Mumbai’s largest circulated daily newspaper, The Times of India had published an article on February 6, 2006 by an extremist, Abu Bakr, captioned ‘Why should Muharram be considered sacred?’ The article and its claims were effectively debunked in the same newspaper. Following is the gist of the article.
Mr. Abu Bakr: Unfortunately your inability to follow the teachings of Islam is reflected in your writings. Let us examine what you have written and what the reality actually is.
The tenth day of Muharram is ‘Aashura’. The Jews of Madina fasted on this day, the day on which Prophet Moses (a.s.) and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously. So the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) directed the Muslims to fast on the day of Aashura.
The hadith you have quoted is in actuality thus:
The Prophet (s.a.w.a) on migrating to Madina found the Jews fasting on the 10th of Muharram. On enquiry, he was told: “It is an auspicious day; it is the day when God delivered the children of Israel from their enemy (i.e. Pharaoh); and, therefore, Moses fasted on that day.” The Prophet (s.a.w.a) said, “I am worthier of Moses than you are.” Thereupon, he fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast.
(Al- Saheeh of al-Bukhari, Vol.3; Egypt ed.; p.54. Mishkatul-Masabih; Delhi ed.; 1307 A.H.; p.l72)
It is noted by the commentator of Mishkatul-Masabih that “it was in the second year, because in the first year the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had arrived at Madina after ‘Aashura, in Rabi’ul-awwal.”
It should be noted that the Jews had their own calendar and monthly cycles. There is no logic in saying that they fasted on the 10th of Muharram- unless it could be proved that this date always coincided with a Jewish day of fast.
The first month of the Jews (Abib, later named Nisan) coincided with Rajab of the Arabs. W.O.E.Oesterley and Theodore H.Robinson have written that in Arabia “the most important of all the new-moon festivals was that which fell in the month of Rajab (sic), equivalent to the Hebrew month ‘Abib, for this was the time when the ancient Arabs celebrated the Spring festival.” (Hebrew Religion; S.P.C.K., London; 1955; p.128)
Probably, in ancient times the two branches of Hazrat Ibrahim’s (a.s.) household followed the same system of intercalating an additional month. And in this way the 7th Jewish month, Tishri I, coincided with Muharram. And the ‘Aashura of Muharram synchronized with 10th of Tishri I, the Jewish Day of Atonement – a day of fast. The two calendars lost their synchronization when Islam, in the 9th year of Hijrah, disallowed intercalation. But on deeper consideration it transpired that this parity was lost long before the advent of Islam, because the Arabs did not follow any mathematical calculation in their intercalation. That was why Muharram of the 2nd year of Hijrah began on 5th July, 623 C.E. (Al-Munjid, 21st ed.), months before Tishri I (which always coincides with September-October).
Clearly, ‘Aashura’ of Muharram in that year (or, for that matter, during the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) whole life at Madina) had no significance whatsoever for the Jews.
In the beginning, fasting on this day was obligatory but later, the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory and the fast on the day of Aashura was made optional.
You further state:
Yet, the sanctity of Aashura cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of Muharram and the day of Aashura was established during the days of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), much before the birth of Husain.
The question is: Why did they fast on that day?
The Jewish Midrashic literature relates the 10th day of the 7th month (Yom Hakippurim – Day of Atonement) to the event of bringing the tablets of the Covenant from Mount Sinai, as Dr. Mishael Maswari-Caspi has written in his letter.
The question is: If the Jews had wanted to keep the long-lost synchronization of Tishri I and Muharram in view, how was it that they forgot to narrate this tradition to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)?
The month in which God delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh was Abib (i.e. Rajab), as the Bible clearly states: “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the pass-over unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.” (Deut. 16:1)
The question is: How could the Jews transfer an event of Abib (originally coinciding with Rajab) to Muharram, in open defiance of their Torah?
Here is a point to ponder for the Muslims: The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was sent with a religion to abrogate all previous religions and shari’ah. How was it that he deigned to imitate the custom of the Jews?
It is clear from above-mentioned facts that the Jews had no reason at all to fast on Aashura of Muharram at that period; and this story, built on that premise, is just that – a fiction. Obviously, it was invented by a narrator who only knew that once upon a time Muharram coincided with the Jews’ Tishri I; but was totally unaware of contemporary Jewish religion and culture.
One feels constrained to mention here that this and other such traditions were forged by camp-followers of the Umayyads, after the martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.), as a part of their campaign to turn the 10th of Muharram into a day of rejoicing. These traditions are of the same genre as those which say that it was on the 10th of Muharram that Noah’s ark rested on Mount Arafat, the fire became cool and safe for Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) , and Hazrat Isa (a.s.) ascended to the heavens. In the same category came the traditions exhorting the Muslims to treat Aashura as a festival of joy, and to store one’s food-grain on this very day, as it would increase one’s sustenance and bring the blessings of Allah to the household.
In fact, it is one of the merits of Husain (a.s.) that his martyrdom took place on this day. Another misconception is that it is an inauspicious month since Husain was killed during Muharram. Hence people avoid conducting marriages during this period.
This is baseless. If the death of an eminent person on a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, no day of the year would be free from bad luck. The Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) have liberated us from such superstitious beliefs.
This is nothing but blind prejudice since there are no traditions which state that it is haraam (unlawful) to conduct weddings on Aashura or in month of Muharram and Safar. I would like to ask you that will you get married on the day your father or mother die or will you postpone it for a month or so as a mark of respect or consideration? (I wouldn’t be surprised if you say – there is no harm).
Lamentations, breast-beating and mourning in memory of Husain’s martyrdom are not sanctioned by Islam. Though such martyrdoms are tragic, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has forbidden holding mourning ceremonies on the death of any person.
People of Jaahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased then The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) stopped the Muslims …………..”
Hasn’t it occurred to you that had it not been for these mourning rituals, the distinction between the path of Imam Husain (a.s.) and that of Yazid would have been destroyed. Yazid will for ever be deemed as a hateable man who symbolises filth, shame, debauchery, decadence, immorality, mental corruption, and all the ingredients existent in the DNA of Iblis (Devil).
We deem our Azadari (mourning) as the means via which we can express our sorrow for the Ahle bait (a.s.). The words of Imam of Ahle Sunnah Allamah Fakhrudeen Raadhi are very important:
“It is our firm belief that one who dies with love for the descendants of Muhammad (s) dies a martyr”.
(Tafseer-a-Kabir, vol. 7, p. 390, line No. 9)
We read in al Bidayah wan Nihayah Vol. 4, P. 45, published Beirut
It is narrated by Abu Hurariah that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) used to visit the graves of martyrs every year. When he (s.a.w.a.) would reach the entrance of the mountain, he (s.a.w.a.) would say (to the martyrs): ‘Assalamo alaikum bima sabartum’. This means ‘Peace be on you due to your patience and you have reached a pleasant place due to this.’ Then after Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Abu Bakr also used to come (every year), and after him Umar used to do the same and then Usman also did the same”.
We read in al Bidayah wan Nihayah Vol. 6 P. 360:
Umar said ‘Whenever I venture out at sunrise, I remember the death of my brother Zaid ibn Khattab”
We find in Tarikh e Yaqoobi, Vol. 1, P. 3.
The father and mother of humanity (Hazrat Adam (a.s.) and his wife Hazrat Hawwa (a.s.)) wept for their son Habeel for so long that their tears turned into a stream.
In Rauzah al-Shuhadaa, P. 30 the same incident has been quoted by Mulla Husain Wa’iz Kashifi who adds:
“Tears from Adam’s (a.s.) right eye were flowing like the River Dajla and like the River Euphrates from his left eye”.
Perhaps the following tradition may interest you…
After the burial of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), the companions in a state of sorrow were virtually throwing dust of yearning and shame over their lives and living, and were burning and crying due to being separated from their beloved of the world and the hereafter. Especially Hazrat Fatima (s.a.) was the most aggrieved, the loneliest and was crying and wailing the most, she was looking at the faces of her sons Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Imam Husain (a.s.) and was crying at their plight and herself being orphaned. At the other side, Hazrat Ayesha in the same apartment where Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had passed away, was continually crying and wailing. Days and nights the voices of crying and mourning rose from this house which became house of grief (Bayt ul Huzn) and separation.
(Madaarij al-Nubuwwah, vol. 2, p. 753 & 754)
Mulla Ali Qaari in his book Al-Mirqat Fi Sharh al-Mishkaat from a narration by Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal quotes the words of Imam Husain (a.s.).
“Whosoever weeps and cries upon me remembering my pain and miseries, Allah shall grant him Paradise”.
(Al-Mirqat Fi Sharh Al-Mishkaat with reference to Tarikh – e – Ahmedi, p. 277, Printed in Kanpur)
Perhaps you would also refer to the Holy Quran via this hadith in Ahle Sunnah’s authority work Tafseer Durre Manthur Vol. 4 P. 31:
“The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was asked ‘What was the extent of Hazrat Yaqoob’s (a.s.) mourning for his son? He said it was on par with mourning for 70 men and women’. ‘And what was the reward for this?’ He said ‘ It is on par with one hundred martyrs’.
And we read in Tafseer Khazaan Vol. 3 P. 253:
“Yusuf (as) said to Hazrat Jibrael (a.s.) “Is my father adhering to mourning? Hazrat Jibrael (a.s.) said ‘The mourning of Yaqoob (a.s.) is on par with 70 men and women mourning” He then asked ‘What is the reward for this mourning?’
He said ‘The reward for this mourning is on par with mourning of 100 martyrs”.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying “Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon”. A number of authentic traditions are available on the subject.
To quote one of them: “He is not from our group who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of Jaahiliyyah” (Saheeh Bukhari).
Please refer to the Holy Quran, which gives the permission to cry..
“And he turned away from them, and said: O my sorrow for Yusuf! And his eyes became white on account of the grief, and he was a repressor (of anger).”
(Surah Yusuf (12): 84)
If you refer to the exegesis available of this verse, it will be very clear how much the Prophet Yaqoob (a.s.) cried for his son that he became blind. (Surah An-Nahl (16): 53
“And whatever favor is (bestowed) on you it is from Allah; then when evil afflicts you, to Him do you cry for aid.”
When Umar heard of Nu’man ibn Muqrin’s death he beat his head and screamed, “O what a pity that Nu’man died”.
(Kanz ul Ummal, Vol.8, P. 117, Kitaab al Maut)
As narrated by al-Tabari in History Vol. 9 P. 183 (English translation by Ismail Poonawala):
“I heard Ayesha saying “The Messenger of God died on my bosom during my turn, I did not wrong anyone in regard to him. It was because of my ignorance and youthfulness that the Messenger of God died while he was in my lap. Then I laid his head on a pillow and got up beating my chest and slapping my face along with the women”.
(Ibn Katheer al Nasibi in al Bidayah wan Nihayah Vol. 5, p. 420)
Also refer to Ibn Katheer in al Bidayah wan Nihayah
The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) died while he was in my lap. Then I laid his head on a pillow and got up beating my face along with other women”.
Lets have a look at Saheeh Bukhari:
Anas bin Malik narrated:
We went with Allah’s Apostle (s.a.w.a.) to the blacksmith Abu Saif, and he was the husband of the wet-nurse of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.)). Allah’s Apostle took Ibrahim, kissed him and smelled him. Later, we entered Abu Saif’s house; at that time, Ibrahim was breathing his last and the eyes of Allah’s Apostle (s.a.w.a.) started shedding tears. ‘Abdur Rahman bin Auf said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Even you are weeping!” He said, “O Ibn Auf, this is mercy.” Then, he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”
(Saheeh al Bukhari, vol. 2, Book 23, Number 390)
It is amazing that you quote only what you like. Isn’t it the same Saheeh which states that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) finds crying and lamenting natural and permissible?
We read in the traditions about the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.):
“Rasulullah (s) was in a state where he was hitting his chest.”
1. Saheeh al Bukhari vol. 2 P. 50
2. Sunan al Nesaai, vol. 3 P. 305
3. Adhaan al Mufreed P. 426
4. Saheeh al Muslim Vol. 1 P. 291
5. Musnad Abu Awana Vol. 2 P. 292
“There is nothing against Islam in expressing grief, sorrow or in crying and weeping at the loss of a loved one”.
(Fayz al Bari fi Sharh Saheeh Bukhari, vol. 12, p. 462, Printed in Egypt)
We read in Ahle Sunnah’s authority work Ma’arij al Nubuwwah Chapter 1 P. 248:
Hazrat Adam (a.s.) was so distressed that he smashed his hands onto his knees and the skin from his hands caused gashes from which bone could be seen.
We read in Al Bidayah Wal Nihayah Vol. 5, P. 243:
“When Prophet (s.a.w.a.) died on the bed and the women who were around him (s.a.w.) had made their faces red by beating their faces.”
Even Husain(a.s.), shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Zainab(a.s.), not to mourn over his death in this manner.
He said, “My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, …”
When the forces of Yazid planned to attack the camp of Imam Husain (a.s.), Hazrat Zainab (s.a.) came to Imam Husain (a.s.) and asked that why was there so much noise outside their tents, Imam replied that I just dreamt of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and he said that you will be meeting me tomorrow, hearing this Hazrat Zainab (s.a.) started crying and hitting herself on the face.
(Al Bidayah Wal Naahiyah, vol. 8, p. 176, printed in Beirut)
In the same book a bit further it is mentioned that:
Hazrat Zainab (s.a.) heard the elegies from Imam (a.s.), reflecting the tragedy of Karbala and the Martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) she cried, lamented and beat herself on the head until she fainted.
(Al Bidayah Wal Nihayah, vol. 8, p. 177, printed in Beirut)
Similarly, we read in Sunan Ibn Maaja, Vol. 2, P. 285, Published 1313 AH in Egypt.
Sa’ad bin Abi Waqaas has reported from Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) that he said “shed tears and cry and if u can’t cry then make a crying face.”
The grief of Imam Husain (a.s.) is the grief on which not only humans, but even the Jinn, angels, animals, birds, the sky and trees, all lament. Thus, it is written that the sky wept for forty days on (the martyrdom of) Imam Husain (a.s.)”.
(Yanabi al Mawwaddah, by Allamah Shaikh Sulaiman Hanafi Qundoozi, Printed in Constantinople, p. 392)
Hafiz Abu Noaim writes in “Hilyat al Awliya” on the authority on Imam Sha’bee, Zuhri, and Abu Qutada:
“When Imam Husain (a.s.) was martyred, the sun was eclipsed (so long) so that the stars appeared.”
(Waqiyaat-e-Karbala (The Events of Karbala), p. 75)
Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlavi has narrated the lamenting and wailing of the Jinn on P. number 96 of his book titled “Sirr al-Shahaadatain”. He has also quoted the verses of the elegy recited by the Jinn while weeping over Imam Husain (as).
Umme Salmah (r.a.)has also narrated: “I heard the Jinn’s mourning for al-Husain.”
1. Tarikh al-Kabir, by al-Bukhari (the author of Saheeh), v4, part 1, p26
2. Fada’il al-Sahaabah, by Ahmed Ibn Hanbal, v2, p776, Tradition #1373
3. Tabarani, v3, pp 130-131
4. Tahzib, v7
Allama Suyuti states: “When Imam Husain was martyred, the corners of the sky remained red for a four month period.”
Tafseer Durre Manthur Vol. 6, P. 31
Or is it that only crying for Imam Husain (a.s.) is not permissible as he fought against the tyrannical and unjust Yazid, the son of Muawiyah (May Allah curse them both)?
We find in the traditions that even the first and the second caliphs didn’t find lamenting loudly unislamic or against the Sunnah.
Refer to Kashf al Ghumma P. 175:
“Abu Bakr and Umar would cry in such a way that the neighbors could hear them”
Again in the same book we read
When Sa’ad bin Mu’adh died, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Abu Bakr and Umar cried. Ayesha narrates ‘I recognized the cries of Abu Bakr and Umar although I was in my house”.
(Kashf al Ghummah, p. 174)
“Umm al Mo’mineen Ayesha called people to read elegies on her father’s death and she herself lamented”.
(Tarikh Kaamil, vol. 2, p. 288; Eqd al-Fareed, vol. 3, p. 65)
“On the day that Abu Bakr died, the situation seemed as if Madina would be flooded with tears”.
(Tarikh al-Khamees, vol. 2, p. 330)
There are numerous more traditions which prove the permissibility of Azadari in the light of the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) and his revered companions. However, you choose to ignore them.
It’s an undeniable fact that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has given all Muslims such favour in the name of Islam that we collectively cannot repay him. However, the only way we could try to do that is to follow the Holy Quran which states:
Say: I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives..”
Surah Shura (42): 23.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has also stated, “Husain (a.s.) is from me and I am from Husain (a.s).”
The above Quranic verse and Prophetic tradition are more than enough for any Muslim worth his salt to acknowledge this fact. The least you can do is remember and love the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his family (a.s.) and not those who were responsible ever since the advent of Islam to hurt the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) like Abu Sufyan, his son Muawiyah and his accursed son Yazid.
Shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddith Dehlavi while explaining the philosophy of martyrdom writes in the preface of his Book ‘Sirr al Shahaadatain’:
“The martyrdom of Imam Husain (a.s.) is in reality the martyrdom of his grandfather Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.a)”.
Last few traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
It has been mentioned in reliable traditions that often Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) mourned for Imam Husain (a.s.), which was obviously before his martyrdom.
The well-known scholar of 10th century A. H. Allauddin Muttaqi Hindi in his book ‘Kanz al Ummal’ has quoted Ibn Abi Shaibah, who has related from Umme Salmah, the wife of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), that “Once Imam Husain (a.s.) came to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) when I was sitting near the door. I saw that Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) had something in his palm, which was moved by him and weeping profusely. By now Imam Husain (a.s.) had fallen asleep in his lap. I asked about the matter. He replied: ‘Jibraeel has brought the sand of the place where Husain (a.s.) will be martyred and informed me that people of my Ummah will slay him.’”
(Kanzul Ummal, vol. 2)
Haakim Neishapouri has related a tradition from Umme Fazl that once in her dream she saw the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), whose limb got cut and fell in her lap. She related the dream to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), He replied “You have seen a good dream. Insha Allah, Fatima will give birth to a child and you will bring him up.” Umme Fazl recounts, “Soon after, Fatima gave birth to Husain and I brought him up. Once I took him to Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). When the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) looked at me, his eyes were brimming with tears. When I inquired about the cause of tears, he (s.a.w.a.) replied: “Jibraeel had come to me and informed me that after me, my Ummah will kill my son.” I asked “Will it be this son?” He replied in the affirmative. Jibraeel also brought reddish sand for me.”
(Mustadrak al-Saheehain by Haakim Neishapouri, vol. 3, p. 176)
May Allah Hasten the reappearance of the successor of Imam Husain (a.s.), so that doubters shall forevermore be silenced. Aameen!