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Muharram: Mankind’s Memorial – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

* Originally Published on 3/10/2016

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

 

The Prophets Before Muhammad ﷺ

For one, it celebrates the achievement of the prophets who preceded Prophet Muhammad, – on him peace and blessings, in particular the struggle and victory of Moses. Following the Migration, the Prophet – and on him salutations – discerned that the Jewish tribal federations in Madinah observed a ritual fast annually on the tenth day of Muharram. The Jews’ claim to commemorate the day in gratitude for Moses’ victory over Pharaoh prompted the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – to assert, “The obligation is greater on us [the Muslims] to be grateful to God for Moses’ victory.”
This emphatic statement reveals, on one level, the spiritual connection between the Seal of the Prophets – on him peace and blessings – and his ‘brother-prophets’ who preceded him; on another level, through his innate ability to connect with every God-centred tradition, Muslims are at once given to understand the need to learn from others. And the elemental lesson here is that all prophetic traditions, rites and customs – past and present – actually form a composite whole: remembrance and gratitude to God, – cherisher of mankind, all praise to Him.

Mankind’s Achievement

Furthermore, the achievement of every prophet is universal, that is to say, their sacrifice and striving is mankind’s achievement. The victory God granted to Moses was not based on material strength or logistical superiority, but on the strength of faith that Moses possessed. Moses’ armour cladding was his Faith, and Truth his spear of submission; he won through despite Pharaoh’s vast resources in men and materiel. Faith, as embodied by Moses, persuaded first Pharaoh’s sorcerers and then many other reasonable minds, whilst the snake of Unfaith, quite literally, was swallowed up.

Truth over Falsehood

Muharram, which commemorates Moses’ achievement, is therefore our achievement, insofar as it is a timeless commemoration of the victory of Truth over Falsehood. It should be obvious that ‘victory’ does not at all relate to feat of arms, economic gain or tribal boast (after all, Pharaoh’s dethroning was not, strictly speaking, a battlefield victory; Moses and his people, instead of gaining mastery in Egypt, actually became exiles in the desert for 40 years). Rather, Muslims must understand ‘victory’ as standing firm in Faith, to prevail in the face of adversity.
For this reason, the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – considered the Treaty of Hudaybiyya a great victory; this, despite his not accomplishing what he had initially set out to do in the events leading to the famous treaty: namely, the performance of Umrah, the opportunity to visit the Sacred Mosque. On the other hand, the Prophet – and on him salutations – discerned in the bitterness of defeat at ‘Uhud and at Hunayn the sweet fragrance of victory. How so, when he suffered great personal loss at ‘Uhud and humbling at Hunayn? On both occasions, despite the temporary impediments, God’s Religion was preserved. Faith defeated unfaith because Truth strove on whilst Falsehood briefly strutted but ultimately vanished.
Victory, therefore, is to prevail after enduring the test. It is the natural outcome of firm conviction, of standing firm, regardless of the intensity or even duration of adversity. It is the absolute conviction that God is present all along.
[cwa id=’cta’]

The Triumph of Faith

The sacred month of Muharram, celebrating the advent of the Islamic New Year, provides Muslims with a direct linkage to the triumph of Faith – and even more deep connections to the Prophet – on him peace and blessings. And in all God’s Creation, none embodied Faith as did the Prophet, – on him the finest salutations! For Muharram also commemorates the Hijra, the Prophet’s Migration from Makkah, then the seat of Unfaith and irrational pride, to Madinah, the emergent site of Faith and reason.
Oppressed by Unfaith, in Makkah the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – would say, “Leave me to call upon God alone.” But he was denied even this basic human right, as was his dignity, his person and his property. The Prophet’s Hijrahas yet to be fully appreciated by even his own people. It was not a simple matter of relocation: in making Hijra, the personal sacrifice of the Prophet – on him peace and blessings – remains a thing of wonder: his daughters Fatimah, Zaynab, Ruqaiyya and Umm Kulthum were left behind. One can only begin to understand the scale of his sacrifice if there is an appreciation of the wider social context of Makkah’s tribal society, then dominated by the most ruthless of enemies. The Prophet – on him peace and blessings – in wrenching himself from his daughters, sacrificed all that was dear to him in this world. How could such a man, the epitome of parental love, sacrifice so? As if to say, “My daughters are safer under God’s Gaze than under my wing,” he could so sacrifice because he knew intimately the nature of God’s Protection. Great was his sacrifice, yes, but his trust in God was still greater.
What special influence can cause such repeat action, on such scale? It was repeated by the Imam Hussain, grandson of the Prophet – on him the finest salutations. Like his father and grandfather before him, the Imam Hussain strived hard against the oppression of the weak by the strong, against social injustice and against aggression in all its forms. Sallying out from Madinah, like his grandfather had done on so many occasions, the Imam Hussain died the desired death on the dusty plains of Kerbala, but his spirit of sacrifice lives on. The Imam Hussain’s death must not be reduced to the heroic end of ancient epics, although certainly true; it was the supreme sacrifice that is for God’s Sake. Sacred sacrifice indeed. Muharram may just as easily be called the ‘month of sacrifice’.

The Prophet’s Migration

And yet the story of Muharram has no ending, for our commemoration of its sanctity and significance has so many deep spiritual channels and confluences.
The Islamic calendar self-consciously celebrates the Hijra of the Prophet – on him peace and blessings. And Arab tradition, hitherto without a universal calendar, in so doing, itself migrated from culture to civilization. Confused by conflicting despatches, the despair of regional governors compelled the Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab to initiate a systematic Time Record. Far more edifying and significant is the process that led to the institution. A brilliant example of democratic counsel ended with agreement over the Muslims’ need for a calendar, but there remained uncertainty over the precise start date. Three proposals were championed, each possessing enormous meaning: the birthday of the Prophet, on him peace and blessings; the day that he died; and the beginning of the Hijra.
The very fact that the Prophet’s birthday was cause celebre in the eyes of his Companions has great significance of its own. In fact, some of the Companions clamoured for the month of Rabi Awwal to become the first month of the new Islamic calendar, citing the Prophet’s birth, his anointment to the office of prophet, the actual commencement of the Hijra, and the Prophet’s death in Rabi Awwal.
The day of the Prophet’s departure from this world remains, of course, the single greatest distress to all Muslims in all times, and the argument for the Islamic calendar to be pegged to the Prophet’s death was a powerful one.
However, the third option – the case for the Hijra as the start of the Islamic calendar –reveals much about the intellect of ‘Ali ibn Abu Taalib. The man recognised as the last of the rightly-guided Caliphs quite rightly surmised that the Hijra marked an epochal change, ushering in a new dawn for humanity that swept away the cobwebs of dead history. The Hijra-Migration was nothing short of a new world order, and this one could be precisely pinpointed in time.
Although the Arabian months pre-dated Islam, Uthman ibn Affan made a powerful intervention: he cited the long-held sacred status of Muharram and explained that its position in the calendar of Islam’s rites and rituals, coming after the Hajj climax, represented a new beginning after individual purification, thus symbolically mirroring the fresh start for humanity after the purification of Religion itself. Uthman’sintervention was decisive and the ‘Hijri Calendar’ was thus founded.
As Islam makes no sharp distinction between the prophets – God in His Book expressly forbids otherwise – both the achievements and sacrifices of Moses and of Muhammad – on them peace and blessings – are symbolically bound by the month of Muharram. And we have seen how the inheritors of faith, such as the Imam Hussain, have emulated and preserved the spirit of sacrifice. This sacrifice has a name: ‘Islam’. And ‘Islam’ is trust in, and submission to, the Divine Will. And as their inheritors in faith, our lives are thus connected by the commemoration of Muharram.
May God gather us in the company of the Family of Prophets and preserve the faithful, and peace and blessings upon Muhammad, mercy to all the worlds.

Anse Tamara Grey on Nisf Sha‘ban: For Women, by Women

In this podcast, Shaykha Anse Tamara Grey of Rabata, speaks about Nisf Shaban; the fifteenth day of the Islamic month of Sha‘ban. Her talk is particularly catered to women.

Since there is much confusion about what has been narrated about Nisf Sha‘ban, she begins by reciting the various hadiths that clarify our understanding about it. From the hadith of our lady Aisha, Allah be pleased with her, when she asked the Prophet why he offered extra worship, to the scholar Imam al Subki, who concluded that this night atones for the sins committed during the year, she brings many references and proofs.

All who seek are forgiven this night, except a few people, including those who are arrogant, have hate in their heart, or are not good to their parents.

How to Free Ourselves

Shaykha Anse empowers us by taking us through the description of the people who are not forgiven on this night. The first two are fairly unusual;  those who are nonbelievers, or who addicted to alcohol (and perhaps the longing for this night will be a means for addicts to break the habit).

The rest, however, are shockingly common. Let’s look at the descriptions, and ask ourselves some questions:

The ones who incite rancor. Are we bringing people together, or are we causing problems?

The one who severs kinship bonds. Are we cutting our relatives off, or are we reaching out to them? It is important to remember that it is possible to keep a form of connection, while maintaining appropriate boundaries.

The one who drags their clothing (meaning people who looks at others with arrogance based on class or material). We can make an effort to wear simpler clothing, that doesn’t show the shape of our bodies.

The one who has hurt their parents. When your parents think of you, are they frustrated, or are they happy?Nisf Shaban

In addition, Shaykha Tamara offers some practical advice about how to make this night special for yourself and your family.


With thanks to Rabata, our content partner.


Resources for Seekers

Litanies and Night Vigil: A Comprehensive SeekersHub Reader

09Litanies and night vigil form the 10th chapter of Imam Al-Ghazali’s seminal work, the Ihya, which is widely regarded as the greatest work on Islamic spirituality in the world.

[cwa id=’cta’]

 

Can I Pray Tahajjud (Night Vigil) Before Going to Sleep?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

Can one pray Tahajjud before going to sleep (after Isha)? Does it include the same reward of praying it after one wakes up in the night?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

It is an established sunna to pray at night.

The night vigil (tahajjud) is a specific form of night prayer (qiyam al-layl) which, linguistically, indicates some form of struggle.

Hence, your prayer is legally the night vigil prayer when performed after sleep, and merely night prayer, otherwise. Both are of great reward, but the former is the way of higher resolve, and the elect.

However, if you are unlikely to awaken at some point in the night, it is obviously far superior to pray before sleeping than to miss out on both as there is precedence in the sunna for this too.

Please also see: Tahajjud Prayer: How To Pray it, When to Pray It and Its Merits

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 memorised 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 with his family.

Is It Valid to Pray Tahajjud (Night Vigil) Just Before Fajr Time Enters?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Will it be acceptable pray Tahajjud at 03:30 am if Fajr time enters at 03:53 am?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

Yes, that would be acceptable.

Technically, night prayer (qiyam al-layl) is that which is prayed after `Isha and before Fajr. It is known specifically as the night vigil (tahajjud) when it is prayed after sleep.

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) was asked, “What prayer is most virtuous, after the obligatory prayers?” He said, “Prayer in the depths of the night.” [Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa i, Ibn Majah]

[Shurunbulali, Imdad al-Fattah bi Sharh Nur al-Idah (439)]

Please also see: Tahajjud Prayer: How To Pray it, When to Pray It and Its Merits

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, England, a quiet town close to the east coast of England. His journey for seeking sacred knowledge began when he privately memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown at the age of 16. He also had his first experience in leading the tarawih (nightly-Ramadan) prayers at his local mosque. Year after year he would continue this unique return to reciting the entire Quran in one blessed month both in his homeland, the UK, and also in the blessed lands of Shaam, where he now lives, studies and teaches.

A Reader on Night Worship and the Night Vigil (tahajjud)

“… And my servant continues to draw closer to me by voluntary actions until I love him…”[Bukhari]

Tahajjud Prayer: Description & Merits
Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.” [Muslim]
The Virtues of Prayer at Night
In this lecture, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani discusses the virtues of praying at night.
Islamcast Recast: The Virtues of Witr at the End of the Night
In this lecture, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani discusses the virtues of Witr at the End of the Night. Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever fears not being able to pray at the end of the night should perform Witr at the beginning of the night. But whoever is avid to pray at the end of the night should perform Witr then, for prayer at the end of the night is witnessed-and this is more virtuous.” [Muslim, Tirmidhi]
The Fiqh of Voluntary (Nafl) Prayers
An exposition of the prayers not directly related to the obligatory prayers. They are ten.
Are Tarawih and Tahajjud Prayers Different or the Same? Are they both from the sunna of the Prophet?
A straightforward answer.

Are Tarawih and Tahajjud Prayers Different or the Same? Are they both from the sunna of the Prophet?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Asalamo alykum
The Imam at the mosque where I go for tarawih prayer also prays witr jamaat. Does this mean that the taraweeh count as the tahajjud?
If not then should I leave the mosque after offering the tarawih and pray the witr at home with tahajjud?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
No, the tarawih prayer and the night-vigil (tahajjud) prayer are not the same thing.
The tarawih prayer is twenty units (rak`ats) and a confirmed sunna in the Hanafi school. [see: Can I Just Pray 8 Cycles of Tarawih?]
The tahajjud prayer is a recommended sunna and optimally eight units (rak`ats). [see: Tahajjud Prayer: Description & Merits]
And during Ramadan, it is superior to pray the Witr in congregation.
And Allah alone gives success.
Wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Fiqh of The Islamic Month of Muharram

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: What is the fiqh of the Islamic month of Muharram?

Answer: In the name of Allah, Most Merciful.

Duties of the Month of Muharram

1. It is the best of months for general voluntary fasts, after Ramadan.

2. It is especially recommended to fast the 10th of Muharram (known as the Day of `Ashura), with a day before it or after it [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, quoting Kasani’s al-Bada’i`].

3. It is also virtuous to give in charity on this day.

Extracts from Ibn Rajab’s Lata’if al-Ma`arif, regarding the month of Muharram:

The Virtues of Fasting in the Month of Muharram and Its First Ten Days

Muslim reported from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The best of fasts after the month of Ramadan are in the Month of Allah, which you call Muharram. And the best of prayer after the obligatory prayer is the night prayer.” [Muslim, 1163]

This refers to general voluntary fasts. According to Imam Ibn Rajab (Allah have mercy on him), these are best in the month of Muharram, just as the best general voluntary prayer is night prayer.

The virtue and honor of this month can be attested to by the fact that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) called it, “the Month of Allah.” Such ascription is only made by Allah to the most special of His creation, such as the ascription of the Prophets Muhammad, Ibrahim, Ishaq, Ya`qub, and others to his slavehood (Allah’s peace and blessings be on them all), and His ascription of the House (Ka`ba) and the camel to himself.

Given that Allah ascribed fasting, amongst all spiritual works, to Himself, [saying, “It is Mine,”] it was suitable that this month, which is also ascribed to Allah, be selected for this particular form of worship.

Fasting is a secret between the servant and his Lord. This is why Allah Mighty and Exalted says, [in the divine hadith (hadith qudsi),] “Every action of the son of Adam is his, except for fasting. It is Mine, and it is I who reward it.” [Bukhari and Muslim, from Abu Hurayra]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said, “The fasting person has two joys: one when he breaks his fast, and the other when he meets his Lord.” [Muslim]

Night Prayer

As for voluntary night prayer (qiyam al-layl), it is superior to voluntary prayer during the day because it is closer to secrecy, and nearer to sincerity.

Allah Most High said, “Lo! the vigil of the night is (a time) when impression is more keen and speech more certain.” [Qur’an, 73.9]

This is because the time of the night vigil (tahajjud) is the best of times for voluntary prayer, and the closest a servant gets to his Lord. It is a time when the doors of the skies are opened, supplications answered, and needs fulfilled.

Allah Most High has praised those who wake up at night in His remembrance, supplication, seeking forgiveness, and intimate entreating (munajat), saying, “Who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of that We have bestowed on them. No soul knows what is kept hid for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.” [Qur’an, 32.16-17]

And, “Or he who pays adoration in the watches of the night, prostrate and standing, bewaring of the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord? Say: Are those who know equal with those who know not? But only those of understanding will pay heed.” [Qur’an, 39.9]

And He said to His Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), “And some part of the night awake for it, as voluntary worship for you. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate.” [Qur’an, 17.79]

It has been said that those who worship at night will enter Paradise without reckoning, and that standing in night prayer shortens the length of one’s Standing on the Day of Judgment.

This is why the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “Stick to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you. Night prayer is a means of closeness to Allah Most High, of expiating for bad deeds, avoiding sins, and keeping away illness from one’s body.” [Tirmidhi (3543), Bayhaqi, and others; it is a sound (hasan) hadith]

Similarly, it has been related that fasting is a means for good health. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) is reported to have said, “Fast, and you shall have good health.” [Ahmad, from Abu Hurayra]

Lovers have no time more joyous than when they are alone in entreating their Beloved. This is the healing for their hearts, and the greatest thing that they could long for.

This is why Abu Sulayman al-Darani would say, “The people of the night find more joy than the people of distraction (lahw) in their distractions. Were it not for the night, I would not like to remain living.”

The Day of ‘Ashura’: The Tenth of Muharram

It is mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him and his father) that he was asked about fasting the Day of ‘Ashura’ [10th of Muharram]. He said, “I did not see the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) fast a day while more avid to seek its virtue than this day,” meaning the Day of ‘Ashura’. [Bukhari (2006), and Muslim (1132)]

The Day of ‘Ashura’ has great virtue, and tremendous sanctity (hurma). The virtue of fasting it was known among the Prophets (peace be upon them all). Both Prophet Nuh and Prophet Musa (peace be upon them both) fasted it.

The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) used to fast this day even in Mecca, though he had not yet ordered others to do so, as mentioned in both Bukhari and Muslim. [Bukhari (2002), Muslim (1125)]

When he migrated to Medina and found the People of the Book fasting this day and venerating it, he ordered the Muslims to fast it, and encouraged it so much that even the children would fast it.

It has been reported in both Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), that, “When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) reached Medina, he found the Jews fasting the Day of ‘Ashura’, so he asked them, What is this day you are fasting? They said, “This is a tremendous day. Allah saved Musa and his people on this day and drowned Pharaoh and his people. Musa fasted it out of thanks, so we fast it too.” The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “And we are more deserving of Musa than you are.” So he fasted this day, and ordered that it be fasted. [Bukhari (2004) and Muslim (1130)]

At the end of his life, the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) made the determination not to fast this day alone, but with another day [F: either before or after it], in order to be different from the People of the Book.

It has been reported in the Sahih of Imam Muslim (Allah have mercy on him), also from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that, “When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) fasted the Day of ‘Ashura’ and ordered his companions to fast it, they said, “O Messenger of Allah! This is a day that the Jews and Christians venerate.” So the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “When next year comes, if Allah wills, we will fast the Ninth [of Muharram with it].” But the next year did not come before the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) passed away [Muslim (1134), Abu Dawud (2445)].

And it is reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him), from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Fast the Day of ‘Ashura’ and be different from the Jews by fasting a day before it or a day after it.” [Ahmad]

Giving in Charity on the Day of ‘Ashura’

It has been reported from Abd Allah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As (Allah be pleased with him) that, “Whoever fasts ‘Ashura’ it is as if he has fasted the entire year. And whoever gives charity this day it is like the charity of an entire year.”

Mourning on the 10th of Muharram is an Innovation

As for the mourning and grieving of the Shia on this day because of the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husayn ibn Ali (Allah be pleased with him and his father), this is of the actions of those whose actions in this life are misguided while they think that they are doing well. Neither Allah Most High nor His Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace) commanded us to mourn on the days of the tribulations of the Prophets, or their deaths, let alone anyone else.

[F: The jurists have mentioned that it is an innovation to consider Muharram a month of mourning. It is not disliked to marry in this month. It is a highly reprehensible innovation to participate in the rituals of the Shia in mourning the death of Husayn (Allah be pleased with him).]

Some of the Virtues of the Day of ‘Ashura’

It is a day in which Allah forgave an entire people. Tirmidhi relates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to a man, “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 repentance in.” [Tirmidhi (841)]

And Allah alone gives success.
Faraz Rabbani

Virtues of the Sacred Month of Muharram, Its First Ten Days, and the Day of `Ashura

Duties of the Month of Muharram

1. It is the best of months for general voluntary fasts, after Ramadan.

2. It is especially recommended to fast the 10th of Muharram (known as the Day of `Ashura), with a day before it or after it. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, quoting Kasani’s al-Bada`i]

3. It is also virtuous to give in charity on this day.

Extracts from Ibn Rajab’s Lataif al-Ma`arif, regarding the month of Muharram:

The Virtues of Fasting in the Month of Muharram and Its First Ten Days

Muslim reported from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said , “The best of fasts after the month of Ramadan are in the Month of Allah, which you call Muharram. And the best of prayer after the obligatory prayer is the night prayer.” [Muslim, 1163]

This refers to general voluntary fasts according to Imam Ibn Rajab (Allah have mercy on him): These are best in the month of Muharram, just as the best general voluntary prayer is night prayer.

The virtue and honor of this month can be attested to by the fact that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) called it, “the Month of Allah.” (Shahr Allah) Such ascription is only made by Allah to the most special of His creation, such as the ascription of the Prophets Muhammad, Ibrahim, Ishaq, Ya`qub, and others to his slavehood (Allah’s peace and blessings be on them all), and His ascription of the House (Ka`ba) and the camel to himself.

Given that Allah ascribed fasting, between all spiritual works, to Himself [saying, “It is Mine,”] it was suitable that this month, which is also ascribed to Allah, be selected for this particular form of worship.

Fasting is a secret between the servant and his Lord. This is why Allah Mighty and Exalted says, [in the divine hadith (hadith qudsi)], “Every action of the son of Adam is his, except for fasting. It is Mine, and it is I who reward it.” [Bukhari and Muslim, from Abu Hurayra]

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said, “The fasting person has two joys: one when he breaks his fast, and the other when he meets his Lord.”[Muslim]

Night Prayer

As for voluntary night prayer (qiyam al-layl), it is superior to voluntary prayer during the day because it is closer to secrecy, and nearer to sincerity (ikhlas).

Allah Most High said, “Lo! the vigil of the night is (a time) when impression is more keen and speech more certain.” [Qur`an, 73.9]

This is because the time of the night vigil (tahajjud) is the best of times for voluntary prayer, and the closest a servant gets to his Lord. It is a time when the doors of the skies are opened, supplications answered, and needs fulfilled.

Allah Most High has praised those who wake up at night in His remembrance, supplication, seeking forgiveness, and intimate entreating (munajat), saying, “Who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of that We have bestowed on them. No soul knows what is kept hid for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.” [Qur`an, 32.16-17]

And, “Or he who pays adoration in the watches of the night, prostrate and standing, bewaring of the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord? Say: Are those who know equal with those who know not? But only those of understanding will pay heed.” [Qur`an, 39.9]

And He said to His Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), “And some part of the night awake for it, as voluntary worship for you. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate.” [Qur`an, 17.79]

It has been said that those who worship at night will enter Paradise without reckoning, and that standing in night prayer shortens the length of one’s Standing on the Day of Judgment.

This is why the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “Stick to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you. Night prayer is a means of closeness to Allah Most High, of expiating for bad deeds, avoiding sins, and keeping away illness from one’s body.” [Tirmidhi (3543], Bayhaqi, and others; it is a sound (hasan) hadith]

Similarly, it has been related that fasting is a means for good health. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) is reported to have said, “Fast, and you shall have good health.” [Ahmad, from Abu Hurayra]

Lovers have no time more joyous than when they are alone in entreating their Beloved. This is the healing for their hearts, and the great thing that they could long for.

This is why Abu Sulayman al-Darani would say, “The people of the night find more joy than the people of distraction (lahw) in their distractions. Were it not for the night, I would not like to remain living.”

The Day of `Ashura: The Tenth of Muharram

It is mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him and his father) that he was asked about fasting the Day of `Ashura [10th of Muharram]. He said, “I did not see the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) fast a day while more avid to seek its virtue than this day,” [meaning the Day of `Ashura]. [Bukhari (2006), and Muslim (1132)].

The Day of `Ashura has great virtue, and tremendous sanctity (hurma). The virtue of fasting it was known among the Prophets (peace be upon them all). Both Prophet Nuh and Prophet Musa (peace be upon them both) fasted it.

The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) used to fast this day even in Mecca, though he had not yet ordered others to do so, as mentioned in both Bukhari and Muslim. [Bukhari (2002), Muslim (1125)]

When he migrated to Medina, and found the People of the Book fasting this day and venerating it, he ordered the Muslims to fast it, and encouraged it so much that even the children would fast it.

It has been reported in both Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), that, When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) reached Medina, he found the Jews fasting the Day of `Ashura, so he asked them, “What is this day you are fasting?” They said, “This is a tremendous day. Allah saved Musa and his people on this day and drowned Pharaoh and his people. Musa fasted it out of thanks, so we fast it too.” The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “And we are more deserving of Musa than you are.” So he fasted this day, and ordered that it be fasted. [Bukhari (2004) and Muslim (1130)]

At the end of his life, the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) made the determination not to fast this day alone, but with another day [f: either before or after it], in order to be different from the People of the Book.

It has been reported in the Sahih of Imam Muslim (Allah have mercy on him), also from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that, “When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) fasted the Day of `Ashura and ordered his companions to fast it, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! This is a day that the Jews and Christians venerate.’ So the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, ‘When next year comes – if Allah wills – we will fast the Ninth [of Muharram with it].’ But the next year did not come before the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) passed away.” [Muslim (1134), Abu Dawud (2445)]

And it is reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him), from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Fast the Day of `Ashura” and be different from the Jews by fasting a day before it or a day after it.” [Ahmad]

Giving in Charity on the Day of `Ashura

It has been reported from Abd Allah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As (Allah be pleased with him), that “Whoever fasts `Ashura, it is as if he has fasted the entire year. And whoever gives charity this day it is like the charity of an entire year.”

Some of the Virtues of the Day of `Ashura

It is a day in which Allah forgave an entire people. Tirmidhi relates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to a man, “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 repentance in.” [Tirmidhi (841)]

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani

How Do I Raise My Resolve to do Good & Overcome Hardness of the Heart?

Answered by Shaykh Muhammad Qaylish

Question: When I began practicing, I used to be very motivated to perform the good. Now, I feel a hardness in my heart and less motivated to do good deeds. Can you please give some advice on how I can raise my motivation?

Answer: Bismillah

Allah Most High says,

“O you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah, and be with the truthful.” [Qur’an 9.119]

Thus, with our taqwa (God-consciousness), it is necessary to keep the company of the truthful and righteous.

With this, we should supplicate often with the words of the Best of Creation (peace and blessings be upon him),

“O over-turner of hearts, make my heart firm on your religion.”

If our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to make this supplication, it behooves us to follow his example (peace and blessings be upon him) and have fear of the overturning of hearts. And Allah Most Glorious is the Overwhelming over His creation, and He decrees whatever He wills for whoever He wishes. Thus, we ask Him to make us with the truthful and righteous, and to give us a good ending. And we seek refuge in Him from deception and being led astray, for He is the Hearing and Answering.

Worshiping Allah for His sake, not for illumination

When a believer obeys Allah Most High, they do so in obedience to the command of Allah. This good deed gives fruit to a light in the heart, and an increase in one’s spiritual resolve (himma). However, if our good deeds do not give apparent fruits, it is not allowed for us to leave them, because whenever we do the good, we will have obeyed the command of Allah—this is our duty.

Then, [having done our duty] if we find the apparent fruits of our deeds, then so be it. Otherwise, we at least obeyed the command of Allah, and we ask Him for acceptance. We are the servants of Allah, not the servants of illuminations that result from our deeds. The one who worships Allah for the fruits of their worship, such as the light and softness they find in their heart, are in need of sincerity to Allah alone in their worship.

What to do about hardness of heart and weakness of resolve

As for when one fears non-acceptance when they find hardness of heart and weakness in resolve, then one should make remembrance of Allah and istighfar (seeking forgiveness). It has been related in a hadith from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that he said,

“Truly, hearts rust just as iron rusts, and their polishing is La ilaha illa Allah (‘There is no god but Allah’) and seeking forgiveness.”

Thus, if a Muslim seeks to polish their heart, they should adhere to the remembrance of Allah until their heart is purified and illumined. If one makes remembrance of Allah but finds no light therein, then they should make themselves in a position to benefit from the winds of Allah’s beneficence.

It has been related in hadith that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,

“You Lord has in the days of your lives winds of beneficence, so benefit from them.”

Among these winds of beneficence are the blessed days mentioned in the Prophetic hadiths, in which worship is especially virtuous.

Among them is to search for truthful and righteous believers and to keep their company.

Among them is to establish night worship at the end of the night, and to supplicate at that time.

Among them is to remain constantly in the remembrance of Allah. Sayyidi Ibn `Ata’illah says,

“Do not leave the remembrance because of your lack of presence of heart with Allah therein, because your heedlessness of the remembrance of Allah is more harmful than your heedlessness during the remembrance of Allah. It may well be that He take you from remembrance in which there is heedlessness to remembrance in which there is consciousness; and from remembrance in which there is consciousness to remembrance in which there is presence of heart; and from remembrance in which there is presence of heart to remembrance in which there is obliviousness to all but the One Remembered, “And that is not difficult for Allah.””

Loss of motivation and the importance of moderation

As for loss of motivation, this is natural to the human temperament, and is the reason why the acts of good and worship are variegated—so that the lower selves of creation not get weary. Thus, if one finds weakness in one’s resolve, then move to another type of good, while being wary—when given success—not to take on too many voluntary acts of worship, lest this lead to loss of motivation and a sense of being fed up. Allah Most High enjoined upon us certain obligations which we cannot leave. After this, He encouraged us to supererogatory works from which we should take that which our selves can handle, sustain, and remain avid for the good.

Imam Muslim related in his Sahih, in the chapter on ‘Moderation in Exhortation,’ from Shaqiq that he said,

“We were sitting before the door of Abdullah [ibn Masud (Allah be pleased with him), the great companion of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)], waiting for him, when Yazid ibn Mu`awiya al-Nakha`i passed by us. We said to him, “Tell him about our presence.” He entered. Soon after, Abdullah [ibn Mas`ud] came out. He said, “I have been told about your presence. The only thing preventing me from coming out to you is my dislike of boring you. Verily, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to carefully choose when to give us exhortation, out of fear of us becoming weary.”

We ask Allah to make our days rich with His obedience, and to increase love and desire of drawing closer to Him in our hearts, until we meet Him and He is pleased with us. Amin.

Muhammad Qaylish

(Translated by Faraz Rabbani, a student of Shaykh Muhammad Qaylish)

3- حينما بدأت ألتزم كنت أجد دافعاً قوياً في نفسي نحو الخيرات ونوافل العبادات وكثرة الذكر . وكنت أجد رقة في قلبي .. الآن لا أجد ذاك الدافع وأشعر بقسوة في قلبي وضعف في همتي .. لا أقع في معاص ظاهرة … لكن أخاف أن يزداد ضعفي … كيف أقوي عزمي نحو الخير وتنوير قلبي؟

الجواب: يقول الله تعالى : [يا أيها الذين آمنوا اتقوا الله وكونوا مع الصادقين]. فمع التقوى لا بد من مصاحبة الصادقين . ومع هذا وذاك علينا أن نكثر من دعاء سيد الوجود e : “يا مقلب القلوب ثبت قلبي على دينك” . فإذا كان نبينا e يدعو بهذا الدعاء فعلينا أن نقتدي به e ونخاف من تقليب القلوب . والله سبحانه هو القاهر فوق عباده يحكم بما يشاء على من يشاء . فنسأله أن يجعلنا من الصالحين وأن يختم لنا بخاتمة الحسنى . ونعوذ به من المكر والاستدراج. إنه سميع مجيب.

والمؤمن حين يطيع الله عز وجل فإنه يفعل ذلك امتثالاً لأمر الله . فتثمر هذه الطاعة نوراً في القلب، وزيادة في الهمة . ولكن إذا لم تثمر الطاعة ثمارها فلا يجوز أن نتركها، لأننا حين نعمل الخيرات فإننا نكون قد امتثلنا أمر الله. وهذه هي وظيفتنا. ثم إذا أتت ثمار الطاعة فأهلاً وسهلاً. وإذا لم تأت نكون قد امتثلنا أمر الله. ونسأله سبحانه القبول. فنحن عباد الله ولسنا عباد الأنوار التي هي ثمرة عبادتنا . وإذا كان المسلم يعبد الله لأجل أن ينال ثمار العبادة من نور في القلب ورقة فيه فإن عبادته تحتاج إلى إخلاص النية لله وحده.

وأما إذا كان يخاف من عدم القبول حين يجد في القسوة في قلبه والضعف في همته فعليه بذكر الله والاستغفار . وقد ورد في الحديث عنه e : إن القلوب تصدأ كما يصدأ الحديد وجلاؤها لا إله إلا الله والاستغفار .

فإذا أراد المسلم أن يجلو قلبه فعليه بذكر الله حتى يصفو ويتنور. وإذا كان يذكر الله فلا يشعر بالنور يدخل إلى قلبه فليتعرض لنفحات الله سبحانه . فقد ورد في الحديث : إن لربكم في أيام دهركم نفحات . ألا فتعرضوا لها. ومن النفحات الأيام المباركة التي وردت الأحاديث في فضل العبادة فيها . ومنها البحث عن الصالحين الصادقين والبقاء معهم . ومنها قيام آخر الليل والدعاء فيه…. ومنها المداومة على الذكر . يقول سيدي ابن عطاء الله السكندري : لا تترك الذكر لعدم حضورك مع الله فيه فغفلتك عن وجود ذكره أشد من غفلتك مع وجود ذكره . فعسى أن ينقلك من ذكر مع وجود غفلة إلى ذكر مع وجود يقظة ومن ذكر مع وجود يقظة إلى ذكر مع وجود حضور ومن ذكر مع وجود حضور إلى ذكر مع غيبة عما سوى المذكور وما ذلك على الله بعزيز .

وإن السآمة من طبع النفوس البشرية . ولذلك تنوعت الطاعات والعبادات كيلا تمل نفوس العباد . فإذا شعر المسلم بشيء من الضعف في الهمة فلينتقل إلى نوع آخر من الطاعة . وليحذر الموفق من حمل نفسه على كثرة النوافل حتى لا تمل وتسأم . فإن الله سبحانه قد فرض علينا فروضاً لا يجوز لنا أن نتركها . ثم ندبنا بعد ذلك إلى نوافل نأخذ منها ما تحتمله نفوسنا وتبقى معه راغبة في الخير . وقد أخرج الإمام مسلم في صحيحه في باب الاقتصاد في الموعظة عن شقيق قال: كنا جلوساً عند باب عبد الله – بن مسعود – ننتظره، فمر بنا يزيد بن معاوية النخعي فقلنا: أعلمه بمكاننا. فدخل عليه، فلم يلبث أن خرج علينا عبد الله فقال: إني أُخْبَرُ بمكانكم، فما يمنعني أن أخرج إليكم إلا كراهية أن أُمِلَّكُمْ. إن رسول الله e كان يَتَخَوَّلُنَا بالموعظة في الأيام مخافة السآمة علينا. نسأل الله أن يجعل أيامنا بالطاعات عامرة وأن يزيد في قلوبنا محبته والرغبة بالإقبال عليه حتى نلقاه وهو عنا راض . آمين.

MMVIII © Faraz Rabbani and SunniPath.