Fatwas Related to Customs, Traditions, and Bid’ah
(Maulana A S Desai)
FATWASQ. Please comment on the custom of giving gifts on the 10th of Muharram.
A. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“He who expands on his family in the matter of nafqah (house expenses) on the day of Aashuraa’, Allah will expand on him throughout the remaining part of the year.”
Aashuraa’ is the 10th of Muharram. In the aforementioned Hadith the term ‘was-sa-ah’ derived fromthe root word tausee’, has been translated as ‘expand’. The words ‘lavish’ and ‘generous’ do not convey appropriately its meaning. In the context of this Hadith, the term means: spending more than usual. In other words, a bit lavishly, with greater generosity but without waste. The authorities of the Shariah, (the Akaabir Ulama) have restricted the lavish expenditure of this day to food. We are required to spend a bit more on food and provide delicious dishes for the family on this day.
The issue of providing more delicious food or spending more than usual on food on this day, has different meanings for different communities and for even different families in the same community. Most nations have what is called a staple food which they consume throughout the year. The overwhelming majority of people live in poverty and cannot afford sumptuous dishes. For such people the meaning of the Hadith is quite simple and clear. The man in the house should endeavour to bring more than the usual staple diet. Poor people who perhaps eat meat a couple of times a year, will truly appreciate and relish the sumptuous meal. As far as the vast majority of the Ummah is concerned, the Hadith is fully relevant. The father/husband should endeavour to bring extra food home for the Day of Aashuraa’.
However, in the context of an affluent society which daily enjoys big meals and sumptuous food, the question of bringing in extra food and more delicious food does not apply. Every day we eat the best of food. Delicious food has become such a norm on a daily basis in our affluent society that there is a dilemma on the day of Eid — what should be prepared on Eid days? Since we eat lavishly and luxuriously and gluttonous every day of the year, the question of ‘expanding’ in the matter of food or serving lavishly or having more sumptuous dishes does not relate to us whether on Aashuraa’ day or on Eid days.
It is on account of the inability to become ‘lavish’ in the matter of food on the Day of Aashuraa’ that shallow-minded learned men and learned men with pecuniary and commercial interests have taken advantage of the ignorance and gullibility of the public. Their worldly and nafsaani interests and motives have constrained them to invent a new bid’ah. They have now introduced the bid’ ah of buying and exchanging gifts for the family on Aashuraa’ day. This is a new custom which people have introduced in emulation of kuffaar practices. And, they have done so solely for worldly motives.
The kuffaar serve their pecuniary and worldly interests by the introduction of practices which they hoist on gullible consumer-indoctrinated public. People have become the slaves of their nafs. Mass advertising has taken a disastrous toll on the brains of ignorant and unwary people driven like dumb animals by the nafs. In this regard the kuffaar started off with birthdays and gradually progressed to mother’s day, father’s day, this day and that day. All these days are commercial days to strip stupid people of their money. Following this kuffaar trend, radio molvis of baatil are now advertising ‘Aashuraa’ Day’ as a day of gifts like Christmas day, Valentine’s day, Mother’s day, Father’s day, Uncle’s day and Shaitaan’s day. After all, what better can be expected of shaitaan’s radio appendages?
Muslims should understand that this bid’ah of Aashuraa’ being a day to buy gifts is a haraam custom executed in emulation of the kuffaar. It is not permissible to indulge in these un-Islamic practices. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that Muslims will emulate the kuffaar so thoroughly that if they (the kuffaar) had to creep into a lizard’s hole, Muslims too will follow them into the hole thinking that it is an act of honour, This is precisely what is happening in this age. Every baseless and nafsaani custom of the kuffaar is imitated. An Islamic hue is given to the kuffaar practice to hoodwink the masses into acceptance.
Muslims who due to their affluence are unable to increase the lavishness of their food, should think of their poor and less fortunate brothers and sisters in other parts of the world or in their own towns and cities. Spend on them lavishly on the Day of Aashuraa’ and gain their heartfelt dua as well as the thawaab of Sadqah. But to indulge in the haraam and wasteful gift custom is a deception of shaitaan and a new bid’ah.At least all adult Muslims will understand that a couple of years ago there never existed this confounded ‘gift-custom’ on 10th Muharram. The senior Ulama had never propagated this custom. Worldly molvis who are destroying the morals of the community are the originators of this custom of giving and exchanging gifts on the Day of Aashuraa’.Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
‘Whoever clings to my Sunnah at the time of the corruption of my Ummah will obtain the reward of a hundred martyrs (shuhada).’ Close Answer
Q. Some learned people say that it is Sunnat to give the family presents on the 10th Muharram. Is this correct?
A. In terms of the Hadith, one should be somewhat lavish with food on the Day of Aashura (10th Muharram). But in our context, how are we going to be `lavish’ with food, when daily there is an excess of delicious food in our homes? We are killing our bodies and our souls with excessive indulgence in delicious foods and in destructive delicacies everyday of our lives. We devour food like animals, hence the many sicknesses from which we suffer nowadays. In a society where people are poor and they find it difficult to serve delicious foods even on the Days of Eid, the Hadith will have full application among such people. The practice of giving presents on 10th Muharram is not a Sunnat custom. To observe it as a Sunnat will be bid’ah.
Q. What is the Masnoon fasting during the month of Muharram?
A. Ashura is the 10th of Muharram. It is Sunnah to fast on either the 10th and 11th Muharram OR on 9th and 10th Muharram.
Q. In our community I am the only one who follows actual sighting of the moon for determining the Islamic months. The whole community follows the Saudi announcement. What should I do in such a scenario regarding Ramadhaan, Eid, and also 15th Sha'baan and Ashura in Muharram?
A. As far as Eid is concerned, one or two persons cannot celebrate it alone in isolation of the community. The Shariah has guidelines and rules for all situations.
(1) If you alone in the whole community see the hilaal of Ramadhaan, but your testimony is not accepted by the Jamaat of your place, hence officially for the community the next day will not be Ramadhaan. Nevertheless, you should fast the next day.
(2) In the scenario mentioned in No.1 above, there is the probability that you will have to fast 31 days because it is possible that at the end of the community’s 29th day (which is your 30th day of fasting) the moon is not sighted. Hence, the next day will be the community’s 30th day while it will be yours 31st Day. You are required by the Shariah to fast this 31st day. You cannot celebrate Eid alone.
(3) Assuming that you alone saw the hilaal of Shawwaal, but your testimony was rejected and the community regards the next day as the last day of Ramadhaan. Then too you have to fast and believe that there was an error in your sighting.
(4) As far as Muharram is concerned, fasting on the Day of Aashura is not a communal act of Ibaadat. If you saw the hilaal of Muharram, but not the others, then you may act according to your sighting, and fast when it is the 10th according to your calculation.
(5) The same explanation as No. 4 applies for Sha’baan.
Q. I have been told that it is not permissible to marry during the months of Muharram and Safar. Is this true?
A. It is perfectly permissible to get married in Muharram and Safar. It is not permissible to believe what you have been told.
Q. Is marriage during the month of Muharram sinful?
A. It is in fact sinful to believe that marriage in Muharram is sinful. This erroneous belief stems from Shi’ism.