharram should mean to you
• ‘Ashura: its virtues and rulings
• How to feel the beauty of expiation
• How to not rely on the reward of fasting too much

1. Realize you are witnessing a sacred month and act upon it!
The sacred months as mentioned in the ahadeeth are: Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. [Al Bukhari]…of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein … “Al-Qur’an 9:36
Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity. ” … 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.

2. FAST VOLUNTARILY“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘The best of fasting after Ramadhan is fasting Allah’s month of Muharram.’ Jami` at-Tirmidhi 740

3. Know WHY you fast on ‘Ashura.(The tribe of) Quraish used to fast on the day of Ashura’ in the Pre-Islamic period, and then Allah’s Apostle ordered (Muslims) to fast on it till the fasting in the month of Ramadan was prescribed; whereupon the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He who wants to fast (on ‘Ashura’) may fast, and he who does not want to fast may not fast.”Sahih al-Bukhari 1893

” … so we fast on this day to venerate it.” [Al-Bukhari]

A version narrated by Imam Ahmad adds: “This is the day on which the Ark settled on Mount Judi, so Nuh fasted this day in thanksgiving,” and “commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day”.
Fasting on ‘Ashura’ was a gradual step in the process of introducing fasting as a prescribed obligation in Islam. Fasting appeared in three forms. When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Madinah, he told the Muslims to fast on three days of every month and on the day of ‘Ashura’, then Allah made fasting obligatory when He said (interpretation of the meaning): ” … observing the fasting is prescribed for you … ” [Al-Qur’an2:183] [Ahkam al-Qur’an by al-Jassas, part 1]

4. SEEK THE REWARD OF FASTING on the day of Ashura.
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: “I never saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of ‘Ashura’, and this month, meaning Ramadhan.” Reported by Al-Bukhari, 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 said: “For fasting the day of ‘Ashura’, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” [ Muslim, 1976]ACTION POINT: Ask Allah ‘azza wa jall now to enable you to fast and gain this amazing reward. Think of all your sins the last year. And truly beg Allah ‘azza wa jall to include you in this great reward.

5. Which Day is ‘Ashura’?
An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “‘Ashura’ and Tasu’a’ are two elongated names [the vowels are elongated] as is stated in books on the Arabic language. Our companions said: ‘Ashura’ is the tenth day of Muharram and Tasu’a’ is the ninth day.

6. It is Mustahabb (Encouraged) to Fast Tasu’a’ with Ashura’
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: “When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted on ‘Ashura’ and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘If I live to see the next year, in sha Allah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed away before the next year came.” [Reported by Muslim, 1916]7. Know the Reason Why it is Mustahabb to Fast on Tasu’a’
The intention behind it is to be different from the Jews, who only venerate the tenth day. This opinion was reported from Ibn ‘Abbas.
To be on the safe side and make sure that one fasts on the tenth, in case there is some error in sighting the crescent moon at the beginning of Muharram and the ninth is in fact the tenth.
Ruling on Fasting Only on the Day of ‘Ashura’: Shaykh ul-Islam said: “Fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ is an expiation for a year, and it is not makruh to fast only that day … ” [Al-Fatawa al-Kubra, part 5] In Tuhfat al-Muhtaj by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, it says: “There is nothing wrong with fasting only on ‘Ashura’.” [Part 3, Bab Sawm at-Tatawwu’]

8. FEEL THE BEAUTY of the expiation!
Imam an-Nawawi (may Allah 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 Allah have mercy on him): “Fasting the day of ‘Arafah expiates for two years, and the day of ‘Ashura’ expiates for one year. If when a person says ‘Amin’ it coincides with the ‘Amin’ 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-Majmu’ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, part 6, Sawm Yawm ‘Arafah]

9. Don’t rely Too Much on the Reward for Fasting
Some people who are deceived rely too much on things like fasting on ‘Ashura’ or the day of ‘Arafah, to the extent that some of them say, “Fasting on ‘Ashura’ will expiate for the sins of the whole year, and fasting on the day of ‘Arafah will bring extra rewards.” Ibn al-Qayyim said: “This misguided person does not know that fasting in Ramadhan and praying five times a day are much more important than fasting on the day of ‘Arafah and ‘Ashura’, and that they expiate for the sins between one Ramadhan 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 Allah’s forgiveness with his tongue (i.e., by words only), and glorifies Allah by saying “Subhanallah” one hundred times a day, then he backbites about the Muslims and slanders their honor, and speaks all day long about things that are not pleasing to Allah. This person is always thinking about the virtues of his tasbihat (saying “Subhanallah”) and tahlilat (saying “La ilaha illallah”) 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-Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, part 31, Ghurur]

10. Mind these Innovations Common on ‘Ashura’
Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about the things that people do on ‘Ashura’, such as wearing kohl, taking a bath (ghusl), wearing henna, shaking hands with one another, cooking grains (hubub), showing happiness and so on. Was any of this reported from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in a sahih hadith, or not? If nothing to that effect was reported in a sahih hadith, is doing these things bid’ah, or not? Is there any basis for what the other group do, such as grieving and mourning, going without anything to drink, eulogizing and wailing, reciting in a crazy manner, and rending their garments?
His reply was: “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Nothing to that effect has been reported in any sahih hadith from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or from his Companions. None of the Imams of the Muslims encouraged or recommended such things, neither the four Imams, nor any others. No reliable scholars have narrated anything like this, neither from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), nor from the Sahabah, nor from the Tabi’in; neither in any sahih report or in a da’if (weak) report; neither in the books of Sahih, nor in as-Sunan, nor in the Musnads.

“As for the other things… [such as above] none of it has anything to do with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or the way of the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun.
Al-Fatawa al-Kubra by Ibn TaymiyyahIbn Al-Hajj (may Allah have mercy on him) mentioned that one of the bid’ah on ‘Ashura’ was deliberately paying zakat on this day, late or early, or slaughtering a chicken just for this occasion, or – in the case of women – using henna. [Al-Madkhal, part 1, Yawm ‘Ashura’]

May Allah azza wa jall accept this as an act of gaining knowledge of Islam and guide us to act upon it, accept our fasts and admit us to the Highest Jannah without reckoning, ameen.

Share with as many others as possible and inshaa’Allah it’s a sadaqah jaariyah for you.

– 9th Muharram – Day before Ashura
– 10th Muharram – Ashura
– 11th Muharram – Day after Ashura
– 12th Muharram – Sunnah day of fasting
– 13th Muharram – First of the white days of fasting (ayaam ul beed)
– 14th Muharram – white day of fasting
– 15th Muharram – white of fasting

Praying you will benefit,

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Jazakumullahu Khairan

Team UQA


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