Long before he started to receive his revelations, Muhammad (peace be upon him) was known for his noble characteristics. One of the most important of these was that he always cared for the weaker elements in society. In Arabia, where a tribal society flourished, the most vulnerable sections of the society were slaves and women. Muhammad looked after both, extending to them exemplary treatment. Perhaps the best example to illustrate this is the way he treated Zayd ibn Harithah, a young lad who was taken captive in a raid mounted by a tribe hostile to his tribe. According to the universal custom at the time, captives became slaves. Zayd was sold as a slave by his captors. He was then re-sold and brought to Makkah by an uncle of Khadijah, the Prophet’s first wife. On arrival in Makkah her uncle showed her the slaves he brought with him and told her to choose one as a gift. She took Zayd and gave him to her husband.
Zayd’s family continued to search for him until they learnt that he was in Makkah. His father and uncle traveled there and met Muhammad, requesting him to sell Zayd to them and to be kind when naming his price. Realizing that his interlocutors were Zayd’s own family, Muhammad felt for them. He, however, had a better offer for them. He told them that he would give Zayd a choice to go with them or to stay with him. If Zayd chose them, Muhammad would not ask them to pay any price. He would let them take him free of charge. But if Zayd chose to stay with him, he would not let anyone take him away, not even his own father. Both were very satisfied with this offer, feeling that when Zayd would be given the choice, he would not hesitate to choose to be free.
Zayd was duly called in, and he confirmed that the two men were his own father and uncle. Muhammad then told him of the offer he made to them, asking him to choose whether to go with them or to stay with him. Zayd unhesitatingly chose to remain with Muhammad. Stunned, his father asked him to explain why he would make such a choice. Zayd said: “I have seen from this man enough to make me prefer to stay with him to any other situation.”
At this point, Muhammad realized that the two men needed reassurance. He therefore took them, along with Zayd, to the Kaabah and declared to the nobles of Makkah gathering there that he had adopted Zayd as his own son. This was a relief to Zayd’s father and uncle who returned home realizing that Zayd would not come to any harm as long as he stayed with Muhammad. He was no longer a slave.
In order to appreciate the full significance of the affair, we need to remember that this took place several years before Muhammad was given his mission. Slaves were always maltreated, in all societies. Only under Islam slaves came to be treated like ordinary human beings, enjoying clearly defined rights. Prior to Islam, a slave could be tortured and killed by his master, without anyone even raising a question. To adopt a slave as one’s own son was unheard of. The fact that Zayd chose to stay with Muhammad, in preference to joining his own family and tribe, tells us much about the treatment he received from him. It was not surprising, therefore, that when Muhammad received his message; Zayd was the first man to declare his belief in Islam.
– By Adil Salahi
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born amid idolism and polytheism of Makkah. Since, childhood he kept himself away from the environment around him. He was very much perturbed over the idol worship of his kith and kin, and kept wandering in quest of truth. He often went to Cave Hera, which was nestled in the mountains of Makkah, to stay in seclusion.
It was there at the age of 40 that he received the first revelation from Allah, “Read in the name of your Lord Who has created. He has created man from a clot ‘Alaq’.” (Qur’an, 96:12)
This very first revelation invites our attention to the Lord and His creations. Another scientific fact to ponder upon is the creation of man. Man is created from a clot i.e. that clings in womb. Allah said, “We have created man from Nutfa of mixed semen, (of man and woman).” (Qur’an, 76:2)
And indeed We created man out of an extract of clay. Thereafter We made him as a Nutfa in safe lodging. Then We made Nutfa into a clot, then we made the clot into ‘Mudgha’(a little lump of flesh), then We made out of that ‘Mudgha’ bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. (Qur’an, 23:12-14)
Ibn Abbas explained the above verses: it means the semen of the man and woman is intermingled and then it passes through various stages. As Allah said, “He has created you in stages.” (Qur’an, 71:14)
The science has proved that the total semen ejaculated contains an average of 200 to 300 million of spermatozoa and only one spermatozoa fertilizes the ovum to form the zygote which grows into a baby. The Arabic word ‘Nutfa’ is singular, thus we can clearly say that male spermatozoa mixed with female cell causes fertilization to form zygotes.
Van Baden in 1883 proved that both male and female participate equally in the formation of the human zygote. The Qur’an describes the next stage as ‘Mudgha’ lump of flesh. In the early seventh century nobody knew the stages of embryo’s development, it was only in 20th century that scientists observed, researched and studied it, and called it the somite stage. After that the lump develops bones and the bones are clothed with flesh.
How one could know about the embroy’s development in the seventh century? All praise to Allah Who through His book, the glorious Qur’an, made it possible for us to know and learn about things which science is discovering now.
– by Ahmad Wahaj Al-Siddiqui
THE month of Muharram is one of the sacred months. A Muslim is supposed to gain the advantage of these months so as to draw nearer to Allah by offering voluntary religious deeds such as supererogatory prayers, voluntary fasting, charity, etc.
In the month of Muharram, we should remember the Hijrah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Madina. There are many lessons in this story and it can help us understand the basic significance of the Hijrah calendar. It is good to remember that Hijrah was a significant move for the growth of Islam and throughout history, Islam has benefited from the Hijrah.
The presence and growth of Islam in America also came from the efforts of those who migrated to this land and worked for the cause of Allah.
It is also the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to fast on the 9th and 10th of Muharram. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast on the 10th day (Ashura). When he came to Madina, he found out that the Jews of Madinah were also fasting on that day remembering Prophet Musa (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) admired this tradition and he said to the Jews, “We are closer to Musa than you are.” He fasted and also told his Companions to fast on this day. Later the Prophet (peace be upon him) told Muslims to add 9th day also. Thus, it is recommended to fast on both the 9th and 10th of Muharram.
It is also good to remember the great sacrifice of Al-Hussain and his family (may Allah be pleased with all of them). Theirs was the true Jihad for the cause of truth and justice. We should learn the lessons of courage, patience and perseverance from the episode of Karbala.
Sufyan Al-Thawri used to say: “It is rare for a scholar who attracts a large crowd to his lessons not to become conceited.”
Al-Hasan al-Basri passed by Tawus as he was relating Prophetic traditions to a large gathering in the Sacred Mosque. Al-Hasan drew near to him and whispered into his ear: “If you are proud to have attracted such a large audience you should get up and leave.”
Tawus left immediately.
Sufyan Al-Thawri would usually only allow three people to sit in his circle. One day he noticed that the circle had grown quite large. He stood up, shaken, and exclaimed: We have been afflicted with pride! I swear by Allah! If the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Umar, had seen my likes seated in such a gathering he would have made me get up and leave, lamenting: ‘Your likes are not fit to teach.’ “When Sufyan would sit to relate Prophetic traditions, he would sit cross-legged in a fearful state. If a cloud passed overhead he would remain silent until it went by, saying: “I feared that it might be full of stones which it would unleash against me.”
Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him), used to say: “Were it not for a single verse in the Qur’an I would not have taught you. [That verse is] Surely those who conceal what we have revealed of truth and guidance after We have expounded it to people in the Scripture, they are cursed by Allah and cursed by all entitled to curse.” (Qur’an 2:159)
When Sufyan Al-Thawri ceased teaching Prophetic tradition, Abu Huraira’s saying was related to him. He responded: “If I knew that even one student was seeking knowledge sincerely for the sake of God, I would go to his house to teach him, and not even burden him [to come to me].”
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made it clear that when Muslims are engaged in some mission as a group, they should have someone as their head or commander. Whenever the Prophet sent out a group on a mission, or an expedition, or an army, he appointed someone as their commander. The criteria he applied in his selection of commanders were basically the person’s ability and also mutual love and respect between him and the group he is commanding. Every time, the Prophet urged the commander to look after those traveling with him, making clear that he was responsible for their welfare. He also urged the group to obey their commander so that their mission would be successful. Should they have divergent aims and follow different methods, they were bound to fail.
All this becomes natural if people would develop their sense of responsibility. The Prophet was keen to instill this sense among Muslims, regardless of their positions. Everyone is accountable for their deeds and the fulfillment of their responsibilities.
The Prophet says: “Everyone of you is a shepherd and will be accountable for his flock. The ruler is a shepherd and will be accountable for his community; a man is a shepherd of his family and will be accountable for them; a woman is a shepherd of her husband’s household and will be accountable for her charge; a slave is a shepherd looking after his master’s property and will be accountable for it: indeed, everyone of you is a shepherd and will be accountable for what is under their care.”
When everyone in a community develops such a sense of responsibility, the affairs of the community will run smoothly and everyone will have what is due to them. Indeed, this helps develop a feeling of love and unity within the community, ensuring its success and prosperity.
The guiding principle in discharging one’s responsibility is seeking Allah’s pleasure. We know that Allah does not allow injustice. In a sacred Hadith, the Prophet quotes Allah as saying: “My servants, I have forbidden Myself injustice and made it forbidden for you. Therefore, be not unjust to anyone.” This must be the rule that governs all relations in society.
Moreover, a person in a position of responsibility must not require his subordinates to do anything that is not permitted by Islam. If he does, then they must not obey him. The Prophet says: “No one may be obeyed in what constitutes disobedience of Allah.” If a commander orders someone to do what is forbidden, that person must disobey the commander. Once the Prophet appointed someone as the head of a small expedition. When they had stopped to rest, the commander ordered that a fire should be lit. He then asked those with him to go through the fire. They said to him: “We have followed Allah’s messenger so that we do not suffer the fire of hell. Are you now asking us to go through this fire. We certainly will not do that.” When they returned to Madinah, they complained to the Prophet. He questioned the commander who said that he simply intended it as a joke and he was not going to allow anyone to go through the fire. The Prophet accepted this as true, but he commended the people who refused to go through the fire. He said: “Had they gone through it, they would not be out of it.” What he meant was that they would have committed suicide and would be punished for it by being thrown in hell on the Day of Judgment.
On Thursday with the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah (the month of Haj) behind us, we have entered another sacred month that marks the beginning of the Islamic lunar year – Mujharram.
Muharram literally means “that which is honored or sanctified.” Muharram is a month that was held sacred even during the pre-Islamic Jahiliyyah era. Islam maintained its sanctity, as is proved by the following verse in the Qur’an:
“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein.” (Qur’an, 9:36)
Some Islamic months, whether sacred or not, have certain days and nights that are exalted or specified for certain kinds of worship. Examples of these are the last five odd-numbered nights of Ramadan, six days of fasting in Shawwal and the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah. Muharram too has its own virtue.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah, Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” (Sahih Muslim)
Notice how the Prophet (peace be upon him) described Muharram as “the month of Allah.”
This narration does not mean fasting the entire month of Muharram. Rather, it encourages fasting on some days – the most significant being the 10th of Muharram, called Ashoura.
The fast of Ashoura was obligatory in the early days of Islam, but after the fasting of Ramadan became obligatory, this fast became recommendatory and not obligatory:
Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “When the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madina, he fasted on the day of Ashoura and directed the people to fast. However, when the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadan and the obligatory nature of the fast of Ashoura was rescided. Whoever so desires should fast on that day and who so likes may not fast on it.” (Abu Dawood)
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked about fasting on the day of Ashoura and he said, “I do not know of any day on which the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) fasted that was better than this day.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fasting the day of Arafah I hope, Allah will expiate thereby the sins for the year before it and of the year after it, and fasting the day of Ashoura I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” (Sahih Muslim)
Therefore, supererogatory fasts in this “month of Allah” should be observed, with the highest priority given to the fast of the tenth.
In addition, the fast on the ninth or eleventh should also be observed, because the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) expressed his intention to fast a day before the tenth. This was in order to differ from the practice of the Jews, who fasted only on the tenth, to celebrate the drowning of Pharaoh and the emancipation of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and the Children of Israel.
Allah’s messenger (peace be upon him) said, “If I would be still alive next year, I will certainly fast the ninth.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 1134)
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “He meant, along with the tenth.”
Therefore, we Muslims should uphold our Prophet’s intention and fast on two days for Ashoura, either the ninth and tenth, or the tenth and eleventh. There is no harm in observing the fasts of all three either.
Besides fasting, the month of Allah should be spent with specific focus on doing good deeds and abstaining from sins. As the narration above exhorts, the best prayer after the obligatory ones is praying late-night in tahajjud. The winter months make it easier for us to pray at night, as the nights are long, and we will not miss sleep by getting up extra early before Fajr to pray and ask Allah for forgiveness.
In addition, we must remember that any innovation in the Religion causes deviation from following Prophet Muhammad’s sunnah. Mourning during Muharram is totally against the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Let us try and fast the days of Ashoura (9th is on Saturday and 10th is on Sunday), as well as endeavor to fast the remaining Mondays and Thursdays during Muharram.
The fasts of the 13th, 14th and 15th can also be observed, all of which are the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him).
Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 4:51, Narrated Abu Huraira
The Prophet said, “A place in Paradise as small as the bow or lash of one of you is better than all the world and whatever is in it”
The Noble Qur’an – Al-Mu’minun 23:8-11
Those who are faithfully true to their trusts and to their covenants; And those who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) prayers (at their fixed stated hours). These are indeed the inheritors. Who shall inherit the Firdaus (Paradise). They shall dwell therein forever.
Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 4:569, Narrated Abu Huraira
Then Allah [swt] will say (to him): ‘I have forbidden Paradise for the disbelievers.’
Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 6:373, Narrated Abu Huraira
The Prophet said, “Paradise and the Fire (Hell) argued, and the Fire (Hell) said, ‘I have been given the privilege of receiving the arrogant and the tyrants.’ Paradise said, ‘What is the matter with me? Why do only the weak and the humble among the people enter me?’ On that, Allah said to Paradise, ‘You are My Mercy which I bestow on whoever I wish of my servants.’ Then Allah said to the (Hell) Fire, ‘You are my (means of) punishment by which I punish whoever I wish of my slaves. And each of you will have its fill.’ As for the Fire (Hell), it will not be filled till Allah puts His Foot over it whereupon it will say, ‘Qati! Qati!’ At that time it will be filled, and its different parts will come closer to each other; and Allah will not wrong any of His created beings. As regards Paradise, Allah will create a new creation to fill it with.”
Descriptions of Paradise
Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 4:474, Narrated Anas bin Malik , see also Bukhari 6:403, Quran 56:30
The Prophet said, “There is a tree in Paradise (which is so big and huge that) if a rider travels in its shade for one hundred years, he would not be able to cross it.”
Hadith – Mishkat, Narrator AbuHurayrah , transmitted by Tirmidhi and Darimi
Allah’s Messenger said, “The inhabitants of Paradise are hairless, beardless and have black eyes, their youth does not pass away and their garments do not wear out.”
Hadith – Sahih Bukhari 4:479, Narrated Sahl bin Sad
The Prophet said, “Paradise has eight gates, and one of them is called Ar-Raiyan through which none will enter but those who observe fasting.” The Prophet also said, “If a person spends two different kinds of something (for Allah’s cause), he will be called from the gates of Paradise.”