Blessed first morning of the month of Muharram!
Blessed first day of the year 1437, in the cycle which began in June, 622 CE, with the Hegira of the Prophet Muhammad, may he be showered in holy peace.
The Hegira was his sudden departure under divine command, from his birth city of Mecca, where the leaders of the city had come to assassinate him in the night, to the city of Medina the Illumined, which became his home for the rest of his life and the home for the new community of lovers, believers and mystics who were following him and the guidance of the new revelations flowing through him.
The name Muharram comes from Haram, which means sacred, belonging to Allah, and also protected and protective, as a peaceful sanctuary protects. Fighting was prohibited in this month, even in the days before the coming of the Koranic revelations. In Muharram, the human soul is specifically guided to act in a sacred manner, protecting itself and others from transgression and harm. For the people of the inner way, the sanctuary of the human heart, where Allah abides, is the true place of safety for all beings.
So in this month of Muharram we give thanks to Allah for protecting and guiding the community of Muhammad, the new humanity of the latter time, to a place of safety. And we give thanks to Allah for guiding to safety all of the sacred communities in every era of revelation. For they all reached safety in this moth, specifically on the tenth day of the month, the day of Ashura. On this day, the repentance and prayers of Adam and Eve were accepted. The ark of Prophet Noah landed on Mt Judi(Judi means ‘divine generosity’) after the flood subsided. The fire of Nimrod became cool for Abraham. Moses and his community crossed safely through the Red Sea. Jesus ascended to the fourth heaven, where he awaits the divine command to descend back to the earth. May Allah the Generous and Loving shower peace and blessings upon all of them, and their communities throughout time and eternity.
On the tenth day of Muharram, the Prophet Muhammad, may he be embraced in the peace of mystic union, reached Medina after traveling in the desert and hiding in caves with his companion Abu Bakr as Siddiq for eight long days. Upon entering the city he saw the community of Jews fasting and celebrating. When he asked why they were fasting they answered that it was in gratitude for the safe crossing of Moses and his community though the Red Sea. The Prophet then joined them in fasting, explaining that he too was close to Moses, in fact the closest as his prophet brother. So, fasting on the tenth day, the day of Ashura, has become a practice for us too.
The tenth day of Ashura is also a day of weeping. For on that day the beloved Imam Huseyn and his companions, may they all be embraced in Allah’s compassion, were martyred in the field of Karbala by the forces of tyranny. On that day, Muzaffer Effendi, may he be immersed in divine mercy, would both weep and rejoice, for the death of Imam Huseyn and his companions also meant liberation from the earth’s suffering and victory for humanity over the forces of tyranny. When the earth of Karbala was placed over the closed eyes of Effendi as he had requested for his burial, tears of blood surged from behind his closed eyelids. Such was his love for Huseyn the beloved.
Just as the cyclical year begins in the darkness of the first night after sunset, so the new begins in the darkness of unknowing. Like the seed in the earth, the fetus in the womb, Joseph in the well and the Prophet Muhammad under the cloak of Khadija, Imam Huseyn in the desert of darkness of misunderstanding and hatred, so the new knowledge is wrapped in layers of darkness in the womb of the Sacred. Here, even in the midst of suffering, it is safe in the Sacred, safe from secular relativity and disbelieving eyes. Here in intimacy with the Sacred, the new light begins its journey, as the dark night of the soul and the mystery of unknowing. Here, personal self is undressed, naked before Divinity. Here in the Sacred, mind cannot conceive or calculate. Here surface emotions are stilled in the primordial body of longing. Longing and unknowing. Longing and awaiting. Here in the Sacred, there are no eyes to see or ears to hear or hearts to know, apart from the One. All is quiet, all is still. Awaiting the dawn. Awaiting birth.
These first ten days of Muharram, these days leading up to the sacrifice of Imam Huseyn and over a hundred companions in the desert of Karbala, are days of unusual spiritual power. Please use them wisely. Some use them for grieving, some for deep meditation and prayer, praying for humanity and all beings to come to felicity.
Pray and meditate at dawn or in the night. And keep zikr in the day. Offer charity and kindness. Be with your family in a special way. Look upon everything you see with compassion. Walk gently and consciously on the earth. Offer the inner salam, the peace from your heart to all. Cultivate deep kindness in your soul and awareness in your heart.
Fariha Farah Fatima