The story of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) is one that touches the hearts of millions of people across the world, who practice one of the three Abrahamic religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His life represents the struggle against idolatry and the battle against oppression – both of these trials encapsulated Fir’awn (Pharaoh), known to be the evilest human being of all time. Not only did he oppress the ‘Bani Isra’il’ (Children of Israel), he also claimed divinity for himself – an open oppo- nent towards Allah, The Mighty and Exalted.
“(Pharaoh) said,

‘If you take a god other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned’”. [Qur’an, Surah Ash- Shu’ara: The Poets, 26:29]

The day Musa (pbuh) defeated Fir’awn, a fast was dedicat- ed in honour of Allah, The Most High, for which He gifted the Children of Israel a mighty victory; The Day of Ashura. Muslims across the world fast on either the 9th and the 10th or the 10th and the 11th of Muharram in order to differ from the Jewish community, who fast on the tenth alone. The sig- ni cance of fasting on these days can be understood once the brief story of Musa (pbuh) has been narrated.

The Story of Prophet Musa (pbuh)

Musa (pbuh) was born in the land of Egypt during the reign of Fir’awn, a treacherous man who ruled an oppressive regime. However, Allah chose Musa (pbuh) who grew up to be a brave and courageous man, to take a stand against the oppressive tyrant. One of his qualities was that despite his deep cour- age and bold strength, he still held characteristics of being extremely shy and humble towards those around him. He was a gallant gure whose life was blessed by the protection of Allah, The Most High.
However, the same could not be said about Fir’awn, on the contrary, although he proclaimed the title of ‘Almighty God’, he felt unsettled upon hearing the news of his future. It all began when he saw a dis- turbing dream that led him to request for an inter- pretation. He was told by a dream interpreter, a lady whom he trusted and employed, that he would be defeated by a child from Bani Isra’il who is yet to enter this world. Unfortunately, they were not treat- ed very well; they were pushed to the bottom of the rank in Egyptian society as Fir’awn and his people loathed them.

What was surprising was that Musa (pbuh) the very Israelite Fir’awn had been beware of in his dream, was now being adopted by himself and his wife Asiya (may Allah be pleased with her), not knowing who the boy would become. In fact, after his dream,

Fir’awn ordered the death of every male child be- longing to Bani Isra’il, hoping that this would avert his fate. Thereon, Bani Isra’il became fearful for the death of their community, leaving Musa’s (pbuh) mother in worry and confusion.

“And We inspired to the mother of Moses, ‘Suckle him; but when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear and do not grieve. Indeed, We will return him to you and will make him (one) of the messengers’”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-Qasas: The Sto- ries, 28:7]

It was under this in uence that Musa’s (pbuh) moth- er had the courage to place her baby into the river and let him go. This is how the story began, but it certainly did not end this way.

“And the heart of Musa’s mother became empty (of all else). She was about to disclose (the matter con- cerning) him had We not bound fast her heart that she would be of the Believers”. [Qur’an, Al-Qasas: The Stories, 28:10]

Fir’awn had picked up Musa (pbuh) from the river, whereby his wife Asiya (may Allah be pleased with her) convinced Fir’awn to adopt him stating that he will be a comfort to the eye for both of them. By the will of Allah, Musa’s (pbuh) mother had also landed herself a position within the very palace reuniting with her son, as she was the only one who could wet-nurse her crying child. Although Musa’s mother felt intense grief at the moment, she had no choice but to let him go, however, Allah kept His promise by returning him to her not long after the farewell.

“And We had prevented from him (all) wet nurses before, so she said, ‘Shall I direct you to a household that will be responsible for him for you while they are to him (for his upbringing) sincere?’” [Qur’an, Surah Al-Qasas: The Stories, 28:12]

One of the many lessons which can be drawn from the life of Prophet Musa (pbuh) is his ‘tawakkul’ – his trust in Allah. His tawakkul gave him courage, no matter how distant his victory seemed to be, and no matter how dif cult the situation was. In fact, at one point of his journey Prophet Musa (pbuh) was trapped by the heavy waters of the Red Sea pre- venting him from moving forward, whilst Fir’awn and his army were directly behind him.

“And when the two companies saw one another, the companions of Moses said, ‘Indeed, we are to be overtaken!’ (Moses) said, ‘No! Indeed, with me is my Lord; He will guide me’”. [Qur’an, Ash-Shu’ara: The Poets 26:61-62]

Prophet Musa (pbuh) responded to his enemies by having ‘yakeen’ (certainty) in Allah’s plan and this is what propelled him to enter the Red Sea. Upon approaching it, remarkably the deep waters raised above them high into the sky, overarching the people of Israel. Due to his ignorance, Fir’awn believed that the waters will continue to stagnate in the sky and instructed his army to cross, however, by the will of Allah; the water collapsed upon him and drowned his entire army.

“And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyr- anny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, ‘I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims’”. [Qur’an, Surah Yunus: Prophet Jonah 10:90]

Fir’awn, at this point, had acknowledged his immi- nent death and helplessness, so he claimed his alle- giance to Allah, The Most High. However, his proclamation was too late, after all, his crime was the worst of all, as he dared to exalt himself above Allah, The Most High.

The Day of Ashura

The aid of Allah, The Most Gracious, is always near and this was clearly demonstrated in the life of Prophet Musa (pbuh). Throughout his prophetic mission, Allah had always provided help whenever needed and the day Prophet Musa (pbuh) became victorious, out of sheer appreciation and thanks to Allah, he kept a fast.dates

The month of Muharram holds many virtues and op- portunities for Muslims to become closer to Allah, The Most Merciful. Linguistically ‘Muharram’ origi- nates from the word ‘Haraam’ meaning ‘forbidden’ in Arabic. It is the rst month of the Islamic calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar.

This day was not only a victory for Muslims, but also for the People of the Book who also commemorate this victory with a fast. However, in order to differ from their traditions, it was suggested by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) for Muslims to fast consecu- tively, either a day before or a day after the Day of Ashura.

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) fasted on the Day of Ashura and commanded that it should be observed as a fast, they (his companions) said to him: ‘Messenger of Allah, it is a day which the Jews and Christians hold in high esteem’. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: ‘When the next year comes, Allah willing, we will observe the fast on the 9th. But the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) died before the advent of the next year’”. [Sahih Muslim]

It is important to highlight that fasting on the Day of Ashura is not a ‘fardh’ (obligatory) act, therefore for those who opt out of keeping this fast do not fall into sin. Although, it is highly recommended as it is an act which carries great blessings.
Abdullah Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said that: “The Arabs of pre-Islamic days observed the fast on the Day of Ashura and the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) observed it and so did the Muslims. This was before fasting during Ramadhan became obligatory. When fasting during Ramadhan became obligatory, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: ‘Ashura is one of the Days of Allah, so he who wish- es should observe the fast and he who wishes oth- erwise should abandon it’”. [Sahih Muslim]

Abu Qatada Al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Fasting on the Day of Ashura, I expect from Allah the removal of the sins of the previous year”. [Sahih Muslim]

To draw closer to Allah, The Most High, especially when faced with a trial, we should look for sincerity within our hearts. This was evident for the people around Prophet Musa (pbuh), where at many times the future was unclear, but their sincerity remained. For those who are facing trials, or are af icted with pain, a beautiful lesson we can take away from this story is that Allah is with those who rmly believe in Him and His plan transcends any other beyond this universe.

Oh Allah, ll our hearts with sincerity for You and never allow us to waver in our faith and good deeds, and when we do, remind us with Your mercy, ya Rahman, ya Rahim.