Ashura’ and Human Brotherhood

Ashura’ and Human Brotherhood

By Dr. Wael Shihab

Ashura

`Ashura’ is a real opportunity for people of various cultures and faiths to maintain the true values of human brotherhood.

Ashura’ and Human Brotherhood

Every year, Muslims all over the world celebrate the day of Ashura’ on the 10th day of Muharram. The day of Ashura’ is not only celebrated by Muslims but other faith communities, Jews, for example, used to celebrate this day too. Also, Quraysh (Prophet Muhammad’s tribe) used to fast on the day of Ashura’ in the pre-Islamic period, and so Allah’s Messenger too used to fast on this day. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) migrated to Madinah he found the Jews observing fast on the day of `Ashura’. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to them, “What is the (significance) of this day that you observe fast on it?” They said, “It is the day of great (significance) when Allah delivered (Prophet) Musa and his people, and drowned the Pharaoh and his people, and Musa observed fast out of gratitude and we also observe it.” Upon this, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “We have more right, and we have a closer connection with Musa than you have”. So, Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) observed fast (on the day of `Ashura’), and gave orders that it should be observed. (Muslim)

Before the obligation of fasting, the month of Ramadan, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had declared it obligatory on Muslims to fast on the day of Ashura’. However, when fasting in Ramadan became obligatory, the Prophet made fasting on `Ashura’ an optional, though recommended, act of worship. (Muslim)

For Muslims, fasting on the day of `Ashura’ is so virtuous and blessed. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said, “I never saw Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of `Ashura’, and this month, meaning Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari)

In another hadith we are told that fasting the day of `Ashura’ expiates the sins of the previous year as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Fasting the day of Ashura’ (is of great merits), I hope that Allah will accept it as an expiation for (the sins committed in) the previous year.” (Muslim).

Promoting Human Brotherhood

Muslims are required to believe in all prophets of God as well as in all Divine books. A Muslim’s faith will not be accepted if he or she disbelieves in other God’s Prophets and Books. The Qur’an unequivocally states,

The Messenger believes in that which has been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers; We make no distinction between any of His messengers and they say: “We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Your forgiveness, our Lord. Unto You is the final return. (Al-Baqarah 2: 285)

Moreover, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) made it clear that all Prophets of God are brothers, saying, “Prophets are brothers in faith, having different mothers. Their religion is, however, one…” (Muslim)

Celebrating the day of `Ashura’ per se by Muslims and other communities—as elaborated above—promotes the concept and values of human brotherhood and sisterhood. Humans are real brothers and sisters; their father is one—Adam—and their mother is one—Eve. Islam, in fact, emphasizes the significance of human brotherhood, irrespective of people’s cultures, faiths, races, or gender. Fasting `Ashura’, which is highly recommended by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), is one of the examples that proves Islam’s promotion of the values of human brotherhood and sisterhood.

Moreover, fasting on the day of `Ashura’—throughout centuries since the time of Prophet Musa until our time by people of different faiths and cultures—gathers people under the umbrella of human brotherhood. It is a common duty, therefore, on all people, individuals and communities, to preserve and promote ties and values of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Common Values and Responsibilities

Human brothers and sisters share noble values and morals such as faithfulness, justice, freedom, security, equality, honor, and respect. All, therefore, shoulder common responsibilities to maintain and promote these shared values. All members of the human family should work for the common interest of humanity. Every individual and community should defend justice, freedom, security, etc. No member is allowed to deny others their legitimate human rights.

The whole world will live in peace and security when values of human brotherhood and sisterhood prevail. Brothers and sisters could peacefully live together and lead a happy, secure life. This common objective is attainable and should be achieved for the public interest of all people of the world.

Cooperation in Goodness

People with various cultures and faiths should cooperate in goodness. Muslims are Islamically asked to cooperate with all communities in order to promote goodness and encounter vices and evils. Allah says in the Qur’an,

Help you one another unto goodness and righteousness. Help not one another unto sin and transgression. (Al-Ma’idah 5: 2)

Human brothers and sisters should be concerned about the wellbeing of each other. They should cooperate in advancing causes of justice, freedom, equality, and security. The Qur’an calls on all faith communities to cooperate in maintaining noble beliefs and values, saying,

Say: O People of the Scripture. Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partners unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. (Al `Imran 3: 64)

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that `Ashura’ is a real opportunity for people of various cultures and faiths to maintain the true values of human brotherhood and sisterhood.

 

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 Taken with slight editorial modifications from onislam.net.

Dr. Wael Shihab holds a PhD in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and is the Head of the Shari`ah and Fatwa sections at the English website of Onislam.net.

 

 

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`Eid Al-Fitr: A Day of Joy and Thanksgiving

`Eid Al-Fitr: A Day of Joy and Thanksgiving

By Dr. Wael Shihab

The Day of `Eid Al-Fitr is a blessed day for those who have observed their duty toward Allah during their fast in Ramadan.

The Day of `Eid Al-Fitr is a blessed day for those who have observed their duty toward Allah during their fast in Ramadan.

`Eid Al-Fitr is the day of thanksgiving and joy. It marks the end of the month of fasting, and it is when we feel happy and give thanks to Allah that He enabled us to obey His commands. We all fasted during the month of Ramadan, and by the end of the month, we realize that Allah’s commands are good for us; they aim at our well-being.

Allah does not want to put any burden on us; He gave us the rules of fasting for our own benefit. Fasting has many benefits for individuals and for communities. It has spiritual, moral, and physical benefits.

`Eid Al-Fitr has a deep significance. Its spirit is marked by distinguished values and virtues:

  • Thanksgiving and expressing gratitude to Allah
  • Experiencing joy and rejoice
  • Receiving the great reward of obeying Allah
  • Maintaining ties of kinship
  • Taking care of the poor and the needy

Thanksgiving and Expressing Gratitude

`Eid Al-Fitr is a day that marks the successful completion of the sacred month of Ramadan. It is a festival that signifies the completion of an act of duty and devotion. It teaches us that real happiness results from performing one’s duty and making sacrifices for a noble objective.

We should thank Almighty Allah, for He guided us to fasting in Ramadan, to doing good deeds, and to reciting the Qur’an. We should thank Him, for He is the One Who gave us the money we paid for zakat al-fitr and other charities. Allah says in the Qur’an,

“And (He desires) that you should complete the prescribed period and that you should glorify Allah for having guided you and that you may give thanks.” (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

Joy and Rejoice

`Eid is our joy; it is our feast. The month of Ramadan is a test from Almighty Allah. At the end of the month, we experience a great sense of achievement and closeness to Allah. It is the joy of spiritual fulfillment.

The day of `Eid Al-Fitr is time for celebration. On that day, we should not indulge in insulting or abusing others, as this may detract from the achievements of the month of Ramadan. `Eid Al-Fitr is a day of decent happiness and joy.

Almighty Allah says,

“Say, “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy — therein let them rejoice. It is better than what they hoard.” (Yunus 10:58)

Abu Hurairah reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

Those who fast will have two times at which they will feel happy: When they break their fast, they feel happy for breaking the fast, and when they meet their Lord, they will be happy because of their fast.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

However, in celebrating `Eid Al-Fitr, we should enjoy our time by sticking to what is permissible and avoiding what is unlawful.

Great Reward

The Day of `Eid Al-Fitr is a blessed day for those who have observed their duty toward Allah during their fast in Ramadan. In heavens, `Eid Al-Fitr is called the day of reward.

It is reported in a Prophetic hadith that, on the day of `Eid Al-Fitr, the angels stand on both sides of the roads and proclaim,

O believers, walk toward your Lord, Who is the Most Generous. He favors you with goodness and gives you great reward. He commanded you to pray during the night and fast during the day. Now that you have obeyed Him, come and receive your rewards.“(At-Tabarani)

As the believers finish the `Eid Prayer, the angels say,

Allah has forgiven you. Return to your homes with the best of good and glad tidings. This is the day of reward. This day is called the day of reward in heaven as well.” (At-Tabarani)

Maintaining Ties of Kinship

`Eid Al-Fitr is a day when Muslims become more keen on visiting their relatives and friends. In the process, they exchange greetings and maintain ties of kinship. We should all visit our relatives or at least call them. Muslim brothers and sisters should greet one another by saying “Happy `Eid” or “May Allah accept your good deeds and ours.”

The Prophet said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should maintain good relations with his or her kindred.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Taking Care of the Poor and the Needy

Although Almighty Allah commanded us to take care of the needy, the poor, and the orphans throughout the year, taking care of them during `Eid Al-Fitr and `Eid Al-Adha is given greater emphasis. Allah and His Prophet instructed us to fulfill the needs of the poor and the needy in both `Eids, so that they would not be in need of begging.

This is the spirit of `Eid Al-Fitr, so let’s always keep this spirit among us. Let’s strengthen our bonds with our Creator and with one another. Let’s be more united and more and more committed to righteousness as individuals, families, and communities.

The Prophet is reported to have said, “The one who repents of his or her sins shall be equal to the one who did not sin.” So, seek Allah’s forgiveness and seek His favors and gifts.

Finally, here are some tips that can help us all keep the spirit of `Eid Al-Fitr:

  • Before you finish your i`tikaf (spiritual retreat in the mosque), greet all your brothers and sisters, saying “Happy `Eid” or “May Allah accept your good deeds and ours.”
  • Visit all your relatives and close friends, and call those who are living far away.
  • Take care of your family and your kids, and let them feel the happiness of `Eid.
  • Take part in `Eid celebrations to see your Muslim brothers and sisters.
  • Make du`aa’ for your Muslim brothers and sisters everywhere.
  • Try to celebrate the `Eid through permissible practices and keep away from unlawful ones.

May Allah accept our good deeds and grant us His forgiveness and mercy.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from onislam.net.

Dr. Wael Shihab holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Al-Azhar University and is the Head of the Shari`ah and Fatwa sections at the English website of Onislam.net. You may reach him at this e-mail address: wael.shihab@onislam.net.

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