“We say “Allahu akbar” when we pray. God is greater. Greater than what? Everything. And yet, as soon as we start to pray, what do we think about? Our heart and mind seem to say: “My job Akbar” “My family akbar” “What I’m doing tonight akbar”. It is human nature to be imperfect. But we should be humbled by the deficient salah we hand Allah every single day, and keep struggling. And, thus we end salah with 3 heart felt “astaghfirAllah”—Yasmina Mogahed
“Sitting in a congregation mosque to me is better than sitting in paradise, for when I am sitting in paradise I am well pleased, but when I sit in the mosque, my Lord is well pleased.”—Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (as)
“When you get to know someone or something closely you will also get to know their ugliness. Why? Because nothing is perfect. So the only thing you can fall in love with which is perfect is Allah (swt).”—Khalil Jaffer
Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. It’s the beginning of a new start where we pray to Allah to forgive our sins from the past year, and to also make this following year immersed in His remembrance and filled with Taqwa.
Muharram also is an important month rich with lessons about the sacrifice of the grandson of the Prophet, Imam Hussein (as). Every year, many people come together to commemorate these nights to take lessons of where they can apply them to their daily lives. Below is one story that was mentioned in one of the books narrating the story of Karbala which contained a lesson for me:
The day before the war in Karbala began, Umar-ibn-said sent a messenger with a letter of request for Imam Hussein to make allegiance to Yazid. The messenger arrived close to the Imam’s tent and was faced with a guard. They haven’t mentioned in history who the guard of the tent was, but it was usually the Imam’s brother, Hadrateh Abbas.
Messengers were not allowed inside the tent until they turned in their weapons (typically a sword). The harder part of turning it in was dealing with Hadrateh Abbas and his frown as he watched them walk in. The first messenger couldn’t deal with facing Hadrateh Abbas and out of fright fled.
Umar-ibn-said was forced to send another messenger. This time this messenger turned in his weapon and was allowed to step into the Imam’s tent. He handed the letter to Imam Hussein (as) and just stood there staring at the Imam. The Imam tells him that if you have given your message, leave. The messenger’s legs start to tremble and his heart felt stuck, and as a result, he wasn’t able to leave. He tells the Imam, “I’ve just found you, where am I going to go?”.
This messenger stayed and became one of the martyrs of Karbala.
We don’t know what just one look of Imam Hussein did to him. All we know is that he had turned in his sword and entered the tent of Imam Hussein.
Sometimes, difficulties that we feel that religion is causing us- either the hardship of refraining from haraam, or performing our wajib, like enjoining the good and forbidding the evil- all of it is the difficulty of one second. That one second where you want to turn in your weapon and lower our guard. The one second we stop challenging everything and do what Allah wants us to do
If you ask an Arabic speaker what is the word for “stop” is in arabic, you will notice that their reply sounds so familiar, since that word comes from the root of the word “Tawqa.” It means put a stop to sins and anything from your lower nafs.
This is the key to our problems is the moment we don’t stop and think before we perform an action. The second before we yell back at someone, the second before we backbite, the second before we disobey our parents, the second before we play haraam music, the second before we snooze in and miss our fajr prayer – these are all the seconds we should have paused before we disobeyed Our Creator and lost a chance to attain a higher level of taqwa.
Insha’Allah this Muharram we learn when to put down our swords and weapons and turn to be true submitters of Allah.