One of the many blessings that Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon us are the holy months, the special hours of sacred reflection, and the many days of obedience meant to bring us closer to and remain connected to Him. Since our souls/spirits can become weakened by the many trials, tribulations, and temptations that we are subjected to – particularly as we are living in a time surrounded by deviant practices, corruption, and vice – the month of Muharram has been given to us as a holy gift, a month that the Prophet (SAW) chose for us to fast particular days in. It was reported by Imam Muslim that the Prophet (SAW) said, “…the best of fasting after the month of Ramadan is the month of Allah (SWT), Muharram.”
Ashura, the 10th of Muharram, is a great day in which Allah (SWT) saved Prophet Musa (AS) and his people from drowning. He (SWT) went on to send the Pharaoh and his people to their demise instead. It was reported that when the Prophet (SAW) came to Madina, he found people fasting on the 10th day of Muharram to commemorate the day when Prophet Musa (AS) was miraculously saved by Allah (SWT). When the Prophet (SAW) inquired as to why they were fasting on this date, he was told that Allah (SWT) saved Musa (AS). Then the Prophet (SAW) said, “We are more worthy of Prophet Musa than anyone else.” When the Prophet (SAW) was asked about the benefits and virtues of fasting on Ashura, he went on to say, “…I expect Allah (SWT) to wipe the sins of the previous year” (as reported by Imam Muslim).
Ibn Al-Qayyim (AS) said that there are three levels of fasting in Ashura. The highest is to fast the 9th, 10th, and 11th days of Muharram. The second level is to fast either the 9th and the 10th, or the 10th and 11th days. The third level, most importantly, is to fast only on the 10th day of Muharram. We do pray that Allah (SWT) accepts the deeds and fasting of all those who participated in these fasts.
As the month of Muharram is one of the 4 sacred months – which has been repeatedly mentioned in previous articles – even the Arabs of the jahiliyya (period of ignorance) used to forbid fighting in this particular month, as it was known as Shahr Al-Haram (Al-Muharram). However, it is in this month that the martyrdom of Imam Al-Husain, the grandson of the Prophet (SAW), took place. It was in the 61st year of Hijra that Al-Husain (AS) and his family were subjected to one of the most brutal incidents in Islamic history. To this day, there is a considerable faction of Muslims who grieve during this month as they are still affected by the tragic events of that day.
When we reflect on the most agreed upon accounts of the incidents of Karbala, we are told that Al-Husain (AS), one of the most beloved of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s progeny, was someone who used to play with the Prophet (SAW), who jumped on his back, and who the Prophet (SAW) loved and showed compassion to. In fact, Allah (SWT) has actually enjoined us on behalf of the Prophet (SAW) by saying:
“…I do not ask you for any recompense for this message but the love for my kindred’s and the nearness and whosoever wants good We shall increase for him the reward in the Hereafter. Surely Allah is the Most Forgiving, Most Compassionate.” (Chapter 42, Verse 23)
In this regard, we have not only been asked by Allah (SWT) to show respect for the Prophet (SAW), but for his progeny. Again, the Prophet (SAW) in his Hajjatul Wada’ (farewell ceremony) said, “I have left behind me for you two things: the book of Allah and my progeny/family.”
Yet we find that when Imam Al-Husain (AS) stood for what he believed to be just, right, and truthful he, along with his family, was driven by his enemies to take the journey through the desert all the way to Karabala. To the best of accounts, there were only 72 people in total with him, including the children. An estimated 30,000 soldiers surrounded them laid siege to their compound, starving them and depriving them even of water. Needless to say, it became very difficult for Imam Al-Husain (AS), his fellow travelers, and especially for the children who were with them.
Al-Husain (AS) sent one of his soldiers out to ask for water for the women and children. However, they mutilated this soldier by cutting off his hands. Then, Imam Al-Husain (AS) himself ventured with his own son to appeal for water. It was reported that Al-Husain (AS) said to them, “I know you have a problem with me but what is the fault of this innocent child? I am asking you in the name of Allah (SWT) to give him water for survival. If you don’t want to give me the water, I will leave him on this rock and you can give him water.” The response to this desperate request was an arrow that killed the baby right in the arms of his father.
Even though Al-Husain (AS) and his people suffered through terrible loss, agony, and oppression, he refused to surrender and continued to confront his enemies. Al-Husain (AS) is a beautiful example of someone who stood for what he believed to be just, right, and truthful—even if it cost him and his family their lives. Today, Al-Husain (AS) is being remembered throughout these 14 centuries. In fact, some call him the Prince of Martyrs, but the Prophet (SAW) said that both Al-Husain (AS) and Al-Hassan (AS) will be the youth masters of Paradise. Due to their reverence for Ahl Al-Bayt (the People of the Household of the Prophet Muhammad SAW) and in remembrance of the tragic events of Karbala, some are led to the extremes of cutting their heads with knifes and steels, thinking that they are commemorating this martyrdom of Al-Husain (AS).
May Allah (SWT) guide all of us to what is just, right, and truthful.