The Attribution of Prophetic Events to the Day of ʿĀshūrā

[I found this somewhat unfinished research on my computer. Seeing as today is the 10th of Muḥarram, or ʿĀshūrā, I thought it would be useful to students of knowledge to post whatever research I had gathered to date on the authenticity of the attribution of certain  prophetic events to this day. Interestingly enough, the 10th of Muḥarram (or possibly the 11th) was the day I was reported to have been born.]

Question

This last Friday, I heard many things about ʿĀshūrā that I’d never heard before. The khatib said that in addition to Mūsā and his people being saved on ʿĀshūrā that it was also the day that Yūnus was saved from the whale, Yūsuf was saved from the well, Nūḥ was saved from the flood, that Ibrāhīm was born on this day, and that Rasūl Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was granted special forgiveness, and some other things I don’t remember. I had never heard these things before, so I was wondering if they were true. Please respond at your convenience. (edited)

Reply

Many of the historical events that are attached to the 10th of Muḥarram are not substantiated by the prophetic tradition. Some have been transmitted in commentaries of hadith works but without a chain of narrators that can establish their reliability. Others are quoted through chains that end with Successors and are likely taken from Judeo-Christian traditions, sources that at best are potentially true but still not substantiated by historical sources that can establish the Sunnah. Below, I have attempted to shed some light on specific claims about the day of ʿĀshūrā in light of the research of expert traditionists.

Under the discussion of the origins of the word ʿĀshūrā, Imam Badr al-Dīn al-ʿAynī mentions that some people claim that the day of ʿĀshūrā is special because on it Allah honored ten (ʿasharah) prophets. However, here no reference is provided for this claim. (al-ʿAynī, ʿUmdat al-Qārī, 8:233)

Similarly, in his commentary on Imam Mālik’s al-Muwaṭṭā, Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Muḥammad Zakariyyā al-Kāndhalwī mentions that Ibn Raslān relates the same opinion from Imam al-Mundhirī, again without a source chain. (al-Kāndhalwī, Awjaz al-Masālik, 5:185) Al-ʿAynī provides additional details for this claim:

“It is said that [the reason the tenth day of Muḥarram is called ʿĀshūrāʾ] is because Allah the Exalted dignified ten prophets, upon them be peace, with ten karāmahs [on it]. The first is Mūsā, upon him be peace, who was given (divine) aid on this day. The sea was split for him and Firʿawn and his army were caused to drown. The second is Nūḥ, upon him be peace, whose ark settled upon the mount of Jūdī on this day. The third is Yūnus, upon him be peace, who was saved from the belly of the whale. The fourth is that Allah accepted the repentance of Ādam, upon him be peace, as ʿIkrimah states. The fifth is Yūsuf, upon him be peace, who was removed from the well on this day. The sixth is ʿĪsā, upon him be peace, who was born on this day and raised (to the Heavens) on it. The seventh is Dāwūd, upon him be peace, who Allah forgave on this day. The eight is Ibrāhīm, upon him be peace, who was born on it. The ninth is Yaʿqūb, upon him be peace, whose sight was returned to him on this day. The tenth is our prophet Muḥammad, upon him blessings and peace, who was forgiven everything that preceded and everything to follow on it.

As such they have mentioned ten of the prophets. I [‘Ayni] say, ‘Some have also mentioned amongst the ten Idrīs, upon him be peace, for he was raised to some place in the sky, and Ayyūb, upon him be peace, whose difficulty was lifted on this day, and Sulaymān, upon him be peace, who was given kingdom on it.’” (al-ʿAynī, ʿUmdat al-Qārī, 8:233)

Mawlānā Faḍl al-Raḥmān al-Aʿẓamī, a leading authority in hadith today, includes amongst “the famous virtues of the day of ʿĀshūrā that are all fabrications” the claims that the repentance of Ādam was accepted, or that the ark of Nūḥ settled on Mount Jūdī, or that Ibrāhīm was saved from the fire, or that Allāh sent the ram to be sacrificed in place of Ismāʿīl, or that Yūsuf was returned to his father Yaʿqūb (upon all of them be peace) all on this day.

Al-Aʿẓamī, whose thorough research on this issue has been published in the form of a booklet entitled Muharram and Ashura: Virtues and Laws, states:

“Shāh ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq al-Muḥaddith al-Dihlawī (may Allah have mercy on him) has quoted another narration [on the topic of ʿĀshūrā] which ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad al-ʿArrāq (may Allah have mercy on him) has classified as fabricated.

The fabricated narration states that the person who fasts on the day of ʿĀshūrā will receive the reward of fasting for sixty years and for standing in prayer for sixty years. In addition, he will receive the reward of ten thousand angels and the reward of a thousand people performing ḥajj and ʿumrah. He will also receive the reward of ten thousand martyrs together with all the rewards of the seven heavens.

This fabricated narration also states that the person who feeds a hungry person on the day of ʿĀshūrā will receive the reward of feeding every poor person from the ummah of Muḥammad (upon him blessings and peace) to his fill.

Furthermore, it states that the person who on this day places his hand on the head of an orphan will have his status in Jannah raised by a degree for every strand of the orphan’s hair that falls beneath his hand.

The other false impressions that the fabrication creates is that Allah brought creation into existence on the day of ʿĀshūrā, including the heavens, the earth, the Pen, the Protected Tablet, Jibrāʾīl, Mīkāʾīl, and Ādam (upon them be peace).

It also states that Ibrāhīm (upon him be peace) was born on this day, and that he was rescued from the fire on this day, that the ram was sent in place of Ismāʿīl on this day, that Firʿawn was drowned on this day, that Idrīs was raised to the heavens on this day, and that Ādam’s repentance was accepted on this day [Note that Ibn Rajab quotes statements of two Successors and Ibn ʿAbbās to support this point, which will be discussed later].

Moreover, it states that Dāwūd (upon him be peace) was forgiven on this day, that Allah focuses His attention to His Throne on this day, and that Qiyāmah shall take place on this day. ʿAllāmah Ibn al-Jawzī (may Allah have mercy on him) states that this hadith was forged by a person called Ḥabīb ibn Abī Ḥabīb and was attributed to ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAbbās (may Allah be pleased with them).” (al-Dihlawī, Mā Thabata bi-l-Sunnah, from al-Aʿzamī, Muharram and Ashura: Virtues and Laws, p. 20)

Al-Aʿzamī further adds:

“After mentioning all of the above, Shāh ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq (may Allah have mercy on him) observes another fabrication. This fabrication states that on this day Yūsuf (upon him be peace) was freed from prison, Yaʿqūb’s (upon him be peace) eyesight was restored, Ayyūb (upon him be peace) was cured, and Yūnus (upon him be peace) was removed from the belly of the fish.

It also states that on this day the past and future mistakes of the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) were forgiven, the repentance of Yūnus’s (upon him be peace) nation was accepted and the first rains fell.

Moreover, the (fabricated) narration states that the person who fasts on this day will be rewarded like the one who fasts all the time, and the person who stands in worship during the night preceding the day of ʿĀshūrā will receive the reward of the worship of everything within the seven heavens.

Furthermore, it states that all the prophets fasted on this day and that fifty years of a person’s future sins and fifty years of his past sins will be forgiven if on this day he performs four rakaʿah of ṣalāt and recites Sūrat al-Fātiḥah once, followed by Sūrat al-Ikhlās fifty times in every rakaʿah. In addition, the narration states that such a person will have a thousand pulpits of celestial light (nūr) erected for him in the highest echelons of the heavens.

It also asserts that the person who gives a single sip to another to drink on this day, his status will be like one who has not disobeyed Allah for even a moment as brief as the blink of an eye. It states also that one who feeds a poor person to his fill on this day will cross the bridge of Ṣirāt at the speed of lightning.

Another concocted detail of this “hadith” includes that a person who gives charity on this day is like one who never refuses any beggar, and that someone who passes his hand over the head of an orphan will be rewarded like one who has behaved kindly to every orphan amongst mankind. In a similar fashion, the narration states that whoever visits a sick person on this day will be equal to one who has visited every sick person from amongst mankind.

ʿAllāmah Ibn al-Jawzī (may Allah have mercy on him) mentions that this narration has been fabricated without doubt, although its chain includes all reliable narrators. It is therefore obvious that whoever concocted this “hadith” attached a reliable chain of narrators to it.” (al-Dihlawī, Mā Thabata bi-l-Sunnah, 21, from al-Aʿzamī, Muharram, 21]

The Musnad of Imam Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal does contain a hadith of the Companion Abū Hurayrah that states, “It is the day that the ark settled on Jūdī, so Nūḥ fasted on it to show gratitude,” (Fatḥ al-Mulhim, al-ʿUthmānī 5:253) potentially indicative of the validity of the attribution of this particular event to the day of ʿĀshūrā. Similarly, it is mentioned in Ibn Rajab’s Laṭāʾif al-Maʿārif p. 103: “In the Musnad al-Imam Ahmad it is mentioned on the authority of Abu Jaʿfar that ʿAbd al-Ṣamad informed him from his father from Shubayl from Abū Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said, “The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, once passed by a group of Jews who had fasted the day of ʿĀshūrā. He remarked, ‘What fast is this?’ They said, ‘This is the day that Allah saved Musa, upon him be peace, and Banū Isrāʾīl from drowning, and on it He drowned Firʿawn. This is also the day on which the ark settled on Jūdī. Therefore, Nūḥ and Mūsā, upon them be peace, fasted out of gratitude to Allah the Exalted and Honored. The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, then stated, ‘I have more right to Mūsā and more right to the fast of this day.’ He thus commanded his Companions to fast.” (Aḥmad 14:334-335) Shu‘ayb al-Arnāʾūt, however, notes, that the chain of the narration is weak due to the weakness of ʿAbd al-Samad ibn Ḥabīb and the fact that his father is unknown. Further, the portion of the hadith that speaks of Nūḥ, upon him be peace, he claims, is nowhere corroborated. The portion of the hadith, therefore, that mentions that the day of ʿĀshūrā is the day that the ark of Nuh settled on Judi and that Nuh (upon him be peace) therefore fasted on the day out of gratitude is da‘if.

Lastly, a narration in Muṣannaf ʿAbd al-Razzāq (4:290-291, Al-Majlis al-ʿIlmī: Karachi) reads: “ʿAbd al-Razzāq informed us that Maʿmar reported from Qatādah that he said: ‘Nūḥ boarded the ark with ten days left in Rajab and descended from the ark on the day of ʿĀshūrā.’”  The editor of the Musannaf, ʿAllāmah Ḥabīb al-Raḥmān al-Aʿzamī, notes: “In a hadith of al-Ṭabarānī it is mentioned, ‘In Rajab, Allah carried Nūḥ in the ark…and so the ark sailed for seven months, the end of which was the day of ʿĀshūrā.’ Haythami remarks (on this hadith), ‘It contains ʿAbd al-Ghafūr, and he is matrūk (abandoned).’ (3:188)”

 

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Draft of the First Chapter of a Tashīl al-Naḥw Translation

The following is the first chapter of a translation taken from Qārī Siddīq Bāndwī’s Tashīl al-Naḥw that I was involved in through some editing and translating along with two former students. The project was put on hold in an attempt to first complete another work that was near the final draft stage. I have produced the draft here for general benefit.

Chapter 1

NAḤW

Naḥw (syntax) is a branch of Arabic grammar that studies how sentences are formulated through the combination of nouns (ism), verbs (fiʿl), and particles (ḥarf) and how such formulations determine the state of the end of words in the sentence.

In the science of naḥw, both the individual word كَلِمَةٌ (kalimah) and the combination of words كَلَامٌ (kalām) are studied. The benefit of studying the science is that it protects the one who learns and observes its rules from making grammatical mistakes in their speech and composition.  Continue reading

ʿAllāmah al-Kawtharī’s List of Ḥanafī Hadith Masters

The following list a selection from notes that were compiled for one of the appendices to the forthcoming (in shā Allāh) translation of Imam ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq al-Dihlawī’s Muqaddamah fī Uṣūl al-Ḥadīth. The list has had to be refined, edited, and truncated for publishing purposes. I thought the rough notes would still benefit certain interested readers, so I have produced a portion of them below. Readers should note that spellings, dates, etc… are being revised and are not yet reflected in this post:

Shāh ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq al-Dihlawī represents an important link in a long chain of Ḥanafī hadith scholars, one that begins with Imam Abū Ḥanīfah and his students and continues to this day. The last hundred plus years, however, has born witnes to an unfortunate confusion about the status of the scholars of the Ḥanafī school of law in relation to their knowledge and prowess in the field of hadith and hadith criticism. Nearly three to four generations of Indian hadith masters have since attempted to respond to these misconceptions in the form of biographies of Ḥanafī hadith masters, rebuttals of anti-Ḥanafī and anti-taqlīd literature, voluminous commentaries on the renowned hadith collections, etc…

The late Ottoman polymath, Imam Muḥammad Zāhid al-Kawtharī offered his own refutation of the misunderstandings about the Ḥanafī school in a now well-recognized treatise entitled Fiqh Ahl al-ʿIrāq wa Ḥadīthuhum, which concludes with a list of one hundred and ten hadith masters from amongst Abū Ḥanīfah’s students and adherents to his madhhab. The list was later extended by Imam Muḥammad Yūsuf al-Binnūrī who added 40 names to the list from amongst the Ḥanafī hadith scholars of the Indian subcontinent. We reproduce the first list below: Continue reading

Thoughts on Mawlānā Tariq Rasheed al-Nadwī’s Interview on Madrasa Reform

I am now posting some thoughts I wrote up about the previous post (Mawlana Tariq Rasheed Sahib’s interview on madrasa reform) after our brother and friend Abdul Sattar (may Allah bless him) asked the following:

“I was wondering if you could offer your thoughts on the ideas he discusses concerning the curriculum itself, and the cultural issues he touches upon and what your disagreements/concerns are?”

In responding to the question, I prefer to mention specifically certain portions of the interview that I particularly would like to highlight and then subsequently provide my own thoughts, while also noting that my tone at the time I wrote the post was relatively defensive given the request to provide my concerns and potential disagreements. I have incredible respect for the Mawlana and I hope that my thoughts are perceived not as a refutation but as a contribution to an important -and hopefully ongoing – discussion. Continue reading

Regarding Abrogation of the Verse of Tasmiyah in Ritual Slaughter

Question: There has been some debate at my masjid regarding the permissibility of eating the food of Ahl al Kitab. My Imam says that the verse prohibitng the eating of food on which the name of Allah had not been said was abrogated by the verse that permitted the eating of the food of Ahl al Kitab. His proof is this hadith from Sunan Abi Dawud:

‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏أحمد بن محمد بن ثابت المروزي ‏ ‏حدثني‏ ‏علي بن حسين ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏أبيه ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏يزيد النحوي ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏عكرمة ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏ابن عباس ‏ ‏قال ‏
فكلوا مما ذكر اسم الله عليه
‏ولا تأكلوا مما لم يذكر اسم الله عليه ‏
‏فنسخ واستثنى من ذلك فقال ‏
‏وطعام الذين أوتوا الكتاب حل لكم وطعامكم حل لهم ‏

in which Ibn Abbas cites the same opinion. Is this hadith authentic, and if it is, then how do the Hanafis and Hanbalis who hold contrary opinions to this hadith answer it? Continue reading

A Short Answer to a Question on Extravagance from the Islamic Perspective

A question was once posed by a student through email regarding the issue of wastage, more specifically in regards to wasting water. It was published by our dear friend Hafiz Faraz Abdul Moid on the attalib blog some years ago. I repost it here for your benefit, iA.

Question: I had a question, and if you’re not too busy, I would really appreciate an answer. It concerns water and what we were going over in class about wasting it. When you decide to take a shower for comfort, not necessarily to wash off any impurities, is it really considered wasting it? I mean, when you are doing wudu, and you let the water run and you step out of the bathroom and let the water flow from the tap, that is a waste of water because you are not using it and it is just draining through without coming into contact with you. You are not deriving any benefit from having the water flow, so thus, the water is being wasted. Continue reading

Madrasat al-Hasanayn Updated Curriculum Years 1-4

After posting an earlier synopsis of the Hasanayn curriculum when I was studying there fifteen years ago, a current student was kind enough to send me an updated version for the first four years of the eight year program.

Interestingly enough, when the curriculum was first cooked up, it was designed to be a 12-year program. I remember Mawlana Tariq Jameel taking an oath from the students that they would be willing to stay for that long and even longer, that they be ready to study however long was required or die trying. Mawlana was of the opinion that a subject-by-subject approach would require students to commit more years. In the years that I was there, the strength of the program proved that students weren’t being slowed down in any way by the approach. In fact, they were able to handle more than one or two classes per day quite easily without being overwhelmed with work. Mawlana was pleasantly surprised and willing to increase the daily amount of classes.

In any case, attached is the curriculum for years 1-4 in Arabic. Download.

Excerpt: Fundamentals of Islamic Law: Introduction to Purification

The following sample chapter gives an idea of the format and style of a proposed work on Islamic law written for a modern student. The chapters begin with a “You Will Learn” outline of the chapter’s content, followed by the body of the chapter (with bolded concepts/important vocabulary). Each chapter ends with a Summary (which is to be memorized), a Key Concepts list, and Study Questions. Tables, graphs, and case studies will be interspersed throughout the body text but in a way that is not intrusive or visually distracting. Continue reading

Brief Comments on “The Qur’an: The New Translation” by MAS Abdel Haleem

This translation of the meanings of the Qur’an – which I wish the cover articulated clearer instead of just “The Qur’an” in large print – is one of three translations of the Qur’an’s meanings that I use the most. The other two are Ahmad Zaki Hammad and Ali Unal’s translations. I am aware of other quality works, but I find that these three more or less do the job for me. The Majestic Qur’an was a book I used quite often, but it was very hard to find and I had borrowed it from a library. Though I’ve missed it, I find the other three suffice quite well. 

Compared to Hammad’s The Gracious Qur’an, I found this translation more lucid in places and reads better without the need for parenthetical filler expressions. However, in some places, I found the author taking a bit of liberty in the translations of words and found myself wondering whether he would have translated differently had the audience not been expected to be potentially antagonistic to Islam and its message. 

Book Review: The Essentials of Jumu’a by Shaykh Ibrahim Madani

Author: Ibrahim Madani

Publisher: Madania Publications

Pages: 89   Binding: Paperback

The Essentials of Jumuʿa, Madania Publications’ first work, is a pleasant and welcome addition to a growing corpus of Islamic literature written in English and aimed at the Western reader. At first glance, the reader will appreciate the excellence of its print and language. This is not insignificant, as many books on Islamic studies in English, whether original or in translation, are frequently overshadowed by sometimes appallingly poor quality in both material and style. Essentials is one of a number of recent publications that work to break this unfortunate standard. Continue reading