Forgiveness and 'Ashura – 10 Muharram 1438

السلام عليكم

bismillahir rahmanir raheem

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Islam attaches great importance to the concept of pardoning of sins by Allah (swt) so that we may be saved from the hell of our making here on earth and in the afterlife. That hell of an unhappy or fearful heart and mind. On several occasions, The Holy Quran gives such prayers as:

002.286 لا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلا وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ رَبَّنَا لا تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِنْ نَسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا رَبَّنَا وَلا تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَا إِصْرًا كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِنَا رَبَّنَا وَلا تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا أَنْتَ مَوْلانَا فَانْصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ
002.286 La yukallifu Allahu nafsan illa wus’aha laha ma kasabat wa’alayha ma iktasabat rabbana la tu-akhithna in naseena aw akhta/na rabbana wala tahmil ‘alayna isran kama hamaltahu ‘ala allatheena min qablina rabbana wala tuhammilna ma la taqata lana bihi wao‘fu ‘anna waighfir lana wairhamna anta mawlana faonsurna ‘ala alqawmi alkafireena
002.286 On no soul does Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Pray:) “Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden Like that which you did lay on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith.”

Allah puts our minds and hearts at ease, assuring us that no matter what our sin, if we truly repent and seek His forgiveness, and take steps to put right our wrongs, He will forgive us. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “My heart is clouded until I have asked God’s forgiveness seventy times during the day and night.”

And just as we can depend on the mercy and forgiveness of Allah (saw) we are likewise asked to show mercy to our fellow men.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran Sharif

090.017 ثُمَّ كَانَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْمَرْحَمَةِ
090.017 Thumma kana mina allatheena amanoo watawasaw bialssabri watawasaw bialmarhamati
090.017 Then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion.

Since God is Himself forgiving, He desires that people should cultivate this attribute and show forgiveness to other human beings.

024.022 وَلا يَأْتَلِ أُولُو الْفَضْلِ مِنْكُمْ وَالسَّعَةِ أَنْ يُؤْتُوا أُولِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَالْمُهَاجِرِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلْيَعْفُوا وَلْيَصْفَحُوا أَلا تُحِبُّونَ أَنْ يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
024.022 Wala ya/tali oloo alfadli minkum waalssa’ati an yu/too olee alqurba waalmasakeena waalmuhajireena fee sabeeli Allahi walya’foo walyasfahoo ala tuhibboona an yaghfira Allahu lakum waAllahu ghafoorun raheemun
024.022 Let not those among you who are enbued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

The Prophet Muhammad (saw) taught his followers that the individual who pardons his enemy, even while having the power to extract revenge, will be nearest to God in the Hereafter. Once the Prophet (saw) was asked, “How many times are we to forgive our servants’ faults?” He remained silent. The questioner repeated his question. But the Prophet gave no answer. But when the person asked a third time, he said, “Forgive your servant seventy times a day.”

And Allah (swt) is aware of the problems, trials and tribulations that we go through in our daily lives. The pressure of families and of work and living in this world are great. Even then we must remember the kindness and mercy which is shown to us by Allah (swt) should guide our actions towards our family members, friends and acquaintances as well. Allah (swt) says in the Quran Sharif:

064.014 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجِكُمْ وَأَوْلادِكُمْ عَدُوًّا لَكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُمْ وَإِنْ تَعْفُوا وَتَصْفَحُوا وَتَغْفِرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
064.014 Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo inna min azwajikum waawladikum ‘aduwwan lakum faihtharoohum wa-in ta’foo watasfahoo wataghfiroo fa-inna Allaha ghafoorun raheemun
064.014 O ye who believe! Truly, among your wives and your children are (some that are) enemies to yourselves: so beware of them! But if ye forgive and overlook, and cover up (their faults), verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

And when we are greeted in our lives with that which makes us angry.

Allah (swt) makes it clear in the Holy Quran that a strong, adverse, emotional reaction such as anger does not befit the true believer, and instead cites as a mark of excellence the quality of forgiveness:

042.037 وَالَّذِينَ يَجْتَنِبُونَ كَبَائِرَ الإثْمِ وَالْفَوَاحِشَ وَإِذَا مَا غَضِبُوا هُمْ يَغْفِرُونَ
042.037 Waallatheena yajtaniboona kaba-ira al-ithmi waalfawahisha wa-itha ma ghadiboo hum yaghfiroona
042.037 Those who avoid the greater crimes and shameful deeds, and, when they are angry even then forgive;

We must take these instructions to our hearts, we know that when we are far from Allah (SWT) in our actions then our hearts become hardened and our remembrance of Allah (SWT) in our daily lives becomes less. We must resolve ourselves to these right actions and behave in accordance to the way Allah (SWT) has shown us. Be more forgiving of others just as Allah (SWT) is forgiving of us.

Part 2

When the Day of Judgment comes, we will without doubt all desire to steer clear from our sins and wish that we had done more good deeds that would be a cause for removal of our bad deeds.

Dear ones, of much interest to us these days should be the fasting of the 9th and the 10th of Muharram. Which will be today, Tuesday and tomorrow, Wednesday, insha’allah. Rasul Allah (saw) said about the voluntary fasting on the Day of Ashura:

“It expiates the sins of the preceding year.” (Sahih Muslim)

Ibn Abbas (ra) reported:

“Rasul Allah (saw) came to al-Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He asked them about that. They replied, ‘This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued Baani Israa’eel from their enemy. So Musa observed fast on this day.’ Rasul Allah (saw) said, ‘We have more claim over Musa than you.’ So Rasul Allah (saw) observed fast on that day and ordered Muslims to observe fast (on that day).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim)

Ibn Abbas also reported,

“Rasul Allah (saw) fasted on the day of Ashura and ordered the people to fast on it. The people said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that the Jews and Christians honor.’ Rasul Allah (saw) said, ‘When the following year comes – insha’allah – we shall fast on the ninth.’ The death of Rasul Allah (saw) came before the following year.” (Sahih Muslim, Abu Dawood)

So it is recommended to fast on the 10th of Muharram and the 9th along with it as well.

Ibn Rushd (Averoes) says that the scholars disagreed whether the fast is to be done on the 9th or the 10th of Muharram based on these traditions (Bidayat ul Mujtahid). And you can find recommendations to fast on both days in various books, such as al-Hindee’s “Mukhtasar al-Ahkaam al-Fiqhiyyah”, Jameel Zeno’s “The Pillars of Islam and Iman”, and Dr. Jaafar Shaikh Idris’ “The Fast.”

As for the wisdom behind this fast, the following is stated in the Mukhtasar version of Ibn ul Qayyim’s “Zaad ul-Ma`aad”:

“The day of Ashura was the day when Musa and his men got freedom from the hands of the Pharaoh and it was in the sacred memory of this great event that the Muslims observed voluntary fasting. The idea underlying this is to stress the affinity amongst the messengers of Allah and to show that religious devotion is a constant flow from one generation to another. Rasul Allah (saw) came not to abrogate all the earlier religious practices but to codify and preserve them for all times to come in ideal forms.”

Some sayings reported from the Salaf that can serve as an encouragement to do good deeds:

Taubah ibn Samat used to take account of himself and is reported to have counted the number of days in his life at the age of sixty. He found there were 21,500 days and shrieked: “What will happen to me if I meet the King with 21,500 sins? What will happen if there are 10,000 sins in each day?”

Al-Hasan al-Basri (mureed of Hazrat Ali (as)) of would say, “From the signs that one has drowned in sins, is lack of delight in fasting in the day and praying through the night.”

Alqamah Ibn Qais asked Abu Nu`aim – who was a devout worshiper – why he was hard on his body. “I want this body to be comfortable later on,” he replied.

Of Al-Ahnaf Ibn Qays it is reported that he was once told: “You are an aged elder; fasting would enfeeble you. But he replied: ‘By this I am making ready for a long journey. Obedience to Allah, Glorified is He, is easier to endure than His punishment.'”

So I remind myself as well as I remind you my brothers and sisters to resolve to show forgiveness and mercy to ourselves and to those around us, to shun harsh emotions such as anger and that which comes with it. And to do those good deeds, such as fasting, which we can do to prepare ourselves for this journey to Allah (swt).

Wa Allahu alim.

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