Ashura a symbol of faith, fraternity and coexistence
Muslims celebrate the day of Ashura each year, following the teachings (Sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad to glorify and venerate the day on which Allah rescued Prophet Moses, along with his people, from drowning. It is such a great day that we need to commemorate and recall it as a day honored by Allah.
Emphasizing the interconnections across the religions, the cohesion of the prophets and the integration of their messages, the Prophet’s Hadith states that “prophets are sons of one man with many women and one faith.” This means that prophets are brothers in their prophecy and not in blood, in that they have one single father in prophecy; their father is Adam, and their laws are different.
What is more indicative of such interconnections across the faiths and their prophets is when Prophet Muhammad arrived in Madinah while the Jews were fasting in appreciation of Moses being rescued. This is clear in the ever-lasting statement made by Prophet Muhammad: “We are closer to Moses than they are.” Accordingly, Prophet Muhammad fasted that day and ordered that the day be for fasting.
A meditative and contemplative view of the purposes of this noble prophetic propagation affirms a highly significant result: Tolerance that is deeply rooted in Islamic law and the call for the consolidation of religious fraternity, not only in the Muslim community but in all humanity; the consolidation of the spaces of harmony between these heavenly laws; and the wise management of areas of difference through dialogue and tools of sound scientific harmony and symmetry.
Promoting methods of coexistence in peace, security and safety to enhance life and to leverage and consecrate the religious fraternity in particular and the human fraternity in general. Wanting to avoid overshadowing and marginalizing the other and aiming to coexist with the other with their own beliefs regardless of their harmony or disharmony with Islam, it is a basic grounded fact and the basis for coexistence with the other in the Muslim community.
Islam has given great importance to the day of Ashura and it is characterized by worshiping practices, such as fasting. Most Friday service mosques in Saudi Arabia, most notably the Two Holy Mosques, and the rest of the Muslim community are devoted every year to offering preaching ceremonies for this month to recall the inspiring story of Ashura and Muslim fasting. Hardly any home in the Kingdom or the wider Islamic world witnesses this day without fasting. This gives important evidence on the strength and development of the relations between Muslims and their connection with the prophets and messengers on the one hand and followers of other religions and cultures on the other.
We should invest in the atmosphere of this blessed day and draw inspiration from the lessons and lofty meanings of our noble messenger.
Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar
The jurisdictional documents spared no efforts to bring into focus the inalienable rights of non-Muslims in the Islamic world, which embodies the inspiration of the Constitution of Madinah. This was the first constitution of the civil state, which framed the emerging state of Islam that does not distinguish between its citizens in terms of religion, race, gender or color. It is based on the relationship between Islam, nations and peoples and followers of other religions and cultures, as well as on acquaintance, dialogue and convergence, not differences, conflict and division.
Considering this acquaintance as a cause of creating peoples and making them into nations and tribes, Allah commanded it as a goal of this diversity in creation. As the Qur’an states (49:13): “O mankind, indeed, We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another,” while the opposite makes up a deviation from its right track or path; based on the foundations of compassion of common humanity among them. So, this historic day comes along with its fasting within the framework of methods of religious fraternity in practice, indicating that Muslims appreciate peace, coexistence, respect for religions and the inviolability and sacredness of prophets.
If Muslims are as such, this divine belief in the love of Moses and Jesus, together with all the prophets and messengers, due to the fact that faith is associated with them, means full reverence is due for their messages and their books.
When Islam protects people and their private lives, it does not make it a monopoly of Muslims alone; rather, it is for them and for others alike because peace is the right of all citizens, even if it is contrary to faith.
Inasmuch as the prophets bring human beings together and the demons of humanity drive them apart, I call — during the celebration of this day, which brings together the followers of these two religions and spreads justice, tolerance, peace and coexistence — to rid the occupiers of their injustice and the use of religion to satisfy their own interest. Likewise, I call for the extremists on the other side who use religion to justify terrorism and commit crimes, while religion is totally innocent of such perpetration, to give up the apparent contradiction between the adoption of the principle of violence in form and theme of the origin and significance of the divine message.
Therefore, it is better for the followers of these two religions — those who love peace, coexistence and compassion — to invest in the atmosphere of this blessed day and to draw inspiration from the lessons and lofty meanings of our noble messenger.
Alongside it, there is more than a clear indication of the promotion of the values of coexistence and the establishment of the principles of coexistence on stable religious, political, economic, social and cultural bases. Such a list is made to deepen the human partnership and take into account the building of positive relations and the consolidation of ties, as well as the affirmation of mutual benevolence in general where fasting (Ashura) was not an accusation or a violation of the doctrine of monotheism. Rather, it is a true practice of fasting on the basis of consent to the cause, an appreciation to Allah, who confers the blessings, for his generosity, benevolence and munificence to the people of credit and goodness and humanity on this blessed day.
I pray to Allah to make this great day an opportunity to inspire the spirit of Ashura in the light of what we have learned from Prophet Muhammad in inviting us to the love of Moses, being the role model and example for mankind. Do the wise and good people listen to the call for peace and coexistence across the world so that justice and peace burgeon to replace injustice, occupation, violence, extremism and terrorism?
• Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar is Supervisor General of Salam for Cultural Communications.