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Reflections on the Day of ‘Ashuraa | Sh. Waleed Basyouni

Sh. Waleed Basyouni

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Today is ‘Ashuraa’, a day we fast in commemoration of our beloved Prophet Musa’s safe escape from Fir’awn and his tyranny. I would like to share a few thoughts on this blessed occasion.

No story is repeated in the Qur’an as often as the story of Musa (as). His story has been referenced 136 times! Out of all nations, Allah chose to tell us the most about the Children of Israel, especially in the Makkan Suwar. Their tales fill Surat Al-Baqarah, Aali-‘Imraan, Al-An’aam, Al-A’raaf, Al-Israa’, Yunus, Hud, and many others. This is mainly because these stories are full of lessons for us to learn from, and the trials of Bani Isra’il and our own trials bear a very similar resemblance. For this reason, we must carefully study what Allah has told us about them, so that we may benefit from their experiences through Allah’s guidance. At this time, I would like to share some of the stories and lessons that we should reflect on as we fast this blessed day of ‘Ashuraa on which Allah saved Musa and his people from Fir’awn and his army.

1. We must first realize that this day marks a monumental event, one that changed the course of history. It is a day when good triumphed over evil, when the oppressed rose above their oppressors. Generations after generations knew of this day and celebrated it. Even the Pre-Islamic Arabs used to venerate this day and some would fast it.

2. Our commemoration of this event is significant in that it shows us that the bonds of faith, truth, and justice, are stronger than any other bonds, be they tribal, racial, national, or other. The Prophet (s) told us that we have more of a right to celebrate Musa than even the Jews did, even though our race, language, culture, and time are all different.

3. This event gives us hope and reminds us that all oppression, even extreme tyranny like Fir’awn’s will inevitably be destroyed. “Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their [newborn] sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters.” (Al-Qasas 4)

4. It reminds us that victory will eventually be for the believers, the patient, and the oppressed regardless of how powerful the oppressor is or how long the oppression lasts. “And We wanted to confer favor upon those who were oppressed in the land and make them leaders and make them inheritors, and establish them in the land and show Pharaoh and [his minister] Haman and their soldiers through them that which they had feared.” (Al-Qasas 5-6) “Said Moses to his people, ‘Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah. He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.’” (Al-A’raaf 128)

5. It illustrates how Allah is the best of planners, for “[the decree of] Allah came upon them from where they had not expected.” (Al-Hashr:2) Pharaoh commanded that all the Israelites newborns be killed in order to protect his kingdom. Yet, it was this very command that caused Musa to be cast into a river and end up in Pharaoh’s home where he could learn the ins and outs of Pharaoh’s life! “’Cast him into the chest and cast it into the river, and the river will throw it onto the bank; there will take him an enemy to Me and an enemy to him.’ And I bestowed upon you love from Me that you would be brought up under My eye.” (TaHa: 39)

Allah caused the love of the infant Musa to enter the heart of Pharaoh’s own wife, who raised him and was the first to believe in his message. The beams of faith thus emanated first from within Pharaoh’s own home. “And the wife of Pharaoh said, “[He will be] a comfort of the eye for me and for you. Do not kill him; perhaps he may benefit us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceived not.” (Al-Qasas:9) “And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, ‘My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.’” (Al-Tahrim: 11)
Pharaoh sought support from the magicians, yet they were the first to publicly believe in Musa in front of all of Egypt! “So the magicians fell down in prostration. They said, ‘We have believed in the Lord of Aaron and Moses.’ [Pharaoh] said, ‘You believed him before I gave you permission. Indeed, he is your leader who has taught you magic. So I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you on the trunks of palm trees, and you will surely know which of us is more severe in [giving] punishment and more enduring.’ They said, ‘Never will we prefer you over what has come to us of clear proofs and [over] He who created us. So decree whatever you are to decree. You can only decree for this worldly life. Indeed, we have believed in our Lord that He may forgive us our sins and what you compelled us [to do] of magic. And Allah is better and more enduring.’ Indeed, whoever comes to his Lord as a criminal – indeed, for him is Hell; he will neither die therein nor live. But whoever comes to Him as a believer having done righteous deeds – for those will be the highest degrees [in position].” (TaHa: 70-75)

6. The story teaches us to trust in Allah’s promise and in His infinite Wisdom even when we don’t understand why something is happening. “And We inspired to the mother of Moses, ‘Suckle him; but when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear and do not grieve. Indeed, We will return him to you and will make him [one] of the messengers.’ And the family of Pharaoh picked him up [out of the river] so that he would become to them an enemy and a [cause of] grief. Indeed, Pharaoh and Haman and their soldiers were deliberate sinners.” (Al-Qasas:7-8) “So We restored him to his mother that she might be content and not grieve and that she would know that the promise of Allah is true. But most of the people do not know.” (Al-Qasas: 13)

This confidence in Allah was missing when Bani Isra’il said, “We have been harmed before you came to us and after you have come to us,” but Musa reminded them, “Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy and grant you succession in the land and see how you will do.” (Al-A’raf:129) Musa exhibited this trust in Allah in the direst of circumstances, trust that we must all develop. “And when the two companies saw one another, the companions of Moses said, ‘Indeed, we are to be overtaken!’ [Moses] said, ‘No! Indeed, with me is my Lord; He will guide me.’” (Al-Shu’araa: 61-62)

7. Victory sometimes comes at the hands of the believers in Allah, and at other times, Allah destroys the disbelievers directly, such as at the sea with Musa or on the Day of the Trench with the Prophet Muhammad (s). “And Allah will be sufficient for you against them.” (Al-Baqarah:137)” Is not Allah sufficient for His Servant [Prophet Muhammad]?” (Al-Zumar: 36)

8. ‘Ashuraa reminds us that disbelief and arrogance go hand in hand, as arrogance blinds a person from seeing the most obvious of signs. Faith is not a matter of reason; it is a spiritual and emotional state, a matter of the heart. “And they said, ‘No matter what sign you bring us with which to bewitch us, we will not be believers in you.’ So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood as distinct signs, but they were arrogant and were a criminal people.” (Al-A’raf: 132-133) “And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, ‘I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims.’” (Yunus: 90) And the result was that “We saved Moses and those with him, all together. Then We drowned the others.” (Al-Shu’araa: 65-66)

9. This day reminds us to turn to Allah in humble worship during times of trial and calamity, and to continuously pray for our safety and success. “So they said, “Upon Allah do we rely. Our Lord, make us not [objects of] trial for the wrongdoing people. And save us by Your mercy from the disbelieving people.’” (Yunus: 85-86) “Said Moses to his people, ‘Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah . He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.’” (Al-A’raf: 128) When praying at their temples became difficult, Allah commanded them to establish their prayers in their homes. “And We inspired to Moses and his brother, ‘Settle your people in Egypt in houses and make your houses [facing the] qiblah and establish prayer and give good tidings to the believers.’” (Yunus: 87)

10. This day teaches us that all times are a test. Victory is honor, but it is also a test. “He said, ‘Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy and grant you succession in the land and see how you will do.’” (Al-A’raf: 129)

11. ‘Ashuraa teaches us that humans will be tested even after gaining the upper hand, but that one cannot succeed and triumph without first being tested.

12. We also learn that loyalty to the Truth and what is right is prioritized above any other loyalties. We cannot let our personal bonds get in the way of removing oppression and establishing what is just and right. “[Pharaoh] said, ‘Did we not raise you among us as a child, and you remained among us for years of your life?’” (Al-Shu’araa: 18)

13. Admitting our mistakes and learning from them is crucial, but this should never leave us hostage to our past follies. We must have faith in our ability to grow and change, so we may move forward in life, better for what we have learned through our mistakes. “’And [then] you did your deed which you did, and you were of the ungrateful.’ [Moses] said, ‘I did it, then, while I was of those astray. So I fled from you when I feared you. Then my Lord granted me wisdom and prophethood and appointed me [as one] of the messengers.’” (Al-Shu’araa: 19-21)

14. We should not fall prey to propaganda and false labels and notions promoted by the media. This is a prime tactic for swaying people away from the Truth and perpetrating injustice. “[Pharaoh] said to the eminent ones around him, ‘Indeed, this is a learned magician. He wants to drive you out of your land by his magic, so what do you advise?’” (Al-Shu’araa: 34-35) “[Pharaoh] said, ‘Indeed, your “messenger” who has been sent to you is mad.’” (Al-Shu’araa:27) “And Pharaoh said, ‘Let me kill Moses and let him call upon his Lord. Indeed, I fear that he will change your religion or that he will cause corruption in the land.’” (Ghafir:26)

15. The story behind ‘Ashuraa teaches activists and educators and all those working for positive change to work together and complement one another’s efforts with their personal strengths. “’And appoint for me a minister from my family – Aaron, my brother. Increase through him my strength, and let him share my task.’” (TaHa: 29-32)

16. The Day of ‘Ashuraa also reminds us that regardless of how tyrannical or oppressive a criminal is, calling them to Allah requires wisdom and gentleness. “And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah ].” [TaHa: 44) It has been narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that he said: Were Fir’awn himself to say, “God bless you,” to me, I would have replied, “And to you as well.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

17. ‘Ashuraa reminds us of how some nations have changed the rites of their religions and turned it into nothing but celebrations and ceremonies. Instead of following religious guidance in their daily lives through servitude to Allah (swt), many of Bani Isra’il and sadly, many Muslims as well, view their religiosity as participating in celebrations and ceremonies marking religious events. Instead of playing and amusing ourselves in celebration, the way we are to commemorate this historic event is by performing an act of worship in gratitude, i.e. fasting.

18. The Day of ‘Ashuraa reminds us to be open to people of other cultures and religions, to benefit from them in areas that do not contradict our own religion, and to dialogue and cooperate with them in our shared interests in the betterment of humanity.
19. The Day of ‘Ashuraa teaches us to establish our uniqueness as a religious identity. The Prophet (s) said, “If I live until the next year, I will surely fast the ninth day (too).”

20. Gratitude and thankfulness are not only expressed through words and emotions, but through faith and action as well. For this reason, we fast as manifestation of our thankfulness for this blessing.

21. We learn the status of fasting as an act of worship from ‘Ashuraa. Noble acts are prescribed in noble times, such as this day.
22. This day reminds us of how believers feel genuine joy for others when oppression is lifted from them. It teaches us to have empathy and care for the oppressed around the world, cheering them on and helping them to become free from the oppressions they face.

These are some reflections that came to mind regarding this great day. I pray that Allah gives victory to all those who are oppressed worldwide, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His final messenger, Muhammad, and his family.

is Vice President of AlMaghrib Institute and Director of Clear Lake Islamic Center (CLIC). He is a frequent guest speaker at Universities, Conventions, Radio Talk Shows, Television, Interfaith meetings, and community centers nationally and internationally. He is also a member of the North American Imam Federation (NAIF), Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA)-Fatwa and Research Committee, Director of Texas Dawah Convention, and Advisor to numerous Islamic Societies/Organizations around the US. Shaykh Waleed Basyouni graduated with a Bachelors in Islamic Sciences from Al-Imam Muhammad University, KSA; did his Masters in Islamic Theology, World Religions and Modern Religious Sects from Al-Imam Muhammad University; and acquired a Doctorate in Theology. He is also an instructor at the American Open University in Alexandria, VA, USA, and serves as, the Imam of Clear Lake Islamic Center, Houston, TX, USA. Shaykh Waleed has Ijaazahs in reciting the Holy Quran and in several books of Hadeeth, awarded by various scholars. He studied with great scholars time such as Shaykh Ibn Baz, Abdul-Razzaq Afify and others.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: আশুরা – যেদিন সাগর হয়েছিল দ্বিখন্ডিত, কারবালা হয়েছিল রক্তাক্ত (অনুবাদ) | আমার স্পন্দন

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    Sadia baig

    July 29, 2017 at 12:58 AM

    Indeed this day taught us the lesson of sacrifice & patience !
    may ALLAH give such qualities to all ummat e muslim !

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14 Short Life Lessons From Studying Aqidah

Lessons I learned Studying Theology (Aqidah) with a Local Islamic Scholar in Jordan

Hamzah Raza

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I sit here in the Jordanian heat, with a kufi on and prayer beads in my hand. I watch as young kids play soccer with their kufis and kurtas on in the streets. They go on and on until the Adhan interrupts their game. I think of how different the kids back home in the United States are. Due to the rules for living in this quaint Jordanian neighborhood, the kids are not allowed to play video games, use social media, or watch television. This is the Kharabsheh neighborhood on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan.

I have spent the past two months living in this community. It is a community so similar to, yet so different from any community I have ever lived in. In many ways, it is just like any other community. People joke around with one another, invite people over for dinner, have jobs, go to the gym, and do other pervasive events of everyday life. But in many other respects, the community is different from most in the world today. Many of those living here are disciples (mureeds) in the Shadhili Sufi order. Sufism has faced a bad reputation in many parts of the world today. The stereotype is that Sufis are either not firm in their commitment to religious law (Sharia), or lax in their understanding of Islamic theology (aqidah). Far from the stereotype, I have never met any people in my life more committed to the Sharia. Nor have I ever met people so committed to staying true to Islamic orthodoxy. Just in seemingly mundanes conversations here in Kharabsheh, I find myself learning a plethora of life lessons, whether that be in regard to Islamic jurisprudence, the ontology of God, or the process of purifying one’s heart.

I have compiled a list of a few lessons I learned in studying an elementary aqidah (theology) text with a disciple of Shaykh Nuh, who is a scholar of theology and jurisprudence in himself. Without further adieu, here are some of the lessons I learned.

1) If you want to know the character of a man, ask his wife. People may think someone is great, but his wife will tell you how he actually is. One of the greatest proofs of the prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is that he had 11 wives over his lifespan and they all died upon Imaan (faith).

2) Humans are never static. We are always incrementally changing. No one changes in anything overnight. People are either gradually getting better, or gradually getting worse. Every day, you should sure that you are always improving. Do not get worse. If you only pray your Fard(mandatory) prayers, start to pray Sunnah(recommended prayers). If you are already praying your Sunnah prayers, improve the quality of your prayer or pray nafl (optional prayers).

3) Hope in the Mercy of God, and fear of His Justice, are two wings that we need to balance. If one has too much hope, they will become complacent and think they can refuse to follow God’s rules, and do whatever they want, because God is Merciful. If one has too much fear, they will give up. They will inevitably sin (as all humans do), and lose all motivation to better themselves.

4) The believer has great hope in the Mercy of God, while also great fear in His Justice. It is an understanding of “If everyone were to enter Heaven except for one person, I would think that person is me. And if everyone were to enter Hell except for one person, I would think that person is me.”

5) Whether we do something good or bad, we turn to God. If we do something good, we thank God (i.e. say Alhamdulillah). If we do something wrong, we turn back to God(i.e. say Astagfirullah and/or make tawbah).

6) Everyone should have a healthy skepticism of their sincerity. Aisha (May God be pleased with her) said: “Only a hypocrite does not believe that they are a hypocrite.”

7) You are fighting a constant war of attrition with your carnal desires. Your soul (ruh) and lower self (nafs) battle it out until one party stops fighting. Either your soul gives up and lets your carnal desires overtake you, or your carnal desires cease to exist (i.e. when your physical body dies). Wage war on your carnal desires for as long as you live.

life lessons, aqidah

8) The sign of guidance is being self-aware, constantly reflecting and taking oneself to task. The evidence of this is repenting, and thinking well of others. If we find ourselves making excuses for our actions, refusing to repent for sins, or thinking badly of others, we need to change that.

9) The issue with religious people is that they are often tribalistic and exclusivist. The issue with secular people is that they often have no clear meaning in life, and are ignorant of what lies beyond our inevitable death. One should be able to cultivate this meaning without being tribalistic or arrogant towards others, who have not yet been given guidance.

10) There are philosophical questions regarding free will and determinism. But it is ultimately something that is best understood spiritually. An easy first step is to understand the actions of others as predetermined while understanding your response as acts of free will. This prevents one from getting too angry at what others do to them.

11) Always think the best of the beliefs of other Muslims. Do not be in a rush to condemn people as heretics or kuffar. Make excuses for people, and appreciate the wisdom and experiences behind those who may be seemingly strange in their understanding of things.

12) Oftentimes, people get obsessed with the problems of society and ignore the need to change themselves. We are not political quietists. But we recognize that if you want to turn society around, the first step is to turn yourself around.

13) Do not slam other individuals’ religious beliefs. It leads to arrogance and just makes them more defensive. If you are discussing theology with non-Muslims, be kind to them, even if pointing out flaws in their beliefs. People are more attracted to Islam through people of exemplary character than they are through charismatic debaters or academics that can tear them apart. As my teacher put it rather bluntly, “Don’t slam Christians on the Trinity. No one can actually explain it anyways.”

14) In the early period of Islam, worshipping God with perfection was the default. Then people strayed away and there was a need to coin this term called “Sufism.” All it means is to have Ihsan (perfection or beauty) in the way you worship God, and in the way you conduct each and every part of your life.

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About The Kaaba- Video

Dr Muhammad Wajid Akhter

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Kaaba

Every Muslim knows the Kaaba, but did you know the Kaaba has been reconstructed several times? The Kaaba that we see today is not exactly the same structure that was constructed by Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail, may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon them. From time to time, it has needed rebuilding after natural and man-made disasters.

Watch to learn ten things that most people may not know about the Ka’aba, based on the full article Ten Things You Didn’t Know About the Ka’aba.

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Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure

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How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?

If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.

My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.

On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.

I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.

When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand.  Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?

I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.

That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.

I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:

Host an open house

Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.

Expand your circle

Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.

Delegate

You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.

Squeeze in

Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.

Outsource Eid Fun

If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.

Flock together

It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend.  If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.

Give gifts

The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏ “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.

Try, try, try again…

Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.

While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.

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