It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: "The best of fasting after Ramadhaan is fasting Allaah’s month of Muharram. And the best of prayer after the obligatory prayer is the night prayer." [Reported by Muslim] (1).

1- This Hadeeth is a proof to the virtue inherent in fasting Allaah’s month of Muharram, being next in virtue to Ramadhaan. The virtue of fasting therein is derived from the virtue of its time and maximized fasting reward thereat for fasting is one of the best rewarded deeds by Allaah The Almighty.

2- Allaah’s month of Muharram is the starting month of Hijri year. It is a tradition first developed in the era of the rightly-guided Caliph ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may Allaah be pleased with him. It is also one of the Sacred Months named by Allaah in the Ever-Glorious Quran saying (what means): {Indeed, the number of months with Allaah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allaah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them.} [Quran 9: 36] (2).

It was also on the authority of Abu Bakrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: "The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months ofThul-Qa‘dah,Thul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab which comes between Jumaada and Sha’baan." [Reported by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim] (3). 

Allaah’s Words (which mean) "So do not wrong yourselves during them" mean: do not wrong yourselves in these sacred months, because sin in these months is worse than in other months.

Qutaadah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said concerning the same phrase that wrongdoing during the sacred months is more serious and more sinful than wrongdoing at any other time. Wrongdoing at any time is a serious matter, but Allaah The Almighty gives more weight to whichever of His commands He wills. (4).

3- Allaah The Almighty has added that month to Himself as a kind of honoring and glorification. That is because Allaah The Almighty would not bestow divine nature on anything unless of utmost importance and uniqueness. Take, for example, the House of Allaah, the Messenger of Allaah, etc.

It is called Muharram (Sacred) to confirm its inviolability and sacredness since Arabs used to be moody about it, i.e. to prohibit fight therein for a year but allow in the next.

Ibn Rajab, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: "The virtue and honor of this month can be attested to by the fact that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, called it, the Month of Allaah (Shahr Allaah). Such ascription is only made by Allaah to the most special of His creation, such as the ascription of the Prophets Muhammad, Ibraaheem, Ishaaq, Ya‘qoob, and others to his slavehood, peace and blessing be upon them all, and His ascription of the House (Ka‘bah) and the camel to Himself. Given that Allaah ascribed fasting, between all spiritual works, to Himself [saying, “It is Mine] it was suitable that this month, which is also ascribed to Allaah, be selected for this particular form of worship; which is fasting. It was also said ascribing that month to Allaah The Almighty indicates that Allaah The Almighty has made it sacred and no one can change that as people in pre-Islamic era used to do i.e. make it lawful and unlawful putting month of Safar instead of it. He pointed out that it is the month of Allaah The Almighty that He made sacred and thus no one of his creation has the right to change or alter this. (5).  

4- Allaah The Almighty made timings of these lunar months for people since they are physical phenomena the beginnings and ends of which are known to all. It is regrettable that many Muslims have lost the Hijri Calendar to the Gregorian calendar which is based on illusionary months unsupported by any comprehensible, reasonable and / or physical features! This attitude is but an indication for weakness, defeatism and yielding to non-Muslims. Consequences of the same include linking Muslims and their children to the Christians, while taking them away from their Hijri Calendar which is associated with their Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, rites and worships. And Allaah is the One Whose help we seek.

5- The abovementioned Hadeeth stresses that the best voluntary fasting, i.e. next to Ramadhaan's, is that of the Allaah's month of Muharram. Apparently, voluntary fasting of Muharram is understood to be the best voluntary fasting, being second to Ramadhaan in terms of reward.

Yet, voluntary fasting of some days of Muharram may not be superior to other days such as the Day of ‘Arafah, and the six days of Shawwaal.

Ibn Rajab, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said in Lataa'if Al-Ma‘aarif: “It is possible and then said, this is substantiated by the Hadeeth reported by At-Tirmithi on the authority of ‘Ali that a man came to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and said: "O Messenger of Allaah, tell me what month I should fast in other than Ramadhaan?" The Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, replied, 'If you desire to fast for an entire month in addition to Ramadhaan then fast the month of Al-Muharram as it is the month of Allaah, a month in which Allaah accepted the repentance of certain folk and in which he accepts the repentance of others." [Its Isnaad (i.e. chain of narrators) has a point of weakness] (6).

However, it might be said that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, used to fast the month of Sha‘baan, and it is not reported that he used to fast Muharram; rather he used to fast ‘Ashoora Day only, and his saying in the last year (of his life): “If I lived till the next year, I would fast the ninth day (of Muharram)”, indicates that he did not use to fast it before that.

People answered this question with weak answers, and it became clear to me (and Allaah knows best) that the voluntary fasting is of two kinds:

First: Absolute voluntary fasting, and the best of this kind is fasting Muharram as the best voluntary prayer is offering night prayer.

Second: Fasting connected with fasting Ramadhaan, whether it is before or after it (like fasting Sha‘baan and the six days of Shawwaal), and this is not absolute voluntary fasting; rather it is a kind of fasting connected with Ramadhaan and it is better than the absolute voluntary fasting. Therefore, it was said, fasting the six days of Shawwaal is connected with fasting Ramadhaan and fasting the whole year will be recorded for the one who fasted them along with Ramadhaan.

It was narrated that Usaamah ibn Zayd, may Allaah be pleased with him, used to fast the Sacred Months. The Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, ordered him to fast Shawwaal. He, thereafter, left fasting the Sacred Months and fasted during Shawwal (7).  This kind of fasting connected with Ramadhaan and fasting it is absolutely the best form of the voluntary fasting. As for the absolute voluntary fasting, the best of it is fasting the Sacred Months and it was reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, ordered a man to observe fasting in the Sacred Months (8).

The best month of the Sacred Months to observe fasting in is the month of Allaah; Al-Muharram. This is proved by the statement of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: "The best of prayers after the prescribed prayers is prayer in the depths of the night." This means after the prescribed prayers and what is connected to them such as the regular supererogatory prayers because offering regular supererogatory prayers before and after the obligatory prayer is better than offering prayer in night according to majority of scholars because they are connected to the obligatory prayers. Some of Shaafi‘i scholars held another different opinion that fasting before and after Ramadhaan is connected to Ramadhaan and its fasting is better than fasting the Sacred Months and the best of absolute voluntary fasting is fasting Al-Muharram (9).

A poet once said in that regard:

 

Month of Al-Haraam (Muharram) is blessed and prosperous

Fasting in it is rewarded doubly and recommended.

Reward of the one who fasts it for the sake of his God

In the eternal life is preserved by his Lord.

6- The Hadeeth ostensibly advises for fasting the full month of Muharram. Some scholars, however, interpret it as a means of encouragement to fast as much days of Muharram as possible, but not the whole month as ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, once said, "I never saw the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, fast a complete month except Ramadhaan and I never saw him fast more than in Sha‘baan." [Reported by Muslim] (10).

7- Ibn Rajab, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: "Because the sacred months are the best of months after Ramadhaan or in general, fasting all of them is recommended as the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, ordered that. Some of them marks the end of the lunar year while some others marks its beginning, then whoever fasts the month of Thul Hajjah away from the days prohibited to be fasted, and fasts Muharram, then he has ended and started it with worship and obedience and thus it is expected that his whole will be recorded to him in worship. That is because whoever starts and ends his deeds with worship is like the one spent what is between the two actions in worship. Moreover, it was narrated in a Marfoo‘ Hadeeth: "There is nothing that the two Guardian Angels raise to Allaah that they have preserved in a day or night, and Allaah finds good in the beginning of the scroll and in the end of the scroll, except that Allaah Most High says: 'Bear witness that I have forgiven my servant for what is included in the scroll." [Reported by At-Tabaraani and others. It exists in some of the copies of the book of At-Tirmithi (11)]

In another Marfoo‘Hadeeth, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, narrated that Allaah said: "O son of Adam! Remember me in the beginning of the day for an hour and from the end of the day for an hour. And I will forgive you which is between them except the major sins unless you repent from them. (12)" 

‘Abdullaah ibn Al-Mubaarak, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: "Whoever ends his day by remembering Allaah, the entire day will be written as though he had remembered Allaah.

All of such quotes indicate the (results of) deeds done, depend upon the last actions. Thus, if the beginning and end is filled with remembering Allaah The Almighty, it is more appropriate that remembering Allaah will prevail them wholly. The new year has to be opened with a sincere repentance that can wipe out all past sins. (13).

May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.

 

__________________________

 

(1)  Saheeh Muslim (1163).

(2) Soorat At-Tawbah (36).

(3) Saheeh Al-Bukhaari (4662) and Muslim (1679).

(4) Tafseer Ibn Katheer 4/89-90.

(5) Lataa‘if Al-Ma‘aarif fima Limawaasim Al-‘Aam min Al-Wathaa'if by Ibn Rajab p. 38-39, Ar-Rayaan edition.

(6) Jaami‘ At-Tirmithi 3/117 (741) and said, Hasan Ghareeb and reported by Ahmad in Al-Musnad 1/154 and others. It is based on ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Ishaaq Al-Waasidi, Abi Shaybah from An-Nu‘maan ibn Sa‘d from Ali and Al-Waasidi is weak and An-Nu‘maan has ignorance.

(7) Sunan Ibn Maajah 1/555 (1744) the one who reported from Usaamah is Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem At-Tameemi. Al-Haafith ibn Hajar said in At-Tahtheeb: "It was deemed Mursal from Usaamah." Al-Haafith said in another place from Lataa‘if Al-Ma‘aarif p. 131: "Its Isnaad (i.e. chain of narrators) has interruption" while in a third place p. 143 he said: "Its Isnaad is Mursal and it was reported from another route that supports it."

(8) Sunan Abu Daawood 2/322 – 323 (2428) and An-Nasaa‘i in Al-Kubra 2/139-140, Ibn Maajah 1/554 (1741), Ahmad 5/28 and others from the route of Abu As-Saleel from Mujeebah Al-Baahili from her father or parental uncle as a Marfoou‘ Hadeeth and it was said Abu Majeebah Al-Baahili. The most preponderant is that it is a woman and is ignorant and that is the defect of the Hadeeth. Refer to Al-Mizaan 3/440.

(9) Lataa‘if Al-Ma‘aarif fima Limawaasim Al-‘Aam min Al-Wathaa'if by Ibn Rajab p. 36-37.

(10) Saheeh Muslim (1156).

(11) Jaami‘ At-Tirmithi 3/310 (981) and its Isnaad has weakness because it has Tamaam ibn Najeeh who is weak. I did not find it in the books of At-Tabaraani.

(12) Hilayt Al-Awliyaa' 8/213, there is something like that report and Al-Asbahaani said Ghareeb (strange).

(13) Lataa‘if Al-Ma‘aarif fima Limawaasim Al-‘Aam min Al-Wathaa'if by Ibn Rajab p. 38.

 

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