Date :Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 | Time : 22:27 |ID: 70920 | Print

MUHARRAM AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE (3)

,

SHAFAQNA-

his is the third article in the series on Muharram and its significance.

In the month of Rajab of the 60th year of Hijra, Mu’awiyya died. Yazeed became the Khaleefa of the Muslim Kingdom. People of Makkah and Madinah who had been approving the Khilafat for the last fifty years, accepted Yazeed’s accession to the throne without a word of protest.

To-day was the day of Eed-Qurban, the day following the Hajj. We would like to bring to you the historical background to the ritual of Hajj that every Muslim has to perform at least once in his/her life time.

We will then see the connection of these stories with Karbala, insha Allah.

Â

WHAT IS HAJJ ABOUT?

The Hajj commemorates (is done in memory of) two different events in the history of religion. Both events have been related in the Qur’an at various places, sometimes briefly, at other times in detail. They are:

1. The beginning of human race by the meeting of Adam and Eve on this earth, and,

2. The great sacrifice of Hazrat Ibraheem when he tried to slaughter his own son Isma-eel by his own hands for Allah’s pleasure.

Â

THE STORY OF ADAM AND EVE

Â

Allah created the first man in Paradise. He then created a mate for him. They lived for a while in the Paradise. Then they were sent down to earth. For years they wandered and searched for each other. Finally one day Adam wished for Eve in the plain of Mina  – real name Muna, which means ‘a longing for (something).’  Some more time passed and finally they met and recognized each other – the place where this happened was the mount Arafat – this is derived from the Arabic root  ‘A-R-F, meaning ‘to know.’  Then they came closer and slept  together. This happened at a place called MUZDALIFA – this is derived from the Arabic root  Z-L-F, meaning ‘to come or bring closer.’

Â

THE STORY OF IBRAHEEM’s SACRIFICE  –

Â

The exact time of Adam’s descent from Paradise to this earth is not known. However, modern historians, Muslims as well as Non‑Muslims, estimate that between the period 2000 B.C. and 4000 B.C. there lived a man known to Muslims as Ibraheem and to Christians and Jews as Abraham. Muslims believe that all prophets before and after Abraham, preached the same religion, Islam, and  they taught man to believe in one God, Allah. Therefore, to Muslims Abraham was a Prophet like many others. To Christians and Jews he was the patriarch from whom the two religions took their present forms gradually over the centuries. To the secular world, Ibraheem is known as the first man in the history of mankind who introduced the concept of one Supreme Being, the almighty God or Allah.

Â

Ibraheem was born at a place called Urr in Iraq and later moved to, and lived in, what is known to‑day as Syria.  He had two wives Sarah and Hajar (Hega), but no children until he was quite old.  Then it was revealed to him by Allah that he will have a child from his second wife Hajar, who by that time, had passed the normal child‑bearing age.  When they had a son who was named Ismaceel, by Allah’s command Ibraheem moved Hajar and the infant to what is known to‑day as Makkah in Arabia.  He stayed with them for a while in Arabia.  When his son reached puberty and he was strong enough to run around with him doing chores about the house,  one night Ibraheem dreamt that he was slaughtering his son with his own hands.

Â

According to Qur’an, Ibraheem had this dream more than once and was then convinced that it was Allah’s command to him.  He discussed this with his son who replied that Ibraheem should follow the Creator’s command and that he will find Ismaceel among the SABIREEN or those who patie ntly persevere.  At this, Ibraheem prepared to sacrifice his son as seen in his dream. But at the last moment when he had the knife at Ismaceel’s throat a sheep was put where Ismaceel lay, by Almighty Allah’s command and Ismaceel was saved from the slaughter.  Allah accepted Ibraheem’s sacrifice and praised him in the following words:

Â

Then when they had both surrendered (to Allah), and he (Ibraheem) had flung him (Ismaceel) down upon his face, We called unto him:  O Ibraheem!  Thou hast already fulfilled the vision.  Lo! thus do we reward the good.  Lo! that verily was a clear test.  Then we ransomed him with a tremendous sacrifice (Zibhin‑Azeem)

Â

(Q.37:103‑107)

Â

While Ibraheem was proceeding towards the plain of Mina with his son, Iblees came three times to deflect (move away) him from his path of obedience. Ibraheem threw stones at him to push him away. Those three places have been marked by three stone pillars. The hajjis throw stones at those three symbolic Shaytans (Iblees) during the Hajj in commemoration of Ibraheem’s act. Once, while Ibraheem was away, Hajar, Isma-eel’s mother, ran between the mountains of Safa and Marwa looking for water. Hajjis perform a similar act (sa’ee) in commemoration of that act.

Also, it is in commemoration of Ibraheem’s sacrifice that Muslims all over the world sacrifice animals every year on the 10th day of Zilhijja,  the day after the day of Hajj.  Qur’an has further elaborated this in verse‑124 of chapter 2  as follows:

Â

And remember when his Lord tried Ibraheem with His commands, and he fulfilled them.  He (Allah) said: Lo! I have appointed thee a leader for mankind.  (Ibraheem) said: and of my offspring (will there be leaders)?  He (Allah) said: My covenant includeth not wrong‑doers.

Â

Ibraheem and Isma-eel were then commanded by Allah to erect K’abah, the cubical structure in the valley, towards which all Muslims turn their faces in prayer.  This is recorded in the following verse from the same chapter. This, in fact, is the true beginning of Islam. When Prophet Muhammad started preaching in Makkah he repeatedly said that he had not brought a new religion but it was the same religion preached and practised by Adam, Nooh, Ibraheem, Moosa and Eesa.  Qur’an too, says that Ibraheem was no more and no less than a true Muslim.

Â

Ibraheem then returned to his other wife Sarah who also now gave birth to a son who was named Is‑haq (Isaac).  Is‑haq had a son named Y’aqoob (Jacob) who had twelve sons, each of them is known to be the father of one of the twelve tribes of Jews.  Y’aqoob  is also known as Israel and that is why Jews are also known as the Banu‑Israel or the children of Israel.  In this line are Yusuf (Joseph), Dawood (David), Sulayman (Soloman), Moosa (Moses), Haroon (Aron), ‘Eesa (Jesus) and Yahya   (John the Bap tist), all prophets, equally revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Â

Hajar and her son Isma’eel stayed in Arabia.  Isma’eel seemed to have married in the local tribes and in his progeny were Hashim and Abdush‑Shams.  Hashim was the great‑grandfa ther of Muhammad the Prophet of Islam, that is why the Prophet is known as Hashimi.

Â

ZIBHIN    ‘AZEEM

Â

Let us now find out what that great scarifice or ZIBHIN  ‘AZEEM is.

Â

Iqbal, the famous poet of the Indo‑Pakistan subcontinent, has put it very briefly, but succinctly in the following Urdu couplet:

Â

ghareeb-o sada-o rangin hai dastan-e haram,

nihayat iski Husayn, ibtida hai Isma-eel

translation:

Â

The story of HARAM (the grand mosque and the Kcaba) is strange, simple and colourful. Ismaceel is its beginning and Husayn is its completion.

GHAREEB = strange —- because, A father slaughtering his own son,

SADA = simple ——-  because, Allah commands, man obeys,

RANGIN = colorful ——- because, human blood flowed freely in Karbala

Â

Various scholars of Qur’an have explained this relationship at length.  One of the most bril liant works is the book titled  `SIR‑RUSH‑ SHAHADATAYN’ or, the secret of two sacrifices, by the well known Indian Sunni scholar Shah Abdul Azeez, also known as Muhaddith‑e‑Dehlavi. Shah Abdul Azeez has argued that the logical end of the story of Ibraheem and Isma’eel would be that Muhammad the Prophet of Islam would have sacrificed his life in Allah’s way.  But Muhammad died of illness and old age.  In effect, Husayn’s martyrdom was Muhammad’s mar tyrdom, which completes the religion Islam, which started with Ibraheem and Isma’eel. We will, inshallah, post a separate text on this book.

Â

After careful study of the two stories, we find a number of similarities between them.

Â

Ibraheem has a vision and asks his fourteen year old son about it.  The son replies that he should follow Allah’s command.

Â

Husayn while travelling towards Koofa, tells his eighteen year old son cAli that he had a dream in which he heard a voice calling out:

Â

‘The people of this entourage are proceeding towards their death.’

Â

cAli Akbar asks his father:

‘Are we not on the right path ?’

Husayn replies:

Yes my son, of course, we are on the right path.

Â

The son then says:    Then I am not  concerned !

Â

Â

Isma’eel tells his father after hearing about his dream that the father will find him among the SABIREEN.  Husayn rushes to the side of his fourteen year old nephew Qasim Ibn Hasan, woun ded in battle and asks him:

Â

What is death like ?

Â

Qasim replies: ‘Sweeter than honey.’

Â

Another point worth mentioning here is Ibraheem’s prayer after the sacrifice and its hidden meanings, in Qur’an, verse‑124 of Chapter 2:

Â

Â

And remember when his Lord tried Ibraheem with his commands, and he fulfilled them.  He (Allah) said: Lo! I have appointed thee a leader (IMAM) for mankind. (Ibraheem) said: and of my offspring (will there be leaders)? He said: My covenant includeth not wrongdoers.

Â

Ibraheem was made a leader (IMAM) for mankind after accomplishing the sacrifice, which was postponed for a greater event.  It is only logical that the person who was the cause of that completion should also be an IMAM.  This is the most direct proof of the concept of IMAMAT (Spiritual leadership and Allah’s vicegerency on Earth), from Qur’an.

Â

Then Ibraheem asks if there would be IMAMs in his progeny. His prayer is granted, but with the condition that those in his progeny who go wrong in Allah’s sight, will be excluded. Both Husayn and Yazeed are in Ibraheem’s progeny through the line of Quraysh.  But one of them has achieved an exaltation through his martyr dom, while the other caused him suffering and pain.  The point is that Islam is not a racial religion.  The appointment of IMAMs has been restricted  to Ibraheems progeny, but anybody can become a Muslim.  Except, that particular exaltation is reserved for Ibraheem’s progeny.  However, even there, it is important how the people in Ibraheem’s progeny behave.  They will suffer Allah’s wrath on the Day of Judgement if their deeds were not according to Allah’s cove nants.  So, just being in Ibraheem’s line is no guarantee for final salvation.

Â

Besides, Ibraheem was not asking for worldly success in his prayer. Instead he asked for moral excellence and spiritual exaltation.  This becomes very clear if we look at the following verse from Chapter 14, Sura Ibrahim, of Qur’an:

Â

Our Lord: Lo! I  have settled some of my posterity in an uncultivable valley near unto Thy holy House; Our Lord! That they may establish proper worship; so incline some hearts of men that they might yearn toward them, and provide Thou them with fruits in order that they may be thankful.                                                                   (Q.14:37).

Â

The divine promise of IMAMAT being reserved for the children of Ibraheem was fulfilled, as history has recorded.  Banu Umayya failed to destroy Muhammad’s legacy.  The Umayyad dynasty was completely annihilated by the Abbasides uprising, only 70 years later.  The remaining few of the Umayyads had to take refuge in Spain.

Â

The massacre of Karbala turned out to be the most prominent instrument by which Islam spread all over the world.  Even in the short term, the honour and respect of the remaining members of that family increased every day.  Once du ring Hajj, the then Umayyad crown prince Hisham, accompanied by a foreign ambassador and the famous poet Farazdaq, had arrived in Makkah to perform Hajj. During the tawaaf he tried to reach the black‑stone but failed repeatedly and at last, went up to a hill to rest and try again later.  (People who have been to Hajj can very well appreciate the scene.)  All of a sudden the crowd of the pilgrims milling around the Kcabah split in the middle.  There was a man in a black cloak, pale and weak, but with an air of piety about him, proceeding very slowly towards the black‑stone. The crowd held back quietly until he reached the black‑stone, kissed it, turned away and went back as he came. The ambassador watched this scene with curiosity and asked Hisham:  `Who is he that demands more respect than even the crown prince of the day?’

Â

Hisham was furious and snapped in anger and jealousy: `I do not know.’

Â

Farazdaq was disgusted at this reply, and on the spot he composed a long Qaseedah (ode) and recited it, in praise of the man Hisham refused to identi fy. Farazdaq’s Qaseedah is considered to be a classic of Arabic literature.  We will, inshallah, post this QASEEDAH soon with a translation.

Â

The man in question, was no one else but, cAli Zaynul cAbideen, Husayn’s only surviving son in Karbala.

Â

The legacy of spiritual leadership was carried through the next in‑line, Muhammad Baqir, the fifth Imam, after his father cAli Zaynul cAbideen, who was only four years old at Karbala, to his son Jcafar Sadiq, the sixth Imam, the most illustrious of them all, and then to six more upto the 12th Imam.

Â

All these people were always persecuted by the rulers of their times.  Most of them spent their lives under close  scrutiny of the ru lers, under house‑arrest or in prison.  All of them were killed treacherously by poisoning, until the time came of the last of them, who went into hiding in the 260th year of Hijra (874 A.D.).

Â

All of them continued the legacy of spiritual leadership and learning against all odds.  Jcafar Sadiq can very well be said to be the originator of all study of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh).  The two most prominent scholars and founders of their respective schools of learning, Abu Haneefa and Malik Ibn Anas sat in his lectures.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *