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Lessons from Muharram: Fasting and how the Islamic calendar was made

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 19th September 2018 16:58
Muharram is a month of sanctity, in which worship is more rewarding than other months. Nabi ﷺ said, “The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab.” (Bukhari)

There are many lessons we can learn from this month, of which we shall discuss two.

1. The commencement of the Islamic calendar: Prior to 9AH, in the days of Jaahiliyyah (ignorance), the Islamic calendar was changed by the masses to suit their convenience. When it suited them, they declared the month to be Muharram or Rajab. Umar رضي الله عنه considered this grossly incorrect. When he became khalifa, he swiftly decided to formalise the calendar, preventing its widespread misuse. This move also allowed the important events in Islamic history, to be documented in a structured manner.

They were unsure when to start the calendar so Umar رضي الله عنه consulted other Sahaaba رضي الله عنهم. Eventually, they decided to commence it from the beginning of Hijrah – the year that Allah allowed the Muslims to migrate from Makkah Mukarramah to Madina Munawwarah. Thus, the dates were set right in the time of Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم. However, a formal calendar was established in the era of Umar رضي الله عنه.

Our late Shaikh Hazrat Ml. Yunus Patel رحمة الله عليه would explain that this was done to serve as a reminder for us, that Islam flourishes through effort and sacrifice. Hijrah was difficult, the Sahaaba رضي الله عنهم had to leave everything behind. Even when Makkah Mukarramah was eventually conquered by the Muslims, Nabi ﷺ forbade them from reoccupying their homes and businesses.

It was not easy, but it was for the pleasure of Allah so that Islam could be uplifted. And for that, any sacrifice is worth it, for it will lead to a reward in the hereafter far greater than any meagre reward this world can offer. A rose is beautiful but it can only grow when planted in soil. Deen can only grow and progress when the Ummah opts to sacrifice for Deen, rather than sacrifice Deen.

2. Aashura fast: Aashura refers to the 10th of Muharram. After years of persecution, torture and slavery, the Israelites were blessed with freedom on Aashurah from the evil clutches of Firawn and their army. The sea split, Musa عليه السلام and the Israelites were saved, whilst Firawn and his army drowned in the sea. It is a special day of triumph which is the reward for those who sacrifice and persevere.

Prior to the fasts of Ramadan becoming compulsory, Nabi ﷺ would fast on Aashura and it was compulsory upon every believer. When the fasts of Ramadan became compulsory, Aashura became optional. One day Nabi ﷺ noticed that the Jews were also fasting on Aashura. He enquired why, and they responded that this is the day Allah granted Musa عليه السلام victory.

Nabi ﷺ responded that we are upon the correct faith and we are closer to Musa عليه السلام, therefore, we are more worthy to fast than you. He then instructed the Sahaaba رضي الله عنهم to oppose the Jews and fast on the 9th and 10th, or the 10th and 11th of Muharram. We are notified of this every year but the lesson “to oppose” is often overlooked.

Nabi ﷺ could not tolerate any semblance between His Ummah and non-Muslims. He desired for Muslims to be distinct, but unfortunately, many of us desire the opposite. We desire to fit in and conform to the lifestyle of the non-Muslims – the very lifestyle we are not meant to follow, so much so, Allah sent Nabi ﷺ to teach us otherwise.

The few who are remain firm upon Deen are regarded as backwards and crazy, the same insults that were hurled at Nabi ﷺ by the Quraish. Children are pulled into the argument, with some claiming that to be firm upon Islam is to oppress them. Know that no oppression is greater than our self-inflicted one, where we discard the Sunnah and risk our seat in Jannah. Thus, Muharram teaches us many lessons – sacrifice and individuality being the most important. May Allah grant us the tawfiq to understand its lesson and implement them, Aameen.

— Hazrat Ml. Dawood Seedat حفظه الله

Above is an article taken from It is an extract from Hazrat’s Jumah talk on 14/09/18 in Stanger Jami Masjid. To listen to the full audio, please click here.
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