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Muharram is the Month of Personal Sacrifice

In less than two weeks, perhaps on the 4th or 5th of March, depending on the sighting of the Hilal, the new Muslim lunar year 1424 would, insha-Allah, begin. Unlike all the other calendars that begin on a date the origin of which is shrouded in mystery or admittedly does not correspond with the advent of the claimed event, Muslims know with certainty when, where, and how this calendar began. Nothing is ambiguous or mysterious. Not only is the chronology well known but the lessons and messages it delivers are well understood by Muslims, even to this day.

The first and foremost lesson is the extreme sacrifice in the way of All‚h. Leaving one's homeland and property and family behind and to migrate to establish All‚h's deen is a duty on every Muslim and the reward of it is immense.

"Those who believe and migrate and strive with might and main for the faith in the cause of All‚h as well as those who give (them) asylum and aid, these are (all) in very truth the believers: for them is the forgiveness of sins and a provision most generous." 
[al-Anfaal, 8:74]

"Those who believe and migrate and strive with might and main in All‚h's cause with their goods and their persons have the highest rank in the sight of Allah: They are the people who are triumphant. Their Lord doth give them Glad tidings of a Mercy from Himself, of His good pleasure and of gardens for them wherein are delights that endure. They will dwell therein forever. Verily in Allah's presence is a reward the greatest (of all)." 
[at-Tauba, 9:20-22]

The Messenger of All‚h by his personal example showed the meaning and methodology of this sacrifice. Even today one cannot miss the enormity of the sacrifice. A current visitor to hijaz can visualize the physical hardship of that migration. To overcome this unimaginable emotional toll and to console and reward him in this world, All‚h gave him the following glad tidings when he felt homesick for his place of birth.

"Lo! He Who hath given thee the Qur'an for a law will surely bring thee home again. Say: My Lord is best aware of he who bringeth guidance and him who is in error manifest." 
[al-Qasas, 28:85]

Indeed in a short time this promise was fulfilled beyond any doubt.

This event was so significant in the sight of All‚h that when the using a calendar become useful for the companions they were guided to use the Hijrah as the bench mark. Sahl bin Sad narrates, "The Prophet's companions did not take as a starting date for the Muslim calendar, the day the Prophet had been sent as an Apostle or the day of his death, but the day of his arrival at Medina." Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 5.271.

No wonder the hijrah (migration) of Rasoolullah is regarded as jihad by All‚h. Very shortly thereafter it was also taught to Muslims that no other migration would ever equal that sacrifice. "The Messenger of Allah was asked about migration, whereupon he said: There is no migration after the liberation (of Makkah), but Jihad and sincere intention. When you are asked to set out (for the cause of Isl‚m), you should set out." Narrated by Aisha . Sahih Muslim Hadith 4599.

Then we were given further guidance: Amr ibn Abasah narrates, "I came to Allah's Messenger and said to him: Allah's Messenger, who are with you on this (sacred) mission? He said: Free man and slave. I said: What is Islam? He said: Pleasant talk and serving of food. I said: What is Iman? He said: Endurance and benevolence. I said: Which Islam is excellent? He said: One who safeguards a Muslim against (aggression) of his tongue, and hand. I said: Which faith is excellent? He said: Amiable disposition. I said: Which prayer is excellent? He said: Standing for a long time in humility (and devotion). I said: Which migration is excellent? He said: The one by which you abandon that which your Lord dislikes. I said: Which jihad (fighting in the way of Allah) is excellent? He said: That in which one has one's steed wounded and his blood is shed. I said: Which hour is most excellent? He said: The end of the darkest part of the night." Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 46.

So the physical migration is only incumbent upon a Muslim if he is persecuted for his Isl‚m and prevented from inviting others to the way of All‚h, but spiritual migration away from disobedience of All‚h is ever practicable.

The migration took place in the month of Rabi ul Awwal. Muslims kept the verbal records of the chronology. It was in the 21st year after the Hijrah that Umar ibn-ul-Khattab , the second rightly guided khalifa officially started the tradition of numbering the years from the year of the Hijrah. So this is what the month of Muharram should remind us, to be ready to serve the cause of Isl‚m with might and main if the need arises and be ever ready to abandon that which our Lord dislikes. May All‚h give us the taufeeq.

Another significant sacrifice during the month of Muharram, that teaches us many similar lessons was the martyrdom of Hazrat Imaam Hussain , who stood up against tyranny and rebelliousness to All‚h to uphold the principle that his maternal grandfather had ingrained in him. The swords of the soldiers of Ibne Ziyad could not prevent him to say the word of justice. That event took place in the month of Muharram on the tenth, in the year AH 61. The most important lesson of it is the extreme sacrifice to practice what the last messenger of All‚h has taught us. The Prophet said: "The best jihad in the path of Allah is (to speak) a word of truth to an oppressive ruler." Narrated by Abu Sa'id al-Khudri , Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 4330.

The 10th of Muharram is also the day that Musa was saved by All‚h from the tyranny of Firawn (Pharaoh). So Muslim are encouraged to fast on this day and the day before or the day after. "When the Prophet came to Medina, he found (the Jews) fasting on the day of 'Ashura' (i.e. 10th of Muharram). They used to say: "This is a great day on which Allah saved Musa and drowned the folk of Pharaoh. Musa observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah." The Prophet said, "I am closer to Musa than they." So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it." Narrated by Ibn Abbas , Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.609

"When the Messenger of Allah fasted on the day of Ashura and commanded that it should be observed as a fast, they (his Companions) said to him: Messenger of Allah , it is a day which the Jews and Christians hold in high esteem. Thereupon the Messenger of Allah said: When the next year comes, , we would observe fast on the 9th . But the Messenger of Allah died before the advent of the next year." Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas . Sahih Muslim Hadith 2528.

For us Muslims these are turbulent times. Tyranny is the rule. Might decides what is right and what is wrong. Wealth buys the conscience of nations. May All‚h not let the lessons of the hijrah and the martyrdom of Hazrat Hussain be dimmed by the explosions of hitech devices of death and destruction all around us. They are but the clutter of the reinvented modern day swords of the soldiers of Ibne Ziyad. May All‚h grant us the taufeeq to speak kalimatul haq to a tyrant ruler.

Published: February 2003


Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756