Khutbas by Imam Habib
Khutba on Muharram and Ashura
الحمد لله، الحمد لله الذي أذن لعبده بالهجرة، وجعلها السبيل إلى إعلاء كلمة الإسلام والنصرة، نحمده تعالى ونستعينه، ونشكره تعالى ونستغفره ونستغيثه، نعوذ بالله من شرور أنفسنا ومن سيئات أعمالنا، من يهد الله فهو المهتد ومن يضلل فلن تجد له وليا مرشدا، ونشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، له الملك و له الحمد، يحيي ويميت، بيده الخير، وهو على كل شيء قدير، ونشهد أن سيدنا و مولانا محمداً عبده ورسوله، وحبيبه وصفيه، بلغ الرسالة وأدى الأمانة ونصح الأمة، النبي الأمي الذي أرسله الله بالهدى والدين الحق، بشيرا ونذيرا بين يدي الساعة، صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيا عباد الله اتقوا الله حق تقاته ولا تموتن إلا وأنتم مسلمون. يأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله وقولوا قولا سديدا يصلح لكم أعمالكم ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم. ومن يطع
الله ورسوله فقد فاز فوزا عظيما. اتقوا الله فيما أمر وانتهوا عما نها عنه وزجر.
Muslims, a new year has begun and we have entered into the month of Muharram, a month that is considered by many of the 'ulama, including al-Hasan al-Basri, to be the best month of the year after Ramadan. Qurrah ibn Khalid narrated al-Hasan as having said,
إن الله افتتح السنة بشهر حرام وختمها بشهر حرام، فليس شهر في السنة بعد شهر رمضان أعظم عند الله من المحرم، وكان يسمى شهر الله الأصم من شدة تحريمه
“Allah begins the year with a sacred month and finishes the year with a sacred month and there is no month in the year apart than Ramadan which is better than al-Muharram. It used to be known as ‘the Deaf-mute Month of God’ due to its extraordinary inviolability.” The excellence of this month is down to two things - firstly it is one of the four months referred to in surat at-Tawba that Allah singled out and made haraam/ sacred when He first created the heavens and the earth. The Prophet said,
إن الزمان قد استدار كهيئته يوم خلق الله السموات والأرض السنة اثنا عشر شهراً منها أربعة حرم، ثلاثة متواليات ذو القعدة وذو الحجة والمحرم ورجب مضر بين جمادى وشعبان
“The division of time has turned to its original form it had when Allah created the Heavens and the Earths. The year is composed of twelve months, four of which are sacred: Three of those come one after the other: Dhul-Qa’ da, Dhul-Hijja and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab Mudar which falls between the months of Jumadi-ath-Thaniyah and Sha’ban.”
And secondly because it is a month Allah describes as being His month, an honour He does not bestow on any other, as is shown in the hadith narrated by Abu Dharr,
سألت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: أي الليل خير وأي الأشهر أفضل؟ فقال: "خير الليل جوفه، وأفضل الأشهر شهر الله الذي تدعونه المحرم
“I asked the Prophet which as the best portion of the night and and which was the best of months. He replied, ‘The best part of the night is the deep of the night, and the best of months is the month of Allah which you call al-Muharram.” Allah honours this month and wants His slaves to honour it. And what better way to honour a month that Allah has singled out for Himself than with an act of worship that Allah has singled out for Himself, that of fasting. The Messenger of Allah said,
أفضل الصيام بعد رمضان شهر الله المحرم، وأفضل الصلاة بعد الفريضة صلاة الليل
“The best fast after Ramadan is that of the month of Allah, Muharram; and the best prayer after the five obligatory ones is the night prayer.” Every single good action that you do in the course of this month is magnified and the reward for it expanded. And that is especially true on the tenth day of the month, the day of Ashura, this coming Thursday, a day whose importance has been recognised throughout human history. For even prior to Islam the day was singled for special attention - Musa and the tribe of Israel used to fast it as did the pre-Islamic Arabs.
And they did so out of thanks to Allah for the many great gifts mankind received from their Lord on that day, for on it He accepted the tawba of Adam, raised up Idris to a high place, brought the Ark of Nuh to land at al-Judi, gave Ibrahim a son, as well as taking him as a khalil and keeping him safe from the fire into which he had been thrown, forgave Dawud, raised up Isa to the heavens, saved Musa from the sea and drowned Pharaoh, saved Yunus from the belly of the whale, returned Ayyub to his family, health and wealth, and restored Sulayman’s kingdom to him in all its glory. Indeed, such importance did the Messenger of Allah attach to the day that it was the first fast He made obligatory upon His companions:
عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما قال: قدم النبي المدينة فوجد اليهود صياما يوم عاشوراء، فقال لهم: ((ما هذا اليوم الذي تصومونه؟)) قالوا: هذا يوم عظيم، أنجى الله فيه موسى وقومه، وأغرق فرعون وقومه، فصامه موسى شكرا فنحن نصومه، فقال: ((نحن أحق بموسى منكم))، فصامه وأمر بصيامه
Ibn Abbas narrated that when the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he found the Jews fasting the day of Ashura, so he asked them, “What is this day that you are fasting?” They replied, “This is an immense day, for on it Allah rescued Musa and his people, and drowned Pharaoh and his people. So Musa fasted it out of thanks to his Lord and we fast it as well.” So the Prophet said, “We have a greater right to Musa than yourselves,” and started to fast that day and commanded the Muslims to fast it. And it remained obligatory for the Muslims until fasting the month of Ramadan was prescribed, at which point the Prophet said about Ashura,
من شاء صامه ومن شاء تركه
But, despite the fact that fasting it is no longer obligatory, still it is one of the most recommended days in the year to fast, bringing with it an immense reward,
عن أبي قتادة رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله سُئل عن صيام يوم عاشوراء، فقال: أحتسب على الله أن يكفر السنة التي قبله
Abu Qatada narrated that the Messenger of Allah was asked about fasting the day of Ashura and replied, “I have hopes from Allah that it will expiate the sins of the past year.”
However, one should not fast the day of Ashura alone as that is tantamount to imitation of the Jews , a matter that is frowned upon in the deen and is to be avoided. No, it is best to fast it in conjunction with either the day before it or the day after it. The Prophet said,
خالفوا اليهود صوموا يوماً قبله أو يوماً بعده
“Be different from the Jews and fast the day before it or the day after it.” And he also said,
لئن بقيت إلى قابل لأصومن التاسع والعاشر
“If I am still alive around for the next Ashura, I will fast the ninth and tenth days.” And in another narration, he said, 'I will fast the ninth day.' From this and the other narrations, it follows that, in order of preference, it is best to fast the ninth and tenth days, then the tenth and eleventh days, then the ninth, tenth and eleventh days, and finally the day of Ashura on its own.
Fasting is the primary way of marking the day, but it is not the only one, for all good actions are magnified on the day of Ashura, especially that of giving and spending on your family. Indeed, by doing so, you guarantee your own provision for the remainder of the year. Muhammad ibn Maysura narrated,
من وسّع على عياله يوم عاشوراء، وسّع الله عليه سائرَ السنة
“Whoever provides generously for one’s dependants on the day of Ashura, Allah will provide generously for him throughout the rest of the year.”
This is the source of the practice of Muslims, here in Cape Town and throughout the world, of celebrating this day by preparing feasts and giving presents, especially sweets and nuts, to the children. We ask Allah to make this new year and this month of Muharram a time of renewal for the Deen and a time in which the hearts of the Muslims are united. We ask Him that He give every one of us the strength and himma to take full advantage of it and We ask Him to bring ease to those who are in difficulty, victory to those who are struggling in His Way and good health to those who are ill. We ask Him to bless the Muslims of this city and bring its other inhabitants to Islam in their droves. We ask Him to give us the best of seals.
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين من كل ذنب فاستغفروه إنه هو الغفور الرَّحيم.الحمد لله الحمد لله رب العالمين، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله، صلى الله وسلم وبارك عليه وعلى آله وصحبه، والتابعين وتابعي التابعين ومن تبعهم بإحسان إلى يوم الدين.
أما بعد! فيأيها الذين ءامنوا اتقوا الله ما استطعتم واسمعوا وأطيعوا وأنفقوا خيرا لأنفسكم. يا عباد الله أوصيكم وإياي بتقوى الله وطاعته وأحذركم وإياي عن معصيته ومخالفته.
While it is important that we recognise and acknowledge days and months such as these, it is equally important that we only commemorate them for the right reasons and fill them with words and deeds that bring Allah’s pleasure and not His displeasure upon us. And that is why we must always be on our guard, not just from those outside but also from those who apparently fall within the boundaries of the Deen. We must always be on our guard against the slowly encroaching views and practices of the Shi’a, views and practices that have, over the centuries, slowly and surreptitiously been seeping into the mainstream consciousness of the Muslim umma so that we find many of their lies and misrepresentations being swallowed wholesale by the rank and file of the Muslims, especially when related to Muawiya and the Bani Umayya.
You must remember that the Shia practice something called taqiya, which is lying about what they actually believe in order to protect the integrity of their religion, so whatever they say to you must be taken with a pinch of salt. When they say to you they have nothing against the Companions or the first three khulafa ar-rashidin, they merely think Ali was better, they are lying. They actually hate the Companions and think that they all betrayed the Messenger of Allah. And that is proven by looking at their literature and folk tales, for it soften through such mediums that the truth emerges. When reading the stories of Hajji Baba, I was most struck by the fact that the most common way the people in the stories began conversations among themselves was with the words, “May Allah curse Umar” A-udhu billah – May Allah reward Him and be pleased with Him.
And the same is true for many of their other beliefs and practices – they are a perversion of the hanif deen, brought about by their excessive love for sayyidna Ali. There is no doubt that the family of the Messenger of Allah, the ahl al-bayt have a special elevated status in the deen and that love for them is an essential and integral part of it, but that does not mean that we raise them up above the Prophets and consider them to be ma’sum, proof against error of any sort. And that does not mean that we commemorate their deaths and mourn their passing on a yearly basis. For that is what the Shia have done with the day of Ashura – they have perverted what should be a day in which we display our thanks to Allah into a day of sadness and grief, a day of mourning and self-flagellation.
For it was on this day, the day of Ashura, that the grandson of the Prophet, al-Husayn was martyred at Qarbala during the reign of Yazid ibn Muawiya. And so, to show their great sadness and solidarity with Husayn, the Shia forbade fasting on that day and instigated the practice of tatbir, the practice of wailing, whipping and beating themselves, a practice that has been described by their ulama as being mustahabb and the source of a great everlasting reward, so long as it does not cause permanent damage to the one doing it.
But the practice flies in the face of common sense and the principles of the Deen. First, as Jalaludeen ar-Rumi mentioned, the martyrdom of Hussain should be a cause of joy and an eid, for it is the day upon which he went to see his Lord. When the Prophets and men of Allah die, there is good in it for themselves and the entire Muslim umma, as the Prophet said, speaking about his own life,
حياتي خيرٌ لكم وموتي خيرٌ لكم
“My life is a blessing for you and my death is a blessing for you,”
It is not the practice of the Muslim umma to commemorate death - we do not commemorate the death of the Prophet nor that of his Companions who were martyred such as ‘Umar, ‘Uthman or ‘Ali. We commemorate victory and life, not death, tragedy and defeat.
Furthermore, the practice of self-flagellation is one that contradicts one of the most basic principles of the deen, found in a famous hadith of the Messenger of Allah transmitted by Imam Malik in his Muwatta and Ibn Majah in his Sunan,
لا ضرر ولا ضرار
“There must be no harm and no harming.” In other words, one should not inflict harm upon oneself or upon others. Clearly, beating oneself is inflicting harm upon oneself and is thus forbidden.
The human body is a trust - it is on loan to us and ultimately belongs to Allah. It will either be a witness for us or against us on the day of Rising, depending on how we treat it. It is an enormous blessing from Allah and it would be the height of kufr - ingratitude - to maltreat it. That is not the act of the ‘aqil - the man of intellect - and that is not the act of the ‘abdun shakur - the grateful slave. Our deen is clear and that is not part of it, so beware of those who make it part of their deen. Hold firm to the rope of Allah and do not separate. And remember the blessings of your Lord who placed you in this place, and surrounded you with brothers and sisters, believing in Allah and His Messenger and desiring to see the victory of His Deen. May Allah give us the strength and knowledge to keep the sunna of His beloved Messenger alive, and may He protect us from engaging in reprehensible and repugnant practices that will take us away from Him.
إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ، يَا أَيُهَا الذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَبَارِكْ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ.
وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الْخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيٍّ، وَعَنْ سَائِرِ الصَّحَابَةِ أَجْمَعِينَ، خُصُوصاً اِلأَنْصَارَ مِنْهُمْ وَالمُهَاجِرِينَ، وَعَنِ التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ وَمَنْ تَبِعَهُمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ.
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِ وُلَاةَ أُمُورِ المُسْلِمِينَ لِمَا يُرْضِيكَ وَلِاتِّبَاعِ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّكَ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَهُمْ عَلَى الصِّرَاطِ المُسْتَقِيمِ، وَأَصْلِحْهُمْ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى شَيْخِنَا، وَعَلَى أَمِيرِنَا، وَعَلَى جَمِيعِ أُمَرَاءِ وَزُعَمَاءِ المُسْلِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى المُسْلِمِينَ فِي هَذِهِ المَدِينَةِ، وَوَفِّقْهُمْ لِمَا تُحِبُّهُ وَتَرْضَاهُ يَا أَكْرَمَ الأَكْرَمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الإِسْلَامَ وَالمُسِْلمِينَ (3) وَاخْذُلِ الْكُفْرَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ، وَانْصُرِ المُجَاهِدِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ. وَاجْعَلْ كَلِمََتَكَ هِيَ العُلْيَا وَكَلِمَةَ الْكُفْرِ هِيَ السُّفْلَى.
رَبَّنَا ءَاتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقَِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
اللَّهُمَّ لاَ تَدَعْ فِي مَقَامِنَا هَذَا ذَنْباً إِلاَّ غَفَرْتَهُ، وَلاَ عَيْباً إِلاَّ سَتَرْتَهُ، وَلاَ مَرِيضاً إِلاَّ شَفَيْتَهُ وَعَافَيْتَهُ، وَلاَ مَسْجُوناً إِلاَّ طَلَقْتَ سَرَاحَهُ، وَلاَ مُسَافِراً فِي بَرِّكَ وَبَحْرِكَ إِلاَّ سَلِِمْتَهُ وَغَنِمْتَهُ.
إِنَّ اللهَ يَامُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَّكَّرُونَ، وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَصْنَعُونَ. وَقُومُواْ إِلَى صَلاتِكُمْ يَرْحَمُكُمُ اللهُ.