The Provision, Fasting on Ashura, The Tragedy
Issue 611 » December 10, 2010 - Muharram 4, 1432
Hud - Chapter 11: Verse 6 (partial)
"And there is not a creature treading the earth but that its provision depends upon God."
The provision that one receives is called rizq. Rarely does God use two very similar names that evoke one attribute. When it comes to provision, God is al-Raziq and al-Razzaq, both names referring to Him as the provider. We creatures are known as marzuq, that is, the beneficiaries of God's provision. Some scholars say that provision is anything from which a person derives benefit. Others say it refers to all the material possessions one has. The dominant opinion is the former, as referred to in the verse.
God divides the provision of people into two kinds: inner (batini) and outer (zahiri). The outward provision includes such things as food, shelter, and well-being. Inner provision includes knowledge, good character, contentment, and similar qualities. Even the people in a person's life (friends, teachers, spouse, family, and so on) are considered provision.
Along with the provision that God gives, He also has given the means (asbab) by which one must seek out his provision. There should be no confusion about the means of attaining provision and the provision itself. When one starts to believe that his or her provision is in the hands of another person, this creates a breeding ground for diseases, such as coveting what others have, doing whatever it takes to get it, and becoming angry when one does not receive what he or she expects.
"Purification of The Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp. 79, 80
Fasting on Ashura
It is reported in the Sahih of Imam Al-Bukhari and other authentic collections of hadith that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram (Ashura) while they were in Makkah (before the hijrah). It was a day on which people of Makkah used to change the covering (kiswah) of the Kabah. Quraysh also used to fast on this day. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 1489 and 1760)
After the hijrah when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to Madinah, he found that the Jews of Madinah also used to observe this day with fasting. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked them the reason of their fasting on this day. They said, “This is a blessed day. On this day Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt) and so Prophet Musa fasted on this day giving thanks to Allah.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “We have more claim to Musa than you.” He fasted on that day and commanded Muslims to fast on this day. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 1865)
Ibn Abbas quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, “If I live next year, I shall also fast on the 9th day.” (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, hadith 2002)
There is a great reward in fasting the day of Ashura. There are many hadiths that mention its blessings and virtues. It is good to fast on this day, although it is not obligatory.
"Significance of Fasting the day of Ashura" - Muzammil Siddiqi
Islam has a history of beautiful domestic affections, of sufferings and of spiritual endeavour, second to none in the world. That side of Muslim history, although to me the most precious, is, I am sorry to say, often neglected. It is most important that we should call attention to it, reiterated attention, the attention of our own people as well as the attention of those who are interested in historical and religious truth. If there is anything precious in Islamic history it is not the wars, or the politics, or the brilliant expansion, or the glorious conquests, or even the intellectual spoils which our ancestors gathered. In these matters, our history, like all history, has its lights and shades. What we need especially to emphasise is the spirit of organisation, of brotherhood, of undaunted courage in moral and spiritual life.
There is of course the physical suffering in martyrdom, and all sorrow and suffering claim our sympathy, — the dearest, purest, most outflowing sympathy that we can give. But there is a greater suffering than physical suffering. That is when a valiant soul seems to stand against the world; when the noblest motives are reviled and mocked; when truth seems to suffer an eclipse. It may even seem that the martyr has but to say a word of compliance, do a little deed of non-resistance; and much sorrow and suffering would be saved; and the insidious whisper comes: “Truth after all can never die.” That is perfectly true. Abstract truth can never die. It is independent of man’s cognition. But the whole battle is for man’s keeping hold of truth and righteousness. And that can only be done by the highest examples of man’s conduct – spiritual striving and suffering enduring firmness of faith and purpose, patience and courage where ordinary mortals would give in or be cowed down, the sacrifice of ordinary motives to supreme truth in scorn of consequence. The martyr bears witness, and the witness redeems what would otherwise be called failure. It so happened with Husain. For all were touched by the story of his martyrdom, and it gave the deathblow to the politics of Damascus and all it stood for. And Muharram has still the power to unite the different schools of thought in Islam, and make a powerful appeal to non-Muslims also.
That, to my mind, is the supreme significance of martyrdom. All human history shows that the human spirit strives in many directions, deriving strength and sustenance from many sources. Our bodies, our physical powers, have developed or evolved from earlier forms, after many struggles and defeats. Our intellect has had its martyrs, and our great explorers have often gone forth with the martyrs’ spirit. All honour to them. But the highest honour must still lie with the great explorers of spiritual territory, those who faced fearful odds and refused to surrender to evil. Rather than allow a stigma to attach to sacred things, they paid with their own lives the penalty of resistance. The first kind of resistance offered by the Imam was when he went from city to city, hunted about from place to place, but making no compromise with evil. Then was offered the choice of an effectual but dangerous attempt at clearing the house of God, or living at ease for himself by tacit abandonment of his striving friends. He chose the path of danger with duty and honour, and never swerved from it giving up his life freely and bravely. His story purifies our emotions. We can best honour his memory by allowing it to teach us courage and constancy.
"Imam Husain And His Martyrdom" - Abdullah Yusuf Ali