Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Virtues of Muharram

Muharram – The first month of the Hijra calendar – is one of the four sacred months about which Allah said: "Verily, the number of months with Allah is 12 months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…" (Qur'an, 9:36)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The year is 12 months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhu'l-Qa'dah, Dhu'l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab which comes between Jumada and Sha'ban." (Al-Bukhari, 2958)

It was reported that Ibn 'Abbas said that this phrase "so wrong not yourselves therein…" referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.

Voluntary fasting

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "The best of fasting after Ramadan is fasting Allah's month of Muharram." (Sahih Muslim)

This Hadith is probably meant to encourage fasting during Muharram, without meaning that one should fast for the entire month.

Fasting on 'Ashoura

Ibn Abbas said: "The Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of 'Ashoura. When he asked them about it, they said, 'This is a blessed day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Musa (peace be upon him) fasted on this day.' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, 'We have more right to Musa (peace be upon him) than you,' so he fasted on that day and commanded (the Muslims) to fast on that day." (Al-Bukhari)

Fasting on the day of 'Ashoura was earlier obligatory, but when fasting Ramadan was made obligatory, the obligation to fast 'Ashoura was cancelled, i.e., it was no longer obligatory to fast on this day, but it is still recommended.

Virtues of fasting 'Ashoura

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "For fasting the day of 'Ashoura, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before." (Sahih Muslim)

This is from the bounty of Allah towards us. By fasting one day, He expiates our sins for the whole year. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.

Fasting the ninth and tenth

Abdullah Ibn Abbas said: "When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) fasted on 'Ashoura and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, 'O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.' The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, 'If I live to see the next year, Insha Allah, we will fast on the ninth day too.' But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) passed away before the next year came." (Sahih Muslim)

Al-Shafi'i and his companions, Ahmad, Ishaq and others said: "It is Mustahab (recommended) to fast on both days, ninth and tenth, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) fasted on the tenth, and intended to fast on the ninth."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Five ways to disobey Allah!

Ibn Qudamah Al-Maqdisi mentions a conversation between a young lad and the great scholar Ibrahim Bin Adham in his book Kitab At-Tawwabeen, page 285.

The young boy: O Abu Ishaq, I am wronging my soul, advise me with something that'll hold me back from disobeying Allah and breathe new life into my heart.

Ibrahim Bin Adham: Alright. If you take five things from me and fulfill them, you can disobey Allah the Almighty all you want and no harm will come to you.

Young boy: (Interested) Ok, tell me.

Ibrahim Bin Adham: One, if you want to do other than what Allah wants you to do, then do not eat the food that He provides you.

Young boy: Then where am I supposed to eat from when all the food on earth is from Allah?

Ibrahim Bin Adham: Dear lad, is it right that you eat the food Allah the Almighty has given you and then go off and disobey Him?

Young boy: No it is not right. What is the second?

Ibrahim Bin Adham: Two, if you want to live life to the fullest in disobedience of Allah, then don't live on His land.

Young boy: That's harder than the first. Where shall I live when all that is in the east and west the belongs to Him?

Ibrahim Bin Adham: Dear boy, is it right that you eat His food and live in His land, yet still insist on turning your back when He calls you?

Young boy: No it's not right. What's the third?

Ibrahim Bin Adham: If you want to disobey Allah, yet still eating the food He gave you and still living in His land, then find a place where He can't see you.

Young boy: O Abu Ishaq, how can that be so when Allah is the All-Seeing and All-Knowing of all that happens, even what the heart whispers?

Ibrahim Bin Adham: Dear boy, is it right that you eat His food and live in His land and disobey Him while He watches you and what you are exposing?

Young boy: No it's not right. What's the fourth?

Ibrahim Bin Adham: When the angel of death comes to snatch your soul, tell him to grant you a day so that you can sincerely ask Allah for forgiveness and change your life.

Young boy: He won't grant me that.

Ibrahim Bin Adham: Dear boy, if you find yourself helpless to put off death for just one day and you know that it cannot be delayed by your wishes, how do you expect to win?

Young boy: (With a sigh) What is the fifth?

Ibrahim Bin Adham: When the gatekeepers of Hell will come to drag you away on your face to Hellfire refuse to go with them.

Young boy: Nothing will stop them.

Ibrahim Bin Adham: How do you expect to be saved then?

Young boy: Enough, Abu Ishaq. (And he lowers his head crying). O Allah, forgive me for my transgression.

Epilogue: Young boy went on to become a student of Ibrahim Bin Adham. He repented to Allah sincerely and lived an upright life with his teacher until death parted the two.

Imam Ibrahim Bin Adham died over a thousand years ago in the year 778 CE.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The old man's joy after extreme hardship

IBN Jarir At-Tabari (d. 310H) narrates:

I was in Makkah during the season of Haj and I saw a man from Khurasan calling out to the people, "Pilgrims, people of Makkah, I have lost a pouch that contains a thousand dinars. So whoever returns the pouch will be rewarded by Allah with good and saved from the Hellfire, and His bounty and favors will be acquired on the Day of Accounting."

An old man from the people of Makkah approached him and said, "Khurasani, our city is in very tough condition, and the days of Haj are few, and its season is appointed, and the doors of profit-making are closed. This money might fall into the hands of a believer who is poor and old in age. Maybe he plans to give it back if you promise that you will give him a little bit of money that is Halal (permissible) for him to use."

The Khurasani asked, "How much does he want?"

"He wants one-tenth of the money."

The Khurasani replied, "No, I will not grant him the money. Instead I will take my case to Allah and complain to Him on the day we meet Him, and Allah is sufficient for us and the best one to trust in."

I realized that it was the old man who was poor, and he was the one who had taken the pouch of dinars and wished to have a little portion of it. So I followed him until he returned to his home. My assumptions were confirmed. I heard him calling onto his wife, "Lubabah!"

She said, "I am at your service, Abu Ghayth."

The old man said, "I found the owner of the dinars calling for it, and he does not intend to give any reward to the person who finds it. I said to him, 'Give us a hundred dinars,' and he refused and said he would take his case to Allah. What should I do, Lubabah? I must return it, for I fear my Lord and I fear that my sin is multiplied."

The wife replied, "Oh man! We have been struggling and suffering from poverty with you for the last 50 years, and you have four daughters, two sisters, my mother and me, and you are the ninth. Keep all the money and feed us, for we are hungry, and clothe us, for you know better our situation. Perhaps Allah the Almighty will make you rich afterwards and you might be able to give the money back after you have fed your children, or Allah will pay the amount you owe on the day when the kingdom will belong to the King (Allah)."

The old exclaimed, "Will I consume Haraam (unlawful) after 86 years of my life, and burn my organs with fire after I have been patient with my poverty, and become worthy of Allah's anger, even though I am close to my grave? No, by Allah, I will not do so!"

I left amazed at his condition and that of his wife.

Later I heard the owner of the pouch calling out again, and the old man repeated his advise. This time he asked for 10 dinars instead of a hundred.

The Khurasani refused.

The people dispersed and left. Later, once again, the Khurasani made the same call.

The old man came again and said, "Khurasani, I said to you the day before yesterday to reward the finder a hundred dinars and you refused. Then I advised you to give him ten dinars and you refused. So will you give only one dinar so that he can buy with half of it things he needs and with the other half sheep's milk so that he can give to the people and feed his children?"

The Khurasani again refused.

The old man said angrily, "Come and take your money so that I can sleep at night, for I have not been in a good mood ever since I found this money."

So the old man went with the owner of the money and I followed them until the old man entered his house, dug a hole, and pulled out the money and said, "Take your money and ask Allah to forgive me and bless me from His bounty."

The Khurasani then said, "Old man, my father died — may Allah have mercy on him — and left behind three thousand dinars and said to me, 'Take out a third of this money and give it to a person from the people who is most deserving of it.'

By Allah, I have not seen a person since I left Khurasan until now, who is more worthy of it than you. So take it, may Allah's blessing be upon you, and may He reward you for the trust you kept and your patience during poverty."

The Khurasani man left without the money.

The old man wept and prayed, "May Allah bless the owner of the money in his grave, and may Allah bless his son."

I left after the Khurasani but Abu Ghayth, the old man, brought me back. He said, "I have seen you following me since the first day; you have come to know of our situation yesterday and today. So this is a gift from Allah to all those attending."

The old man called his daughters, his sisters, and his wife and her mother, and sat down and made me sit down. We were 10. The old man gave out the dinars one by one in order until he reached me and said, "Here is a dinar." The process continued until the bag was empty and I received a hundred dinars.

So joy filled my heart because of the provision they received, more than the joy I had because I received a hundred dinars.

When I was leaving the old man said, "Young man, you are blessed. Keep this money with you, for it is Halal. And know that I used to wake up for Fajr Prayer with this wet shirt. After I was done I would take it off and give it to my daughters so that they could pray, one by one. Then I would go to work between Zuhr Prayer and Asr Prayer and then I would come back at the end of the day with what Allah has given me of dates and dry pieces of bread. Then I would take off my clothes for my daughters and they would pray Zhuhr and `Asr, and the same would happen for the Maghrib and `Isha' Prayers. And we did not ever expect to see this kind of money. So may Allah make us make good use of them, and may Allah bless the person in his grave and multiply the reward for him."

So I told him goodbye and took the hundred dinars and used them to write knowledge for two years. I used it to buy paper and pay rent, and after 16 years I returned to Makkah and inquired about the old man. I was told that he had died a few months after the incident that occurred between us. His wife had died, along with her mother and his two sisters. The only ones that remained were the daughters, who, I found upon asking, were married to kings and princes. I dropped by and they honored me as a guest and treated me kindly until they died also. So May Allah bless them in their graves.

"...And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allâh, then He will suffice him..." (Qur'an, 65:2-3).

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