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Muslim Festivals in India
Bakri-Id Festival in India
There are various festivals in the Muslim calendar. But Bakriid or Id-ul-Zuha is one of the most celebrated festivals among Muslims all over the world. It is a day of sacrifice for the Muslims. According to legends. It all started with a dream in which Allah directed the patriarch Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail.
It was Ibrahim’s faith in Allah and his son’s faith in his father that were on test. Before performing the sacrifice Ismail tied a cloth around his father’s eyes. But when Ibrahim opened his eyes he found his son safe and sound.
In his place lay a dead dumba or ram. It is in honour of this test of faith that Muslims around the world sacrifice an animal on the occasion of Id-ul-azha to show their allegiance, faith and sincerity towards Allah. In India the Muslims mainly sacrifice the goat, which is why the occasion is spoken of in Urdu as Bakhr or Bakri-Id. The festival is to celebrate the strong faith of those devoted to Islam.
The festival coincides with the anniversary of the day when ‘Quran‘ was declared complete. It is from when many Muslims undertake Haj to Mecca and people offer prayers in mosques. On the day of Id, the pilgrims reach the grounds of Mina where they sacrifice an animal each. It was here that Ibrahim is believed to have sacrificed his son.
The pilgrims then shave their heads. The purpose is to be one with the millions of devotees who converge to Mecca each year for the Haj. The sacrificial meat is distributed after the ceremony among friends and family members. Special delicacies and sweets are prepared on the occasion.
The celebration of Bakri Id starts from the tenth to the twelfth day in the Islamic month of Dhu’l Hijja. On the Id day people wear new clothes, offer prayers, and visit each other and exchange greetings. There are special prayers, which take places on the three days of Id. Ceremonial prayers, and feasts are part of this festival.
Significance of Bakri Id
Bakri Id or Id-ul-Zuhat is one of the most important festivals of the Muslims. It is called Id-ul-Adha in Arabic and Bakr-Id in the Indian subcontinent, because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat, or bakr in Urdu. Joyous festivities and somber rituals mark this event.
It is a three-day festival but the main celebrations are on the first day. According to the rules laid down for Id by Prophet Muhammad, every Muslim is expected to take a bath, wear new clothes, apply itr or perfume, walk to the mosque before eating anything, and recite the Takbir aloud.
After the prayers, which are held in an open space in deference to the directive of the Quran, he is tore turn home. There are certain rituals to be followed and accordingly celebrations on the first day include Do Rakat Namaz, which can be performed any time from sunrise to just after noon.
The prayers during this festival are considered more rewarding than other daily or weekly offerings. Every Muslim owning property worth 400 grams of gold or more is expected to sacrifice a goat, sheep or any other four – legged animal during one of the three days of the festival.
This sacrifice symbolizes devotion to Allah and his desires. The sacrificed meat is then distributed and partaken of after the Id prayers mainly among friends, relatives and needy person. Prophet Muhammad had decreed that the entire community celebrate Id for three days to facilitate participation.
Prayer meetings and Id milans are part of the festivities. People visit friends and relatives. Bakri Id is symbolized as a day of sacrifice for Muslims. It all started with a dream in which Allah directed the patriarch Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail. Ibrahim’s allegiance to the word of Allah and his son’s faith in his father were on test.
The dream recurred thrice before Ibrahim told Ismail about it. The two went to a mountain where Ismail tied a cloth round his father’s eyes before offering himself to be sacrificed. But when Ibrahim opened his eyes, he found his son safe and sound. In his place lay a dead dumba or ram. It is in honor of this test of faith that Muslims around the world sacrifice an animal on the occasion of Id-ul-azha to show their faith, allegiance and sincerity towards Allah.
In India, the animal used most often for sacrifice is the goat, which is why the occasion is spoken of in Urdu as Bakhr or Bakri-Id. For the millions at Haj in Saudi Arabia, it is a big day. On the day of Id, the pilgrims reach the grounds of Mina where they sacrifice an animal each. It was here that Ibrahim is believed to have sacrificed his son. The pilgrims then shave their heads. The purpose is to be one with the millions of devotees who converge to Mecca each year for the Haj.
Bakri Id Celebration
Eid Al Adha or Eid ul Zuha or Bakri Id is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. Celebrated from the 10th to the 12th day in the month of Dhul Hijjah, this festival is significant with the sacrifice of the goat or bakr in Urdu. The word Id derived from the Arabic Eid means ‘festival‘ and ‘zuha‘ comes from uzhaiyya, which translates to ‘sacrifice’. Eid Al Adha commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son on God’s command.
According to Islamic belief, to test Ibrahim, Allah commanded him to sacrifice his son Ismail. He agreed to do it but found his paternal feelings hard to suppress. So he blindfolded himself before putting Ismail on the altar at the mount of Mina near Mecca. When he removed his blind-fold after performing the act, he saw his son standing in front of him, alive. On the altar lay a slaughtered lamb.
It is in honor of this test of faith that Muslims around the world sacrifice an animal on the occasion to show their faith, allegiance and sincerity to Allah.
In India, the animal used mostly for sacrifice is the goat, which is why the occasion is spoken of in Urdu as Bakhr or Bakri-Id. The festival also coincides with the anniversary of the day when The Holy Quran was declared complete. It is also the time when many Muslims undertake Haj to Mecca.
For the millions at Haj in Saudi Arabia, it is an auspicious day. Being a lunar date, Eid depends on the sighting of the moon. According to the customs the pilgrims at Haj collect seventy pebbles that are used to drive away the Shaitan or Satan who tried to dissuade Prophet Ibrahim thrice from making the supreme sacrifice.
This gesture marks the symbolic condemnation of evil power that tries to dissuade man from reaching God. On the day of Eid, the pilgrims reach the grounds of Mina where they sacrifice an animal each. The pilgrims then shave their heads. The purpose is to be one with the millions of devotees who converge to Mecca each year for the Haj.
In India, the day begins with a ghusl or bath, after which namaaz is offered. It is mandatory to sacrifice either individually or collectively if one cannot afford the full price of the animal. To a Muslim it is the word of Allah that has to be followed.
The sacrificial meat is then distributed amongst family, friends and the needy. Prayer meetings and Eid Milans are part of the festivities. People visit friends and relatives wearing new clothes and jewellery. Children are given idi or gifts and money. In the Indian subcontinent sweets are exchanged. Vermicelli or seviyan, a traditional sweet, is prepared specially for this festival.
Bakri Id Recipes
Eid-ul-Zuha also known as Barki Id in India is a festival of rejoicing. While in the Id-ul-fitr, or the Ramzan Id, there is much focus on feasting, revelry and dressing in one’s best, Id-al-adha is comparatively low-key. The day begins with prayers.
The men offer special Id prayers at the Idgah after which the animals are mainly sacrificed at home, with the help of a butcher.
The young are seen going around distributing the meat to relatives while it is not uncommon to see the poorer people thronging the houses of the well to do for their share of meat. Special dishes are prepared on this festive occasion. Sweet dishes to non – veg items like Biryani, Jarda pulao, Stuffed bread, Mutta mala, Shaami kebab, etc. Here are some of the recipes, which you can use to enjoy your feast.
Barah Wafat Celebration in India
Id-e-Milad is a festival of both rejoicing and mourning. The festival of Id-e-Milad popularly known as Barah Wafat the twelfth day is one of the important festival in the Muslim calendar. The day commemorates the birth and also the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammed.
It falls on the twelfth day of the third month Rabi-ul-Awwal of the Muslim calendar, which is usually in September and October. The word ‘barah‘ signifies the twelve days of the Prophet’s sickness. During these twelve days, priests and learned men deliver sermons and Koranic texts in mosques, focusing on the life and noble deeds of the Prophet.
In some parts of the country, a ceremony known as sandal rites performed over the symbolic footprints of the Prophet engraved in stone. It is considered auspicious to offer prayers and give alms on this day.
In India, however, the celebrations mainly consist of street processions and functions. Where Nats ( poems praising the Prophet and his noble deeds ) are sung and scholars preach sermons on the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet. In some parts of the country, a ‘sandal‘ rite is also performed. Prophet Mohammed, son of Abdul Muttalib, of the Qureysh tribe, was born at Mecca in 570AD. From about 610 AD, he began to receive revelations sent down from Allah through angel Gabriel.
He spread the word among people, and soon had a small community of followers. Later Islam became one of the most popular religions of the world. In 632 AD, Prophet Muhammad went on a pilgrimage to Mecca followed by thousands of his devotees, where he preached his farewell sermon and later left the mortal world forever. The festival mainly commemorates the teachings and beliefs of Prophet Mohammed.
Birth of Islam
If we discuss about the origin and birth of Islam than it is essential to understand the events associated with the founding of Islam and the work of The Prophet. Although Islam was created with high and noble spiritual aims, and has grown to be the inspiration of millions of worshippers worldwide, one must remember it was originally formed within the context of direct battle against ‘the West’, in the form of the Roman ( Byzantine ) Empire.
It is important to know the context of the formation of Islam and to understand because it makes possible for its adherents to interpret Islam today either as ‘a war against greed, immorality and idolatry’ and the ‘uniting of a nation ( world )’ – or as ‘a war on Jews and Christians, and a battle between good (the East) and evil ( the West )’ depending on which historical facts you choose to emphasize.
In any event, the concept of a literal, physical battle exists throughout. Mohammed frequently went to a cave in the desert three miles from Mecca, where he would spend months in prayer and meditation. One morning, he heard the voice of the angel Gabriel who said that he is the messenger of Allah ( God ) and a voice was heard, the voice of the Lord addressed to the Prophet.
It was recorded and became the text of the holy Koran. Thus was the birth of Islam it was around 610 CE when he had that vision in the cave. The Koran is not a literary work of Mohammed; it is a direct revelation of the Lord.
When he returned from the cave, Mohammed was filled with divine majesty and divine wisdom to preach the world. On informing his wife of the vision he had, she said, “You are faithful and never utter an untruth.
Therefore, you may obey the call and follow the voice.” Khadija was the first disciple to profess faith in the Prophet. She became his disciple and the first follower of Islam. From that time onwards Mohammed delivered public sermons on his faith to a large number of people, proclaiming the unity of God and denouncing the evil of drunkenness and impurity. Though some ridiculed and turned away, others were converted by the power of his words.
The Prophet of Islam did not hold any debates nor did he challenge anyone to controversies and discussions. He silently converted people to his faith through his strong personality, charming demeanor and force of divine virtues. His characteristics as well as the power of the verses of the Koran captivated the hearts of people. Mohammed fled from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D. when his life was in danger.
The Muslim calendar begins on the day of this flight, known as the Hijra. The people of Medina accepted Mohammed’s faith readily because it was plain, simple and direct. With their help and with an army of men the Prophet later returned to Mecca, where he succeeded in converting his relatives and fellowmen. He then sent missionaries to other parts of Arabia in order to convert the entire peninsula to the new faith.
It was the strength and power of his teachings with attracted numerous followers because they came from a simple and honest man who never posed as a world teacher. He often told his disciples that he was an ordinary man as they were, teaching them to believe in Allah and His revelations.
The festival of Id-e-Milad popularly known as Barah Wafat the twelfth day is one of the important festival in the Muslim calendar. The day commemorates the birth and also the death of Prophet Mohammed. It falls on the twelfth day of the third month Rabi-ul-Awwal of the Muslim calendar, which is usually in September and October. Here, Barah or twelve stands for the twelve days of the Prophets illness.
The birthday celebrations are subdued, as the day also happens to be the death anniversary of Prophet Muhammad. Holding religious discourses, reading the Holy Quran and giving alms to the poor mark the day. Various kinds of practices and rituals are followed during these days. Learned men deliver sermons in mosques, focusing on the life and noble deeds of the Prophet.
In some parts of the country, a ceremony known as sandal rite is performed over the symbolic footprints of the Prophet engraved in stone. Are presentation of buraq, a horse on which the Prophet is believed to have ascended to heaven, is kept near the footprints and anointed with sandal paste or scented powder, and the house and casket containing these are elaborately decorated. Elegies or marsiyas are sung in memory of the last days of the Prophet.
The twelfth day or the urs is observed quietly, in prayers and alms giving. These few days of the festival reminds us of his life and noble deeds.
In India, however, the celebrations mainly consist of street processions and functions. Where Nats ( poems praising the Prophet and his noble deeds ) are sung and scholars preach sermons on the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet.
In some parts of the country, a ‘sandal‘ rite is also performed. In places like Mumbai, hundreds of people throng the colorfully decorated markets and payed obeisance at the mosque as children and young men took out a procession.
In Muslim dominated Lucknow, the main feature was Milad procession taken out by thousands of Sunni Muslim faithfuls. Youths and children singing devotional songs formed part of the cavalcade, which included exhibits depicting mosques of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Prophet Mohammed – The Prophet of Islam
In the desert of Arabia at a place called Mecca, present day Saudi Arabia Mohammad was born, according to the Muslim historians, on 20th April 571 AD. Though there are certain controversies regarding the actual date but in most of the historical books this date is followed.
He is depicted as the model for humanity in all walks of life to follow until the Last Hour. He is regarded as the messenger Allah ( God ). Circa 610 AD, Prophet is said to have gained revelations from Allah through the angel Gabriel that he was His Messenger. In 622 AD Mohammed along with his followers went to Medina.
This flight from Mecca to Medina is known as Hijrah and marks the beginning of the Islamic era. By 630 AD, Islam came to be accepted as a religion and Muhammad as ruler by a large number of people. However, in 632 A.D. Muhammad led the pilgrimage to Mecca, preached his farewell sermon and died soon after. His name signifies ‘highly praised‘.
He is the greatest among all the sons of Arabia. He is more than all the leaders, kings, poets and philosophers that preceded him in that impenetrable desert of red sand. When he appeared Arabia was a desert and nothing. Out of nothing a new world was fashioned by the mighty spirit of Mohammad. He gave birth to a new life, a new culture, a new civilization, a new kingdom, which extended from Morocco to Indies and influenced the thought and life of three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa.
The Prophet Muhammad, one of the most influential religious and military leaders in history. His father died before he was born, and Muhammad was put under the care of his grandfather, head of the prestigious Hashim clan. His mother died when he was six, and his grandfather when he was eight, leaving him under the care of his uncle Abu Talib, the new head of the clan. When he was 25, Muhammad married a wealthy widow 15 years his senior.
He lived the next 15 years as a merchant, and came into contact with many Jewish merchants and landowners in the largely Jewish Kingdom of Himyar in what is today Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The Prophet and his wife gave birth to six children : two sons, who died in childhood, and four daughters. From time to time, Muhammad spent nights in a cave in Mount Hira north of Mecca, ruminating on the social ills of the city caused by the Jews and Jewish converts. Around 610 CE, he had a vision in the cave in which he heard the voice of a majestic being, later identified as the angel Gabriel, say to him, “You are the Messenger of God.”
Thus began a lifetime of religious revelations, which he and others collected as the Quran, or Koran. Muhammad regarded himself as the last prophet of the Judaic – Christian tradition, and he adopted aspects of these older religions’ theologies while introducing new doctrines.
Teachings of Mohammed are included in what is called “Hadith.” The “Hadith” is a record of Mohammed’s words and deeds according to his wives, relatives, and companions. Next to the Quran, it is the most important part of Islamic law; its teachings are just as binding. It is recorded and interpreted in many books and in various forms by various people.
Id-ul-Fitr Celebration in India
Id Ul Fitr is a festival that marks the end of the Ramzan period, and usually falls on a new moon night, in the month of April or May. Ramzan is the ninth month in the Muslim calendar. According to legend, the Holy Koran was revealed in this month. Ramzan is thus regarded as highly auspicious month and fasting and prayers mark it. Muslims keep a fast every day during Ramzan.
The rituals associated with Id and Ramzan have remained unchanged for centuries. Muslims through out the world and in India observe fast throughout this month and eat and drink only in the night. All types of entertainments and ceremonies are shunned during this period as it is exclusively meant to dedicate oneself to Allah and show devotion by prayers at all the prescribed times, reciting Quran and celebrating nights with feasts and family get- together.
Eid is the time for celebration and marks the happiness or festivity for the men and women who follow the doctrines of Islam. On the day of the festival Muslims gather in large groups at mosques, and offer their prayers or namaz. Id is one of the most important sacred festivals in the Muslim religion.
Muslim people from all strata of the society dress up in new clothes to celebrate Id with great enthusiasm. Everybody greet each other on this day. Special dishes are prepared on this day to mark the festive occasion. Women prepare delicious sweetmeats at home, and vermicelli kheer ( sweetened milk ) is a popular dish.
People also do a lot of charity on this auspicious day as a part of the festive rituals. Muslims in India give gifts in kind or cash to the needy and poor. The first Eid of the year is known as ‘Eid-al-fitr’ meaning ‘breaking the fast’.
The reason behind keeping fast during Ramadan refers to the legend of the Prophet Mohammed who left Mecca and undertook the journey to Medina in 622 AD, to join the other Muslims who had migrated to Medina to escape persecution in Mecca. During this period, he fasted for three days.
Many years later, He was to receive a revelation from God, which stated that all followers of the Islam faith fasted for a certain number of days. According to Islamic belief fasting helps to develop self – control and a means of coming closer to Allah. It purifies one’s soul. The festival is a day of joy and thanksgiving. The Muslims with great fanfare celebrate it. In India even Hindus also participate in the celebration.
Id-ul-Fitr means the ‘festival of breaking the fast’. The fast of Ramadan is broken with special prayers and festivities. ‘Fitr’ is derived from the word ‘fatar’ meaning ‘breaking’. Another connotation suggests that it is derived from fitrah or ‘alms’. Certain Sunni Muslims believe that fitr comes from fitrat meaning ‘nature’ and Id-ul-Fitr is the celebration of god’s magnanimity in providing nature to man. Celebrated on the first day of the new moon in Shawwal, it marks the end of Ramadan.
As a part of the celebration everybody wakes up in the morning and takes a bath, wears new or clean clothes, applies perfume, eats dates or some other sweet before walking to the mosque for Id prayers. Men wear white clothes because white symbolizes purity and austerity. On this day, according to the Quran, Allah has intended a dole for every Muslim who is free and is in possession of alms worthy capital. This Id-ul-Fitr alms are given to the poor on Id-ul-Fitr.
Do Rakat Namaz, the Id-special prayer is performed in the morning in the mosque. Charitable gift, called Sadaqah Fitr, is a dole to break the fast. It is to be given to a needy person as thanksgiving. Even one who has not kept the rojas is expected to give alms.
The amount to be gifted depends on one’s essential needs and free from all encumbrances of debt. Even women in veil attend the prayers in special chambers. The 30-day fast is broken on Id-ul-Fitr with sumptuous feasts which people embrace each other three times, as is laid down in the Quran.
The festival originated when after proclaiming Ramadan as the period of fasting and austerity, Prophet Muhammad announced a day for celebrations to reaffirm the feeling of Id-ul-Fitr brotherhood. Women prepare sweets at home. Vermicelli cooked in sweetened milk, is popular. People then go for Id get together and socializing. Some people visit cemeteries and stay there for many hours, often even camping out overnight.
This is perhaps to honor their ancestors and to be with their spirits. To a devout Muslim, Id is a time to forget all past grievances. It is the time to enjoy and creates an atmosphere of love and brotherhood. Id is a festival, which talks of love, care and share. There should be no barriers between the rich and the poor.
Eid ul Fitr is the most important festival of the Muslim community. In India after the Hindu community this is the second largest community. This festival brings with it the season of joy and fun and to bright up your festive mood you can try out some absolutely marvelous dishes at home and distribute it among friends, families and relatives.
The festival of Id-Ul-Fitr also is a very good example of communal harmony that India have. As this festival is marked by the harmony among people of different religion sharing love, food and respect for each other. Here we have tried to provide you with recipes of some evergreen dishes that are specially made on the festival of Eid and easily be cooked.
These delicacies are prepared while taking special care of the techniques that were used while cooking these dishes ages ago. These dishes can be prepared on any special occasion and can be enjoyed with the taste that will truly force you to take back memories of the occasion.
Ramzan and its Significance
The holy month of Ramadan or Ramzan is the most important month in the Muslim calendar. It unites all Muslims in fasting, feasting, worship and prayer. It is a time for contemplation, spirituality and brotherhood. According to the Muslim calendar Ramzan is the ninth month. As per legend, the Holy Koran was revealed in this month.
Ramzan is thus regarded as highly auspicious and fasting and prayers mark this month. Muslims keep a fast every day during Ramzan. The rituals associated with Id and Ramzan have remained unchanged for centuries. Still today also Muslims around the world celebrate the holy month of Ramzan with total dedication and devotion. Often, after the afternoon prayer at the mosque, religious lectures are held here. Prayer services are also held here each night during the month of Ramzan.
A small portion of the Koran is read during each service, so that the entire book is complete by the end of the month. Ramzan is similar to Lent, in the sense that it is a period of abstinence and self – restraint.
It also entails fasting from dawn to dusk, and every Muslim, except those who are unwell, too old, or unable to fast due to other health or circumstantial reasons such as travel, pregnancy or nursing, keeps the fast. Small children are not expected to fast, but many parents like to make older children around the age of eight fast for a few hours a day during this period, just so they get accustomed to the rituals of self – restraint and build up their will power, so it is easier for them to fast later on.
The reason behind fasting during this time dates back to the time when the Prophet Mohammed left Mecca and undertook the journey to Medina in 622 AD, to join the other Muslims who had migrated to Medina to escape persecution in Mecca. During this period, he fasted for three days. Many years later, He was to receive a revelation from God, which stated that all followers of the Islam faith fasted for a certain number of days. Fasting also purports to reduce the barriers between the rich and the poor, by creating an understanding of the sufferings the poor undergo.
But we often don’t understand the connection between Id and Ramzan the answer to this is Id-ul-Fitr is a festival that marks the end of the Ramzan period, and usually falls on a new moon night, in the month of April or May. On this day, Muslims gather in large groups at mosques, and offer their prayers or namaz. Id is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim religion.
On this day, Muslims from around the world dress up in new clothes to celebrate Id with great enthusiasm and joy. Id celebrates the breaking of the Ramzan fast, which is why the word Fitr, which means ‘to break’ is use. People greet each other with the words “Id Mubarak”, and embrace three times. Women prepare delicious sweetmeats at home, and vermicelli kheer ( sweetened milk ) is a popular dish. Muslims also pay tribute to their ancestors during this time.
It is the celebration of brotherhood and love among each other. The festival breaks the barrier between the poor and the rich as all celebrates the festival with equal excitement and joy.
The Islamic calendar ( or Hijri calendar ) is a purely lunar-based calendar. It contains 12 months that are based on the motion of the moon, and because 12 synodic months is only 12 x 29.53=354.36 days, the Islamic calendar is consistently shorter than a tropical year, and therefore it shifts with respect to the Christian calendar.
The calendar is based on the Qur’an ( Sura IX, 36-37 ) and its proper observance is a sacred duty for Muslims. The Islamic calendar is the official calendar in countries around the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia. But other Muslim countries use the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes and only turn to the Islamic calendar for religious purposes.
The names of the 12 months that comprise the Islamic year are as follows :
- Rabi’ al-awwal ( Rabi’ I )
- Rabi’ al-thani ( Rabi’ II )
- Jumada al-awwal ( Jumada I )
- Jumada al-thani ( Jumada II )
- Dhu al-Qi’dah
- Dhu al-Hijjah
( Due to different transliterations of the Arabic alphabet, other spellings of the months are possible. )
Each month starts when the lunar crescent is first seen (by a human observer’s eye) after a new moon. Although new moons may be calculated quite precisely, the actual visibility of the crescent is much more difficult to predict.
It depends on factors such as weather, the optical properties of the atmosphere, and the location of the observer. It is therefore very difficult to give accurate information in advance about when a new month will start.
Furthermore, some Muslims depend on a local sighting of the moon, whereas others depend on a sighting by authorities somewhere in the Muslim world. Both are valid Islamic practices, but they may lead to different starting days for the months.
An Islamic calendar overtakes a Gregorian calendar when as the year in the Islamic calendar is about 11 days shorter than the year in the Christian calendar, the Islamic years are slowly gaining in on the Christian years.
But it will be many years before the two coincide. The 1st day of the 5th month of C.E. 20874 in the Gregorian calendar will also be ( approximately ) the 1st day of the 5th month of AH 20874 of the Islamic calendar.
It is believed that Prophet Muhammad had received revelations from Allah for 23 years. At first, the prophet preached these revelations verbally. Later Muhammad’s teachings were set down in a book called the Quran ( Koran ).
After Muhammad’s death all the teachings of Muhammad were compiled under the direction of the first Sunni Caliph Abu Bakr. The work was completed about 1,400 years ago. Composed in 114 verses or surah(s) of varying lengths, the Quran covers a wide range of subjects.
Quran has been revealed for the guidance of mankind and invites the people of wisdom to read into its pages to enhance human knowledge about the universe and Creator, and to create environments where man could live in peace and harmony with the fellow human beings and with the Nature.
It puts a special emphasis on the concept of oneness of god and his concern about the spiritual and worldly welfare of man. The Holy Scripture also enlightens on the creation of the world, specially, of man; of good and evil spirits; man’s responsibility for his actions; the Day of Judgement; the final account; and rewards and punishments.
The book also contains rules and regulations regarding worship and the life of the community, the laws of the family : like marriage, divorce and inheritance. Since the Quran is said to be the very word of god, it is untranslatable. Nevertheless, for those who don’t understand Arabic, the Quran has been explained and translated into almost all world languages.
Still, every Muslim is expected to learn the Arabic script to be able to read the original text, even if he does not understand its meaning in Arabic. Quran is a part of the Knowledge – which is limitless, and therefore it deals with the stages of human development.
It also contains the solutions of issues and problems which mankind faces and specifies a complete Islamic system i.e. the system which facilitates living in peace – where there is no oppression, insecurity, fear and inequality.
Muharram Festival in India
The festival commemorates the martyrdom of the prophet Mohammed’s grandson – Hazrat Imam Hussein. It is celebrated with great fervour by the Muslims especially the Shia community. Tazias, glittering replicas of the Martyr’s tomb, are carried in procession through the streets.
The Tazias of Lucknow and Hyderabad are noted for their splendour. In places like Lucknow, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, grand scale processions are held. People beat their chest in mourning to the tune of beating drums and chants ‘Ya Hussain‘. Devotees beat themselves and inflict wounds on their own bodies.
This festival starts at the 1st day of Muharram and lasts for 10 days until 10th of Muharram. Muharram is the first month of Islamic calendar.
During this month, while on a journey, Hazrat Imam Hussain, his family members and a number of his followers were surrounded by the forces of Yazid, the Muslim ruler of the time. During the siege, they were deprived of food and water and many of them were put to death.
The incident happened at a place called Karbala in Iraq in 61st year after Hijra. This dispute was result of a disagreement among Muslims on the question of succession after the demise of Hazrat Ali, the fourth caliph.
Some sects of Muslims hold meetings where speeches are made on the happenings of Karbala and on the lives of martyrs. The Shias, however, observe this festival in a different fashion.
As Muharram, the first month ofthe Muslim year, approaches, they put on black clothes, as black is regarded as a colour of mourning. Majalis ( assemblies ) are held every day during the first nine days where Shia orators relate the incident of the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his party in a great detail.
On the 10th day of Muharram, large processions are formed and the devoted followers parade the streets holding banners and carrying models of the mausoleum of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his people, who fell at Karbala. They show their grief and sorrow by inflicting wounds on their own bodies with sharp metal tied to chain with which they scourge themselves.
This is done in order to depict the sufferings of the martyrs. It is a sad occasion and everyone in the procession chants “Ya Hussain“, with loud wails of lamentation. Generally a white horse beautifully decorated for the occasion, is also included in the procession, to mark the empty mount of Hazrat Imam Husain after his martyrdom.
During these first ten days of Muharram, drinking posts are also set up temporarily by the Shia community where water and juices are served to all, free of charge.