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Al-Muharram: A Common Misconception

Islām is a way of life sent by Allāh ta‘ālā for the guidance of mankind, and it is the key to success in both worlds. Something that holds such significance holds great importance; hence, it is of great value and therefore needs to be protected at all costs.


For the protection of the religion of Islām, scores of Muslim individuals have contributed through their wealth, their lives, and many other ways and forms, the like of which cannot be found in history. Thousands have sacrificed their lives for the protection of this sacred religion. Islamic history is filled with the names of martyrs, and for the irrigation of Islamic values, much blood of Muslims has been shed.

From the first generation of Muslims, the great Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum, there are many who put all their possessions, even their lives, on the line for the sake of Islām. Sumayyah, Hamzah, Ja‘far, ‘Abdullāh ibn Rawāhah, ‘Abdullāh ibn Az-Zubayr radhiyallāhu ‘anhum, are just a few of the many famous ones that fall under this category.

In the sacred month of Al-Muharram, much is heard about one of the great martyrs of Islām, Husayn ibn ‘Alī radhiyallāhu ‘anhu. Without doubt, his martyrdom had a great role to play in fortifying the causes of Islām; but a mere few days before the tenth of Al-Muharram, on which his martyrdom is mourned with much importance by certain people, the martyrdom of another of Islām’s greats took place. This was, of course, the martyrdom of the second in rank and virtue from all Muslims after Abū Bakr radhiyallāhu ‘anhu, the leader of the believers, ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattāb radhiyallāhu ‘anhum.

The incident of his martyrdom is recorded in great detail in the books of ahādīth and history. In the 23rd year after of the Islamic calendar in the month of Dhū-al-Hijjah, ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu entered the masjid to lead the Fajr prayer. He made sure the rows were complete and straight, keeping alive the teachings of the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam in this regard. ‘Amr ibn Maymūn rahimahullāh, the narrator of the incident, says, ‘‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu had just said the first takbīr, when suddenly I heard him say, ‘A dog has killed (or eaten) me!’ The lout then attempted to flee with his double-edged dagger, and in doing so stabbed everyone in his way, to the right and left. As a result, he wounded 13 people, 7 fatally.’ The narration is lengthy, and many lessons are to be learnt from it. The blow was fatal, and ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu departed as a martyr just as he had desired. He would continually supplicate, ‘O Allāh, grant me martyrdom in your path, and make my death occur in the City of your Prophet.’ (Al-Bukhārī)

The martyrdom of ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu was imminent, as the Prophet of Allāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam had given glad tidings of this bounty. Anas ibn Mālik radhiyallāhu ‘anhu narrates that the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam once climbed Mount Uhud, along with Abū Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmān radhiyallāhu ‘anhum, and it trembled. The Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam said, ‘O Uhud! Be calm, for there is a Nabī, a Siddīq and two martyrs on you.’ (Al-Bukhārī)

‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu was an outstanding personality, and the amount he benefited Islām can be gauged from what is narrated about him in the books of ahādīth.

‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu relates that the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam prayed, ‘O Allāh, strengthen Islām with either Abū Jahl ibn Hishām or ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattāb, and in the morning ‘Umar came to the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam and accepted Islām’. (At-Tirmidhī)

‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd radhiyallāhu ‘anhu would say, ‘We (Islām and the Muslims) went from strength to strength since ‘Umar accepted Islām’. (Al-Bukhārī)

Once, upon ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu asking regarding a ḥadīth of the Prophet

sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam regarding trials and tribulations which were to fall upon the Ummah, Hudhayfah ibn Al-Yamān radhiyallāhu ‘anhu, who knew the ḥadīth, remarked, ‘Why do you worry about such a fitnah, O Amīr-al-Mu’minīn, when there is a closed door between it and yourself?’ When asked who this ‘door’ was, Hudhayfah radhiyallāhu ‘anhu replied, ‘‘Umar.’ (Al-Bukhārī, Ibn Mājah)

It was due to this prophecy of the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam, that Sa‘īd ibn Zayd radhiyallāhu ‘anhu, one of the Al-‘Asharah Al-Mubashsharah, upon the demise of ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu said:

‘I cry upon the state of Islām, indeed the death of ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu has wounded Islām, a wound never to be healed until the Day of Qiyāmah.’ (At-Tabaqāt)

Despite such sufferings to its rank, Islamic teachings do not favour mourning the martyrdom of any individual. If there was such a thing, not a single day of the calendar year would remain void in which someone great had not given his life for the cause of Islām. What Islām does teach is that one should always remain conscious of the sacrifices of these accepted souls, continue praying for them, and make them our role models in that whatever sacrifice is required from us for Islām, at whatever time, we should be ready to offer it.

At this time, we are not being asked to offer our lives; we are only being asked to sacrifice our unlawful desires. How great a difference is there between us and those blessed individuals who gave their lives for Islām, and we cannot sacrifice a single transient enjoyment from harām sources. It is this lesson that we should learn from the martyrdoms of ‘Umar radhiyallāhu ‘anhu, Husayn radhiyallāhu ‘anhu, and all the other martyrs of Islām.

by Shaykh Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh

Courtesy: Riyādul Jannah

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