Saturday, February 12, 2005

What is this month called Muharram (and this day called Ashura)?

(originally written on February 9)

Muharram is coming up, and as a 7-month old Muslim, I really have no clue what it really means. Surfing around blogistan allowed me to see that it is of some importance. I think I even remember last year, in my pre-Islamic days, that my man said he was going to fast on Ashura. Anyways, I decided to explore this month a little more.

Before I move on, if I say anything offensive, please let me know, because it's probably out of ignorance more than intentions. So, in advance, please accept my humble apologies.

With that out in the open, I must confess that I am Sunni, following the Maliki madhab. Now, I'm saying this because most of the blogs I read in blogistan & I assume most of the bloggers who come and read me are Shi'ites. I think this almost comes to prove that there are enough similiarities between Sunnis and Shi'ites that the divide can be bridged. We can profit by learning about/from each other. Actually, don't think of me as a Sunni, only as a sister in faith. We are all trying to find our way to God, in our unique ways, and there's always room for slight variations along that path.

With this in mind, I started off to learn what the month of Muharram, the day of Ashura, and the martyrdom of Hussein at Karbala mean to me, as a Sunni.

One of the first things I did was to google "Ashura" and see if any Sunni-runned sites mentioned Ashura. Some did. Mostly it has to do with a hadith that said the Prophet (pbuh) fasted on the 9th and 10th day of Muharram. This is what IslamiCity.com had to say about fasting during those days...

When the Prophet settled in Madinah, there was a large Jewish community there. He noticed that the Jews fasted on the 10th of Muharram. He asked them the purpose of their fasting. They said that that was the date when Allah saved the Prophet Moses from a great danger. The Prophet said that he (and the Muslims) were closer to Moses than the Jews. He fasted that day. He continued to fast on the 10th of Muharram as a voluntary worship until the year when he passed away. That year he said : "If I live till next year, I will fast on the 9th of Muharram". This meant that he would be fasting on the 9th and 10th of that month. Most probably the reason for this was that he wanted to distinguish his fasting in Muharram from that of the Jews, although the reason for fasting is the same. Perhaps I should add that fasting in Muharram has nothing to do with the events that led to the martyrdom of Al-Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet. That was an event that took place at a time when nothing could be added to our religion or our practices.

Ok, so fasting has nothing to do with the events at Karbala according to the Sunni scholars. But shouldn't we remember the great Muslims who died fighting for justice? Shouldn't we learn from their examples? Did they die in vain? If I go the mosque, would I hear of Hussein's martyrdom and his example? Probably not at my mosque. Sad, isn't it.

2 comment(s):

  • Salaam 'Alaikum

    Perhaps not at your masjid, Allahu 'Alim. I no longer go to the masjid, b/c I have a ... very active boy, but when I did, we heard khutbas about Muharram and Sayiduna Hussein, and these masajid were definitely Sunni.

    Anthro Gal, I also wanted to tell you that it is confirmed in well known works of three of the four schools (Hanbali, Shafi'i, and yours, Maliki) that fasting for the whole month of Muharram is a virtue. In your school, Sidi Faraz Rabbani mentions that it is said in Imam Illish's "Minah al Jilail Sharh Mukhtasar al Khalil" and Imam Dardir's "Sharh al Kabir." I'm guessing these works probably aren't available in English, but at least there is a reference there for you.

    This ruling is based on a hadith in Tirmidhi "If you want to fast a month after Ramadan, then fast Muharram, for it has a day in which Allah forgave an entire people, and He turns to others in repentence."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/14/2005 07:39:00 AM  

  • i realise im posting this 3 years after the article was written.. but anyways, for a complete understanding on the Shia viewpoint on the fast of the 10th of Muharram, listen to the lectures by Ammar Nakshawani on the topic:


    (skip to 4:40, the lecture starts from there)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/30/2008 11:00:00 PM  

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