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The Day of Ashura

The Day of Ashura, the tenth of Muharram, is an auspicious day. It has been narrated that it was the day on which Allah forgave our father Adam, the day on which the Ark of Nuh came to rest on the mountain known as al-Judi after six months at sea, and the day on which Allah forgave the people of Yunus (peace be upon him and all the Prophets).

When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) came to Madinah, he found the Jews fasting the Day of Ashura. He asked them why they were fasting and they told him that it was the day on which Allah saved Sayyiduna Musa (peace be upon him) and his people and drowned Pharaoh and his people. Musa fasted out of gratitude to Allah and his people continued the practice after him. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) told the Jews that his nation was closer to Musa (peace be upon him) than them. He then fasted that day and ordered his Companions to fast (Bukhari and Muslim). He taught his nation (Ummah) to commemorate this great day, to reflect upon its connection to the previous Prophets and to seek a portion of the immense outpouring of Allah’s mercy that those Prophets received on Ashura.

The most important thing he taught us to do is to fast. He informed us that if we do so, Allah wipes out the sins of the previous year (Muslim). We may ask: if we have already fasted the Day of `Arafah then Allah has already erased our sins in the previous and coming year so what more can be gained from fasting Ashura? Some scholars mention that continuously fasting both days leads to a deeper erasure of one’s wrongdoings, protection from falling into sin in the future and also has the effect of wiping out the wrongdoings of one’s family and neighbours.

Why does fasting the Day of `Arafah wipe out the sins of two years, whereas fasting the day of Ashura only wipes out the sins of one year? One reason, the scholars say, is that the Day of `Arafah is a day attributed to Sayyiduna Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) which is clearly superior to Ashura which is attributed to Sayyiduna Musa (peace be upon him). The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) also taught his nation (Ummah) to fast the day before or the day after so that our tradition be distinct from the tradition of the Jews.

We should renew our repentance on Ashura. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said that it is a day on which Allah allowed a certain people to repent and He will continue to allow others to do the same (Tirmidhi).

The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) also taught us that if someone spends generously on their family on the Day of Ashura, Allah will treat them with generosity for the rest of the year (Bayhaqi).  Sufyan Ibn `Uyaynah said, “We tried this for fifty years and all that we saw was good.”

It has likewise been narrated that the one who gives charity on this day will have the reward of a whole year’s charity.

On this day we also recall the courage and sacrifice of Imam al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him) and renew our attachment and love for him and for the Prophetic Household.

Muharram: The Islamic Calendar’s January | A Reader

The new Islamic year is almost upon us and although setting New Year’s Resolutions based on the Islamic calendar isn’t a common practice, there are a few things we should do; reflect over the previous year and take a moment to assess our accomplishments, and think about how we can make the next Islamic year better.

The first month of the Islamic calendar is Muharram; a very special month in Islam. Not only does it mark the start of a new year but it is from what Allah deems “the sacred months”.

Allah says:

God decrees that there are twelve months- ordained in God’s Book on the Day when He created the heavens and earth- four months of which are sacred: this is the correct calculation. Do not wrong your souls in these months- though you may fight the idolaters at any time, if they first fight you- remember that God is with those who are mindful of Him. (9:36)

In this reader, we have compiled for our valued readers most of our articles, questions, videos, and audio segments related to this blessed month.

Articles

Bidding Farewell to this Year and Welcoming a New Year – Muwasala

  • How should we end the year and how should we start the upcoming one?
    • “At the end of the financial year businessmen analyse their year’s trading, but our trade is with Allah and is more worthy of being evaluated. “

Muharram: Mankind’s Memorial – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

  • Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said explains why Muharram, the first in the Islamic calendar, is an especially auspicious month on many levels.

Sacred Months by Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

  • An article highlighting the virtue of fasting in these sacred months amongst other things.

Answers

Can I Purchase Household Accessories in Muharram?

  • Clearing up some misconceptions

Is it Forbidden to Buy New Clothes During Muharram?

  • Clearing up some more misconceptions

Fiqh of The Islamic Month of Muharram

  • A detailed reply to a question posed to Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, “What is the fiqh of the Islamic month of Muharram?”

Can I Combine My Intentions for a Missed Ramadan Fast and An Optional Sunnah Fast?

  • If you’ve decided to fast some days this month but have fasts you still have to make up from Ramadan, can you combine them?

Videos

Muharram: An Opportunity to Transcend Hypocrisy

  • Dr Yusuf Patel discusses the importance of transcending the recurrent partisan and divisive issues of Muharram, and rather focus on following the universal values that Prophet Musa (peace be upon him), Imam Hussain (Allah be pleased with him) and other great personalities stood for.

Audios

Muharram & New Beginnings, by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

  • A Friday sermon delivered by the Shaykh regarding the concept of shahada, commonly translated as “martyrdom.” The term in reality, goes much deeper than its’ simple translation.

What Are the Rulings Regarding the Fast of Prophet David?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: What are the legal maxims regarding the fast of Dawood (peace upon him)? How long can you do it?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

It is permissible to fast every other day as long as doing so: (a) does not weaken you from fulfilling your obligations of earning a living with the expected level of competency, supporting your dependents, praying whilst standing and the like, (b) does not entail harm to a spouse, whether physically, emotionally or otherwise, and (c) will not cause any harm to you in the long term.

If the aforementioned conditions are met, it would be a praiseworthy and recommended type of fast. Otherwise, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reminded us that, “Your eye has a right over you. Your body has a right over you. Your spouse has a right over you.” (Muslim) Accordingly, fasting in moderation would be superior. Consider starting with a fast once or twice a week, and then if you want to increase, see if it is reasonably possible.

The Fast of Prophet David

The fast of the Prophet Dawud (Allah bless him and give him peace) was described by the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) as being the “most beloved of fasting to Allah.” (Bukhari) He would fast every other day such that his body did not have time to fully recuperate and settle into a normative schedule.

Of course, that is likely to happen to a certain level eventually, so perhaps this is the reason why the Beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) didn’t actually do this himself. Rather, he would fast a month “until we thought he has no intention of stopping,” (Tirmidhi, al-Shama’il) and also the opposite.

The idea is that the irregularity maintains a sufficient level of hardship whereby a person can benefit more deeply from his sincere devotion and striving for the sake of Allah. Generally, what needs to be avoided is for worship to become a mere habit, or for one to lose sight of the purpose of the fast.

Important Sunna Fasts and Fasting Restrictions

However, please note that there are other, important, recommended sunna fasts which should not be omitted given the tremendous rewards transmitted regarding them. This includes the day of ‘Ashura (10th Muharram), optimally conjoined with the ninth or the eleventh of the month, and the day of ‘Arafa (9th Dhu’l Hijja). If your habit of fasting every other day would entail an omission of one of these two fasts, they should be given priority.

Moreover, it is impermissible to fast on the two ‘Eids and the three days after ‘Eid al-Adha, irrespective of whether or not you have a fasting habit. After all, fasting is a specific form of worship and if the Sacred Law (shari‘a) isn’t being followed, then one should think carefully about what one’s intentions are. I’d also recommend getting a book on praiseworthy intentions and supplications so that you can magnify the impact of the fast in your life.

(Razi, Tufat al-Muluk; Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha; Tahatwi, Hashiyat al-Tahtawi ‘ala Maraqi al-Falah; Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih)

Please also see: Fasting: A Comprehensive SeekersGuidance Reader

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan, and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based on his family.

Changing my Intention While Fasting

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question: If I begin a make-up fast, then change my intention to a voluntary fast, does that affect the type of fast?

Answer: Jazak Allah Khairan for your question.

Your change of intention, after having started a fast, will not harm or alter your fast, whatsoever. The original intention upon which the fast was started will remain.

“…the fasting person, who is making up an obligatory fast, if after having started the fast, he intends to start a different fast, it would not harm (the original fast).” [Maraqi al-Falah]

Allahu ‘Alam

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.

Making the Most of Ramadan (Part 1)

As Ramadan gets closer, here are some highlights from our popular On-Demand course, Making the Most of Ramadan: Transformative Lessons from Learned Islamic Scholars.making the most of ramadan

Part 2: The Aims of Fasting by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this section, Shaykh Faraz covers portions of the book, “The Higher Aims of Fasting,” by the great scholar Al-Izz ibn Abd As-salam, who was known as “The Sultan of the Scholars” due to his high rank and profuse understanding in the religion. He was an expert in Islamic law amongst other sciences.

It is divided into 4 sections:

  1. Duty & Virtues of Fasting from Qur’an & Sunna
  2. The Sunnas and Etiquette of Fasting
  3. The Spiritual Works of Ramadan
  4. Fasting and Spiritual Works Beyond Ramadan

Through this course you will get a true sense of the ultimate purpose of fasting based on the Quran and the blessed Sunnah of the Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. There are plenty of hadiths mentioned throughout the class that you may benefit from listening to or even memorising, to better internalise the meaning.

You will also discover the 7 great virtues of the fast. Such as raising in ranks; expiation of errors, breaking desires and so on.

The book has a very valuable  section on the adab(etiquette) of fasting such as guarding the tongue and what to break the fast with.

As the blessed month of Ramadan, this course is a must have in order to be mentally prepared and energised before its arrival.

For more information about this class or to register, click here.


Making the Most of Ramadan (Part 2)

As Ramadan gets closer, here are some highlights from our popular On-Demand course, Making the Most of Ramadan: Transformative Lessons from Learned Islamic Scholars.making the most of ramadanmaking the most of ramadan

Part 2: The Sweetness of His Love by Imam Zaid Shakir

In this course, special guest Imam Zaid Shakir, known for his powerful speeches and tireless service to communities across North America and beyond, will take you on a very special journey of deep reflection.

Drawing on the many aspects of fasting, he develops on the increase in one’s God-consciousness and obedience through fasting. He reflects on how fasting impacts an individual, growing the desire to initiate an inner transformation.

Imam Zaid goes on about how to attain forgiveness as a reward of the fast, on how and why you should seek Allah to attain forgiveness as a reward of fasting. Do you know the immense reward of feeding someone who fasted all day? How about drawing closer to Allah by feeding one of His servants?

Ramadan is not only about the day where one fasts, but its also and mostly about its blessed nights. You will learn about the incredible value of Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Destiny), it’s immense worth, and why you should make more effort on that night more than any other nights.

Lastly, through this course you will learn about reviving your spiritual energy, and have a more profound understanding of how it can affect and improve your life, and the relationship between fasting, spiritual energy and elevation.  

So many good insights, not to be missed!

For more information or to register, click here.


Making the Most of Ramadan (Part 3)

As Ramadan gets closer, here are some highlights from our popular On-Demand course, Making the Most of Ramadan: Transformative Lessons from Learned Islamic Scholars.making the most of ramadanmaking the most of ramadanmaking the most of ramadan

 

Part 3: The Expression of Love by Ustadha Zainab Ansari

 

In this section,  Ustadha Zainab focuses on the relationship between us and Allah through the lens of love.

You will learn that fasting is actually a way to be expressing your love to Allah by following the commitment inscribed in the book of God and the Sunnah. Fasting is essentially an invisible act or worship, with no one knowing that you’re fasting except yourself and your Lord. This creates an aspect of strong intimacy between yourself and Allah.ramadan

Through the physical difficulty of hunger, you are proving your love to Allah. By you being gifted obey Him and fasting for His sake only, you may start to realise that you received this blessing and ability out of His immense love for you. Indeed, it is Allah who creates in you a physical desire to please Him, and you choose respond to him just to please Him. This is what love is all about.

When you fast, you overcome the primal instinct to attain a higher spiritual level. Resisting your hunger helps to raise your spiritual strength and improves your control over the body and soul. Food can be a mean to discipline yourself, or it can be a test and a mean to spiritual disaster.

Ustadha Zainab talks about the implementation of a strong relationship with the Qur’an, the Divine Word of Allah, and the night prayers. There is a spiritual secret to be discovered by the seeker if he searches thoroughly.

Ramadan might be the moment of an epiphany for you. That moment you turn your life around and travel the blessed path which you always wanted to sail onto. People get spiritual openings through Ramadan all the time. Seize that Ramadan to be one of them!

For more information or to register, click here.


 

Tasting Something When Fasting

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Is my fast invalid if I taste something in my mouth?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

Merely getting a taste of something in your mouth does not invalidate your fast. It has to pass down your throat to invalidate the fast. In these situations, you merely tasted something, and that does not affect the fast.

Unavoidable Substances

Steam, smoke from traffic, flour that disperses in the air, and similar substances which are hard to avoid do not invalidate the fast if they are inhaled with a valid excuse. It would be pretty difficult to cook or have a shower without having any of the streams enter one’s mouth or nose, so it is excused. (Shurunbulali, Maraqi al Salah; Ibn Abidin, Radd al Muhtar)

Learn for Confidence

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Indeed [the practice of] the din is eased itself, and no one makes it hard on themselves except that it overwhelms them.” (Bukhari) This is a central hadith, and it clearly shows that following the sunna should make religious practice easy.

One of the ways to make things easy is to learn them properly from an experienced and qualified teacher. This goes a long way in alleviating unnecessary worries. Please register for a course, and actively take part in it to maximize the benefit you get. Registration will open in a week or so.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish, and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr. Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

Prayer Timings In Places Far From the Equator

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question:

Assalamu alaikum, I’m considering moving to Anchorage, Alaska in a few months and i’m concerned about prayer timings. I know that fatwas have been issued about fasting in such regions, but I’m curious as to how prayer works in general. Have any fatwa in the Hanafi school been issued on this matter?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Praying in the summertimes is a challenging issue for those who live in higher latitudes across the world. Given that Anchorage is situated beyond approximately fifty degrees north of the equator, the days are very long in summer, and consequently, prayer times are very close together through the night.

The first thing which becomes clear is that there is an actual sunset on every day of the year. Accordingly, the sunset prayer (maghrib) would need to be prayed at its proper time, and nothing else will do. This is because the prayer only becomes due when the legal cause (sabab) is realised, namely, the setting of the sun.

Determining ‘Isha and Fajr Times

The difficulty arises in determining the beginning times for both the nightfall (‘isha) and dawn (fajr) prayers. The reason for this is that the normal signs for both are absent, or at least unclear for the latter prayer. The later Hanafi school concluded that the nightfall prayer (‘isha) remains binding even in places where the legal cause isn’t found. This is what Muslims in such latitudes do, and it is the more precautionary position.

Given that is the case, the question is how to calculate the beginning of the time. If the shift to the position of Imam Abu Hanifa’s two companions (sahibayn) isn’t possible or practical, which is clearly the case because of your geographical location, then an alternative would be to follow a dispensation (rukhsa) from another legal school (madhhab) in order to pray without much delay after sunset. Thereafter, if you would like to uphold precaution (ihtiyat), you may make up (qada’) one nightfall prayer (‘isha) after the summer period is over, and when actual times have returned. The reason for this is that the prayer would only enter your dues on the first day of the period after the entry of the dawn prayer (fajr), and thus praying before the legal cause has been met would have been invalid. According to the Hanafis, in the case that the prayer time does not enter, the nightfall prayer (‘isha) would enter your dues after the entry of the dawn prayer (fajr), but determining if this is in fact the case is normally a little more complex.

As for the dawn prayer (fajr), there are two primary methods proposed by senior contemporary scholars: (a) closest day (aqrab al-ayyam), where the last real time for dawn is maintained, and (b) half the night (nisf al-layl), where the night is split into two halves. For all intents and purposes, the difference between these positions is nominal, and both are acceptable to follow. The latter position is arguably more precautionary, but the common Muslim won’t be held responsible on the Final Day for scholarly differences of opinion as the expectation is merely that he follows upright, learned, righteous, respected scholars.

Resting Well and Planning Ahead

Practically, and if we take the summer solstice as an example, you could sleep till midnight, then rise to awaken for the sunset prayer (maghrib). According to my calculations, the second half of the night would begin at approximately 2am. Thus, you’d only be up for about two hours at this time, give or take some, in order to pray these three prayers. This could incidentally be the time you engage in remembrances (adhkar), recitation, supplication or other acts of devotion too. Alternatively, you could pray the sunset (maghrib), and then arise for the dawn prayer (fajr) later and towards the end of its respective time, ensuring to pray the nightfall (‘isha) prayer before it.

So this is certainly something that you should consider well as being able to take care of your religious duties is important. If you have decided to move, then consider researching how the local community deals with this issue, and pray the Prayer of Need (salat al-hajah) regularly, seeking divine facilitation in fulfilling your obligations. I’d also suggest following the sunnas of sleep with greater rigour, taking a midday nap (qaylula), resting well after work, and trying out alternative medicines, if needed, to help find a suitable cure for your condition. Allah Most High says, “And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make a way out for them.” (Sura al-Talaq 65:2)

If, despite trying, you find much hardship in following all of this, you can consider following a different legal school (madhhab) in this matter, if there is more leeway therein, in order to make your religious life more manageable. Undoubtedly, matters like this are more difficult for some than others, and you aren’t bound by a particular position, as long as, at the end of the day, you follow sound, reliable scholarship correctly by meeting all conditions (shurut) and integrals (arkan).

Finally, there are many nuances to this discussion, and differing possibilities, so the aforementioned is clearly not an exhaustive study of the topic. In the context of community prayers and the mosque, there may be other factors which need to be taken into consideration, so please bear that in mind. For a detailed and comprehensive treatment of this issue, I’d recommend Dr. Asim Yusuf’s “Shedding Light on the Dawn.”

(Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar (2.506); Marjani, Nazurat al-Haqq; Tahtawi, Hashiyat al-Durr al-Mukhtar)

Please also see: How Should I Pray in a Country Where the Sun Doesn’t Set? and: How Can I Know the Time for Fajr in a Country Where There Is No Real Darkness? and: Fasting in Extreme Latitudes

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, a small town on the east coast of England. He memorized the Qur’an in his youth and has led congregations in tarawih prayers at home and abroad. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Management from the University of Leicester, serving as the head of the university’s Islamic Society. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Amman, Jordan, to study the Islamic sciences full-time with a variety of distinguished traditional scholars. He is now an experienced teacher himself, answering religious questions regularly, and teaching students of knowledge privately and online. Presently, he is pursuing advanced studies and specialization in Amman where he resides with his wife and children.

The Point of Worship in Ramadan – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this timely reminder, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani reminds us that our acts of worship in Ramadan are means to an end – seeking Allah Most High. He uses the Qur’anic verses on fasting to show us the objectives of such works of worship. Furthermore, he urges us to find our purpose in our devotional acts by seeing them as a means to seek our Lord.

*This video was recorded on  May 15, 2018.