TOPIC: SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TENTH DAY OF MUHARRAM
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All thanks and praise is due to Allah, we seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil within ourselves and the consequences of our evil deeds. Whoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whoever Allah leads astray will never find guidance. I bear witness there is no God but Allah, alone without any partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger.
Brothers and Sisters! This month Muharram marks the beginning of a new Islamic year, which was initiated after the Hijrah, or emigration, of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and which marked the formation of the first Muslim nation within an independent Islamic territory under the rule of Muslims.
Servants of Allah! The Muslims had no formal annual calendar until the caliphate of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, (RTA). In the third or fourth year of his caliphate, Umar, (RTA) received a message from Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari, (RTA), who suggested that their future correspondence be confirmed with the appropriate date. Therefore, Umar, (RTA) gathered some of the surviving companions of the Prophet (SAW) and consulted them on this matter. Some of them suggested adopting the Persian Calendar; others proposed adopting the Roman Calendar; others still proposed that the Muslims should form their own calendar and that it should start from the birth of the Prophet (SAW); another group agreed but thought that the new Islamic Calendar should start from the day on which the Prophet (SAW) embarked upon his mission; another group believed that this new Islamic Calendar should begin from the emigration of the Prophet (SAW) while a final group believed that it should start from his death.
After a long discussion, they (companions) (RTA) agreed unanimously to adopt that the Islamic Calendar should start from when the Prophet (SAW) emigrated from Makkah to Madinah and that the first month of this new Calendar be that of Muharram. This is because Muharram is a sacred month and because it follows Dhul-Hijjah which is the month in which the Muslims perform Hajj, which is the last of the five pillars of Islam that was enjoined upon the Muslims.
Servants of Allah! Allah has also favoured certain months, days and nights more than others. The number of months is twelve, as decreed by Allah when He created the heavens and the earth. Among these twelve are four sacred months, Dhul-Qa’adah, Dhul-Hijjah, and Muharram, which are successive and the month of Rajab that comes between Jumada Al-Akhirah and Sha’aban. It is important to mention that the best day which the sun rises on is Friday and the night of Al-Qadr (Laylatul Qadr) is more virtuous than a thousand months. Therefore, we must all respect and esteem that which Allah(SWT) has magnified.
Scholars maintain that the rewards for good deeds are multiplied in times and places which are favoured by Allah, and vice versa for bad deeds. The proof of this is from Allah’s Saying:
“They ask you concerning the sacred month – about fighting therein. Say, ‘Fighting therein is great [sin], but averting [people] from the way of Allah and disbelief in Him and [preventing access to] the Sacred Mosque [in Makkah] and the expulsion of its people therefrom are greater [evil] in the sight of Allah. And fitnah [Polytheism and Disbelief] is worse than killing.’ And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they are able. And whoever of you reverts from his religion [to disbelief] and dies while he is a disbeliever – for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter, and those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.” [Quran 2: 217]
Brothers and Sisters! The tenth day of Muharram, known as Ashura, has a special significance. Ibn Abbas, (RTA) said:
“The Prophet, (SAW), came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He said: ‘What is this? They said: ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Prophet Musa fasted on this day.’ He (SAW) said: ‘We have more right to Musa than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded (the Muslims) to fast on that day.” [Al-Bukhari]
Therefore the practice of fasting on Ashura was known even in the days of Jahiliyyah, before the Prophet’s Message. It was reported that Aisha, (RTA), said:
“The people of Jahiliyyah used to fast on that day.”
Imam Qurtubi said:
“Perhaps the Quraish used to fast on that day on the basis of some previous law, like that of Ibrahim, (ASW).”
Ibn Abbas, (RTA), said:
“I never saw the Messenger of Allah so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other time than the day of Ashura and the month of Ramadan.” [Al-Bukhari]
The Prophet (SAW) also said:
“For fasting the day of Ashura, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the past year.” [Muslim]
* It is recommended to fast the ninth in addition to the tenth of Muharram.
Abdullah ibn Abbas, (RTA) said:
“When the Messenger of Allah fasted (SAW) on Ashura and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated and respected by the Jews and Christians.’
The Messenger of Allah said: ‘If I live to see the next year, ‘Inshaa Allah’, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah passed away before the next year came.” [Muslim]
We pray that Allah (SWT) will make it easy for us to fast the tenth day of Muharram, cause our sins of the past year to be expiated because of it and make us witness many more years on earth in sound health and iman.