On Ashura – A Day to Be Remembered, but Remembered How?

On Ashura – A Day to Be Remembered, but Remembered How? October 11, 2016
Image source: Pixabay
Image source: Pixabay

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Zainab Bint Younus, aka the Salafi Feminist.

By Zainab Bint Younus

It is Allah alone who created the months of the year and it is He alone who chooses which of those months are sacred, and which of those days are meant to be days of celebration and commemoration. In the Sunnah of RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), we have ample evidence of specific examples: the month of Ramadan, the last ten nights of Ramadan, the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah (including the day of Arafah and the day of Nahr), and so on.

Muharram is one of those months, but never did RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) or his Companions take the first day of the ‘Islamic new year’ as something to commemorate or make special note of. Rather, it is the day of Ashuraa’ – the 10th of Muharram – that is marked as being of significant importance in Islam.

Ashuraa’, the 10th of Muharram, was specifically mentioned by RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as being a day to be remembered.

When the Prophet arrived at Medina, the Jews were observing the fast on ‘Ashura’ (10th of Muharram) and they said, “This is the day when Moses became victorious over Pharaoh,” On that, the Prophet said to his companions, “You (Muslims) have more right to celebrate Moses’ victory than they have, so observe the fast on this day.” (Bukhari)

“Fast the Day of Ashura, for indeed I anticipate that Allah will forgive (the sins of) the year before it.” (Tirmidhi)

Hafsah said: “”There are four things which the Prophet never gave up: Fasting ‘Ashura’, (fasting during) the ten days, (fasting) three days of each month, and praying two Rak’ahs before Al-Ghadah (Fajr).” (Nasa’i)

The 10th of Muharram has significance in later Islamic history as well. Though we must first and foremost understand that the act of ‘ebaadah (worship) specified for this day is as described above – a practice of RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) related to the victory of Musa (‘alayhissalaam) over Fir’awn pharoah) – we must never forget the rest of our history as well.

The story of Hussain ibn Ali (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) is not one that belongs to only a certain group of people; it belongs to the Ummah as a whole, and in particular, those who profess to be of Ahlus Sunnah wa’l Jamaa’ah – those who must, by necessity, love RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his Ahlul Bayt.

It is one of the sad aspects of our community that we tend to shy away from speaking about the story of Hussain (radhiAllahu ‘anhu), perhaps out of an exaggerated fear of being associated with the Shi’ah and the many bid’ah that have arisen related to the incident. Rather, we have an obligation to be honest to our history, to be true to it, and to learn from it – for verily, Allah is al-Qaadir, the One Who decrees events to take place, and it is we who must understand the ayaat (signs) that He has placed in those moments.

The story of Hussain (grandson of the Prophet Muhammad sallAllahu’alayhi wa sallam) is not one that is in opposition to the story of Musa (‘alayhissalaam), but in fact confirms it, and confirms the spirit of ‘Ashuraa. That spirit is one of struggle against falsehood, oppression and injustice; and of victory.

Musa (‘alayhissalaam) stood against Fir’awn; a humble Prophet with a community of former slaves facing the most powerful ruler of the time and his vast army of brutal soldiers. Hussain ibn Ali (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) stood against Yazeed ibn Mu’awiyah; the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his family members facing the ruler of the Islamic empire at the time, and his vast army of soldiers loyal to his cause.

Neither Musa nor Hussain were military leaders or set out with military intentions. Their only intention was to speak truth to power; to stand against the oppression of the innocent; to remind those in authority of the One with true power over all.

Whereas Musa (‘alayhissalaam) was given a clear victory against his enemy, little do we realize that al-Hussain was also given a victory of his own. Though he may have perished, though his family was captured and though it was perceived that the political influence of Ahlul Bayt was destroyed, Allah brought about an even greater victory through all of that: Recognition for the rest of the Ummah, and for hundreds of years to come, that Allah returns to Himself those whom He loves.

Al-Hussain died as a shaheed (martyr) for the sake of Allah, and he remains a symbol of courage, determination, and justice to us all.

In a time when we are seeing Muslims across the world being destroyed almost effortlessly, the story of al-Hussain and the 72 members of his family being massacred and captured is a story that we must remind ourselves of … not that we lose hope, but that we hold strong to it.

{And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah, “They are dead.” Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not.} (Qur’an 2:154)

Injustice and oppression may seem to be powerful today, just as they seemed to be powerful when al-Hussain was killed, but Allah alone is the Most Powerful.

Thus, even the story of al-Hussain ibn Ali should not be a cause for us to mourn on Ashuraa’, but to rejoice: to remember his predecessor, Musa (‘alayhissalaam) and his victory, and to remember that victory in the sight of Allah does not always mean that the enemies of Islam are immediately destroyed with a miracle, but that their destruction in the Hereafter will be eternal and all the more painful.

Zainab Bint Younus is a Canadian Muslimah who has been active in grassroots da’wah and writing about Islam and the Ummah for nearly a decade. She was first published in Al-Ameen newspaper (Vancouver, Canada) at the age of 14, becamse co-founder, editor and writer for MuslimMatters.org at 16 and began writing regularly for Sisters magazine at 19. She blogs regularly at The Salafai Feminist.

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