Significance of the lunar month of Shawwāl

by Abdulwarith Dimasangcop

During pre-Islamic times the lunar month of Shawwāl was regarded as a cursed month and a month of ill-omen. Some people of that time even avoided getting married during the month of Shawwāl because they believed that marriages during this month would not be blessed. As with most of the negative and pessimistic aspects of pre-Islamic society the Divine message of Islam came to change these wrongheaded beliefs and negative perceptions of human existence, including that of the month of Shawwāl. Islam transformed these superstitious ideas and beliefs into positive life-affirming philosophies.

In this article, we would like to reflect on the positive significance of the lunar month of Shawwal and provide at least four (4) ways in which this month is important for Muslims.

First, in order to signify the incorrectness of the pre-Islamic belief that marriages contracted in the month of Shawwāl was cursed, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) chose to marry ‘Āishah (Radhiyallāhu ‘anha) during the month of Shawwāl. The wrong belief of the pre-Islamic people that Shawwāl was a cursed month of ill-omen was clearly disproved by this marriage since the Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) marriage to ‘Āishah (Radhiyallāhu ‘anha) became a great beacon of love and affection for all married couples to emulate.

Second, one of the most meritorious aspects of Shawwāl is that `Id-al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the month. This joyous and festive day, celebrated by the Muslim ummah, is a day on which we give thanks to ALLĀH, and celebrate our accomplishments of the blessed month of Ramadhān. As ALLĀH, the Sublime exhorts us in the Glorious Qur’an, in Sūrah al-Baqarah, Chapter 2, verse 185: He (ALLĀH) desires that you complete the prescribed number of fasting days And that you extol and glorify ALLĀH for having guided you, That perhaps you may render thanks and gratitude unto Him.

Third, the month of Shawwāl is also significant because it marks the onset of the hajj season. ALLĀH, the Sublime, declares in the Glorious Qur’an in Sūrah al-Baqarah, Chapter 2, verse 197: The Hajj/Pilgrimage shall take place during the well-known months

In a prophetic tradition (hadīth) recorded in the authentic collection of Imām Al-Bukhārī, the companion `Abdullah ibn `Umar (Radhiyallāhu ‘anhu), informs us that the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) declared that the well-known months referred to in this Qur’anic verse (āyah) are the lunar months of Shawwāl, Dhul Qa’dah and the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.

These three lunar months were well-known to the pre-Islamic Arabs as the months during which the hajj took place. This was known since the days of Prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il (peace be upon both of them) and the Glorious Qur’an reaffirms their significance. The month of Shawwāl is thus the first of the three months named as “Ash-hur al-Hajj” (the months of hajj).

Fourth, the month of Shawwāl is the only other month in the Muslim calendar in which fasting is recommended. According to a well-known prophetic tradition (hadīth) recorded in the collection of Imām Muslim, related by the companion, Abū Ayyūb al-Ansārī (Radhiyallāhu ‘anhu) the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) advises us as follows: “Whosoever fasts during the month of Ramadhān and then follows it up with six days of fasting of Shawwāl will be rewarded as if he or she had fasted the entire year.”
(Narrated by Imām Muslim)

In his explanation (sharh) of the meaning of the above hadīth the famous thirteenth century hadith expert Imām al-Nawawî (d.1277) observes: Scholars have explained that it is like observing a year of fasting because the reward of one’s good deeds are multiplied tenfold. Therefore fasting the month of Ramadhān is like fasting for ten months and fasting six days in the month of Shawwāl is like fasting for two months. The above interpretation is based on a corollary hadith related from Thawbân that Rasūlullāh ﷺ said: “The fast of Ramadhān is like observing ten months of fasting. Fasting six days of Shawwâl is like observing two months of fasting. This together is like fasting throughout the year.”
(Sahîh Ibn Khuzaymah (2115) and Sunan al-Nasâ’î al-Kubrâ (2860)

According to the Shāfi’ī and Hanafi schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madh-habs) it is preferred that these days be fasted consecutively, i.e. the six days immediately following the celebration of ‘Id-al-Fitr.

According to Imām Ahmad ibn Hanbal however one may choose to fast on any six days of the blessed month of Shawwāl, as neither practice is preferred over the other. This is also the prevailing view (jamhur) of many contemporary Muslim scholars on the basis of the evidence.

There are also a minority of scholars who hold the view that the sunnah fasting days of the month of Shawwāl should all be postponed until later in the month and not close to the day of `Id, which is a time of celebration and feasting. They prefer fasting the three days in the middle of the month (ayyâm al-bîd) along with the three days right before or after. This is the opinion of Ma`mar and `Abd al-Razzâq.

There is considerable flexibility in all of this and we can choose to follow any of these approaches. I encourage those of us who have not already adopted this prophetic recommendation (sunnah) to consider doing so in the remaining days of this month of Shawwāl. Fasting in the lunar month of Shawwāl provides us with a wonderful opportunity to follow up on our great spiritual accomplishments of the month of Ramadhān and it cultivates in us the discipline of voluntary fasting (siyam al-tatawwu’).

As we have experienced during the month of Ramadhān, fasting is one of the best forms of worship and spiritual disciplines, which purifies the individual, nourishes our souls and draws us closer to our Creator. Voluntary fasting (siyam al-tatawwu’) has an even greater effect since it is undertaken by the free will of the believer. This is why the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) loved fasting so much.

Furthermore, it is our considered view that the practice of fasting in Shawwāl could also serve as a wonderful way of assisting those who may have missed some fasts during Ramadhān, as a result of illness, menses or traveling, to make up for their lost days.

It is highly recommended to fulfill the qadhā’ or missed fasts of Ramadhān as soon as possible, since this is an obligation and debt owed to ALLĀH and this takes precedence over voluntary (sunnah) fasting.

It is no wonder that one of the Prophet’s wives, Umm Salamah (Radhiyallāhu ‘anha) recommended to members of her family that they fulfil the qadhā’ or missed fasts during the month of Shawwāl. It is therefore praiseworthy to do the qadhā’ fast during the month of Shawwāl.

By encouraging the entire family to fast in solidarity with women and others who may have qadhā’ fasts to make up, it would be a wonderful gesture so that such family members do not feel alone in making up their lost days. Moreover such a gesture would surely help in strengthening our family bonds.

In conclusion, since the month of Shawwāl is the start of the hajj season, it is also a time during which we bid farewell to our relatives and friends who have decided to respond to the invitation to undertake the sacred journey of the pilgrimage (hajj). Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.

We pray and make du’a that ALLĀH, the Hearer and Acceptor of all sincere supplications and grant the pilgrims (hujjāj) a safe journey.

And ALLĀH S.W.T. knows best…

 

Dear Class of 2020: A message to the graduates

How are you doing?

It is important to ask this question now because of everything that is going on.

As of the moment, the world is in the midst of a battle against COVID-19 pandemic and this resulted on a major shift in our lives. Most schools approached the few remaining weeks of the school year to accommodate changes brought by the threat of the disease. Notably, graduating students who are eagerly excited for their ceremonial rites to celebrate their accomplishments have to face an unusual goodbye, a rushed goodbye, that is. There are a lot of emotions on that peculiarity indeed. You, all of us, have to deal with the “uncertainty”, “confusion,” and the “new normal.”

As you go through an important transition in your life, I just want to encourage you to place importance to what our community needs because the quality of service we impart to the people is in itself an immeasurable achievement. It is through giving back to the community where we belong where we experience true satisfaction. It is through these dangerous times that we need unifying action and a compassionate heart for everyone specially those who are suffering.

This pandemic taught us to find ways, in as much as the situation and measures permit, to continue the learning process. This is what we are trying to navigate and develop, an educational crisis leadership strategy. We are learning more about the importance of good governance and proactive leadership, as well as a well-functioning and responsive social and health care systems.

The Department of Education recently announced that graduation rites are not cancelled but merely postponed due to existing public health measures. The Commission on Higher Education, on the other hand, also expressed that learning institutions may hold an alternative way for such ceremonies or moving it on a later date. With all these pronouncements, we sincerely hope that you can still have your ceremonies in the near future.

In traversing life, there is a need for continuous growth to adapt accordingly. So be prepared. Stay optimistic. The challenge now lies within us as we begin our new reality.

Mabrouk to all the graduates of different academic institutions in the Bangsamoro!

*This article was first published on MP Mitmug’s facebook page on April 23, 2020.

Jabidah Massacre: Time for transitional justice

Today, we commemorate the 52nd anniversary of the Jabidah Massacre. We may not know all their names, but they deserve to be honored and remembered.

Over the past decades, we rallied fervently to have the injustices committed against our people be acknowledged, we fought hard to achieve a greater autonomy, to be given a chance at peace, and to aspire for our inherent self-determination—for this Bangsamoro Government.

As one of the many transgressions committed against the Bangsamoro, the Jabidah Massacre remains to be one of the large-scale human rights abuses that afflicted our people which subsequently led the Bangsamoro cause.

As members of the interim parliament, as one Bangsamoro, it is imperative that we take every step to ensure that NEVER AGAIN we have to see its likes again and bring these stories into the forefront of public consciousness. One of the measures that we have taken is the passage of a resolution on Jabidah Massacre last February 19, 2020, entitled, Resolution Requiring All Ministries and Offices Including Schools to Initiate and Develop Comprehensive Policies, Programs and Activities in Commemoration of the Anniversary of Jabidah Massacre as a Transitional Justice Mechanism.

It is only befitting to let the children of today be fully aware of the things that happened leading to the establishment of the Bangsamoro government. They will not understand and fully grasp the story behind the Bangsamoro Struggle unless we tell them the story ourselves. In this age of spin and misinformation, we must rise above the lies and propaganda to make sure our history will not be erased or twisted, and our people be misled. The grievances of our people are beyond the political dichotomy that divides this country.
We do not succumb to history revisionism, today and in the future.

They say, “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Dealing with transitional justice is dealing with a legacy of a dark past. Painful as it is to remember, but it needs redress to heal.

We should act on implementing the transitional justice mechanisms, the first basic right under RA 11504.

Section 1, Article 9 of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, provides that the Bangsamoro Parliament shall enact a transitional justice mechanism to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people and the indigenous peoples, such as historical injustices, human rights violations, and marginalization.

As a framework for sustainable peace and conflict transformation, transitional justice is anchored on four mechanisms that primarily addresses the needs of victims: citizens’ right to know, right to justice, right to reparation and right to be given assurance that atrocities in the past will not recur anymore (guarantee of nonrecurrence).

Contrary to what others might think, the process of nation building does not abandon the horrors of the past, instead it recognizes its own place in the Bangsamoro narrative. This is not only a mere commitment of the Bangsamoro Government but a mandate as well, to achieve a justice framework actively addressing the legitimate grievances of the people.

We recognize the changes that need to be done, we work on to develop systems and policies to uplift and improve the state of our bangsa, and transitional justice framework is one step in creating conditions for a durable and lasting peace in the Bangsamoro. We have risen above the brutal and pointless violence already. Now we work to rehabilitate and rebuild our nation. Easy said than done, but we can never move forward if we do not take the first step.

And whilst doing so, we must remember. Never forget. Never again.

*This article was originally published in MP Mitmug’s Official Facebook Page on March 18, 2020.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR ACTIONS

A young man saw his primary school teacher on a wedding.
He went to greet him with all the respect and admiration.

He said to him:
“Do you remember me, Teacher?”

The teacher said:
“No, introduce yourself.”

The student said:
“I was your student in the 3rd Grade, I am the one who stole the watch of a child in the classroom. I will remind you but I am sure you remember the story.”

One of the boys in my class had a beautiful watch, so I decided to steal it.
He came to you crying that someone had stolen his watch.
You asked us to stand so as to search our pockets.
I realized that my action would be exposed in front of the Students and Teachers.
I will be called a thief, a liar and my character will be shattered forever.

You asked us to stand and face the wall and close our eyes completely.
You went searching from pocket to pocket, and when you reached my pocket you pulled the watch out of my pocket, and you continued until you searched the last student.

After you finished you asked us to open our eyes and to sit on our chairs.
I was afraid you will expose me in front of the students.

You showed the watch to the class, and gave it back to the boy, and you never mentioned the name of the one who stole the watch.
You never said a word to me, and you never mentioned the story to anyone.

Throughout my school life, none of the teachers nor the students talked about me stealing the watch.
I thought to myself you saved my dignity that day.

Do you remember me?
How can you not remember me, Teacher?
I was your student and I am sure you remember the story, that I stole the watch and you did not want to embarrass me. This story is unforgettable.

The teacher said:
“I can’t remember who stole the watch that day, because I searched the pockets of all of you while my eyes were also closed.”

Education needs wisdom !!!

We should be able to be such Teachers, such Parents, such Leaders and be able to be for people in such circumstances.

We should always calculate the consequences of our actions.

and ALLĀH S.W.T. knows best…