Embodying Unity on Ashura

Ashura is the 10th day of Muharram, and falls in the sacred month of Allah.  It is one of the most important days in the Islamic calendar, on which miracles were performed by Allah such as the parting of the Red Sea for Musa (as) and saving Yunus (as) from the whale. You can draw inspiration from the legacy of the Prophets or learn lessons from mankind on Ashura.

There is also a focus on unity on this day. It is embedded in the stories of Nuh (as) and Prophet Musa (as) as they led their people to safety. Although our tests are different to those of our ancestors, we can still embody this spirit of unity of Ashura, and come together to climb higher.

Those that fast together, stay together 

Fasting on Ashura is a sunnah of the Prophet (saw) but originated from the time of Prophet Musa (as). One hadith narrates that, when asked about Ashura, Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: ‘This is a tremendous day. Allah saved Musa and his people on this day and drowned Pharaoh and his people. Musa fasted it out of thanks, so we fast it too….’ (Bukhari).

The hadith goes on to say that the Messenger (saw) fasted this day, and ordered that it be fasted. The reward of doing so is that Allah (swt) will forgive your sins from the previous year.

Many of us are aware of the reward of fasting on Ashura. However, this year, we would like you to take it up a notch and encourage others to fast with you. Fast with your loved ones, friends, colleagues or even your neighbours. You can make it that extra bit special by not only fasting together but breaking fast together too.

Here’s a few ways you can make it an iftar to remember:

  • Have a themed iftar encouraging people to dress up
  • One dish each – ask guests to bring a dish representing a different part of the world
  • Al fresco – Weather permitting, take your iftar outside: have a garden party or a BBQ
  • Dine out – If you’ve always wanted to try a new spot, then book a table with a group of friends!
  • Try a new recipe – Been eyeing up for a recipe? Now is your chance to try it out.
  • A competitive iftar – Combine games night with iftar – Turn the heat up!

You can also earn extra rewards by feeding a fasting person. You can do this by inviting family or friends around to have iftar with you, or to make extra and share with your neighbours. You can also donate food to your local mosque if they are having a communal iftar.

The Prophet (saw) said: “Whoever gives iftar to one who is fasting will have a reward like his, without that detracting from the reward of the fasting person in the slightest.”  (al-Tirmidhi)

Fill your pockets, by emptying them

Would you grab the opportunity for Allah to be generous to you for an entire year? Well, then, now is your chance. How generous is our Lord, that to reap his generosity, all you need to is be generous to your family!

The Prophet (saw) ’One who generously spends on his family on the day of ‘Ashura, Allah will be generous on him for the entire year’. [Tabarani]

If you’ve been waiting to buy your loved ones something, then there is no greater day than Ashura to buy. You will not only put a smile on their face, but you will also be bestowed with generosity from Allah for an entire year. If you can, then spend within your means to treat your family, A heartfelt gift dosen’t always need to cost the earth. It’s the thought that counts!

You can also pool together to gift one member of your family a present, be it a parent or a sibling. It’s cost effective, and you are working together to earn His pleasure. The Prophet (saw) would accept gifts and reward people for giving them.

Get a year’s worth, on a single day

If someone asked you to give charity, every single day for an entire year you may be hesitant, and rightfully so. A year is a long time, and that dedication would take some bravery. But we can earn the reward of it, without doing it. Just give on the Day of Ashura, and you could receive the reward for giving for an entire year.

“On the authority of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘As (ra) that he said, “Whoever fasts ‘Ashura’ it is as if he has fasted the entire year. And whoever gives charity this day it is like the charity of an entire year”. (Ibn Rajab’s Lata’if al-Ma‘arif)

The unity that is displayed on Ashura by our ancestors, can be embodied today. They worked together, to save themselves, save others and to earn His Pleasure. Nowadays we don’t have to make such great sacrifices, but we are still able to maximise our rewards.  Although charity is often an act we do in private, if it encourages others to give, then you can share your actions. You don’t have to detail the amounts you have given, but you can encourage and remind others of the reward, and pool together to hit a milestone.

It’s never been easier to raise funds, with the use of social media. One like, comment and share can inspire someone to donate, and you will be the one that is rewarded.

There’s no greater time to show unity than on Ashura. A time to show up for those who have no one looking out for them. One a day where our ancestors were brave, and strong willed, be the one who uplifts those within our community who are isolated and ignored.

For Ashura and beyond

The Day of Ashura falls within the first month of the lunar year. A time where new beginnings are on the horizon. The essence of unity that fills the memory of this day is something we can capture and use in our everyday lives. Although we are connected through every device that lingers on our footsteps, we are also more disconnected than ever. As a family unit, a community, a society and an ummah, the essence of unity is what brings us together, keeps us strong and full of life.

Use the Day of Ashura, as a marker of connection. Make that extra effort to uplift, to invite someone over, to grab a coffee, to pick up the phone, to check in and to offer space.

Find time to be brave, and unified in the little moments of your day. And soon enough, your heart will be filled with the bravery of our ancestors!