Indeed with me is my Lord. He will guide me.
The month of Muharram heralds the beginning of a new year. Although the month of Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is called ‘Aashuraa. “Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the Day of Aashuraa. He asked them about it. They replied, “This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued Banu Israel from their enemy. So, Musa alayhis salam fasted this day.” Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, “We have more claim over Musa alayhis salam than you.” So, Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast (on that day). (Bukhari)
Nabi Musa alayhis salam had a two-fold mission: To invite the Egyptians to the oneness of Allah; and to free his people from being enslaved by the Egyptians. When Musa alayhis salam confronted Firoun, he responded by saying: “…Verily, this is indeed a sorcerer of great knowledge who wants to drive you out of your land by his sorcery…” (26: 34/35)
Two men from the oppressed community of the Israelites were standing before the most powerful ruler of the time: they had no military force with them, they belonged to a weak and insignificant community, there was no sign of any rebellion in any corner of the country, nor did they have the support of any foreign power, yet as soon as the miracles of the snake of the staff and the shining hand were shown, the tyrant desperately cried out: “These two men want to seize power and deprive the ruling class of their sovereign rights!” This he said despite the fact that nowhere in the world has a political revolution been ever brought about, nor a country taken, nor a war won merely by force of magic.
Firoun and his people interpreted the message of Islam as a threat to corrupt political hegemony, precisely because the value systems it seeks to entrench: “Allah enjoins justice and to adopt good behaviour and to give relatives (their due rights), and forbids shameful acts, evil deeds and oppression.” Islam-phobia is as old as Islam itself. In this day and age it derives its munitions from the indiscriminate application of Human Rights and from the repressive Anti-Terror legislation found in certain countries.
Allah eventually instructed Musa n to flee with his people in the darkness of the night. The route that they had to take was to cross the Sinai desert and head for the Red Sea. According to historic narrations, the Banu Israeel were approximately 600,000 in number. “So they (the people of Pharaoh) pursued them (the people of Musa) at the time of sunrise. And when the two hosts saw each other, the companions of Musa said, surely we are overtaken. He said, “Never! Indeed with me is my Lord. He will guide me.” So We revealed to Musa saying, “Strike the sea with your staff.” Thereupon the sea split up, and then each became like the mass of a huge mount.” (26: 61/2/3)
As soon as Nabi Musa alayhis salam struck the sea with his staff, it tore the sea asunder and the waters stood like two mighty mountains on either side so that Israelite caravans consisting of hundreds of thousands of the migrants were able to pass through safely, and so that Firoun and his army enter the same pathway; only to be drowned.
Aashuraa is a reminder that even though the ummah currently seems to be between the sea and the ‘advancing army of Firoun’ – overwhelmed, doomed, and heading for humiliating defeat, we can prevail if we are prepared to migrate from the darkness of vice, rebellion and reckless disobedience…, if we are prepared to unreservedly submit to the directives of our Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam, if we are willing to toil and struggle for the preservation and protection of our faith. The message of Aashuraa is very clear: There can be no worship without sacrifice!
The preservation of our Aqeedah (beliefs), the protection of our Islamic identity is going to become the single greatest challenge as we confront new challenges each year. “Hasten with good deeds before calamities would appear like stages of a dark night, (they will become darker in intensity and more consistent in frequency) to the extent that a man will wake up in the morning as a believer and by sunset he will become disbeliever or he will be Muslim in the evening and a disbeliever in the morning. He will sell his faith for some paltry material gain of this world. (Muslim)
This prophetic prophecy points out that:
- The space that you enjoy to lead your life as a Muslim is going to become narrower and narrower;
- Religion will become a mundane issue, people will enter and leave Islam without any care or concern;
- The level of faith will become so weak that people will barter their faith for some temporary worldly gain.
Aashuraa is not simply a commemoration of a past event; it serves as a source of enormous hope of the ever abiding help and mercy of Allah. It is a reminder that Imaan is not an insurance against toil and struggle. It is about reaffirming our commitment to Allah. Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam was asked regarding fasting on the Day of Aashuraa. He said: “It will expiate the previous year’s sins.” (Muslim)
The fast of the Day of Aashuraa is an acknowledgement of our desire to seek the forgiveness of Allah, it is our affirmation ‘that Allah is with us’ no matter the circumstances and that we Muslims should never despair of the help of Allah. Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam also said: “He who amplifies his spending on his family on the Day of Aashuraa, Allah will provide amply for him for the whole year.” (Al-Bayhaqi)
We begin our new year with gratitude and appreciation which is expressed by a token of generous provision for our families on this day. The family unit is the strongest fortress within the social context that is able to provide an identity, a sense of belonging and which serves as a refuge for the perplexed and confused. The family unit serves as our compass, as our inspiration and as our comfort. Work passionately towards creating the appropriate environment within it.
May Allah shower His mercy on the Ummah, free it from tyranny and oppression and may He protect our faith.