islamic-calender

Ashura

‪#‎Ashura‬ day is the 10th day or Muharram (the first month of the Islamic calendar). Since the beginning of this world, Ashura day has been a very important day. On this very Day the following events have taken place:
1. Repentance of Prophet Adam (Allah’s blessing be upon him) was accepted by Allah

2. The ship of Prophet Nuh (Noah) (Allah’s blessing be upon him) came to rest on a mountain called Al-Judi.

3. Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (Allah’s blessings be upon him) was born on this day.

4. He received the title Khalil-ullah (friend of Allah) on this day.

5. The fire in which Prophet Ibrahim (Allah’s blessings be upon him) was thrown by the king Namrud become cool and means of safety for Prophet Ibrahim, by the order of Allah.

6. Allah delivered Prophet Ayub (Job) (Allah’s blessings be upon him) from distress and he was restored to prosperity.

7. By the Grace of Allah, Prophet Yunas (Jonah) (Allah’s blessings be upon him), after being swallowed by a huge fish (whale) for forty days, was cast out on the shore.

8. Prophet Mussa (Moses) (Allah’s blessings be upon him) was given victory over Pharaoh.

9. Prophet Suleman (Solomon) (Allah’s blessings be upon him) was made a king to rule over mankind, Jinns, Animals and the air.

10. Prophet Idris (Enoch) (Allah’s blessings be upon him) and Prophet Issa (Jesus) (Allah’s blessings be upon him) were lifted up alive.

11. Hazret Hussain (Allah be pleased with him), the grandson of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) , was martyred at Karbala in Iraq. (My personal view is that every day is Ashura and every land is Karbala - not everyone will agree or understand this but it’s a personal statement ) the whole Ummah should be commemorating by renewing commitments to prevent oppression and alleviate the suffering of the innocent.

However the practice of fasting on ‘Ashura’ was known before the martyrdom of Hazret Hussain (RTA)

12. The day of resurrection and judgement will take place on this day (Ashura)

Another point to note for the month of Muharram is the authentic hadith by the prophet mentioned in Sahih Muslim (hadith # 1163) where he (s.a.w.s.) says, “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.”

Please correct/add if I have erred or missed anything.

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Months of the Islamic Calendar: Meanings

There are twelve months in the Islamic lunar calendar. Since their names are in Arabic, their meanings might be somewhat difficult to grasp for a non-Arabic speaking audience. In this short piece, we briefly examine these terms.

1. Muharram: is named so because the Arabs used to prohibit fighting during it.

2. Safar: is named so because the Arabs used to leave their homes during that month as they used to set out to fight their enemies. It is also said that they used to leave their homes to escape summer heat.

3. Rabi` al-Awwal: is named so because it usually coincides with the spring time.

4. Rabi` al-Akhar: is named so because it usually coincides with the winter time.

5. Jumada al-‘Ula: The Arabs named it so because water gets frozen at winter time, and that coincides with the time of Jumada al-‘Ula.

6. Jumada al-‘Ukhra: is named so because it coincides with winter time.

7. Rajab: is derived from the Arabic word ‘rajaba’ which means to ‘sanctify’ something. The Arabs used to sanctify the month of Rajab by putting a halt to fighting during that month.

8. Sha`ban: The Arabic word Sha`ban is derived from the word ‘tash`aba’, which means to go in different directions. It is said that Sha`ban takes such a name because the Arabs used to go in different directions fighting their enemies.

9. Ramadan: The word Ramadan is derived from ‘Ar-ramda’ which refers to extreme heat. Ramadan time used to coincide with that extreme climate of heat in the Arab Peninsula, and that is why it is called Ramadan.

10. Shawwal: The name Shawwal is derived from the Arabic word ‘tashawwala’, which refers to the scarcity in she-camels’ milk.

11. Dhu al-Qa’dah: refers to Arabs decline to go out fighting their enemies as the early Arabs used to call it a sacred month.

12. Dhu’l-Hijjah: is named so because the Arabs used to perform Hajj during that month. 

The Hijra: Movement of God's People

The Islamic calendar does not begin with the year of Muhammad’s birth (as the Christian calendar begins with the birth of Christ), nor does it begin with the commencement of revelation to Muhammad. Rather, it begins with this purposeful move of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to what became known as Medina. This migration, the Muslim Exodus, established the model community under Muhammad’s rule and care. This was the emigration to Yathrib, the city that would be renamed Madina al-nabi (“the City of the Prophet”) and forever after known simply as Medina (“the City”). Like much of the Prophet’s actions, this movement has been remembered both for itself, and also for the larger symbolism of the need to spiritually and politically move to a state of emancipation. There are other similar moves in other traditions, whether it is the Exodus of the Hebrews, or the Rastafarian tradition remembering, as Bob Marley put it, the Movement of Jah People. Muhammad’s migration to Medina would be known as the Hijra, and it is the quintessential marking point of Islamic history.

The context was urgent, and timely: The pagans of Mecca were stepping up their persecution of Muhammad and his followers. Whereas in the beginning of Muhammad’s prophetic career the persecution was directed at the marginalized members of the Prophet’s community, now there were clear indications that Muhammad’s own life was in grave danger. In fact, the Meccans were planning the imminent assassination of the Prophet. It was at this time that providential grace provided an opening: a community of people from Yathrib, a city two hundred miles away from Mecca came to Muhammad, offering their allegiance to him and asking him to come to their city to help them settle their tribal disputes. They had been long impressed by Muhammad’s qualities as the Amin (“the Trustworthy”) and saw him as having the Solomonic wisdom to arbitrate among them.

After Muhammad’s dear wife, Khadija, passed away, his two closest friends were Ali and Abu Bakr, a respected elder of the community. Both would play crucial roles in this migration. Muhammad had Ali assume the dangerous task of sleeping in his stead in his bed while the band of assassins waited outside the Prophet’s house. Muhammad covered Ali in his green shawl and had him repeat a verse of Surah Ya-Sin as protection. Meanwhile, Muhammad and Abu Bakr took to the road, heading toward Yathrib. Standing outside the city, Muhammad looked back lovingly on Mecca and said: “Of all God’s earth, you are the dearest place unto me, and the dearest unto God. Had not my people driven me out from you, I would not have left you.”

The Hijra was neither an abandonment of Mecca nor the forgetting of where one had come from. It was the determination to rise up from oppression, with the intention of returning eventually to redeem even the oppressor. This Muhammad would accomplish at the end of his life through his triumphant return home. But before he could liberate Mecca, he had to move to the city where the Muslim community would become established.

Muhammad and Abu Bakr eventually arrived in Yathrib and were received with joy and beautiful poetry composed in honor of the Prophet. Ali too would join them in a few days. It had taken him three full days to disperse all the goods that Muhammad’s enemies and others had entrusted him with, a further indication of the level of trust all had had in the very soul they were persecuting.

When Muhammad arrived in Medina, his address there was simple, and a reminder of the need to connect acts of worship with care for the poor:

"O people, give unto one another greetings of Peace; feed food unto the hungry; honor the ties of kinship; pray in the hours when men sleep. Thus shall you enter Paradise in peace."

The first communal action in Medina was establishing the Mosque, truly the first Muslim mosque. Muhammad himself joined in the building task, and he was fond of reciting a line of poetry as he worked:

No life there is but the life of the Hereafter,
O God, have mercy on the Helpers and the Migrants.

One of the ways in which God’s mercy rained down on the Helpers (the Ansar, those from Medina who received the Prophet) and the Migrants (the Muhajirs, those who accompanied Muhammad from Mecca) was through a bond of brotherhood. Muhammad’s first declaration was to alter the social fabric of the Yathrib (now Medina) community. He had each member of the Helpers pair up with a member of the Migrants, establishing a bond of faith that bypassed, transcended and inverted tribal connections and socioeconomic class status. Muhammad’s own faith-brother would be none other than Ali.

In one of his first speeches, Muhammad preached the following sermon:

"Praise belongs to God whom I praise and whose praise I implore. We take refuge in God from our own sins and from the evil of our acts. He whom God guides none can lead astray; and whom He leads astray none can guide. I testify that there is no God but He alone, and He is without comparison… Love what God loves. Love God with your hearts, and weary not of the word of God and its mention. Harden not your hearts from it… Love one another in the spirit of God. Verily God is angry when His covenant is broken. Peace be upon you."

This community was one based on faith in God and love for one another “in the spirit of God,” as this speech enjoined them to do. It was in Medina that the general moral outlines of Muhammad’s teachings became linked with a full set of ethical, legal and social injunctions. In Mecca, Muhammad received the Divine call that placed him in the footsteps of Abraham, and in the line of Biblical prophets. It was that purposeful movement from Mecca to Medina that established the Muslim community, one that would remain rooted in the spirit of God, carrying the fragrance of the Prophet.

As the Prophet moved from Mecca to Medina, Muslims today, and every day, hope to leave behind and beyond the state of injustice, heedlessness and tyranny, to move to the higher spiritual ground of a community rooted in the spirit of God and the love of one another, and then to come back to redeem that very state of tyranny and injustice. That is the loftiest way to remember and honor the movement of God’s people.

Omid Safi

Omid Safi is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina. The above essay draws on his newly published Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters (HarperOne).

(Huffington Post)