Sacred Months, Skills, Family
Issue 762 » November 1, 2013 - Dhul-Hijja 27, 1434
Al-Tawba (Repentance) - Chapter 9: Verse 36 (partial)
"The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) - so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred: that is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein."
Ever since Allah created the sun, the moon and the earth, the new moon takes place only once in a month; thus the year has always been of twelve months.
Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months. These four months, according to the authentic traditions, are Dhul-Qida, Dhul-Hijja, Muharram and Rajab.
The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. In fact, every month, out of the twelve, is originally equal to the other, and there is no inherent sanctity that may be attributed to one of them in comparison to the other months. When Allah Almighty chooses a particular time for His special blessings, the same acquires sanctity out of His grace.
The meaning of the names of the months in Hijrah calendar:
- Muharram ["Forbidden" - it is one of the four months during which time it is forbidden to wage war or fight]
- Safar ["Empty" or "Yellow"]
- Rabi al-Awwal ["First spring"]
- Rabi al-Thani ["Second spring"]
- Jumada al-Awwal ["First freezing"]
- Jumada al-Thani ["Second freezing"]
- Rajab ["To respect" - this is another holy month when fighting is prohibited]
- Shaban ["To spread and distribute"]
- Ramadan ["Parched thirst" - this is the month of Islamic daytime fasting]
- Shawwal ["To be light and vigorous"]
- Dhul-Qida ["The month of rest" - another month when no warfare or fighting is allowed]
- Dhul-Hijja ["The month of Hajj" - this is the month of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, again when no warfare or fighting is allowed]
Due to misconceptions, most people define religion as blind faith, meaningless acts of worship, a consolation for life's problems. Some Muslims have compounded this mistake by reducing Islam to an ideology, a social, economic, and political system. They ignore one fact stated in the Quran, the Traditions, and throughout Islamic history: Islam, the middle way between all extremes, addresses itself to all human faculties and senses, as well as to each individual's mind, heart, and feelings, and encompasses every aspect of human life. That is why Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, stressed learning, trading, agriculture, action, and thought.
Moreover, he encouraged his people to do perfectly whatever they did, and condemned inaction and begging. For example, he said: "God loves a believing, skilful servant." [Fayd al-Qadir] As all of our actions will be displayed on the Day of Judgment, we cannot be careless and do something half-heartedly just to get rid of it. Moreover, the Messenger declares: "When you do something, God likes you to do it perfectly." [Kanz al-Ummal]
"The Messenger of God: Muhammad" - Fethullah Gulen, p. 193
It is true, as the old adage says, that charity begins at home. The family is a school of compassion because it is here that we learn to live with other people. Family life involves self-sacrifice, because daily we have to put ourselves to one side in order to accommodate the needs of other family members; nearly every day there is something to forgive. Instead of seeing this as an irritant, we should see these tensions as opportunities for growth and transformation.
Ask yourself what you really feel about your family. What makes you proud and happy about them? Make a list of the ways in which your family nourishes you. Perhaps you could write a letter to them outlining your history as a family, and your hopes and fears for each person in it. Does your family have a black sheep, and how has this situation come about? Can it be rectified? How do you conduct arguments and disagreements? What are your particular strengths in family life? Is there anything more you could do? What would make each member of the family feel supremely valued? How can you make your family a school for compassion, where children learn the value of treating all others with respect? What would life be like if all family members made a serious attempt to treat one another "all day and every day" as they would wish to be treated themselves? How would life be improved, for example, if everybody made a consistent effort to avoid speaking too hastily?
We know that people brought up in dysfunctional families find it difficult to make good relationships in later life; they can have psychological problems that cause them to increase the sum of pain in the world. Creating a compassionate family life is one of the ways in which we can all make a constructive contribution to a more empathetic society in the future.
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 69-71