Chapter 2: The General Rituals Of Islam Rituals Of Specific Days And Nights
1. The Night of Qadr
2. ‘Id al-fiṭr and ‘Id al-AﬁṭHā
3. Thursday Night and Friday
4. The Four NightsThe Four Nights
5. Day of ‘Ashūrā'
6. ‘AshūRā' and the Umayyads
7. Other Days
Islam has defined certain laws and duties to be performed as religious rituals on specified days and nights. For all Muslims, the first of Shawwal (‘Id al-Fitr), the tenth of Dhu’l-Hijjah (‘Id al-Adhha), and Fridays are known to be days of performing certain Islamic rituals. On the first two days, considered the most celebrated feast days in Islam, a prayer similar to the congregational Friday Prayer is offered, but with a slight difference.
The ritual sermon is delivered after completing the prayer, while the sermon of the Friday Prayer is delivered prior to the performance of the prayer. The other difference is that the Friday Prayer is offered after midday, while the ‘«d Prayer is offered during the early hours of the day.
On the two days of ‘Id, it is obligatory to give alms under a certain title. On ‘Id al-Fitr, a poor-rate called zakat al-fitrah (fast-breaking rate) must be paid, and on ‘Id al-Adhha, an offering must be made by a pilgrim who is performing the obligatory Hajj. Furthermore, it is highly recommended to give voluntary alms on these days, especially in the form of slaughtering an animal as an offering by those other than pilgrims performing the Hajj. Other rituals and acts of worship, such as certain supplications and exchanging visits among brethren-in-faith and relatives, are also highly advised and customarily carried out by Muslims.
On Fridays, it is obligatory to hold the well-known Friday Prayer, of which an indication has been made in the Holy Qur'an,1 which is sometimes binding and at other times optional according certain conditions mentioned by scholars in their theses of practical laws (Risalah).
Suspending all their usual daily activities, Muslims dedicate the days of ‘«d to acts of worship and righteous deeds.
The Night of Qadr is the most known amongst the nights specified for performing specific rituals. It is the night that Almighty Allah has bestowed with special honor and esteem, preferring it to one thousand months. It is also the night on which He revealed the Holy Qur'an and specified for decreeing the affairs of man and making clear every wise affair. He has thus said:
إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ (1) وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ (2) لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ (3) تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ (4) سَلَامٌ هِيَ حَتَّى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ (5)
Begin with the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Surely, We revealed it on the grand night. And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is? The grand night is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair. Peace prevails until the break of dawn. (97:1-5)
He has also said:
إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنْذِرِينَ (3) فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ (4)
Surely, We revealed it on a blessed night. Surely, We are ever warning. Therein, every wise affair is made distinct, a command from Us. Surely, We are the senders of messengers. (44:3-5)
There is a consensus among Muslims on honoring this blessed night, which falls in the month of Ramadhan as is understood from the Holy Qur'an, although there is disagreement as to which night of Ramadhan it is.
In this discussion, I refer to the Islamic method preserved by the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and provided to the Muslim community through their knowledge of the religious code of law—one of their distinctive features.
In terms of honor, significance, and standing, the Night of Qadr is considered the most important night in the whole year, since Almighty Allah has revealed an entire Surah (i.e. chapter of the Holy Qur'an) with regard to it, introducing it as the night on which all wise affairs are made clear. In addition, many traditions report the merit, distinction, significance, and outcome of this night. Here are some examples in which the Holy Imams (‘a) are reported to have said:
فَالْمَلاَئِكَةُ فِيهَا لَمْ تَزَلْ تَخْفِقُ بِأَجْنِحَتِهَا بِالسَّلاَمِ وَالرَّحْمَةِ مِنْ لَدُنْ صَلاَةِ الْمَغْرِبِ إِلَى طُلُوعِ الْفَجْرِ.
On the Night of Qadr, the angels keep on flapping their wings with peace and mercy from the time of the sunset prayer (maghrib) up to the break of dawn.
وَلاَ يَحِلُّ لِكَوْكَبٍ أَنْ يُرْجَمَ بِهِ فِيهَا حَتَّى يُصْبِحَ.
On the Night of Qadr, no flaming asteroid is thrown until morning.
وَالْعِبَادَةُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ مِنْ عِبَادَةِ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ.
On the Night of Qadr, worship and righteous acts are more valuable than the devotional acts of one thousand months.
الْعَمَلُ فِيهَا يُعَادِلُ التَّهَيُّؤَ لِلْجِهَادِ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ أَلْفَ شَهْرٍ.
Devotional acts on the Night of Qadr are equal (in reward) to preparing oneself to struggle for the sake of Allah for one thousand months.2
In conclusion, the merits of the Night of Qadr as inferred from the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah are:
1. The Night of Qadr is an opportunity and a bliss that Almighty Allah has granted the individuals of this Muslim community so that they may express their existence and embody their goals and aspirations by performing righteous acts, showing repentance to Almighty Allah, and reverently imploring His Mercy. When he chooses the most appropriate time for performing a deed, man can achieve whatever he wishes to achieve and then give to his deeds great and expansive aspects and values that should be more extensive than the defined term of man’s life in this world.
This fact is visible in some deeds performed under special circumstances and regarded as the best time for doing them. For instance, the Holy Prophet (S), describing the situation of Imam ‘Ali (‘a) when he responded to ‘Amr ibn ‘Abd-Wudd’s mocking remarks against Islam and bravely fought and killed him in the Battle of al-Khandaq (the ditch), is reported to have said:
ضَرْبَةُ عَلِيٍّ يَوْمَ الْخَنْدَقِ تَعْدِلُ عِبَادَةَ الثَّقَلَيْنِ.
The stroke of ‘Ali on that day of the Battle of al-Khandaq is equal to the total worship of both groups of creatures (men and jinn).
This was because of its value in that specific time and under those special circumstances.
2. The Night of Qadr is the night on which decrees about the affairs of humans are decided. In plain words, it is the night wherein all divine decisions for the whole year are taken. Generally, divine decisions are made according to universal (i.e. material) order and discipline and according to the divine system that rules the sequence of causes and effects. At other times, divine decisions are made according to divine commands that are beyond the limits of the universal system. To this fact, the Holy Qur'an has referred in many verses, such as the following:
وَمَا أَمْرُنَا إِلَّا وَاحِدَةٌ كَلَمْحٍ بِالْبَصَرِ (50)
Our command is but as the twinkling of an eye. (54:50)
إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَنْ يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ (82)
His command, when He intends anything, is only to say to it, “Be” and, it is. (36:82)
The month of Ramadhan is a time for the faithful to ascend the ranks of perfection by performing acts of devotion, and also a time to gain Divine decisions that are compatible with Divine mercy.
Although traditions reported from the Holy Prophet (S) and the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) agree that the Night falls in the month of Ramadhan, they disagree about its precise date. Some traditions hold that such disagreement, or concealment, has been done on purpose, and it is aimed at making the righteous people practice as many righteous deeds, supplications, whispered prayers, and implorations to Him as possible. In this respect, one of the Infallibles (‘a), when asked which night was the Night of Power (the twenty-first or the twenty-third of Ramadhan), he did not identify it but said:
مَا أَيْسَرَ لَيْلَتَيْنِ فِي مَا تَطْلُبُ!
So easy it is to act on two nights in order to win one’s desire.
مَا عَلَيْكَ أَنْ تَفْعَلَ خَيْراً فِي لَيْلَتَيْنِ؟
What will harm you if you act righteously on two nights?
The nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third nights of Ramadhan are familiarly known to be the Nights of Qadr. However, the last is the most confirmed, according to the many traditions available. This night is also called the Night of al-Juhani, one of the Muslims who lived in the outskirts of Madinah. When al-Juhani asked the Holy Prophet (S) to identify for him a night in which he should occupy himself exclusively in acts of worship, the Holy Prophet (S) named the twenty-third night of Ramadhan. Using this as proof, traditions mention more acts of worship to be practiced on this night than any other night.3
Consistent with the nature of the Night of Qadr, the devotional acts dedicated to this night are mostly common to the three nights. The acts are divided into two categories: common (to the three nights) and particular (to each night).
Traditions urge that the following acts be practiced on all three nights, one of which is expected to be the Night of Qadr:
• Offer a two-unit prayer imploring divine forgiveness
• Utter the supplication of release from Hellfire and granting of all requests in the name of the Holy Qur'an
• Utter the supplication of granting requests in the name of the Holy Qur'an and the faithful believers and then beseech in the names of Almighty Allah and the Fourteen Infallibles (‘a)
• Perform ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn (‘a)
• Spend the whole night in acts of worship
• Offer one hundred units of prayer, utter as many appeals for divine forgiveness as possible, and supplicate for worldly and religious desires for oneself and one’s parents, relatives, friends, and other believers, both alive and dead
• Utter as many invocations of blessings upon the Holy Prophet and his Household (S) as possible
• Utter litanies of praise, thankfulness, glorification, and exaltation, exclaim God to be the Most Great, and profess Him as the One and Only God:
Specific supplications have been mentioned for these nights. In this respect, Shaykh al-Kaf’ami reports Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) prayed using the supplication that begins with the following statement:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي اَمْسَيْتُ لَكَ عَبْداً دَاخِراً لاَ اَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِي نَفْعاً وَلا ضَرّاً…
O Allah: surely, I am on this evening Your passive slave; I have no control over harm or benefit to myself…
Reading the famous Du’a' al-Jawshan al-Kabir and Du’a' al-Jawshan al-Saghir supplications are also reported to be recommended on these nights since these two supplications comprise verses expressing glorification of Almighty Allah as well as proclamations of His greatness and declarations that He is the One and Only God. These supplications can fill the whole night and thus fulfill the recommended act of spending the whole night in devotional acts.
• Seeking more religious knowledge—concerning religious laws, ethics, and concepts—is regarded, in the words of Shaykh al-Saduq, as the best act one may perform on these nights4
Besides these, there are certain acts dedicated to each of these three nights.
Imploring divine forgiveness (istighfar) one hundred times and repeatedly invoking His curse on the slayers of Imam ‘Ali (‘a) are two acts that are identified to be performed exclusively on the nineteenth night. This is because on this night, Imam ‘Ali (‘a) was fatally wounded by the poisoned sword of ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Muljam, the accursed Kharijite.
There are also two other supplications generally repeated on every night of Ramadhan, and on this night exclusively. The first supplication begins with this statement:
O Allah: at the time of making decisions that are inevitable…
اللَّهُمَّ اِجْعَلْ فِيمَا تَقْضِي وَتُقَدِّرُ مِنَ الاَمْرِ الْمَحْتُومِ…
The second begins with the following statement:
يَا ذَا الَّذِي كَانَ قَبْلَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ…
O He Who has always been there before all things…
Being more probably the Nights of Power, the twenty-first and twenty-third nights of Ramadhan are marked by additional devotional acts. On the twenty-first night, the acts and supplications of the last ten nights of Ramadhan, distinguished by devotional acts, also begin. On these nights, the Holy Prophet (S) used to fold his bed and ready himself for worship. He furthermore used to confine himself to the mosque where a tent made of camel hair was set up for him.
Traditions have also laid emphasis on spending the twenty-first night of Ramadhan with prayers, supplications, invocations of blessings upon the Holy Prophet and his Household (S), and cursing their enemies and oppressors. On this night, Imam ‘Ali (‘a) departed life as a martyr; it is therefore advised to read his ziyarah.5
The most probable Night of Qadr, the twenty-third night of Ramadhan has other special acts, including recitations from the Holy Qur'an, especially certain surahs such as al-’Ankabut, al-Rum, and al-Dukhan, as well as repetition of Surah al-Qadr one thousand times. It is also highly recommended to perform or read the ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn (‘a) on this night.
The following supplication to hasten the relief of Imam al-Mahdi (‘a) is highly recommended:
اَللَّهُمَّ كُنْ لِوَلِيِّكَ الْحُجَّةِ ابْنِ الْحَسَنِ صَلَوَاتُكَ عَلَيْهِ وَعَلَى آبَائِهِ فِي هَذِهِ السَّاعَةِ وَفِي كُلِّ سَاعَةٍ وَلِيّاً وَحَافِظاً وَقَائِداً وَنَاصِراً وَدَلِيلاً وَعَيْناً حَتَّى تُسْكِنَهُ اَرْضَكَ طَوْعاً وَتُمَتِّعَهُ فِيهَا طَوِيلاً
O Allah, (say) “be” for Your representative, al-Hujjah (the Proof), the son of Hasan—Your blessings be on him and on his forefathers—now and for all time, as our Imam, guardian, leader, helper, guide, and watcher such that You permit him to prevail on Your lands extending his reign forever.
It is of course highly advisable to repeat this supplication at all times.
Some short supplications mentioned in reference books of supplications are also recommended for this night.
Finally, it seems important to say that the days that follow the Nights of Qadr enjoy special value and significance similar to the Nights of Qadr just as Thursday nights (the eves of Friday) acquire special significance from Fridays. This is maintained by validly reported traditions.6
The two days of ‘«d merge with each other in a set of common laws:
• It is forbidden to fast on these two days.
• It is obligatory, or recommended under certain conditions, to perform a special prayer the details and conditions of which are available in the books of practical laws by scholars.
• It is obligatory, or recommended under certain conditions, to defray a special poor-rate.
• It is recommended to supplicate Almighty Allah and exchange visits with brethren-in-faith.
Moreover, the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have emphasized other matters for these two days:
• Carry out certain acts and utter certain litanies and supplicatory prayers, especially on ‘Id al-Fitr: In al-Sahifah al-Sajjadiyyah, there is a supplication to be read exclusively on these two days.
• Adorn oneself, use perfume, wear one’s best clothes, and be clean
• Perform the ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn (‘a)
• The special merit of these two days doubles the reward of any recommended act
Thursday nights and Fridays excel all other days in eminence and honor. In traditions reported from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), Friday is described as a most luminous day. Every hour Almighty Allah releases six hundred thousand persons from Hellfire, doubles rewards for good deeds, erases the punishments of the evildoings committed thereon, raises ranks, grants requests, relieves people from agonies, responds to prayers, forgives sins, accepts repentance, sends sustenance, and takes vengeance against the offenders on behalf of the offended.
In this connection, let us cite three validly reported traditions:
1. Imam al-Ridha (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:
إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ سَيِّدُ الأَيَّامِ؛ يُضَاعِفُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فِيهِ الْحَسَنَاتِ وَيَمْحُو فِيهِ السَّيِّئَاتِ وَيَرْفَعُ فِيهِ الدَّرَجَاتِ وَيَسْتِجِيبُ فِيهِ الدَّعَوَاتِ وَيَكْشِفُ فِيهِ الْكُرُبَاتِ وَيَقْضِي فِيهِ الْحَوَائِجَ الْعِظَامَ. وَهُوَ يَوْمُ الْمَزِيدِ؛ للهِ فِيهِ عُتَقَاءُ وَطُلَقَاءُ مِنَ النَّارِ. مَا دَعَا فِيهِ أَحَدٌ مِنَ النَّاسِ وَعَرَفَ حَقَّهُ وَحُرْمَتَهُ إِلاَّ كَانَ حَقّاً عَلَى اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَنْ يَجْعَلَهُ مِنْ عُتَقَاءِهِ وَطُلَقَاءِهِ مِنَ النَّارِ. فَإِنْ مَاتَ فِي يَوْمِهِ أَوْ لَيْلَتِهِ مَاتَ شَهِيداً وَبُعِثَ آمِناً، وَمَا إسْتَخَفَّ أَحَدٌ بِحُرْمَتِهِ وَضَيَّعَ حَقَّهُ إِلاَّ كَانَ حَقّاً عَلَى اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَنْ يُصْلِيَهُ نَارَ جَهَنَّمَ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَتُوبَ.
Verily, Friday is the master of days. On Fridays, Almighty Allah doubles the rewards (for good deeds), erases punishments (for evildoing), raises ranks (of faith), responds to prayers, relieves people from misfortunes, and grants grand requests. Friday is the day of bonus. Almighty Allah, on Fridays, releases numerous individuals from Hellfire. When a person prays to Him on Friday, believing in the true standing and the sanctity of this day, it will be incumbent upon Almighty Allah to release that person from Hellfire. If that individual dies on that day or its eve, he or she will be considered like a martyr and be secure when resurrected (on the Day of Judgment). Conversely, if anyone belittles the sanctity of this day and disrespects its standing, it will be incumbent upon Almighty Allah to cast that person into Hellfire unless he or she repents thereafter.7
2. Imam al-Baqir (‘a) is reported to have said:
مَا طَلَعَتِ الشَّمْسُ بِيَوْمٍ أَفْضَلَ مِنْ يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ. وَإِنَّ كَلاَمَ الطَّيْرِ إِذَا لَقِيَ بَعْضُهَا بَعْضاً: سَلاَمٌ سَلاَمٌ، يَوْمٌ صَالِحٌ.
Sunlight never fell on a day better than Friday. When birds meet each other on this day, they greet each other, saying: Peace! Good day!8
3. Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have said:
مَنْ وَافَقَ مِنْكُمْ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ فَلاَ يَشْتَغِلَنَّ بِشَيْءٍ غَيْرِ الْعِبَادَةِ، فَإِنَّ فِيهِ يُغْفَرُ لِلْعِبَادِ وَتُنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الرَّحْمَةُ.
On Fridays, do not engage yourselves with anything other than acts of worship, for the servants’ shortcomings are forgiven and Divine mercy descends on Fridays.9
When meeting the qualifications and conditions mentioned by master jurisprudents in their theses of practical laws, it is also obligatory to perform the Friday Prayer.
In addition, another set of recommended acts are performed on Thursday nights and Fridays. The details of these acts can be referred to in books on supplications and recommended acts. However, the following list comprises the most prominent of these acts:
• Bathe (ghusl) on Fridays (some scholars deem this to be obligatory)
• Recite the Holy Qur'an, especially Surahs al-Kahf (No. 18), al-Rahman (No. 55), al-Ahqaf (No. 46), al-Mu'minun (No. 23), and al-Waqi’ah (No. 56).
• Spend liberally on dependents, give alms, and do charitable acts, especially for one’s family members
• Wear dressy clothes, be neat and tidy, and use perfume
• Offer special prayers, such as those attributed to the Holy Prophet, Imam ‘Ali, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra', and Ja’far al-Tayyar (the two-winged), peace be upon them all, as well as prayers attributed to the Holy Imams (‘a). Repeat as frequently as possible the invocation of blessings upon the Holy Prophet and his Household (S).
• Read supplications and litanies dedicated to Fridays, such as Du’a' Kumayl, Imam Zayn al-’Abidin’s Supplication on Friday, Du’a' al-Simat, and many others, such as the two supplications beginning with the following two statements respectively:
اللَّهُمَّ مَنْ تَهَيّأَ فِي هَذَا الْيَوْمِ اَوْ تَعَبَّأَ اَوْ اَعَدَّ وَاسْتَعَدَّ…
O Allah, if one, on this day, prepares oneself or takes pains or gets ready …
اللَّهُمَّ يَا شَاهِدَ كُلِّ نَجْوَى وَمَوْضِعَ كُلِّ شَكْوَى…
O Allah, Witness of all the secrets of the hearts, Hearer of all complaints…
• Repeat the Four Statements of Glorification (al-Tasbihat al-Arba’ah) and the other famous litanies
• Read the ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn (‘a) on Thursday nights and the Holy Prophet (S) and the other Holy Imams (‘a) on Friday mornings. Visit graves and one’s brothers-in-faith.
• Learn about religious laws and affairs
The night before the Day of ‘Id al-Fitr, the night before the Day of ‘Id al-Adhha, the eve of the 1st of Rajab, and the eve of the fifteenth of Sha’ban are four nights having the same significance and merit and are recommended to be spent in acts of worship.
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has reported, on the authority of his fathers, that Imam ‘Ali (‘a) liked devoting himself to worship four nights in the year: the eve of the 1st of Rajab, the eve of the 15th of Sha’ban, the night before ‘Id al-Fitr, and the night before immolation (‘Id al-Adhha).
There are some common acts advised for these four nights. They are as follows:
• Read the ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn (‘a)—an act performed on all distinctive nights of the year, as is maintained from a general review of this act
• Bathe on all these nights except the night before ‘Id al-Adhha
• Read the supplication that begins with the following statement:
يَا دَائِمَ الْفَضْلِ عَلَى الْبَريِّةِ يَا بَاسِطَ الْيَدَيْنِ بِالْعَطِيَّةِ
O He Who is continuous in His Favor upon creatures! O He Who openhandedly bestows gifts!....
Each one of these four nights is spent in worship.
Numerous traditions talk about the merits of spending this night in acts of worship. Reports say that this night is not less significant than the Night of Qadr. Recommended acts:
• Spend the night in acts of worship, such as prayers, supplications, entreaties for divine forgiveness; stay overnight in mosques
• Utter the “Four Statements of Exclaiming Almighty Allah’s Greatness” (al-Takbirat al-Arba’ah) immediately after Sunset, in the Evening, at Dawn, and during ‘Id Prayers
• Offer a variety of prayers in order to pass the whole night in acts of worship
• Read the ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn (‘a)
• Read the supplication that begins:
يَا دَائِمَ الْفَضْلِ عَلَى الْبَريِّةِ يَا بَاسِطَ الْيَدَيْنِ بِالْعَطِيَّةِ
O He Who is continuous in His Favor upon creatures! O He Who openhandedly bestows gifts!....
The doors of the skies are opened on this blessed night. Special supplications are reportedly read on this night while stopping at al-mash’ar al-haram (the Sacred Place of Rituals) by those performing the Hajj Pilgrimage rites. Other devotional acts, in addition to spending the night in acts of worship, offering prayers, and supplicating include:
• Read the ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn (‘a)
• Read the supplication that begins:
يَا دَائِمَ الْفَضْلِ عَلَى الْبَريِّةِ يَا بَاسِطَ الْيَدَيْنِ بِالْعَطِيَّةِ
O He Who is continuous in His Favor upon creatures! O He Who openhandedly bestows gifts!....
• Offer a six-unit prayer with special recitations.10
It is not improbable to say that bathing on this night is one of its recommended acts, although no tradition confirms it. However, this act has been seen as a phenomenon attached to the acts of all blessed nights and days. Yet, Almighty Allah knows best.
It is also remarkable that nothing important has been mentioned in traditions about the devotional acts on this night, nor have books on devotional acts and supplications mentioned any special act for this night. The reason may be that the acts of this night have come within the rituals of the Hajj Pilgrimage.
A set of acts mentioned in books on recommended acts and supplications on this blessed night are:
• Bathe. Some scholars report the Holy Prophet (S) to have said:
مَنِ إغْتَسَلَ فِي أَوَّلِ رَجَبٍ وَوَسَطِهِ وَآخِرِهِ خَرَجَ مِنْ ذُنُوبِهِ كَيَوْمِ وَلَدَتْهُ أُمُّهُ.
If one bathes himself on the first, middle, and last of Rajab, he will be released from all of his sins and return pure of sins just as on the day of his birth.
• Read the ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn (‘a)
• Offer a variety of prayers dedicated to this night
• Read some supplications dedicated to this night11
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have honored and glorified this exceptionally blessed night. For example, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has reported that when Imam al-Baqir (‘a) was asked about the merits of the eve of mid-Sha’ban, he said:
هِيَ أَفْضَلُ اللَّيَالِي بَعْدَ لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ، فِيهَا يَمْنَحُ اللهُ الْعِبَادَ فَضْلَهُ وَيَغْفِرُ لَهُمْ بِمَنِّهِ، فَاجْتَهِدُوا فِي الْقُرْبَةِ إِلَى اللهِ تَعَالَى فِيهَا; فَإِنَّهَا لَيْلَةٌ آلَى اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ أَلاَّ يَرُدَّ سَائِلاً فِيهَا مَا لَمْ يَسْأَلِ اللهَ الْمَعْصِيَةَ. وَإِنَّهَا اللَّيْلَةُ الَّتِي جَعَلَهَا اللهُ لَنَا أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ بِإِزَاءِ مَا جَعَلَ لَيْلَةَ الْقَدْرِ لِنَبِيِّنَا عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ، فَاجْتَهِدُوا فِي دُعَاءَ اللهِ تَعَالَى وَالثَّنَاءِ عَلَيْهِ.
It is the most favorable night after the Night of Qadr. On this night, Almighty Allah bestows His favors upon His servants and grants them His pardon out of His conferral of benefit to them. Therefore, you should exert all efforts to seek nearness to Him on this night, because He—the Majestic and Honorable—has decided not to reject any asker as long as he does not ask for an act of disobedience to Him. Almighty Allah has chosen this night for us, the Ahl al-Bayt, in the same way as He has chosen the Night of Qadr for our Prophet, peace be upon him. You should thus pray and thank Him diligently.12
According to another validly reported tradition, Zurarah asked Imam al-Baqir (‘a) to say something about the eve of mid-Sha’ban. The Imam (‘a) thus said:
يَغْفِرُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فِيهَا مِنْ خَلْقِهِ لأَكْثَرَ مِنْ عَدَدِ شَعْرِ مُغْرَى كَلْبٍ، وَيُنْزِلُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فِيهَا مَلاَئِكَةً إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا وَإِلَى الأَرْضِ بِمَكَّةَ.
On this night, Almighty Allah forgives as many of His creatures as the hairs on the horses of the Kalb Tribe. He also orders angels to descend to the lowest sky and to the earth—Makkah.13
One of the most magnificent blessings of the last hours of this night is that the Twelfth Imam al-Mahdi, may Allah hasten his Relief, was born in the year AH 255.
In addition to the general recommendation of passing this night in devotional acts, specific acts reported are:
• Bathe, for it results in alleviating the punishments for one’s sins
• Read the ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn (‘a): many traditions have come that lay stress on the significance of this ziyarah, as previously cited.
• Read special supplications, one of which is the famous Du’a' Kumayl Supplication, immediately after offering the Shaf’ Prayer during the last hours of the night
• Invoke blessings of Almighty Allah upon the Holy Prophet and his Immaculate Household (S)
• Offer special prayers, one of which is the famous prayer attributed to Ja’far al-Tayyar
• Perform the prostrations the Holy Prophet (S) is reported to have performed on this night14
The four most blessed days of the year are the 27th of Rajab (the Day of Divine Mission), the 17th of Rabi’ I (the Holy Prophet’s birthday), the 18th of Dhu’l-Hijjah (the Day of Ghadir), and the 25thof Dhu’l-Qa’dah (the Day of Spreading the Earth).
These days enjoy great merits. It is therefore better to introduce them according to the traditions reported from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), and present all the devotional acts dedicated to these days and mentioned in books on devotional acts and supplications.
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) reported fasting on these days as equal in reward to fasting for sixty months.
The Day of Divine Mission, the 27th of Rajab is the day on which the Holy Prophet (S) was practically designated as a Messenger of Almighty Allah and his Prophethood was revealed to him. The recommended acts on this day are as follows:
• Repeatedly invoke blessings upon the Holy Prophet and his Immaculate Household (S)
• Read ziyarah of the Holy Prophet (S) and Imam ‘Ali (‘a)
• Offer a special twelve-unit prayer, with each two units separated by a taslim statement, done in a special way, followed by recitation of the Holy Qur'an and a special litany
• Read the supplication that is reported from Imam Musa al-Kazim (‘a) who recited it on his way to Baghdad when Harun, the ‘Abbasid ruler, ordered his police forces to summon the Imam (‘a) to Baghdad after being arrested on this day
The eve of the Day of Divine Mission is also a blessed night for which certain acts of worship are dedicated.15
The 17th of Rabi’ I is a blessed day on which the Holy Prophet (S) was born according to the most famous traditions believed as authentic by the Twelver Imamiyyah Shi’ah.
The following devotional acts are recommended:
• Perform the ziyarah of the Holy Prophet (S) directly by visiting his holy tomb or indirectly by addressing him with definite statements of salutation from afar. It is also recommended to perform or read ziyarah of Imam ‘Ali (‘a).
• Offer a special prayer followed by a special supplication cited for this day16
According to traditions reported from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), the Day of Ghadir, the 18th of Dhu’l-Hijjah, is considered the most significant of all festival days. On this day, Imam ‘Ali, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), was appointed as the successor and Imam after the Holy Prophet (S). Immediately after the completion of the last ritual pilgrimage of the Holy Prophet (S), known as the Farewell Pilgrimage, this declaration came and subsequently the Holy Prophet (S) ordered all Muslims to swear allegiance to Imam ‘Ali (‘a) as their next leader. This took place at a crossroad where the Holy Prophet (S) ordered all Muslims to gather to hear his declaration and appointment of Imam ‘Ali (‘a) as their next leader. At this very place, he received a divine revelation, saying:
يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ وَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ (67)
O Messenger, deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord. And if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message. And Allah will protect you from the people. (5:67)
Having received this divine command, the Holy Prophet (S) climbed a pulpit made of the saddles of camels and stated:
مَنْ كُنْتُ مَوْلاَهُ فَهَذَا عَلِيٌّ مَوْلاَهُ. اللَّهُمَّ وَالِ مَنْ وَالاَهُ وَعَادِ مَنْ عَادَاهُ.
Behold! ‘Ali is now the master of everyone who has regarded me as his master. O Allah, (please do) support whoever supports ‘Ali and be the enemy of whoever incurs the hostility of ‘Ali…17
This declaration came after the Holy Prophet (S) had called the audience to witness that he had conveyed the Divine Message perfectly, and that he had a greater claim on the faithful believers than they had on themselves.
This event has been reported by Muslim traditionists and historians of various sects.
After this declaration, Almighty Allah revealed the verse known as the Verse of Perfecting the Religion, which reads,
الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا (3)
This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion. (5:3)
Traditions that are reported from the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have also confirmed that making the Day of Ghadir a feast day is based on the Holy Prophet’s instruction to Imam ‘Ali (‘a) to do so. In this respect, Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported on the authority of ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Salim that his father asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), whether Muslims have other feast days besides ‘Id al-Fitr, ‘Id al-Adhha, and Fridays.
The Imam (‘a) answered:
نَعَمْ، أَعْظَمُهَا حُرْمَةً. الْيَوْمُ الَّذِي نَصَّبَ فِيهِ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ وَقَالَ: مَنْ كُنْتُ مَوْلاَهُ فَعَلِيٌّ مَوْلاَهُ...
Yes, they have. There is still the holiest feast day, which falls on the day when the Messenger of Allah (S) appointed the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (‘a), as his successor and the coming leader of the Muslim community. On that day, the Holy Prophet (S) declared, ‘Whoever has regarded me as his master must now regard ‘Ali as his master…’
The Imam (‘a) was asked, “What are the acts that should be done on that day?”
He (‘a) instructed:
تَذْكُرُونَ اللهَ عَزَّ ذِكْرُهُ فِيهِ بِالصِّيَامِ وَالْعِبَادَةِ وَالذِّكْرِ لِمُحَمَّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ; فَإِنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ أَوْصَى أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنْ يَتَّخِذَ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمَ عِيداً، وَكَذَلِكَ الأَنْبِيَاءُ كَافَّةً، لِذَا يُوصُونَ أَوْصِيَاءَهُمْ بِذَلِكَ فَيَتَّخِذُونَهُ عِيداً.
On this day, mention Allah and Glorify His remembrance by fasting, doing devotional acts, and mentioning the Holy Prophet and his Household (S). The Holy Messenger of Allah (S) instructed the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) to celebrate this day as a feast day. Similarly, all the prophets used to order their successors to celebrate the eighteenth of Dhu’l-Hijjah as a feast day.18
Another tradition reads:
فَإِنَّ الأَنْبِيَاءَ كَانَتْ تَأْمُرُ الأَوْصِيَاءَ الْيَوْمَ الَّذِي كَانَ يُقَامُ فِيهِ الْوَصِيُّ أَنْ يُتَّخَذَ عِيداً.
The prophets used to order the days on which they nominated successors to be taken as feast days.19
Other traditions have referred to a historical root for this day holding that, on this day, Almighty Allah accepted the repentance of Prophet Adam (‘a) who, as a result, observed fasting as an expression of thanking Him for this grace. It is also the day on which Almighty Allah delivered Prophet Abraham (S) from the fire—he therefore observed fasting as an expression of thanking Him for this grace. On this day too, Prophet Moses (‘a) appointed Prophet Aaron (‘a) as his successor and he therefore observed fasting as an expression of thanking Him for this grace.
It is also the day on which Prophet Jesus (‘a) declared Simon the Zealot as his successor and observed fasting as an expression of thanking Him for this grace. It is finally the day on which Prophet Muhammad (S) declared Imam ‘Ali (‘a) as his successor, demonstrating ‘Ali’s excellence and worthiness for this position. This day is therefore a day of fasting, worship, establishment of good relations with brethren-in-faith, and attainment of the All-beneficent Lord’s pleasure, in addition to being a day of showing defiance to Satan.20
In books of devotional acts and supplications, a set of acts has been mentioned to be done on this day:
• Perform or read the ziyarah of Imam ‘Ali (‘a)
• Offer certain prayers that are dedicated to this day
• Supplicate and thank Almighty Allah for this great grace of the divinely designated leadership of Imam ‘Ali (‘a). In his book of Iqbal al-A’mal, Sayyid Ibn Tawus has cited a set of long supplications to be read on this day.
• Adorn, dress up, and express joy and pleasure
• Give generously, grant the requests of those asking for them, show regard to relatives, present gifts to dependents, and serve food to the faithful believers in general, and those observing fast on this day in particular
• Visit one’s brethren-in-faith, shake hands with them, fraternize with them, and send them presents
• Repeatedly invoke blessings upon the Holy Prophet and his Household (S)
• Pay greater attention to acts of worship and obedience to Almighty Allah21
The 25th of Dhu’l-Qa’dah is celebrated as the Day of Spreading the Earth because Imam al-Ridha (‘a) is validly reported to have said:
إِنَّ الأَرْضَ دُحِيَتْ وَانْبَسَطَتْ مِنْ تَحْتِ الْكَعْبَةِ الْمُشَرَّفَةِ فِي هَذَا الْيَوْمِ، وَفِي لَيْلَتِهِ وُلِدَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ وَوُلِدَ فِيهَا عِيسَى بْنُ مَرْيَمَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ.
On the twenty-fifth of Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, was born, and Prophet Jesus son of Mary (peace be upon them both) was born, and the earth was spread on the water where the Holy Ka’bah is now situated. Hence, if one observes fasting on this day, he will earn the reward of fasting for sixth months.22
On this day, it is reported that the Holy Ka’bah descended from the heavens down to earth and Divine mercy descended on Prophet Adam (‘a).
Thus we can recognize the significance of this day, which signifies the creation of the earth and the Much-Frequented House and the descending of Divine mercy down to the earth. Moreover, on this day, Prophets Abraham and Jesus, peace be upon them, were born.
In books of devotional acts and supplications, a set of acts is mentioned for this day:
• Offer a special prayer of two units in each of which Surah al-Fatihah is recited once and Surah al-Shams repeated five times. After completing this prayer before noon, a special supplication is read.
• Read a supplication that is specified for this day and reported by Shaykh al-Tusi in Misbah al-Mutahajjid
• Perform or read the ziyarah of Imam al-Ridha (‘a), as maintained by Sayyid al-Damad in his epistle entitled al-Arba’at Ayyam
• Perform acts of worship and remember Almighty Allah as much as possible. The same acts are recommended for the night before the Day of Spreading the Earth.23
The 10th of Muharram, the Day of ‘Ashura' is the day on which Imam al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (‘a), the Holy Prophet’s grandson and the son of the Veracious Lady Fatimah al-Zahra' (‘a), was slain. The Imam (‘a) was martyred in such an astounding way that it’s like cannot be found in the history of humankind.
The Imam (‘a), eighteen family members, and approximately seventy companions—among whom were old men, master scholars, grand Sahabah (companions of the Holy Prophet (S)), Tabi’un (followers of the Holy Prophet’s companions), as well as children, women, boys, youth, adolescents, and an infant son of Imam Husayn (‘a). They were all slain after they were besieged and prevented from obtaining water to drink such that they departed this life thirsty—and this for no crime other than their refusal to swear allegiance to Yazid, the notorious tyrant.
Along with his family members and companions, Imam al-Husayn (‘a) fought bravely, showing the highest degree of resoluteness, steadfastness, endurance, maintenance of principles, and high moral standards in dealing with events, sparing no efforts in making clear the truth and goals for which they were ready to sacrifice their lives. As a result, they left a great impact on the progress of Islam and humanity.
We have already discussed the results of this event and explained the rites related to it.
To the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt and the individuals of the virtuous community, ‘Ashura' is seen as a day of expressing grief and sorrow. Following the example of the Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), all the individuals of the virtuous community, like no other day, participate in such rites and hold large meetings.
There are certain etiquettes and rites for this day. The most important of these are the following:
• Perform ziyarah of Imam al-Husayn (‘a). An earlier indication has been made to the special formula of ziyarah on this day.
• Hold sessions commemorating Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom, express sorrow and weep for him, read the story of his martyrdom, and practice other acts of condolence previously referred to.
• Refrain from striving for any worldly benefit. In this respect, Imam al-Ridha (‘a) is reported to have said:
مَنْ تَرَكَ السَّعْيَ فِي حَوَائِجِهِ يَوْمَ عَاشُورَاءَ قَضَى اللهُ لَهُ حَوَائِجَ الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ، وَمَنْ كَانَ يَوْمُ عَاشُورَاءَ يَوْمَ مُصِيبَتِهِ وَحُزْنِهِ وَبُكَائِهِ جَعَلَ اللهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَوْمَ فَرَحِهِ وَسُرُورِهِ وَقَرَّتْ بِنَا فِي الْجَنَّةِ عَيْنُهُ، وَمَنْ سَمَّى يَوْمَ عَاشُورَاءَ يَوْمَ بَرَكَةٍ وَادَّخَرَ لِمَنْزِلِهِ فِيهِ شَيْئاً لَمْ يُبَارَكْ لَهُ فِي مَا إدَّخَرَ وَحُشِرَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ مَعَ يَزِيدَ وَعُبَيْدِ اللهِ بْنِ زِيَادٍ وَعُمَرَ بْنِ سَعْدٍ لَعَنَهُمُ اللهُ.
If one refrains from striving for any worldly benefit on the tenth of Muharram, Almighty Allah will grant him all his needs for this world and the world to come. If one considers the tenth of Muharram a day of sadness and weeping, Almighty Allah will make the Day of Resurrection a day of delight and happiness; and he will be delighted with us in Paradise. If one considers the tenth of Muharram to be a blessed day and stores up any annual nutriment on this day, Almighty Allah will not bless that which he stored up and will add him to the gang of Yazid, ‘Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, and ‘Umar ibn Sa’d—may Allah curse them all.24
• Exchange such words of condolence with believers: “May Allah magnify our rewards for suffering the misfortune of Imam al-Husayn’s martyrdom, and may He include you and us with the group of those who demand vengeance for him with his heir, Imam al-Mahdi (‘a), successor of the Household of Prophet Muhammad (S).”
• Serve food and water to the believers and participants of processions
• Curse and declare renunciation of those who slew Imam al-Husayn (‘a), and those who approved of their crime and imitated them up to the Day of Resurrection
• Repeat Surah al-Tawhid (al-Ikhlas, No. 112) as much as possible
The Umayyads used to deem blessed the tenth of Muharram, i.e. the Day of ‘Ashura', and regard it as a day of feast and celebration. They set themselves against the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) to mislead the Muslims and divert them from the reality of the events that took place on the tenth of Muharram and the goals of Imam al-Husayn’s uprising against them.
They forged many lies against the Holy Prophet (S) in this connection and fabricated many sayings with regard to fasting on this day and getting its blessings. Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported Ibn ‘Abbas as having said, “I have not seen the Prophet (S) laying so much stress on fasting on any day like the day of ‘Ashura' or any month like the month of Ramadhan.”
They also reported Abu-Musa al-Ash’ari as saying, “The (Jewish) people of Khaybar used to fast on the day of ‘Ashura', taking it for a joyful day and ordering their women to put on the best of their jewelry and clothes. Seeing them, the Prophet (S) ordered us to fast on that day, too.”25
From the totality of the traditions reported in Sunni and Shi’ite reference books of Hadith in this regard, we can conclude that the tenth of Muharram was an exceptional day for the Arabs of the pre-Islamic era and the Jews who used to take it as a feast day. The Holy Prophet (S) also used to fast on this day, but when the obligatory fasting of the month of Ramadhan was revealed, he abandoned fasting on this day.
However, the Umayyads, after slaying Imam al-Husayn (‘a), revived this tradition and made it a day of feast, blessing, and celebration. To further solidify the matter, they seduced some Sahabah under promise of money to testify to such abandoned and abrogated traditions to wreak vengeance upon the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and conceal the grave crime they had committed.
Al-Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Dawud reported ‘A'ishah to have said, “In the pre-Islamic era, the people of Quraysh, as well as the Prophet (S), used to fast on the day of ‘Ashura'. When he settled in Madinah, he sometimes fasted on that day and sometimes overlooked it. When the fasting of the month of Ramadhan was decreed, the Prophet (S) abandoned fasting on the day of ‘Ashura'. Therefore, you may fast on it or forsake it.”26
Through a valid chain of authority, Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported that Najiyyah ibn al-Harith al-’Attar asked Imam al-Baqir (‘a) about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura'.
The Imam (‘a) answered:
صَوْمٌ مَتْرُوكٌ بِنُزُولِ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ، وَالْمَتْرُوكُ بِدْعَةٌ.
Fasting on this day has been repealed by the divine command of fasting in the month of Ramadhan. To perform an abrogated matter is considered innovation (bid’ah).
Najiyyah then asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) about the same issue and received the same answer given to him by Imam al-Baqir (‘a).
The Imam (‘a) then added:
أَمَا إِنَّهُ صَوْمُ يَوْمٍ مَا نَزَلَ بِهِ كِتَابٌ وَلاَ جَرَتْ بِهِ سُنَّةٌ إِلاَّ سُنَّةَ آلِ زِيَادٍ بِمَقْتَلِ الْحُسَيْنِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ.
Verily, to take this day (of ‘Ashura') as a day of fasting is neither determined by any Divine Book nor accepted as a norm, except as invented by the Family of Ziyad on account of their slaying Husayn ibn ‘Ali, peace be upon him.27
According to another well-reported (hasan) tradition, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) has said:
مَنْ صَامَهُ كَانَ حَظُّهُ مِنْ صِيَامِ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ حَظَّ ابْنِ مَرْجَانَةَ وَآلِ زِيَادٍ.
If one fasts on the day of ‘Ashura', he will be rewarded nothing but the recompense of the son of Marjanah (i.e. ‘Ubaydullah) and the family of Ziyad.
The reporter asked, “What was their recompense on that day?”
The Imam (‘a) answered:
النَّارُ! أَعَاذَنَا اللهُ مِنَ النَّارِ وَمِنْ عَمَلٍ يُقَرِّبُ إِلَى النَّارِ.
Fire! May Allah save us from the Fire and from any act that advances one towards it.28
Shaykh al-Saduq, in ‘Ilal al-Shara'i’, has reported that ‘Abdullah ibn al-Fadhl al-Hashimi once asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) how it came about that the people regarded the Day of ‘Ashura' as a day of celebration.
The Imam (‘a) wept and then said:
لَمَّا قُتِلَ الْحُسَيْنُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ تَقَرَّبَ النَّاسُ بِالشَّامِ إِلَى يَزِيدَ فَوَضَعُوا لَهُ الأَخْبَارَ وَأَخَذُوا الْجَوَائِزَ مِنَ الأَمْوَالِ، فَكَانَ مِمَّا وَضَعُوا لَهُ أَمْرُ هَذَا الْيَوْمِ وَأَنَّهُ يَوْمُ بَرَكَةٍ لِيَعْدِلَ النَّاسُ فِيهِ مِنَ الْجَزَعِ وَالْبُكَاءِ وَالْمُصِيبَةِ وَالْحُزْنِ إِلَى الْفَرَحِ وَالسُّرُورِ وَالتَّبَرُّكِ وَالإسْتِعْدَادِ فِيهِ. حَكَمَ اللهُ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَهُمْ.
When Husayn, peace be upon him, was slain, the people of Sham tried to win the favor of and pay court to Yazid. They fabricated narrations to his benefit and, in return, received financial prizes from him. One of these fabricated matters was that they made up many things regarding this day, introducing it as a day of blessing so that the people would show joyful appearance, seek its blessings, and ready themselves for festivals instead of showing sorrow and weeping, and taking this day as an unfortunate day, and expressing sadness. May Allah judge between us.29
It is therefore necessary for every righteous Muslim individual to be on one’s guard against this perverted act that aims at misleading the Muslims and driving them away from the historical truth and the noble standing of this great day.
The Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) informed the individuals of the virtuous community of other blessed days significant because of incidents that took place thereon.
On the 24th of Dhu’l-Hijjah, the Holy Prophet (S) entered upon a mutual invocation of curse (i.e. Mubahalah)30 with the Christians of Najran saying that each party would invoke Almighty Allah’s curse upon the lying party so that the truthful party would be distinguished and the lying party cursed. Readying himself for this challenge, the Holy Prophet (S) put on a garment, covered Imam ‘Ali, Lady Fatimah al-Zahra', Imam Hasan, and Imam al-Husayn—peace be upon them—with it, and supplicated Almighty Allah, saying:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّهُ كَانَ لِكُلِّ نَبِيٍّ مِنَ الأَنْبِيَاءِ أَهْلُ بَيْتٍ هُمْ أَخَصُّ الْخَلْقِ إِلَيْهِ. اللَّهُمَّ وَهَؤُلاَءِ أَهْلُ بَيْتِي؛ فَأَذْهِبْ عَنْهُمُ الرِّجْسَ وَطَهِّرْهُمْ تَطْهِيراً.
O Allah, verily, each Prophet had family members who were the nearest to him. O Allah, these are my Household, so (please) remove uncleanliness from them and purify them with a thorough purification.
Immediately after that, Archangel Gabriel descended carrying the Verse of Purification (Ayat al-Tathir):
إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنْكُمُ الرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًا (33)
Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanliness from you, O people of the House, and to purify you a thorough purifying. (33:33)
Subsequently, the Holy Prophet (S) accompanied this Household as his partners in the invocation of Almighty Allah’s curse upon the lying party. As soon as the Christians’ eyes fell on the Holy Prophet’s Household (S), they realized that those individuals were the most truthful and that chastisement would be the share of any one who opposed them. They, therefore, did not dare to participate in that invocation and, instead, they agreed to pay a tribute (jizyah) to the Holy Prophet (S).
Recording this great incident, the Holy Qur'an says,
فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْا نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَأَبْنَاءَكُمْ وَنِسَاءَنَا وَنِسَاءَكُمْ وَأَنْفُسَنَا وَأَنْفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتَهِلْ فَنَجْعَلْ لَعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَى الْكَاذِبِينَ (61)
But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah upon the liars. (3:61)
There are certain recommended acts to be carried out on this anniversary, such as bathing, fasting, offering a special prayer, and saying a special supplication.31 The method of this prayer can be seen in Shaykh al-Tusi’s book of Misbah al-Mutahajjid.
On this day too, Imam ‘Ali (‘a), while offering a prayer and, more precisely, in genuflection (bowing position), gave his ring as alms to a poor man who was begging in the mosque. Therefore, Almighty Allah revealed the following holy verses:
إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ (55) وَمَنْ يَتَوَلَّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَإِنَّ حِزْبَ اللَّهِ هُمُ الْغَالِبُونَ (56)
Only Allah is your actual leader and His Messenger and those who believe, those who keep up prayers and pay the poor-rate while they bow down. And whoever takes Allah and His messenger and those who believe as guardians, then surely the party of Allah are they that shall be triumphant. (5:55-56)
On this blessed day, Surah al-Dahr (or al-Insan No. 76) was revealed praising the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) for they had observed fasting for three consecutive days and given their fast-breaking food to a poor man, an orphan, and a captive, respectively, for three days. In view of this, the adherents of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) are required to imitate their leaders on these three days and give alms to the poor.
The Day of ‘Arafat is one of the most significant days of the year. However, we will shed light on the rites of this day in a coming chapter on the Hajj Pilgrimage.
After this review of the most significant nights and days of the year, it seems proper to discuss the general trend that can be concluded from this review. In this connection, we may face a number of issues the most important of which are the following:
First Issue: These holy nights are generally spent in acts of worship, because the night enjoys the distinctive feature of privacy with Almighty Allah through confidential prayers which are one kind of devotional act. The other feature of such nights is physical and moral purity represented by bathing.
Second Issue: The joyful holy days emphasize bathing, perfuming oneself, and dressing up They are also marked by social activities that affect even the prayers on these days, such as the Friday and the ‘«d congregational prayers. On these days too, emphasis has been laid on exchanging visits, spending, and doing charitable acts, as well as other social activities.
Third Issue: These particular nights and days require us to express our loyalty to and love for the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) as well as bond ourselves with them, pattern our acts after their examples, glorify their deeds, and declare renunciation of their enemies. Such deeds symbolize a general aspect that includes all the holy nights and days. This can be seen obviously through confirmations in the visitations of Imam al-Husayn (‘a) and Imam ‘Ali (‘a), invoking of Almighty Allah’s blessings upon the Holy Prophet and his Household (S), and joining these days and nights to anniversaries related to them.
Fourth Issue: Fasting, in its capacity as a devotional act, enjoys distinction on such holy days. Although it is forbidden to observe fasting on the two days of ‘«d, fasting on the other holy days is highly advised. As for Fridays, no special confirmation for fasting has been made in traditions except in special cases, such as when asking for having one’s request granted or completing a three-day fast that begins on Wednesdays.
Fifth Issue: Such holy days and nights are distributed among the devotional seasons in most of the months of the year, including Rajab, Sha’ban, Ramadhan, Shawwal, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah, and Rabi’ I. If we combine the special anniversaries of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a), the holy days and nights will cover almost the whole year.
Sixth Issue: The majority of these rites and recommended acts represent part of the general sketch the Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) have set forth for educating their followers spiritually and morally, building unwavering willpower within them, taking them towards self-perfection, and healing all their psychological and spiritual defects.
Seventh Issue: Noticeably, these special days and nights, are seen as extensions of Fridays, the two days of ‘«d, Thursday nights, and the Nights of Qadr. In plain words, the rites and activities of these days and nights form the origin from which the rites and activities of the other holy days have branched out. This leads us to the conclusion that the traditions of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) about the merits of these days and nights have been the outcome of their expansive knowledge of the Islamic law or their genuine and veritable view of Islamic law on the strength of Imam ‘Ali’s saying:
عَلَّمَنِي رَسُولُ اللهِ أَلْفَ بَابٍ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ، يَنْفَتِحُ لِي مِنْ كُلِّ بَابٍ أَلْفُ بَابٍ.
The Messenger of Allah (S) taught me a thousand doors of knowledge each door of which opens before me another thousand doors.
- 1. - The Holy Qur'an reads:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِنْ يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَى ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (9) فَإِذَا قُضِيَتِ الصَّلَاةُ فَانْتَشِرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَابْتَغُوا مِنْ فَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (10)O you who believe, when the call is made for prayer on Friday, then hasten to the remembrance of Allah and leave off trading. That is better for you, if you knew. But when the prayer is ended, then disperse abroad in the land and seek Allah's grace, and remember Allah much, that you may be successful. (62:9-10)
- 2. - Refer to the exegesis of Surah al-Qadr (No. 97) in the following two reference books of tafsir: al-Durr al-Manthur and Nur al-Thaqalayn.
- 3. - It is not inaccurate to say that these three nights are interrelated in the sense that the first night is an introduction to the third, the second a preparation for it, and the third the Night itself. Thus, the manner is perfected on the night of the twenty-third of Ramadhan.
- 4. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 225-226.
- 5. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 227-234.
- 6. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 236.
- 7. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 29.
- 8. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 30.
- 9. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 30.
- 10. - Refer to al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 5:222.
Although this tradition has been reported in connection with the night of ‘«d al-Fitr, it came to include the night of ‘«d al-Adhha, as maintained by the expression “the night of ‘«d”.
- 11. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 140-141.
- 12. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 5:238, H. 3.
- 13. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 5:238, H. 1.
- 14. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 165-170.
- 15. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 148 & 152.
- 16. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 296.
- 17. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 1:292, H. 3.
- 18. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 7:323, H. 1.
- 19. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 7:323, H. 2.
- 20. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 7:327, H. 12.
Apart from the authenticity of these traditions as a whole or some of their details, the Day of Ghadir is still one of the holy days in which the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) took special interest, regarding it as a joyful day to be celebrated by the Muslim nation and the virtuous community.
- 21. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 276-281.
- 22. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 7:322, H. 1.
- 23. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 248-250.
- 24. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa'il al-Shi’ah 10:394, H. 7.
- 25. - Mansur ‘Ali Nasif, al-Taj al-Jami’ lil-Usul 2:90. Other traditions are found on pages 88-92 of the same book.
- 26. - Mansur ‘Ali Nasif, al-Taj al-Jami’ lil-Usul 2:89.
- 27. - Shaykh al-Kulayni, al-Kafi 4:146, H. 4.
- 28. - Al-Hurr al-’Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 7:340-341.
- 29. - ‘Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 44:270.
A tradition that is reported in Wasa’il al-Shi’ah 7:341, H. 7 demonstrates the same meaning.
- 30. - Mubahalah is a method of exchanging curses between two parties each of which claim truthfulness. Hence, a party challenges the other and they agree on imprecating the curse of Almighty Allah on the lying party. Following this method, the Holy Prophet (S) challenged the Christians after they had denied his saying that Prophet Jesus (‘a) was a mortal human being whom Almighty Allah created from dust, just like Prophet Adam (‘a). Due to their denial, the Holy Prophet (S) called them to enter upon a mutual invocation of curse with him so that the lying party would be cursed by Almighty Allah. This incident has been documented by the Holy Qur'an.
- 31. - Shaykh ‘Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-Jinan, pp. 282.