The tenth of Muharram is known as the day of Aashura. This is a very auspicious day in the Islamic calendar. Prior to the fast of Ramadhaan becoming compulsory, fasting on the day of Aashura was fardh (obligatory). After the fast of Ramadhaan became compulsory, fasting on the day of Aashura was optional. Nevertheless, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) punctually kept the fast of Aashura and encouraged others to do the same. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “The fast of Aashura compensates for the (minor) sins of the past year” (Tirmizi).
“OPPOSE THE JEWS”
While reaping the virtues of fasting on the day of Aashura, an important lesson is emphasised by means of this fast. This is the lesson of firmly maintaining one’s Islamic identity at all times, totally refraining from imitating the kuffaar (disbelievers) and even avoiding any resemblance with them as far as possible. When Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was informed that the Jews also fast on the tenth of Muharram, he instructed the Sahaaba (R.A.) thus: “Fast on the ninth and tenth, thereby opposing the Jews” (Tirmizi). It is obvious that the Sahaaba (R.A.) were not observing the fast of Aashura in order to imitate the Jews. It was a sheer coincidence that the Jews also were found to be observing this fast. Nevertheless, since this unintentional resemblance was avoidable by keeping an additional fast together with the tenth, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) asked the Sahaaba (R.A.) to fast on the ninth as well. Therefore one should not fast only on the tenth as due to the resemblance with the Jews, this will be makrooh tanzihi (a disliked act).
THE CURSE OF ALLAH TA’ALA
Imitating “others,” which is known as tashabbuh, is completely forbidden. So abhorred is this practice that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has declared: “The one who imitates a nation is from amongst them” (Abu Dawood). Even one gender imitating the other has been denounced. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “Allah Ta’ala’s curse be upon those women who imitate men (in their appearance, dressing, actions, etc.) and upon those men who imitate women” (Muslim). Thus to adopt the distinct style, fashion and way of the kuffaar in any aspect of life will be tashabbuh, and thus Haraam.
Imitating the kuffaar can occur in any and every aspect of life. However, the most obvious and apparent is in the aspect of appearance and dressing. The aspect of appearance and dressing is not a trivial matter. The banning of Muslim girls in some countries from wearing scarves to school speaks volumes of the fact that Islamic dressing and appearance have a great impact on others. Hence they wish to ban the visible identity of Muslims.
Thus when the dressing and appearance taught by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is not adhered to, and the kuffaar are imitated, at times it becomes difficult or even impossible to distinguish a Muslim from a Jew, Christian or an atheist. One would not even venture to make salaam since one would not know whether the person is Yusuf or some John, Fathima or some Jane.
LOVE TO RESEMBLE RASULULLAH (SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WASALLAM)
The Fast of Aashura highlights the importance of avoiding any resemblance to the Jews and Christians. No person prefers to resemble the one who is his enemy. Rather, he will prefer to resemble those whom he loves. A true follower of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) will love to resemble, in fact imitate, his beloved. He would love to be identified with Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), not with those who are the enemies of Islam and the Muslims.
WHO DO WE RESEMBLE?
Therefore one should calmly consider the following: Does a Muslim choking in his tie and suit resemble the leader of all mankind, Sayyidina Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), or does he resemble the leaders of Israel and America?? Does a Muslim youngster in his designer jeans and T-shirt (with the “hottest” fashion label emblazoned across) resemble the leader of the youth of Jannah, Sayyidina Hassan and Husain (R.A.), or does he resemble the immoral playboys of the West? Does a Muslim woman clad in her tops and pants, or other tight-fitting garments and Western fashions, resemble the pure and chaste daughters and wives of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) or is she closer in resemblance to the shameless women of the decadent West? Does such dressing identify one with Muslims or with the enemies of Islam and the Muslims?
TEACHER AND CLOWN
In everyday life one could possibly imitate many people. A teacher could go to school and imitate a clown in his dressing and behaviour. However, he does not do so since such imitation, or even resemblance, is demeaning for a teacher. Indeed he will dress as a teacher dresses. Likewise, every Muslim and true follower of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is a teacher and an inviter to Islam by his actions and deeds. He will not imitate or resemble those who are astray and thus appear to be one of them. He will conduct every aspect of his life from eating, sleeping and dressing to aspects of marriage, business or even running the state — in the manner that an inviter to Islam must conduct himself. A true Mu’min and an inviter to Islam can only choose to imitate Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and adopt his teachings.
Thus while observing the fast of Aashura, let us take this important lesson and totally shun imitating the Jews and Christians. Let us adhere to resembling Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), the Sahaaba (R.A.) and pious people of the Ummah. In this lies our success of this world and the Hereafter.