FRIDAY DISCOURSE

AKRA FM, April 14, 2000

Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN

THE DAY OF ASHURA

As-salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh!

My Dear Brothers and Sisters, I wish you a blessed Friday. May Allah SWT bestow you all the good things in this world and in the hereafter.

a. Fasting on the Day of Ashûra

Friday is the most valuable of the blessed days for Muslims. This specific Friday is the ninth day of Muharram 1421. We observed the first day of the new Hegira year nine days ago. May it bring good things for all of you, your loved ones, friends and relatives. Tomorrow is the tenth day of Muharram, which is also known as the Day of Ashûra.

Our Prophet (pbuh) recommended fasting on the Day of Ashûra. He used to fast on the Day of Ashûra even before emigrating to Madina. He continued doing so in Madina, as well. I would like to read some ahadith about the Day of Ashura and remind you the rewards of fasting on the Day of Ashûra.

The first hadith is among the collection by Ibn-i Asakir, Ibn-i Jarîr and Ahmad ibn-i Hanbal (May Allah bless them all). The Prophet said:

RE. 309/4 (Smû yawma àshûrâ'e wa khàlifû fîhil-yahûda wa smû qablahû yawman wa ba'dehû yawman)

This is one of the ahadith recommending the fasting on the Day of Ashûra. In Turkish we pronounce the word with a short "a" in the beginning. In Arabic, all of the syllabi are prolonged: "Àshûrâ'e." It means the tenth day of the month of Muharram. From a historical point of view, there were nice events that happened on this day. These events involved some prophets including Prophet Adam, Noah, and Moses -- peace be upon them all. That is why fasting on this day is a good practice.

The Prophet said, (Smû yawma àshûrâ'e) "Fast on the day of Ashûra, (wa khàlifû fîhil-yahûda) but oppose the Jews."

The Jews would, too, fast on the Day of Ashûra in observance of the escape of Prophet Moses and his people from the Pharaoh. It is not limited to Prophet Moses; Prophet Noah's ark landed on a mountain on the Day of Ashûra, too. It had significance from earlier times. That is why the Jews would fast on the Day of Ashûra. Yet, to prevent any rumors or false impressions by the Jews, such as "Muslims are imitating us," the Prophet added, (khàlifû fîhil-yahûda) "Be different from the Jews. (Wa smû qablahû yawman wa ba'dehû yawman) You fast the preceding day and the following day, also." That is he recommended fasting the ninth and eleventh days of Muharram to be different from the Jews.

As Muslims, we accept all of the prophets from Adam (pbuh) to Muhammad (pbuh) including Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them all). We know that they were prophets, the messengers of Allah SWT., not ordinary people. Some ancient ummahs failed to recognize some prophets such as Solomon and David (peace be upon them). They were, too, the messengers of Allah. We testify and accept these prophets, and thus we are an important Ummah.

People who believe in other religions, the grandchildren of people who followed the previous prophets, have modified the teachings of their prophets. we are here to correct them. Allah informed us through the Prophet about the flaws in their paths, "They were wrong in such matters; their action deserves My displeasure." The Qur'an also indicate the flaws in their beliefs. These people should listen to the Qur'an and the Ahadith to correct themselves. They have to abandon their false beliefs, stubbornness, insolence and mismanners.

Our path is the pure path of Prophet Abraham (pbuh); it is not corrupted. We have followed it for many centuries with no modifications. Our Prophet (pbuh) stated that he belong to the (millata ibrâhîma hanîfâ) the pure nation of Abraham. Our way is not a blind imitation; we follow the most straight path. Our Prophet wanted this point emphasized. That is why he recommends fasting a day before and after Ashûra.

There are other ahadith on this issue. For instance, in Daylamî's collections, there is a hadith reported by Abdullah ibn-i Amr RA:

RE. 426/6 (Man sàma yawmaz-zînati adraka mâ fâtahû min siyâmis-seneti, ya'nî yawma àshûrâ') "If a person fasts on the Day of Zînat, he would complete the fasts he missed in the other days of the year. The Day of Zînat means the Day of Ashûra."

There are recommended fasts throughout the year, for example, fasting in the month of Dhul-Hijjah, on the day of Arafah, and in the month of Shawwal. A person may miss these supererogatory fasting during these days because of traveling or sickness. If he fasts on the Day of Ashûra, he will receive rewards for all the fasting he missed. That is why the Prophet emphasized fasting on the Day of Ashûra.

In this hadith we notice another point. The Day of Ashûra has another name: (yawm az-zînat) Day of Zînat. That means it is a day to put on nice clothes and ornaments. It is a day of festivity.

About Ashûra, there is another hadith reported by Salamatubnul-Aqwa' and another companion. It is included in the collections of Ahmad ibn-i Hanbal, Bukhari, Muslim, and Tirmidhî. One morning the Prophet had it announced to the companions:

RE. 67/4 (Adh-dhin fin-nâsi an man kâna akala falyasum baqiyyata yawmihî, wa man lam yakun akala falyasum, fa-innal-yawma yawmu àshûrâ'.) The prophet asked perhaps to Bilal al-Habashî or another companion with ha strong voice: "Announce to people that those who have eaten something, should fast the rest of the day." Even if the person did not have the intention of fasting the night before and had some breakfast that morning will fast for the rest of the day to receive rewards. The prophet continued, "Those who have not eaten anything should fast today because today is the Day of Ashûra." This means fasting on the Day of Ashûra is a very good deed.

I would like to remind my brothers and sisters that in Islam there are days for optional fasting outside of Ramadhan. The Day of Ashûra is one of them. Fasting on these days are also very rewarding. Khatib-i Baghdadî included in his collection the following hadith which was reported by Sahl ibn-i Sa'ad and Abu Hureyra:

RE. 426/4 (Man sàma yawman tatawwu'an lam yat-tali' alayhi ahadun lam yardal-làhu lahû bithawâbin dûnal-jannah.) "If a person fast one day without letting anybody know and with the intention of receiving the pleasure of Allah and rewards, Allah would reward him with nothing but the paradise." If a person observed spiritual requirements of fasting along with the physical requirements, Allah will reward him with the paradise.

This is the reason I often remind my brothers and sisters about fasting on days other than Ramadhan. There are many ahadith on the pages 104, 125 and 426 of the hadith collection Ramuz-ul Ahadith. I recommend reading these ahadith and observe fasting accordingly.

Coming back to the first hadith, we are recommended to fast on this Day of Ashûra. to be different from the Jews, we should also fast on the eleventh day of Muharram. These days fall on the weekend which is another incentive to fast--you do not have to go to work. The whole household could fast and earn rewards altogether. I hope you also remember me in your prayers.

b. Bounty at home on the Day of Ashûra

Another point which I want to remind you about the day of Ashûra is that it is good to bring home plenty of food, fruit, and other sustenance for the family and children on that day. I would like to read two ahadith about this. The first one was related by Abu Said Al-Houdri (RA) and quoted by Tayâlisî and Mawahibu Ladunniyya, also related by Ibn Mas'ud (RA) and Abu Hurayra (RA) and quoted by Ibn Abdilbar, Ibn Hibban, Baihakî and Ibn Adiy. The Prophet (pbuh) said:

RE 446/5 (Man wassa'a alâ iyâlihî fi yawmi âshûra'e wassa' Allahu alayhi fi sanatihi kulliha) "Whoever provides his household with plenitude, i.e., abundance of foodstuff and clothing for the members of family on the day of Ashûra, Allah (S.T) bestows upon him barakat and abundance in the rizq all year around."

Another hadith on the same subject was related by Jabir (RA):

(Man wassa'a ala nafsihi wa ahlihi yawma âshûra, wassa' Allahu Alayhi sa'ira sanatihi) "Whoever provides bounty for himself and for his family on the day of Ashûra, i.e. if he provides food, drink and clothing in abundance, Allah (ST) bestows upon him barakat and abundance during the rest of the year. Thus, on the day of Ashûra we will go shopping and fill the bags.

We should use non-transparent carrier bags while shopping. In the past, our grandfathers did not approve to show the things bought just because those who couldn't buy might long for them. They used to bring home food in non-transparent carriers or special solid shopping bags called "zanbil." They behaved conscientiously not to let the poor say,

"Look, there are grapes in the bag! Here, they have apples! See those colorful fruits and vegetables! I wish I could have them!" What a graceful and kind attitude! They would even paint windows of the restaurants on the street sides. This was not to sadden those who couldn't afford to eat in. This was an old tradition.

When they cooked a meal they would send some to their neighbors saying, "They must have had the smell and would like to taste it Take this dish to them and that one to our other neighbor." Or when fruits arrived at home in baskets, they would distribute some of it to those who had seen it as a "right of sight."

Of course, additionally we have a traditional dessert with a nice flavor for the day of Ashûra prepared with wheat, raisins, nuts, an pieces of dried fig and apricot. This is still made at homes and shortly called Ashûra. To gain reward from Allah (ST) it is distributed to the neighbors. This is a good tradition. We continue this beautiful tradition of our grandfathers on one hand while we make Muslim brothers and sisters happy on the other hand. Therefore, you would make such beautiful desserts and serve them to your neighbors in bowls and dishes. Exchanging gifts helps affection increase among Muslims. Affection is very important in Islam. It is very important to have affection among Muslims. Good relations between neighbors, love and respect among members of family and nation and solidarity are very important.

c. We should Get to Know the Countries around Us

May Allah be pleased with Ottomans because during their time people from different races and languages, Muslims and non-Muslims lived in peace for over 600 years.

Nowadays, I have been reading newly published documents about Ottomans. It is very interesting: Ukraine which used to be part of the Soviet Union until not too long ago, was our neighbor once. The Black Sea used to be a Muslim lake because Muslims were living from Romaine to Crimea. Ships used to go to Crimea and to Danube river from the southern coasts of the Black Sea..

Prof. Necati Husnu Lugal, May Allah be pleased with him, was from Trabzon (a city on the black sea coast, in northeastern Turkey). He used to say "My grandfather used to transport good via Danube river by ships. However, now we are not able to do it." In other words, Black Sea Regional Economical Union was already formed long time ago by the Ottomans.

A man from Ukraine said, "It was not good to help Russians against Ottomans." Two historians at an international conference said, "It was a big mistake to help Russians against Ottomans. If we had been with Ottomans, our future would have been much better."

This is very interesting and important for me. We do not study the countries and nations around us well. In other words, we do not know their mentality, their thoughts, their feelings, and what they think about us. If we seriously study other nations around us, we will see how many people really like us. Also, we will know who are our real friend and foes. We would get together with those who are close to us.

All mankind are brothers of each other. All of us are the children of Adam (AS). We should have established good ties with the nations around us in the 20th century. Let us study other nations better. Those who listen to or read this should pay attention to this issue.

I usually tell my students: "Learn the language of other nations who are around us." We did not study the Caucuses, Balkans, and Africa which were under our rule for long time. We could not prevent the growth of hostilities and enmities towards us. We could not stop the gangs from getting organized to divide the Ottoman country. Still, there are many enemies among us who want to divide our countries. We have to be alert and take necessary precautions towards this kind of people.

We should take advantage of every friendship opportunity with others so that our world will be a peaceful place. We should work hard towards peace. These wars, injustice, killings, ethnic cleansing, tears must stop.

Faith, fear of God, belief in the Day of Judgment will stop these bad things. Those who says: "I will be taken accountable for whatever I do" can stop all the bad things in this world.

Therefore, let us increase our interest to nations close to us. Let us follow everything carefully and take advantage of each opportunity for peace. If things are going in negative direction, we should prepare ourselves.

In the recent news, it was sad to hear the killing of two people who were fanatic supporter of a soccer team. It is also sad that other side want to take revenge due to this incidence. We have to follow these kind of news carefully. How do we prevent these kind of sad incidences? How do we increase the good friendships? We all are responsible to answer these questions. We have to consider possibilities and work hard towards peace.

We, Muslims, have more responsibility because we live not only for ourselves but also for our society. We live for Islam, for goodness of our brothers and sisters around the world even we want goodness of all mankind. That is why an issue that concerns a Pakistani also concerns us. All countries, India, Kashmir, Malaysia, China.. are important for us.

Now, I am telling some of my friends, "Some of our children should be experts on China" because China has an important part of world population and is developing very fast. Therefore, I say "I would learn Chinese if I were younger." I would recommend learning Chinese. China is not too far away from us.

I had told some friends to learn the languages of Central Asian republics. Some brothers worked hard, alhamdulillah; some even wrote books about those languages.

Languages of our neighbors, Greece, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Caucuses, and others are also important. We need to work hard towards having good relations with our neighboring countries.

I am proposing to have friendship organizations for each country. Whichever country you feel close to, you should take part in these organizations. Let us spread the friendship around the world. Let us explain everyone the brotherhood of mankind.

Good things to this world will come through those who have faith and mercy, in other words, through Muslims. Others are trying to initiate wars among nations so that they can sell more weapons and make more money. They do a lot of injustice in many places. We are not sure about the events happening in Africa or South America, yet we observe better what is going on in Balkans and Caucuses.

Today's so-called "modern" or "civilized" people are materialists, and they only think about making more money. We Muslims are the only ones who will be beneficial to mankind. Therefore, we should know our duties and work accordingly my dear brothers and sisters.

As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

April 14, 2000 -- Australia