The Arabic word “Asharah,” which means “ten,” is where the word “Ashura” originates from. The tenth day of Muharram is known as Ashura. Ashura commemorates the passing of Hussain ibn Ali, a revolutionary fighter from the 7th century who perished in The Battle of Karbala. Millions worldwide commemorate Hussain’s noble struggle for social justice on Ashura Day every year.
What does history tell us?
Soon after Muhammad (SAWW) ‘s passing, the Islamic Empire resumed its previous customs. Hussain witnessed the caliph Yazid eroding the teachings of his grandfather. As Yazid governed with his own needs in mind, the community’s moral code gradually started to crumble.
Hussain was well-respected in the community, so his recommendation would be taken seriously. Yazid required somebody like Hussain to uphold his reign to give his dictatorial regime credibility. However, Hussain was a moral individual who fought for social justice. Regardless of the risk to his safety, Hussain could not remain silent and spoke out against Yazid.
Hussain decided to fight to the death for social justice. He decided to leave his town with his family and some close, trustworthy friends. However, it was inevitable that this information was passed on to Yazid. When he learned of Hussain’s stance, he dispatched an army of 30,000 men to make Hussain submit to his authority.
Although Hussain realized he could not relax and follow Yazid, he decided to uphold his convictions. Hussain did not want any bloodshed and did not want everyone to perish. Yazid ordered to murder Hussain on the tenth day of Muharram (the first month of the Islamic calendar) because he had defied him. The ‘Day of Ashura’ is the name given to this day.
The battle of Karbala
Imam Hussain’s primary goals as the successor to his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (SAWW), were to uphold and defend Islam and instruct Muslims. On the other hand, Mu’awiya and his son Yazid’s ability to remain in power was entirely reliant on the might of the sword. They ruled the Muslim dominion with the sheer force of even the most illegal measures available.
As the leader of Ahlul Bayt (AS), Imam Hussain never acknowledged Mu’awiya or his adherents. Before him, Imam Ali (AS) engaged in combat with Mu’awiya because Mu’awiya persistently disregarded Islamic teachings. For the sake of preserving the security of the Ummah, which was in jeopardy, Imam Al-Hasan (AS) was forced to swallow the painful pill of signing a peace treaty with Mu’awiya.
Consequently, the Imam was forced to address and clash with Yazid’s tyranny to defend and preserve Islam regardless of the repercussions. Yazid had instructed his subordinates to capture the Imam’s loyalty at all costs, even using ruthless force. Therefore, the officers had to gather a sizable army and encircle Imam Hussain’s camp in the Karbala wilderness.
Then they shut off the group’s access to essentials like water. Imam Hussain’s camp included his relatives, friends, and associates, who remained steadfastly by his side. These courageous people would sooner sacrifice their lives for the just cause of Islam than bow to Yazid’s egregious dictatorship and anti-Islamic practices.
Karbala thus turned out to be a conflict between right and wrong, belief and disbelief, and oppressed people and their oppressors, the power of faith and violence.
The importance of the day of Ashura
Imam Al-Ghazali claims in his Mukhashfa al-Qulub that Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA) was questioned about the significance of the day of ‘Ashura. Among the incidents that had happened on “Ashura,” Umar (RA) highlighted the following:
On this day, Allah created the sky, the earth, and the Preserved Tablet, both Adam (AS) and Hawwa (AS) were created by Allah, Jibril (AS) was created by Allah, and Allah created Jannah on the Day of Ashura, Adam (AS) was granted access to Jannah by Allah on the day of Ashura. On this day, the first rain fell on Earth by Allah’s orders.
Consequently, Ashura has been replete with important occurrences since before the dawn of human existence.
Muslim practices all around the world
The value and huge benefit of fasting on the day of Ashura are mentioned in numerous hadiths. On the 10th of Muharram, as well as the 9th or 11th of Muharram, Muslims all over the world attempt to fast. The Shi’a Muslim community offers the Ziyarat Ashura, a salutatory prayer, to Hussain (RA) and the Karbala combat martyrs.
It is important to note that Ashura is a day of trials and tribulations on which even the Prophets (AS) and their families and disciples were tested. It is a day that Allah set aside for Himself in His month of Muharram, also known as the Month of Allah.
It is a day when we should be especially close to Allah Almighty, pleading solely with Him for help in any difficulty we are experiencing and giving Him all the glory for our blessings and convenience.
Fasting on the day of Ashura is a widely known practice. However, giving charity is also encouraged. According to Abdullah bin Amr bin al-As (RA), whoever fasts on Ashura is considered to have fasted for the whole year. And whoever donates on this day does so equivalently to a whole year’s worth of charity.
One great way to earn rewards and please Allah is to give charity to people who deserve it the most. If it is given for a cause that one believes in strongly, it feels even more rewarding. For example, people always need safe, quality, assured healthcare that is unfortunately not available or affordable. However, there is always hope for a better future! By hope, we are referring to the largest charitable organizations who are helping the underprivileged. A little well-intentioned good deed can go a long way, and it doesn’t hurt to contribute to society, especially at the start of the New Islamic Year.