Scripture and Prayer, Day of Ashura, Three Types of Men

Issue 712 » November 16, 2012 - Muharram 2, 1434

Living The Quran

Scripture and Prayer
Al-Araf (The Heights) Chapter 7: Verse 170

"As for those who hold fast to the Scriptures and attend regularly to their prayers, We shall not fail to reward those who enjoin the doing of what is right."

The very expression, "hold fast to the Scriptures", gives a vivid image that we can almost see and feel. It is the image of holding the book with strength and seriousness. This is how God likes His book to be approached, without rigidity or narrow-mindedness. Strength and seriousness are totally different from rigidity and narrow-mindedness. They are not opposed to ease, broad vision and compatibility with day-to-day life, but they are opposed to looseness, carelessness, and giving human practices precedence over God's law. Indeed, what people do must always be subject to God's law.

Holding fast with strength and seriousness to what God has revealed and attending regularly to prayers, which is here a reference to all aspects of worship, are the twin essential factors of the divine method that aims at setting human life on the right footing. The way this Quranic verse clearly links holding fast to the Scriptures with attending to worship is significant. It shows that implementing divine revelations in human life gives it the right basis, and that proper worship reforms human rights. Thus, the two operate in everyday life as well as in human hearts and set them both aright. This is further emphasized by the reference to doing right at the conclusion of the verse.

The plain fact is that all human life suffers as a result of abandoning these two essential factors of the divine method. When the revealed message is taken lightly, it has no effect on everyday life, and when worship is abandoned, people's hearts become prone to corruption. This leads to evading the law, as was the practice of the people of earlier Scriptures. The same applies to the followers of any Scripture when their hearts take worship lightly, and in consequence, their fear of God weakens.

The divine system is a complete whole, which establishes life on the basis of a divine writ, and reforms hearts through worship. Thus, hearts are healthy and human life is also wholesome. That is the divine method, which is abandoned in preference for another only by those who are bound to suffer misery in this world and punishment in the life to come.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 6. 254, 255

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Day of 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 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)

In another report it is mentioned that Jews of Madinah used to hold a feast on this day. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told his Companions to fast instead. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 1866)

Ashura fasting was obligatory (fard) in the beginning. In the second year of hijrah (624 CE) when Allah’s command came that Muslims should fast the whole month of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then sent someone to announce to people that fasting of Ashura had become voluntary (nafl). This indicates that whosoever wishes to fast, may fast and whosoever does not want to fast, there will be no blame on him/her.

Imam at-Tirmidhi mentioned that ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) used to say that we should fast on two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram to distinguish ourselves from the Jewish community. (At-Tirmidhi, Hadith 686)

Ibn Abbas also 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.

Compiled From:
"Significance of Fasting the day of Ashura" - Muzammil Siddiqi


Three Types of Men

There are three types of men: the dog-like, the lion-like and the angelic. The dog-like are satisfied with bones, table scraps, carrion and defilement. These do not satisfy the lion-like, who crave to control and to dominate people, either by truth or by lies. But the angelic are above this. They direct their wills towards the Sublime Companion. They aspire to knowledge, faith and love of God. They turn towards Him, find peace and tranquility in Him, place His love and good pleasure above all else. They take whatever they get from the world as a means to help them arrive at its originator, the Lord and Protector, not to cut themselves off from Him.

Compiled From:
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, p. 75