By ImamMurtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy
All praise is due to Allah Who selects by His Mercy whom He wills and chooses from His creation what He wishes. There is no adjusting of His judgment and no turning away His decree. He is not asked about what He does and people will be asked. Glory be to Him, He has made in the alteration of the days and nights a lesson for the believers and in the succession of the days a sign for those who reflect.
Respected brothers and sisters! Seasons of obedience hardly end until they are followed by others. And opportunities for goodness barely finish until others appear. And we bid farewell to the Hijrah year which was concluded with a sacred month containing a great rite- Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam. Likewise, we will greet the new year starting with a sacred month, the month of Muharram, the Sacred Month of Allah.
The month of Muharram is named the Month of Allah, while all months for Allah. The great scholar of Islam, Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali (may Allah have mercy on him) said that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) named Muharram the Month of Allah, and attributing the month to Allah, the Mighty and the Sublime, indicates its honour and virtue. For Allah Almighty does not attribute to himself except the selected of His creation. Just as He attributed Prophets Muhammad, Ibrahim, Ishaq, Yakub and other Prophets to His servitude. And He attributed to himself His house (the Ka’abah) and His she-camel (sent to Thamud).
Muharram is from the sacred months and comes at the beginning of them. Imam Al-Hassan Al-Basri said that Allah Almighty opened the year with a sacred month, that is Muharram and concluded the year with a sacred month that is Dhul-Hijjah. And there is no month after Ramadan greater in the sight of Allah than Muharram.
And the sacred months are greater in the sight of Allah than other months. For this reason, He the Almighty prohibited wrongdoing in them. Allah Almighty said:
“Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them.” [Qur’an, 9: 36]
Imam Al-Qurtubi said in his interpretation of the Qur’an that:
“Allah selected the sacred months for mention and prohibited wrongdoing in them, even though it is prohibited at all times, in order honour them.”
The sin in the sacred months is more grave than in other months. And the righteous deeds in the sacred months have a greater reward. Imam Qatadah said that:
“Injustice during the sacred months is a greater sin than injustice in other months. And even though injustice in all months is grave, Allah magnifies from His matter as He wills.”
According to Ibn Rajab and other scholars, it is among the best months after Ramadan. And it is recommended to fast during it. And the virtue of fasting in it comes after the virtue of fasting Ramadan. Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“The best fasting after the month of Ramadan is the month of Allah, Al-Muharram, and the best prayer is prayer at night.” [Muslim]
This Hadith clearly states that Muharram is the best month for voluntary fasting. Imam Al-Qurtubi said:
“The fasting of Muharram is the best fasting, because it is the beginning of the year and it is opened with fasting, which is the best of deeds.”
And based on this Hadith, the best deed that a Muslim can perform in the month of Muharram is fasting. So a Muslim should do a lot of voluntary fasting during it. And let us remember that fasting has virtues and great reward with Allah – the Mighty and Sublime. Sahl Bin Sa’ad narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“In Paradise there is a gate which is called Rayyan through which only those who fasted will enter on the Day of Resurrection. None else will enter through it. It will be called out, where are those who used to fast? So they will proceed towards it and no one will enter it except them. When the last of them will have entered, the gate will be closed and then no one will enter through it.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
And Abu Said Al Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“There is no worshipper who fasts a day in the cause of Allah, but Allah, the most high, will separate (a distance of) seventy autumns (years) between his face and the fire in return for that day.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i]
And Abu Umamah Al-Bahili, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
“Oh Messenger of Allah, tell me of something by which Allah will benefit me. He said: take to fasting, for there is nothing like it.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i]
Dear servants of Allah! Ashurah is the tenth day of the month of Muharram. It is the day that Allah gave victory to the truth and the believers, Prophet Musa and his people, and defeated falsehood and the disbelievers, Fir’aun (Pharaoh) and his people. And this victory is still a matter of consideration and appreciation. So it is ordained for us to fast that day out of gratefulness that Allah inherits the earth and what is on it to His righteous servants. As Allah Almighty said:
“Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them.” [Qur’an, 24: 55]
And Allah Almighty said:
“And We have already written in the book [of Psalms] after the [previous] mention that the land is inherited by My righteous servants.” [Qur’an, 21: 105]
Also, there is great reward and goodness in fasting this day. For it expiates the minor sins of the previous year and not the major sins. As for the major sins, they require repentance and determination to not return to them. Abu Qatadah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“And fasting the day of Ashurah, I anticipate that Allah will forgive (the sins of) the year before it.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
And the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was keen to fast the day of Ashurah. Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
“I never saw the Prophet (Peace be upon him) seeking to fast on a day that he favoured more than another except this day, the day of Ashurah, and this month, meaning the month of Ramadan.” [Bukhari]
All the Islamic scholars have agreed that fasting the day of Ashurah is recommended and not mandatory from what Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated that:
“The Prophet (Peace be upon him) fasted it and commanded fasting it until Ramadan was mandated. Then Ramadan was mandatory and Ashurah was recommended.”
Also, it is recommended to fast the ninth and tenth of Muharram. Ibn Abbas reported that when the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) fasted on the day of Ashurah and commanded fasting, they (the Companions) said to him:
“Oh Messenger of Allah, it is a day revered by the Jews and Christians. Then the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said: when the next year comes, Allah willing, we will fast on the ninth (in addition to Ashurah). He said that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) had passed before the start of the next year.” [Muslim]
Also, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“If I live until next year, I will fast the ninth day (of Muharram).” [Muslim]
Moreover, some Islamic scholars have recommended fasting the 9th, 10th and 11th. Ibn Taimiyyah cited in his book Iqtida’ Sirat Al-Mustaqim that the Imam Ahmad said:
“Whoever aims to fast Ashurah should fast the 9th and the 10th except if there is uncertainty about the months so he should fast three days (9th, 10th and 11th). And Ibn Sirrin is of that opinion.”
And Ibn Qayyim in his book Zad Al-Ma’ad indicated that:
“There are three ranks and steps of fasting Ashurah. The first rank is to fast the 9th, 10th, and 11th and this is the best rank. And the second rank is to fast the 9th and the 10th. And the third rank is to fast only the 10th.”
I ask Allah Almighty to help us in making the most of Muharram in performing righteous deeds and to distance us from the misdeeds. Indeed Allah is All Hearing Answering.
I conclude with this and send prayers of blessings and peace upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad as your Lord commanded:
“Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace.” [Qur’an, 33: 56]
O Allah, guide us with those whom You have guided, grant us well-being among those You have granted well-being, be an ally to us along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless what You have bestowed upon us, and save us from the evil of what You have decreed. For verily You decree and none can decree over You. He whom You support can never be humiliated. Glory is to You, our Lord, You are Blessed and Exalted.
O Allah, We ask You for all that is good, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know.
O Allah, we seek refuge with You from all evil, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know.
O Allah, we ask You for the good that Your servant and Prophet has asked You for, and we seek refuge with You from the evil from which Your servant and Prophet sought refuge.
O Allah, we ask You for Paradise and for that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed, and we seek refuge in You from Hell and from that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed. And we ask You to make every decree that You decree concerning us good.
Dear servants of Allah! Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.
Remember Allah, the Great – He will remember you. Thank Him for His favours – He will increase you therein. And seek forgiveness from Him – He will forgive you. And be conscious of Him – He will provide you a way out of difficult matters. And, establish the prayer.
All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.
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