The start of the new Islamic year 1437 also marks the start of Muharram, one of the most sacred months on the Islamic calendar. This month is significant as it highlights the day of Ashura. Also during the month of Muharram, we recall the brutality which claimed the life of Imam Hussain (as), the grandson of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
“In our Islamic history, the most significant event to take place on the days of Muharram was without doubt the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. That is a family which we are ordered by Allah (SWT) and his Prophet to love, to imitate and be very attached to. It is a sign of Imaan to love the Ahlul-bayt. Part of loving Rasulullah is loving his family as well,” says Shaykh Fakhruddin Owaisi al-Madani, a lecturer at the International Peace College of Southern Africa (IPSA), and spokesman of the Sunni Ulema Council.
However, culture often clouds the norms of religion and it is no different during the month of Muharram. One of the common myths of this auspicious month is that it is not permissible to get married. In fact, there are people who claim that the month of Muharram and Safar are inauspicious. This, says Owaisi, is a misconception.
The idea of not getting married in the month of Muharram is that because such a sad and tragic event has taken place, people do not wish to celebrate. This is mainly from an emotional perspective. However there is no Shariah injunction that states that during this month one cannot get married.
“From a Shariah point of view – and Shariah is not based on emotion – there is no such thing. Shariah does not say that you cannot get married in Muharram. A lot of people think you cannot get married in Ramadan. It is also not true. Some also say you can’t get married in Zul-hijjah, yes the Haji cannot get married in Zul Hijjah, but others can,” Owaisi explained.
“Perhaps on the 10th of Muharram – from an emotional point of view – people may not. But as far as the whole month is concerned, there is nothing wrong in getting married then or any other month for that matter.”
BALANCE AND MODERATION
When it comes to the remembrance of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (as), we need to take a balanced approach, cautions Owaisi.
“You should avoid the extremism we see from other sects, but at the same time we should not totally ignore the martyrdom of Imam
Hussain and not talk about it or act like it never took place, because that is also neglect to the family of our Prophet (SAW).”
In parts of the country people are found building structures which are often used as a place to commemorate the first 10 days of Muharram. The structures put in place are called Taziya. Does this have any Islamic significance?
According to Owaisi, the creation of such structures is actually a cultural practise.
“It does not have any Islamic significance. The practise comes from a time in history, when Imam Hussain was martyred by the tyrants. For a while, a lot of people used to visit his tomb. They would go to the site where he was buried and make dua there. After a while his grave was also demolished. It was razed and no one was allowed to go there. That was not a good thing to do… it was a very evil thing to do. In response to that what many people did…they started making shrines. They said we cannot go to the actual shrine of Imam Hussain, so they would make a make-shift shrine and people can just come there and show their love.”
“So it started like that and people all over, different places and neighbourhoods started making these shrines. Whoever wanted to show their love and allegiance to Imam Hussain would go there, make dua and give sadaqah.”
Owaisi says Muslims constantly praise Imam Hussain (as) during the Salawat, so going to a makeshift shrine has no significance in Islam.
“There is no Islamic justification for that. It was a cultural practise because people came from villages before and in Durban I know the Hindus used to have a lot of big shrines and many Muslims were getting attracted to that. So some Muslim scholars said rather than going to a Hindu shrine why not make a Muslim shrine and tell people to go to that.”
“I don’t doubt the intention of the people. People who go there, go with a lot of love, and Allah (SWT) will reward them for the love for the Prophet’s family. But it has to be done in an Islamic manner as well. So making make-shift shrines, and going there is unnecessary. You can make Salawat and Salam from your home. You can even give sadaqaah anywhere, for the ruh of Imam Hussain. We need to teach the people, but in a wise manner.
“So while we say that going to this make shift shrine or Tajiya is not part of the Deen, we also say that showing love to Imam Hussain is indeed a part of the Deen. So you can continue showing your love for the family of our Prophet (SAW), but do it in the right way. Don’t do wrong things that have no basis in the Shariah.”
While Muslims are urged to reflect on their spiritual efforts over the past year, there is a great benefit for reciting dua during this beautiful month.
Owaisi advises: “It is the start of the year and Allah (SWT) tells us to make dua to him for all our needs. If the year is starting there is no harm for the family to make dua to Allah (SWT) to bless the year. There are also duas written by many Awliya to make on these days. So it is good to make those duas as well. However there is nothing specific that one is ordered to do during the month than the actual fasting on the 10th of Muharram, which guarantees forgiveness of your sins.” VOC (Najma Bibi Noor Mahomed)