MUHARRAM AND ASHOORA
الحمد لله رب العالمين ، والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين
We did not go into details about the history of Islam, or the tribulations that struck the Islamic nation during 632-80 as these can be read in many related Ahle Sunnah books. We have discussed in this book briefly certain events of great significance during this period. Correct comprehension of these issues is very important because a slight misunderstanding will have profound affect on Sahih Iman. It is important that we safeguard our Iman from the extreme opinions of Shias, Salafis, Ikhwan, Deobandis and their like minded groups.We have refrained from expressing our personal opinions throughout this series of books. We have described facts as contained in authentic History books/Islamic literature. Ahadith, Quranic verses and scholars' opinions have been cited all through the articles. Please note that these books are aimed at clearing the misunderstanding on historical issues. We hope our readers will greatly benefit from this effort.
Muharram is the first month of Islamic Calendar. The sighting of lunar crescent (Hilāl) for the month of Muharram heralds the beginning of new year in Islamic Hijri Calendar.
It is in Quran - إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِندَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ [The number of months (in a year) in the sight of Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) is twelve - so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the Earth; of them four are sacred: that is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein.] (At-Tawbah - 36)
It is in Hadith - Narrated by Abu Bakra (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) - The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said : "The division of time has turned to its original form which was current when Allah ((سبحانہ و تعا لی) created the Heavens and the Earths. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred; three are in succession, Dhul-Qa' da, Dhul-Hijja, Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumadi-ath-Thaniyah and Sha'ban." (Bukhari Vol 004, Book 054, Hadith 419)
It is in Hadith - The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said " The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadhan is the fasting of Allah's (سبحانہ و تعا لی) month of Muharram and the best of Salah besides the Fardh (compulsory) Salah is Salat at-Tahajjud. (Muslim Vol.1 Page 368)
The tenth day of Muharram is known as 'the day of Ashoora'.
It is Hadith - Ibne Abbas (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) narrates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the day of Ashoora. Hence the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) inquired of them, "What is (the significance of) this day on which you fast?" They replied, "This is a great day. On this day Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) saved Moosa (علیھ السلا م) and his people and drowned Fir'awn and his nation. Thus Moosa (علیھ السلا م) fasted on this day as a token of thanksgiving, therefore we too fast on this day." The Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said, "We are more worthy of Moosa (علیھ السلا م) and nearer to him than you." Thereafter, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) fasted on this day and ordered (his Companions) that a fast be kept on this day." (Bukhari, Vol 1, Hadith # 2004; Muslim Vol.1, Page 359 )
It is in Hadith - Abu Qatadah (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) narrates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) was asked regarding the fast of the day of Ashoora. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) replied: "It is a compensation for the sins of the past year". (Muslim Vol.1)
It is mentioned in Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, Sayyidina Shaikh Abdul Qadri al Jilani (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) that, on this day (Yaum e Ashoora), Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) accepted the repentance of Hadhrat Adam (علیھ السلا م ) after his exile from Paradise; Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) saved Hadhrat Nuh (علیھ السلا م) and his companions in the Ark; Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) extinguished the fire in which Hadhrat Ibrahim (علیھ السلا م ) was thrown by Nimrod; And Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) spoke directly to Hadhrat Musa (علیھ السلا م ) and gave him the Commandments. On this same 10th of Muharram, Hadhrat Ayyub (علیھ السلا م ) was restored to health; Hadhrat Yusuf (علیھ السلا م) was reunited with his father Ya’qub (علیھ السلا م ); Hadhrat Yunus (علیھ السلا م ) was taken out from the belly of the fish; and the sea was divided as the nation of Israel was delivered from captivity and Pharaoh’s army was destroyed. ‘Ashura is also the day when Hadhrat Dawud (علیھ السلا م ) was forgiven; the kingdom of Hadhrat Sulaiman (علیھ السلا م ) was restored; Hadhrat Isa (علیھ السلا م) was raised to Jannah and Imam Husain (علیھ السلا م) achieved the honor of Martyrdom.
The day of Ashoora also came into focus in Islam as it was on that day that Hadhrat Imam Hussain (علیھ السلا م) was martyred in Karbala, Iraq in 680 (61 H).
Let us clarify a point here. Some people claim that it is not appropriate to write 'Alaihis Salam' with the name of the members of Ahle Bait (like Hadhrat Ali, Sayyida Fatimah, Imams Hassan and Hussain); rather we should write Radiallahu ta'ala unh (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) because 'alaihis salaam' is used with the names of the Prophets. However, when we read the books of Tafaseer, Ahadith and Fiqh of hundreds of Ahle Sunnah scholars for the past 1400 years, we find that they have used 'alaihis salam' with Ahle Bait e At haar. Imam Bukhari in his Sahih has used 'alaihis salam' with the names of Hadhrat Ali, Sayyida Fatima and other members of Ahle Bait. Imam Ahmed used 'Alaihis Salam' with the names of Ahle Bait in his "Musnad". Imam Jalauddin Suyuti, Shaikh Ahmed Sirhindi, Shah Waliullah and hundreds of others have used 'alaihis salam' with the names of Ahle Bait. Also, It is a common practice that when two Muslims meet, one says "As Salaamu Alaikum' and this greeting is returned by 'Wa alaikum as Salaam' by the other person. Also in every Salah we recite 'At Tahiyat' in which we say "Assalamu alaina wa ala Ibaadillahis Saliheen". Therefore, no one should object when we use 'alaihis salaam' for Ahle Bait e At haar.
MOURNING IN ISLAM
To feel sad on the death of our close relatives like parents, children and close relatives is a natural reaction. When someone dies at our home we are shocked, feel hurt and we cry out for the departed soul. It is a natural phenomenon. There are instances when prophets wept on the death of their kins. Hadhrat Yaqoob (علیھ السلا م) wept when his son Hadhrat Youssuf (علیھ السلا م) was lost. Prophet Mohammad shed tears on the death of his infant son Ibrahim (علیھ السلا م). Sahabah and Ahle Bait cried loudly on the death of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). It is reported that when one tooth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) was broken in the battle of Uhad, and the news reached Hadhrat Owais al-Qarni (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) in Yemen, he felt hurt, cried and in his love for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم), he broke all his teeth.
Crying, sobbing or shedding tears as a result of a psychological shock or death of a relative is natural and therefore allowed in Islam. It is a fact that over a period of time we get adjusted to our sorrows. Time is a great healer, by passage of time, it heals our psychological wounds. However, we do remember the dates of death of our near and dear, but we do not cry on death anniversaries as we cried at the time of the deaths. Instead, we visit the graves of our dead relatives, do Fateha and Eisaal e Thawab, feed the poor. During our visits to the graves on death anniversaries, tears come out of our eyes remembering their association with us in the past, but the intensity of agony is gradually reduced as the time goes by.
For Awliya Allah and Sufia e Karaam, the date of death is a moment of joy. The people who are rewarded with spiritual vision know that the date of death is celebrated in Aalam-e-Mithaal with joy. The date of death is treated as the date of success, a day when bountiful rewards of Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) started to pour on the pious soul. Following the example of Aalam e Mithaal, we also celebrate the date of death of Awliya Allah. Like we celebrate the Urs of Khaja Gharib Nawaz (رحمة لله علىـہ) and other Awliya Allah. On the occasion of annual Urs of Awliya Allah, we visit their pious graves, do Eisaal e Sawab, conduct Sama and Zikr Mahfils and inform people about the life histories of these important dignitaries of Islam so that people know about these dignitaries and learn from their lives.
Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) was born and died on the same date. Therefore we celebrate 12 Rabi al Awwal as Eid Milaad un Nabi every year. We do not mourn on this day because we know that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) has veiled himself from the people of this world. The people who have been awarded with spiritual vision see that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and all important dignitaries of Islam are alive in Mithal (the life after death). There is a point of contact with them in this world and it is associated with their pious graves. We can see them with our spiritual eyes, can communicate with them from our spiritual tongue, listen to them from our spiritual ears and can associate with them in both the worlds. They guide us and they do pray for us during our difficult times in this world. And, as they are pious and beloveds of Allah, their prayers are helpful for us in alleviating our difficulties.
We cannot explain to a blind man how the beautiful rainbow looks like. Similarly we cannot explain the life after death to blind, deaf and dumb Salafis, Deobandis and like minded people. What can we say except that it is their hard luck. They are wandering in spiritual darkness away from Sahih Iman. As a matter of fact, this is Azab e Elahi on them in this world. They have earned it because of their disrespect of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) and Ahle Bait e At Haar.
There are two types of people in Ahle Sunnah wal Jama'a.
(i) Those who see Imam Hussain (علیھ السلا م) with their spiritual eyes. This type of people are rarely spotted in these end times. But they do exist in this world. They do Fateha, Eisaal e thawaab, conduct Zikr gatherings during Muharram, particularly on the day of Ashoorah. They feel proud of their Imam (علیھ السلا م) and his spiritual elevation and merit among Sahabah. They conduct gatherings of people and inform Muslims about the Martyrdom of Iman Hussain (علیھ السلا م). They explain people that the battle of Karbala was the fight between Haq on Batil. They emphasize how indebted we all Muslims are to Imam Hussain (علیھ السلا م). It is because of him, we are on the right path today. He showed us the right path of Islam.
(ii) Those Ahle Sunnah whose spiritual eyes are not active, they follow the traditions of their Salasil and conduct/join the Zikr gatherings, Fateha and Eisaal e Thawab. They participate in special gatherings in which Munaqeb e Imam Hussain (علیھ السلا م) are described. They share the message of Imam Hussain (علیھ السلا م) and refresh their Iman in the light of his teachings.
There is a popular Dua Ashoora attributed to Imam Ali Ibn Husain Zain al Abedin (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ). The Dua mentions about the important events that have taken place in the history of mankind; from Hadhrat Adam (علیھ السلا م) till the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (علیھ السلا م).
In many Ahle Sunnah Salasil, this Dua is recited on 10th of Muharram every year. There are two parts of this Dua. The first part is recited 3 times and the second part is recited 7 times with Durood-e-Sharif 3-times before and after.
The Sunni practice in Muharram is remembrance of Imam Hussain (علیھ السلا م) and his Islamic ideals. When we remember Imam Hussain (علیھ السلا م) and the circumstance in which he was martyred, surely we feel sorrowful and tears roll down from our eyes. We remember what Prophet Mohammad ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) must have felt when his dearest grandson and his entire family and associates were martyred in Karbala in such harsh conditions. We love our Prophet ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) and his Ahle Bait and to feel sorrowful while remembering this event is natural. This is a sign of Sahih Iman. However, we also feel pride for our Imam (علیھ السلا م) and his elevated state in Aalam-e-Mithal. He is our Hero, our guide and our leader in both the worlds.
It is in Hadith - Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri ( رضئ الله تعالی عنه ) narrated that the Prophet ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم ) said "Hassan and Hussain ( رضئ الله تعالی عنهم ) are the masters of the youth in Paradise" (Ahmed, Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, Nasai. Salafi shaikh Al-Bani classified it as Saheeh)
SHIA AZADARI (MATAM)
Shia's ritualistic Matham, conducting Majalis, chest beating, hurting self with chains, blades and knifes in public display of mourning on streets is indeed a mockery of the battle of Karbala.
In their Majalis, Shia portray Imam Hussain (علیھ السلا م) as a hapless and helpless person and describe the events of Karbala in Noha Qani in such a pathetic way that the bravery and real message of the Imam (علیھ السلا م) gets eclipsed.
This kind of mourning invites wrath of Allah (Qahr e Elahi) because it is an insult and disgrace of the great Iman (علیھ السلا م) and his Islamic ideals. Shias have lost the way of Islam and are wandering in spiritual darkness.
The practice of 'Tazia' or 'Tazvye' was started in Iran. "Tazvye" was a form of drama, enacted on stages to promote Shiaism. Ibn Kathir wrote that it appeared during the reign of Mu'izz ad-Dawla, the king of Buyid dynasty, in 963. The practice was officially sponsored at the start of Safavid Dynasty in Persia in 1501, when they adopted Twelver Shiaism as their official religion. Shah Ismail - I, the founder of Safavid Dynasty, took interest in theater as a tool of propagating Shiism.
Later, Shia started making replicas of the dome of Imam Hussain (علیھ السلا م) and named it 'Tazia' which were displayed for 10 days, from 1st to 10th of Muharram, in various cities and on the day of Ashoora, the replicas were buried in cemeteries.
It is reported that Indian Shia were not able to travel long distance to the city of Kerbala, whether for burial of their dead or for pilgrimage, therefore, they built replicas of Imam Hussein's (علیھ السلا م) mausoleum which were referred as Tazīas. These Tazias are carried in processions and buried at the end of Ashura or Arba'een.
In Indian Sub Continent 'Tazias are miniature replicas built as models of Martyrs of Ahle Bait Mausoleums which are carried in processions during Muharram.
Public gathering to commemorate anniversaries in remembrance of important dignitaries of Islam is fine. Sharia does not restrict us on that. Peaceful processions of all kinds, taking flags in our hands in a show of solidarity to a cause is also allowed. Making pictures of the Green dome of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) or mausoleum of other important dignitaries of Islam on flags and carry them in processions during Eid Milad un Nabi and other occasions is also allowed in Islam. However, proper respect and disposal of these replicas / pictures / flags should be ensured at the end of the gathering.
Making a Tazia in an individual name, depicting it as a dead body of a particular dignitary of Ahle Bait and chest beating and hurting oneself with chains and knives is not a praiseworthy practice.
The practice of treating Tazia as a dead body and burying it at a certain place and calling it Karbala is highly objectionable.
Tazias have disappeared from Iraq and Iran. Only public display of mourning is done in these countries. However, in Indian Sub Continent, public processions of Tazias are still continued.
Tazias and many of the rituals associated with it, like street mourning, chest beating hurting oneself with chains, knives and blades are reprehensible practices and it is a good idea to stay away from them.