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Lesser Known Facts About Monumental Dates in the Hijri Calendar

This article concerns some fascinating details about a few commemorative dates in the Hijri Calendar.


Ashura

There are numerous notable events that have occurred on the day of Ashura which falls on the tenth of Muharram (the first month of the Islamic calendar and one of the four sacred months in which war is forbidden).


Some notable events include:

  1. The creation of the seven heavens, the skies, and earth, along with the Pen and the Preserved Tablet

  2. The creation of Jibril AS

  3. The creation of Adam AS and Hawwa

  4. Allah enables Adam AS to live in paradise

  5. The first instance of rain on the earth


Ashura was likewise a significant day for the prophets and messengers as it was the day when Allah gave the good news to His prophets after they passed His test:

  1. Allah raised Isa AS and Sayyiduna Idris AS to the heavens

  2. Allah accepted Adam's repentance AS and forgave him

  3. Yusuf AS was released from prison

  4. Allah forgave the people of Yunus AS

  5. Ibrahim AS was saved from the cauldron of fire

  6. Ayyub AS completed his test

  7. The Ark of Nuh AS rested on Mount Judi

  8. Sulayman AS was given his kingdom

  9. Musa AS was given the miracle of splitting the Red Sea such that he and his followers were saved from Fir’aun whose soldiers drowned in an attempt to cross the Red Sea


Ashura is also believed to be a dark time in Islamic history as Sayyidina Hussain RA, the grandson of our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW, is conceived to have been tragically martyred while fighting for liberation from tyranny.


There are also pre-Islamic customs related to the day of Ashura.


Aishah RA, the wife of the Prophet SAW, narrated that it was a custom of the Quraysh and people of Makkah, including the Prophet SAW, to fast on the day of Ashura. Even when he, SAW, migrated to Madinah, the Prophet SAW found that a group of the “People of the Book” were also fasting on that day. Rasulullah SAW asked them why they were fasting and they answered that it was a blessed day for it was the day when Allah had protected the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt). Prophet Musa AS had also fasted on that day to express his gratitude for Allah. Upon listening to this, the Prophet SAW recommended his companions to sustain this noble act as Muslims believe in all the prophets of Allah AS.


Furthermore, Imam Ibn Rajab, a scholar, stated that Muharram is the next month in which to fast after Ramadan. In a hadith by Imam Muslim, Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: the Prophet SAW said that “The best month for observing Saum (fasting) next after Ramadan is the month of Allah, the Muharram; and the best Salat (prayer) next after the prescribed Salat is Salat at night (Tahajjud prayers).” (Riyad as-Salihin, Book 8, Hadith 256). Ibn Abbas RA announced that Rasulullah SAW prioritised fasting on Ashura over any other day, apart from the days in Ramadan. He further stated that he had never seen Rasulullah SAW so eager to fast, like he was for Ashura, prioritising it besides Ramadan (Hadith by Imam Al-Bukhari).


The Prophet SAW said, "Whoever wishes may fast on the day of 'Ashura'.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 30, Hadith 105) Thus, it is voluntary (sunnah) to fast on Ashura.


Day of ‘Arafah

The day of 'Arafah falls on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah. It is on this very day that pilgrims gather at the mountain plain of 'Arafah and pray to their Lord. A hadith by Abu Dawud declares that ‘Hajj is Arafah', implying that ‘Arafah is the entirety and essence of Hajj. (Jami`at-Tirmidhi, Book 47, Hadith 3241)


The day of ‘Arafah is also notable as declared in this ayah of surah Al-Ma’idah: "This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion." (Al-Qur’an, 5:3)


It is a recommended sunnah for those who are not pilgrims to fast on this day. The Prophet SAW was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Arafah and he declared: "Fasting on the day of ‘Arafah expiates the sins of the past year and the coming year." (Sahih Darussalam, Book 7, Hadith 1802)


The Prophet SAW also stated that "There is no day on which Allah frees people from the fire more so than on the day of 'Arafah." (Riyad as-Salihin, Book 10, Hadith 7)


Lastly, Prophet Muhammad SAW had announced that it is on this day when Allah, the Most Exalted, descends to the nearest heaven. For He is proud of His servants on the earth, asking those in the heavens to look at his servants who had come from far and near, with hair dishevelled and faces covered with dust, to seek His Mercy.


Allah states that even if their sins are as much the sand or the froth of the sea, He shall forgive them. (Mishkat al-Masabih, Book 9, Hadith 174)


Nisfu Sya’ban

The fifteenth night of Sya`ban, also known as Laylat al-Nisf min Sya`ban or “the eve of the middle day of Sya`ban”, is one of the most exceptional nights of each year. In Islam, the night precedes the day. Thus, it is the night of the fourteenth day of Sya`ban.


`Ata’ bin Yasar said that there is no night more honourable than Nifsu Sya`ban except Laylat al-Qadr. Its greatness is due to the divine rewards that are bestowed throughout the night.


On the fifteenth night of Sya`ban, Sayyidah `A’ishah discerned that the Messenger of Allah AS had left her house. She went out to find him and discovered him in Baqi` graveyard raising his arms to the heavens in prayer. He told her that on that night, Allah forgives more people than there are hairs on a sheep of the Kalb tribe.


He AS also stated that on that night, Allah gazes upon His creation and then forgives everyone except for two types of people:

  1. Those who attribute partners to Allah

  2. Those who have rancour for their fellow Muslims [1]


The Prophet SAW said that whenever this night arrives, we should fill it with prayer and fast the next day because truly Allah calls out to His slaves from sunset until dawn:


“Is there no one who will ask Me for forgiveness, that I may forgive him? Is there no one who will ask Me for provision, that I may provide for him? Is there no one who is afflicted by trouble, that I may relieve him?” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book 5, Hadith 1451)


Moreover, Al-Imam Ibn Kathir in Al-Bidayah Wan-Nihayah, mentioned the bulk of scholars are inclined to believe that the 15th of Sya'ban was the date when the qiblah changed.


The qiblah in the earlier days of the Prophet’s time was initially towards the Baitul-Maqdis, the holy city where Masjid Al-Aqsa is until Allah SWT later revealed to His beloved Prophet SAW approximately 18 months after the Hijrah (pilgrimage):


“We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a qiblah with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer].” (Al-Qur’an, 2:144)


In conclusion, these are some interesting facts regarding some monumental dates in the Hijri Calendar. I hope that these facts may benefit you in one way or another!


References:

[1] Narrated Ibn Majah: https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah/5/588

https://muslim.sg/articles/fasting-on-the-day-of-ashura

https://www.almustafatrust.org/muharram/

http://lifeasilookatit.blogspot.com/2011/07/blessings-of-night-of-mid-shaaban-nisfu.html

https://azislam.com/importance-nisfu-shaban

https://www.imamghazali.org/blog/nisf-shaban-muhammad-alawi

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