In Islam, there are some ceremonies and occasions which are held all around the world among Muslims. They all have religious backgrounds and are mostly referred to in the holy Quran. Muslim nations have been commemorating them in the course of history. Here we are going to have a glance at the most significant Islamic occasions based on the Lunar Calendar.
The month of Muharram is the first month of the year in the lunar calendar. On the tenth day of this month, Hussain Ibn Ali (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and his companions were brutally martyred, and their women and children were taken captive by the caliph of the time, Yazid ibn. Muawyah. Their story has been the source of inspiration for many new converts.
Arbaeen is the Arabic word for forty, and it marks the 20th of Safar, the fortieth day after Imam Hussain's (AS) martyrdom on the day of Ashura, who was martyred in the event of Karbala along with his companions in the cruelest and most inhumane way possible.
According to some historical accounts , some of the members of Imam Hussain's (AS) family after being released from the bondage of Yazid's forces returned to Karbala from Sham (today's Damascus) to visit Imam Hussain's (AS) grave. Also, some believe that Imam Hussain's (AS) head, which was taken to Sham by Yazid's army was brought back to Karbala on this day and buried with his body  & .
Every year, a few days before this day, a vast number of people from all over the world, Muslims or even non-Muslims, gather in Iraq to take part in a symbolic walk, to revive the teachings of Imam Hussain (AS) and commemorate his sacrifice in the way of Allah and humanity.
There is a disagreement concerning the exact date of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) birthday. Some believe it occurred on the 12th of Rabi al-Avval, while others consider it to be on the 17th of Rabi al-Avval, the third month in the Islamic calendar. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was born in Mecca. All Muslims around the world celebrate his birthday and regard it as one of the important Islamic occasions. On this day, Muslims feed the needy, pray and recite the Quran, commemorate Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and his challenges to deliver the messages of Allah to human beings.
The first day of the month of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar, is called Eid al-Fitr. After fasting for one month, during the month of Ramadan, remembering, worshipping Allah and trying to do fewer sins beside not eating and drinking from before the Call for Fajr prayer to after the Call for Magrib prayer, Muslims celebrate the first day of the month of Shawwal, for their success in submitting to Allah's command. They perform the Eid prayer first; then, they hold a feast inviting their loved ones, wear their best clothes, and visit their friends and family. The culture of feasting might be different in different Islamic communities, but one thing is for sure; no one is allowed to fast on this exceptional day. Allah also obliges Muslims to share their blessings and happiness with the needy with the money they donate to them.
Eid al-Adha is one of the most significant Islamic occasions. Some of the most important events of this Abrahamic religion happened on this day. On this Eid, similar to Eid al-Fitr, Muslims are not allowed to fast. The first is the sacrifice of Ishmael by his father, Abraham, for the sake of Allah. When Abraham and his son both surrendered, and he was ready to behead his son, Allah sent a ram and asked Abraham to kill that instead.
"So when they had both surrendered [to Allah's will], and he had laid him down on his forehead, We called out to him, 'O Abraham! You have indeed fulfilled your vision! Thus indeed do We reward the virtuous! This was indeed a manifest test. Then We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, and left for him a good name in posterity." (37: 103-108)
This day is also the last day of Hajj rituals, in which Muslims shall sacrifice an animal to feed the needy Muslims. On this day, those who attended Hajj have performed all their Hajj rituals, and with the great assistance of Allah, all their sins are wiped away, and Allah accepts their good deeds and repentance.
Many Muslims celebrate this day. They sacrifice an animal to feed the needy, even if they have not attended Hajj. If they do not have enough money to buy a sheep, they do other things and feed the destitute in different ways. This sacrifice is an expression of generosity and obedience to the commands of Allah. This Eid also reminds humankind of the characteristics, such as envy, rage, dishonesty, etc., they have to symbolically sacrifice in themselves to become the better version of themselves and be worthy of being Allah's best creation.
This Islamic occasion was a day in the last Hajj pilgrimage (Hajjat al-Vida'a) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). When he was going back to Medina with all his companions and other pilgrims, he gathered everyone around a place called Ghadir and announced these words in which he appointed Imam Ali b. Abi Talib (AS) as his caliph and the Imam after himself following a direct order from Allah [i]:
"Whomsoever, I am his leader (Mawla), Ali (AS) is also his leader (Mawla). O' Allah! Love those who love him (Ali (AS)) and oppose those who oppose him" 
This is another important day in the Muslim calendar. On this day, Muslims can fast and again feed the needy, as an essential part of Islamic culture.
These are the most significant and most celebrated Islamic occasions. As one can see, feeding others and praying to Allah are the essential things a Muslim should do to celebrate a feast, which reveals the importance of caring for others in Islam that results from the devotion to Allah.
[i] Verse 67th of Surah al-Maedah known as Al-Tabligh Verse, and the third verse of the same chapter known as Al-Ikmal Verse.
- Ibn Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, vol. 3, p. 605; Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 1, p. 295; Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 2, p. 110-111;
- Ibn Tawus, 'Ali b. Musa, Al-Luhuf 'ala qatla l-tufuf, Uswi, Qom, 1414 AH.
- Al-Biruni, Abu Rayhan, The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries, p.331.
- Qazi al-Tabataii, Muhammad Ali, A Research on the first Arba'een of the Leader of Martyrs (Imam Hussain (AS)), vol.3, p.304.
It takes courage to live in this world. Because if you are alive, then you need to take action. And for taking a decisive step, you need to be courageous. The courage to stand up for an oppressed person, the courage to stand up against discrimination, the courage to stop violence against animals, the courage to preserve the earth, or even the courage to listen to the news of genocide and wish to have the strength to do something for it.
But many of us do not take action. Or do not even care. We may be afraid or may wait for someone else to do something. Say a superman or someone beyond us.
Many philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to modern thinkers regard courage as one of the most vital human virtues. For Plato, courage is “what allows reason to rule, both in the individual and in society.” Aristotle also believes that courage is not just about taking risks but thinking wisely in the face of danger . Taking risks is courageous, but knowing why you are risking is even more critical.
Islam, also, values the attribute of courage highly [i]. In Islam courage is the result of many other virtues. Even more, the reason behind your courageous deed is of more importance than having courage in itself. In other words, you are courageous if you are taking action for the right cause. That is, what you have found belief in after in-depth and rational investigation [ii], and do not forget to be moral along the way.
Imam Hussain (AS) Was Courageous in the true Sense of the Word Because He…
Imam Hussain (AS), saw the injustice that was imposed upon the society of his time and realized how what the rulers called Islam was far from the true teachings of Islam. Oppression, tyranny, unjust use of public property, etc. made life miserable for people.
So, instead of remaining silent and doing nothing, he decided to improve the society. He practiced courage in standing up against what was wrong, and in accepting the dangers of his decision.
Surrendering to and accepting the injustice and oppression, is considered a huge sin in Islam for someone who is capable of standing up against it and can improve the situation. That is one of the reasons why enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong (Amr bi-l-maʿruf and Nahy ʿani-l-munkar) are among the practical principles of Islam; to improve the society and bring awareness to people.
Imam Hussain (AS) was courageous and stood up against what was wrong. But he never gave up his human virtues for the sake of furthering his purpose. In other words, for Imam Hussain (AS), “the end does not justify the means.” While his enemy was impatient to start the war, he did his best to prevent it by negotiating and bringing awareness to them .
He was not afraid of fighting, yet, for him starting a war with the enemy was not the end. Instead, leading them to what is right, toward a life of honor and dignity rather than humiliation and oppression, was his ultimate purpose. Imam Hussain (AS), tried to show that being just is far more important than being courageous. If everyone is just, then no right would be taken away, and you do not need to be courageous to stand up against it [iii].
According to Imam Ali (AS), courage is dependent upon three virtues which complement each other. These are self-sacrifice, not bowing down to humiliation and oppression and not being after making a name for yourself . In his movement, Imam Hussain (AS) exhibited all these virtues. He sacrificed his life and family, did not surrender to the injustice his enemies were imposing, and never cared about his fame but was entirely devoted to Allah’s cause [iv].
In Islam, the intention always comes before the action. Imam Hussain (AS) knew well why he was taking action. For him, nothing was more important than Allah’s satisfaction and reviving the true teachings and peaceful message of Islam in the corrupt society of his time [v].
He was courageous for the right cause. Neither was he after usurping the throne, nor manipulating people for his own sake. In that case, he would not be courageous anymore but selfish. As Charles Dickens admitted, “If Husain (as) had fought to quench his worldly desires…then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason, therefore, that he sacrificed purely for Islam” .
Imam Hussain (AS) did take a risk in furthering his purpose, but he never acted unwisely and on his whim. When people sent thousands of letters from Kufa to Imam Hussain (AS), to ask for his help and declare their devotion to him, he did not accept their invitation immediately.
Instead, he first sent a representative to their city to validate their claim. Also, on the day of Ashura, despite his enemy's insistence on war, and while he was not afraid of fighting with them, he first tried to reason with them. You cannot be called courageous if you let go of your insight and wisdom and act recklessly [vi].
As said earlier, Imam Hussain (AS) was not willing to go to war with his enemy. While he was fully capable of fighting with them, and he courageously did it with only 72 people against thousands, he was never in favor of making war without any good reason. He was a courageous leader and guide, not a ruthless tyrant.
Thus, he first tried to guide his enemy toward the true teachings of Islam through speaking and reasoning, but when he saw their insistence on being ignorant, he was forced into a war.
It takes courage and spiritual strength to endure the pain of losing your beloved ones. Imam Hussain (AS) lost many of his family members and friends in the battle of Karbala, including his brother and two of his sons. However, while he felt a deep pain in his heart, he never lost his control and power of reason.
And he never regretted his action, nor doubted his cause. He was sure that what he did was for the sake of Allah’s satisfaction and his movement will forever inspire those who are seeking what is right.
[i] Imam Ali (AS) said, “Generosity and courage are great attributes that Allah bestows upon whoever He loves most and has examined before”
[ii] “In Islam, faith is nothing beyond human’s reason and understanding; in other words, the axioms of this religion are the fundamental principles that are rational by themselves and can be ascertained by people’s common sense. So stepping onto the stage of this faith depends on the submission that is gained through preliminary investigation of its axioms” .
[iii] Imam Ali (AS) said, “ Justice is better than courage. Since if every person is just toward other people, then they won’t need to be courageous” 
[iv] On the cause of his movement, Imam Hussain (AS) said,“O' God! Surely you know that whatever we did was not a competition to gain worldly positions and not for the worthless physical attractions of the world. But to show the signs of religious ways and to remove corruption from your lands, so that the oppressed feel secured and act according to your traditions and rules.” 
[v] Imam Hussain (AS) said, “My revolution aims to reform the society and revive the true teachings of Islam.” 
[vi] Imam Ali (AS) said, “ negligence and not having foresight, spoils the courage” .
- al-Shaykh al-Mufid, al-Irshad, p.253.
- Ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-'uqul, p.322.
- Ibid. p.239.
- Ibid. p.243.
- The Islamic Axioms
- HUssain (AS)
- Abd al-Wāhid b. Muḥammad al-Āmidī, Ghurar al-hikam wa durar al-kalim, p.375.
- Ali ibn Muhammad Laithi Vaseti, Oyun al-Hikmah va al-Mavaez, p. 182.
- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, The interpretation of Nahj al-Balaghah, vol 20, p.333.
Fasting in Ramadan is an essential Muslim Ritual. Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan, meaning that they try to stand against all human temptations. They do not eat and drink from dawn to dusk, besides trying not to do all the evils which they are ordered no to do, like telling lies, backbiting, etc. Quran insists on the importance of fasting in many verses. The most relevant Quranic reference to Fasting in Ramadan is as follows:
"O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be God-wary. That for known days. But should any of you be sick or on a journey, let it be a [similar] number of other days. Those who find it straining shall be liable to atonement by feeding a needy person. Should anyone do good of his own accord, that is better for him, and to fast is better for you, should you know." (2: 183-184)
But what are the effects and the outcomes of Fasting in Ramadan? Why does the holy Quran insist on Fasting, calling it a ritual for the believers to come to Allah's way? Let's study a few purposes and effects of fasting together.
Fasting in Ramadan is a great help in growing patience. Tolerating hunger and thirst for long hours makes one more tolerant. It augments the power of self-control, be it physically or mentally, control over habits and putting aside bad and wrong behaviors. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) calls Ramadan the month of patience: "O people, surely there is a month in which exists a night, worthier than a thousand nights, and that's the month of Ramadan. Allah obliges us to fast, and that is the month of patience." 
According to the verse above (2: 183), the purpose of Fasting is getting closer to Allah, and being more devoted to Him. This verse is referring to the reality behind those hardships, which is finding a better self and a more Allah-knowing creature. And this is the path of perfection for each of us. It brings us good, both here and in the afterlife  Besides, through submitting to Allah's will, despite its challenges and hardships, we learn to serve Him under any circumstances and lay our trusts on whatever He had destined for us. Fasting in Ramadan is a chance to remind us that Allah's command is above any of our desires and wishes, and at the same time, His will undoubtedly results in our own benefit.
Fasting is a ritual that is done just for Allah. One who fasts is only considering the satisfaction of Allah, and that is their ultimate goal. As a result, Allah gives extra values to those who fast. He considers his/her sleeping worship, his/her silence a remembrance of Allah. He accepts his/her rituals and responds to his/her Dua . Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) narrates that Allah said: "fasting is for me, and I AM the one who praises that."  This has a lot to say; it shows the greatness of the strives of human beings to keep themselves away from sins and also eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse. He has created us and knows the difficulty, and He is the one who best knows how to praise the efforts of His own creatures.
According to a research done on the effects of fasting on growing self-esteem, reducing stress and depression and better mental health on 60 medical students, it's been concluded that the test takers who fast had higher self-esteem, less depression, and anxiety, obsession, phobia, paranoid thoughts, hostility, etc. 
Besides its beneficial mental effects, Fasting has great impacts on physical health. Our body uses the sources of unused energy inside during Fasting, and that causes the repulse of many toxic combinations in our body. Some medical practitioners believe that Fasting is a great cure for cancer. It also cures many digestive diseases in the stomach, intestines, and bladder. In another study on medical students, the results showed that Fasting had a significant effect on the immunity of their cells and total better cell activity .
These are just some of the purposes of Fasting. One needs pages to write about the positive effects of this ritual. In our other articles, we will discuss Fasting more.
- Thavab-al-Ammal, p 143
- Kanzol Ammal, Hadith 564
- Savvab ol Ammal, p 77
- Saduq, "While there is no Faqih," Vol. 2. P 43
- Javanbakht, Maryam (2010) Study on the effects of fasting in the month of Ramadan on self-esteem and mental health of medical students Fundamentals of Mental Health, Pp 73-266
- The effects of Fasting from the Medical Practitioner's point of View, Zanjan University at