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Jews fasting. He asked one of his companions: “Why are the Jews fasting?”. His companion replied: “The Jews are remembering when Prophet Moses (pbuh) and the children of Israel were saved from the Pharaoh”. The prophet said: “I have a greater right on Moses than what they do. Therefore, my people will fast on Ashura in the same way they are fasting on Ashura”. One of the companions exclaimed: “O Messenger of Allah, but we are going to be copying the Jews” and the prophet then replied: “You are right, from now on we will fast on the 9th and 10th”.
The above narration and the fast of Ashura is one of the most controversial acts of worship in Islam. It is an act of worship that requires thorough dissection and analyses in order to examine it from a variety of angles.
When examining the hadith above; we must carefully consider the following:
1.When is the hadith mentioned and in which books is it narrated? 2.Who narrated the hadith and what is their personal history? 3.What is the meaning of the word ‘Ashura’ and does it possess more than one meaning? 4.According to the Jewish calendar, did the Jews fast on the day of savior of the children of Israel? Did this day correspond to the 10th of Muharram? 5.When did the Arabic calendar begin and how does this coincide with the above hadith? 6.Why would the prophet copy the practice of the Jews? 7.Are there other areas of the Sunnah which have been neglected? The fast of Ashura upholds both historical and contemporary significance. In terms of its contemporary significance, people from all over the globe engage in a fast on the day of Ashura. According to some scholars, the fast of Ashura ‘Is one of the most beloved fasts to the holy prophet, after the fast of Ramadan’. Due to its contemporary significance, it is important to understand the basis of the fast on Ashura, where this particular act of worship originated from and whether this act is recognized by all schools of Islam. Have you ever wondered why the fast of Ashura is the only Sunnah of the holy prophet Muhammad (pbuh) which is provided with such a vast propaganda?
As the 10th of Muharram approaches, all the Imams are preparing lectures that highlight the significance of the fast of Ashura. Millions of pamphlets, books, posters and many more media machinery operate to encourage the population to fast on Ashura. It seems that on the 10th of Muharram, the fast of Ashura is the only momentous incident in the history of Islam. Yet, the savior of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) from the king Namrud and the fire, the savior of Prophet Noah (pbuh) and his people, the curing of Prophet Ayyub’s (pbuh) illness and the returning of Prophet Yaqub’s eyesight all occurred on Ashura. Yet, why are such significantly notable events NEGLECTED? Why is everything devoted to the fast of Ashura?
Subsequently, the act of fasting on Ashura originated from the day of savior of Prophet Moses (pbuh) and the children of Israel. The comprehensive analysis of this act of worship requires delving into the worlds of history and ahadith as well as studying the Jewish and Islamic calendars.
The hadith relating to the fast of Ashura is narrated in Imam Bukhari’s Sahih; Imam Muslim’s Sahih and Imam Tarmizi’s Sahih. Thus, it is narrated in three of the six available Sahih’s. When we look at any narration which tells us about an act of worship such as fasting, we must analyze the chain of narrators in order to confirm its reliability. Ibn Abas, Abu Hurraira, Abu Musa al ashari and Muawiya are the narrators who claim that the prophet recommended the fast of Ashura.
The above hadith is meant to have been mentioned when the prophet arrived in Medina in the 1st year of Hijra. Hence, we will examine the activities of the narrators at that period of time:
1.Ibn Abas was four years old when the prophet arrived in Medina and the hadith was mentioned. Ibn Abas was born three years before Hijra. If we assume that he was with the prophet at Hijra and Ibn Abas heard every single bit of the narration, he would have been four years at that time. According to many scholars of hadith, a four year old child is not exactly the most reliable resource. 2.Abu Musa al Ashari came from the tribe of Ashar in Yemen. He converted to Islam before Hijra and since that day till Khabar, he was no where to be seen. This is because the prophet sent him back to Yemen to spread the religion of Islam and consequently he could not have been with the prophet in the 1st year of Hijra since he was in Yemen. The first glimpse anyone had of Abu Musa was after Khaibar. 3.Abu Hurraira converted to Islam in his early years and was only seen in Medina after Khaibar which occurred in the 7th year of Hijra. Now, if you weren’t even at the event, then how can you narrate what happened? 4.Muawiya converted to Islam in the 8th year of Hijra which is seven years after the mentioning of the hadith relating to the fast of Ashura. Thus, can you label Muawiya as being a reliable source?
Further examination of the narrators broadens our understanding of the validity of the above hadith: Abu Hurraira was made the governor of Bahrian by Omar al khatab in the 21st year of Hijra. In the 23rd year of Hijra, Omar discovers that Abu Hurraira was gaining an income through the narration of ahadith. Omar said to him: “When I let you go to Bahrain, you didn’t even have shoes on your feet and now in Bahrian, you are buying horses for 1600 dinars each and I hear that you are narrating ahadith and making an income from it”.
This incident emphasizes that the narration of Ahadith became a profession after the death of the holy prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Can we possibly accept a narration from a person like Abu Hurraira? How can we accept the hadith as being valid if the narrators weren’t even present at the incidence? Furthermore, it is important to consider the meaning of the word “Ashura” in order to analyze the hadith above from a different angle. Ibn Ather who was one of the greatest scholars of the Arabic language highlights that the word ‘Ashura’ possesses an old and a new meaning. Taking the old meaning into perspective, “Ashura” refers to the 10th of any month. Moreover, the new meaning of the word Ashura was established after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (pbuh) and it refers to the 10th of Muharram in particular as it was on this holy day that the prophet’s grandson was murdered in the land of Kerbala. Upon Ibn Ather’s examination of the hadith relating to the fast of Ashura, he raises the question: “When was the hadith mentioned?”
The narrators of the hadith claim that the prophet mentioned the hadith in the 1st year of Hijra. Thus, the old usage of the word “Ashura” applies and when the hadith is put into context, the prophet’s statement “My people will fast on Ashura in the same way they are fasting on Ashura” means that the Muslims will fast on the 10th of the month in which the prophet was in, when he was at Medina. As a result we must be fasting on the 9th and 10th of the month in which the prophet met the Jews at Medina. Why are the Muslims fasting on 10th of Muharram? Why is the propaganda always behind the 10th of Muharram? The prophet never mentioned Muharram!
The propaganda and media machinery indoctrinate the population by emphasizing that the prophet entered Medina in the month of Muharram and thus he met the Jews on the 10th of Muharram. Let’s assume that this is valid as we analyze the Jewish and Islamic calendar.
Hence, for an assumption: Ashura= 10th of Muharram in 1st year of Hijra. The Hadith relating to the fast of Ashura claims that the Jews fast on the day of the savior of prophet Moses and the children of Israel on the 10th of Tishri (Jewish calendar) and this corresponds to the
10th of Muharram (Islamic calendar). The hadith also claims that when the prophet (pbuh) acknowledged that the Jews were fasting on Ashura, he commanded the Muslims to fast on the 9th and 10th of Muharram. Consequently, the existence of Judaism today further assists the recovery of truth. Ask the Jews whether they fast on the day that prophet Moses (pbuh) and the children of Israel were saved by the Almighty Allah. Ask them whether the day in which they fast corresponds to the 10th of Muharram. The answer is simply NO. The Jews have no such fast and it NEVER corresponded to the 10th of Muharram in the first year of Hijra. The only time the 10th of Tishri corresponded to the 10th of Muharram was in the 29th year after Hijra. Yet, the hadith claims that the prophet met the Jews in the first year of Hijra!
Moreover, the 10th of Tishri is not related to the savior of Moses and the children of Israel but rather the 10th of Tishri is the day the children of Israel paid atonement for worshipping the calf when Prophet Moses and some companions went to Mount Sinai. As a result of this incident, the Jews fast on the 10t of Tishri. However, the hadith relating to the fast of Ashura claims that the Jews were fasting on the 10th of Tishri due to the savior of Moses and the children of Israel! Rather, the savior of the children of Israel occurred on the 15th of Nissan in the Jewish calendar and the 15th of Nissan in the 1st year of Hijra corresponded to the 23rd of Ramadan. Hence, if there should be a fast which is recommended then it should have nothing to do with the 10th of Muharram but rather the 23rd of Ramadan.
When narrating the hadith relating to the fast of Ashura, were did this massive mistakes come from? The mistake was as a result of the naivety of the hadith writer. Since the Islamic calendar begins with Muharram, the hadith writer wrote the hadith on the basis that the prophet entered Medina in Muharram. It is well known that the prophet reached Medina in Rabi al awal. This big mistake is due to a hadith writer that didn’t understand how the Islamic, Jewish and Arabic calendars work. The prophet entered Medina in Rabi al awal but the Islamic calendar began with Muharram due to the suggestion of Ali Ibn Abi Taleb (pbuh):
“The Islamic calendar will start just like the lunar calendar begins. It will start from the year of Hijra but the month of Muharram.”
When the prophet entered Medina, the hadith claims that he exclaimed: “I have a greater right on Moses than what they do. Therefore, my people will fast on Ashura in the same way they are fasting on Ashura”. But we now ask, O messenger of Allah! You entered Medina in Rabi Al Awal and not in Muharram. So, how were the Jews fasting?
It is unbelievable how many people were paid to write ahadith. Plan and plot as much as you want, for “Allah is the best of those who plot” (Holy Quran. Chapter 3, Verse 54). Write as many fake Ahadith and narrations as you will. Allah will expose them all.
Also, when a law is given in Islam, the law may then be changed depending on the circumstances. For example: A law which makes the consumption of alcoholic drinks unlawful has been put into perspective. However, if you were dehydrating in the middle of the desert and possessed nothing but alcohol, then you are permitted to consume it. The consumption of alcohol becomes lawful for you. This is a secondary law. Similarly, there may have been a recommended fast on the 10th of every month (Ashura) and this may have been a Sunnah of the prophet. However, Imam Muhammad al Baqar narrates that as the fast of Ramadan became compulsory, the fast of Ashura was made void and then completely stopped. Ironically, some people claim that the fast of Ashura is such an important Sunnah to be practiced while there are so many Sunnah of the holy prophet which they neglect. If you are so concerned about the Sunnah of the prophet then why didn’t you speak out when the Sunnah of the prophet was changed! Wasn’t it a Sunnah of the prophet that the phrase “Haya ala khair al amaal” is included in the Azan? When the second Islamic ruler (Khalifa) came in, he simply altered the Sunnah of the prophet and removed the phrase above from the daily Azan. This is because he wanted Jihad to be known as the ‘good task’ (khair al amaal) and not prayer.
Why weren’t you concerned when the Sunnah’s of the prophet were changed? Is the fast of Ashura the Sunnah of the prophet or the Sunnah of someone ELSE? The fast of Ashura is receiving the most propaganda because it has an agenda behind it and this agenda involves diverting attention from what happened to the grandson of the holy prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at Kerbala. The aim of the fast of Ashura is to divert people’s attention from the incident which resulted in the remorseless slaughter of the prophet’s own grandson. There is no greater event in the history of Islam than the martyrdom of the master of the youth of paradise; the murder of the Grandson of the greatest messenger and the grandson of the greatest message.
Imam Hussain (AS) said: "Don't you see that the truth is not followed and the falsehood is not discouraged? (The situation is so severe) that a Believer wishes to meet Allah. And today I don't see death but prosperity, and living with tyrants is nothing but disgust and disgrace." What a shame it is that we honor people whom the prophet himself forbade them his intercession in the Day of Judgment. What a disgrace it is that we praise people whom the prophet declared war against.
■ In a famous Hadith, the Holy prophet (pbuh) said: “Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain”. (This manifests that Imam Hussain’s pathway and message is similar to that of the prophet. It is as if he is a replica of the prophet (pbuh)). ■The face of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) lit up upon seeing his newborn grandson. He took him in his arms and then recited the Azaan in his right ears and Aqama in the left one. The prophet then placed the baby in his lap and wept. ■"May my father and mother be your sacrifice," Asma asked him: "why are you crying?" "Because of my son," the prophet (pbuh) replied. "He is a newborn baby," she said. "O Asma…..After me, the transgressing party will kill him. May Allah never grant them my intercession."
■ The Messenger of Allah also said: "Al-Hassan and al-Hussain are the chiefs of the youth of Paradise and Fatimah is the chief of their women." ■It has been narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) looked at Ali (as), Hassan (as), Hussain (as) and Fatimah (as) and then said: "I am in war with those who will fight you, and in peace with those who are peaceful to you." ■The Messenger of Allah said: "He who loves al-Hassan and al-Hussain, has loved me, and he who makes them angry has made me angry." ■Regarding Imam Hassan and Hussain, it has been narrated that the prophet said: "These are my sons and my daughter's sons. O Allah, I love them, so I beseech Thee to love them and those who love them.” ■Moreover, it has been narrated that as the Prophet was passing the house of Fatima (SA), he heard young Hussain crying. The Prophet stopped, went into the house and said: ‘Fatima, don’t you know it hurts me to hear Hussain cry.’ We know ask you, O messenger of Allah! If you couldn’t even bear to see your son’s tears, then how did you cope while witnessing your son’s brutal murder? How did you endure the very sight- your son dying of thirst in Kerbala–Your son gazing at the dead corpses of his friends and family—Your son comforting the women—your son all alone—Your beloved son being attacked from every direction …. Arrows, spears and swords piercing his pure body— ten horsemen stepping on the body of your son…were breaking his ribs and whatever remained of him into pieces. O messenger of Allah, how did you withstand seeing the daughters of Fatima Al Zahra running from one burnt tent to the other? The daughters of the chief of the woman of paradise being taken as prisoners of war… being dragged like sheep from one country to the other…. Being harassed by the naïve and ignorant… O messenger of Allah! How did you endure the sight of Karbala and the very incident of Ashura- the day the skies wept tears.
2007 Muharram lectures given by Sayed Ammar Nakshawani which can be viewed online at the following address: http://www.alemaan.org/