When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was writing letters to the Heads of neighboring states, he referred to Jesus Christ (PBUH) as the messenger of Allah and then invited them to Islam. In his letter to Nagaci, the king of Ethiopia, he wrote:
“… He, the King, the Holy peace insured dominant, and I bear witness that Jesus son of Mary, the Spirit of Allah and his speech was delivered to the Virgin Mary the good bunker. Allah created Jesus from his soul, just as he created Adam with his hand, and I invite you and your soldiers to Allah Almighty, has reached and advised receive my advice, and peace be upon those who follow guidance”.
Insisting on the fact that he knew Jesus (PBUH) and that he was the son of Mary, he wanted them to know that Islam is no different from true Christianity. The Quran, on the other hand, insists on this and reveals the fact that his name was stated before in the holy books:
"Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be the successful." (7:157)
But is that true?
Here we are going to discuss some of those verses and words.
“I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”(18:18)
Al-Samawal Al-Maghribi was a Jewish mathematician who converted to Islam and had interpretations of the verses of the Old and New Testament. He interprets this verse as referring to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). The description given in this verse about the future prophet is referring to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) since it’s similar to the description given before about the children of Esau (Jesus). There is another verse that is referring to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in his point of view:
"The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; At His right hand there was flashing lightning for them.” (33:2)
Al-Maghribi states that in this verse, Mount Sinai refers to Moses, Mount Seir refers to Jesus, and Mount Paren refers to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). 
This chapter is shared between the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. In verses 1 to 4 of this chapter, we read:
“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. "He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. "A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. "He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.” (42:1-5)
According to the verses above, a prophet was coming from the children of Qedar, the second son of Ishmael , and also the nomadic Arab tribe, which was known as the most significant organized Arab tribe . He is also sent to the same tribe to guide them on the right path. The other point about the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH&HP) mentioned in this verse is that his religion was universal, willing to stand against gods and goddesses. Everyone waited for his coming, and different tribes would follow him.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. “ (14:16-17)
Muslims’ interpretation of this verse states that the two words meaning comforter and famous, were used interchangeably and Jesus in prophesying the coming of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).  They also relate these verses to a verse of the Quran about Jesus Christ, telling his people about the coming of the next prophet:
“And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad." But when he came to them with clear evidence, they said, "This is obvious magic.” (61:6)
According to this verse, the name Ahmad is given for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and it means the praised one. According to the translations of the holy bible, the word periklutos means the celebrated or praised one means Ahmad. The word is repeated in John 14, John 15 and 16.
According to the verses above, the coming of Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was prophesied by the former prophets. And many Jews and Christians were aware of the coming of a new prophet. However, many of them rejected his invitation. Why?
You will find out in the next article.
- al-Maghribi, Al-Samawal; Confutation of the Jews (in Arabic). Syria: Dar Al Qalam, 1989, 75-77
- Besharat Ahdein
- Stearns and Langer, 2001, p. 41.
- Zepp, Ira G. A Muslim Primer: Beginner's Guide to Islam. Vol. 1. University of Arkansas Press, 2000, 50-51
Every year on the 20th of Safar, the second month in Hijri Calendar, a huge number of people from all over the world, Muslim or even non-Muslim, gather in Iraq to take part in a symbolic walk. People of Iraq for months before this day, eagerly prepare themselves to welcome the visitor of Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine. They find it a great honor to serve those who are participating in this event and are paying a visit to Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine. Iraq on this period becomes the site of the purest and most humane manifestations.
But, one might wonder what is the reason behind all these efforts? Why would someone walk a long distance, bearing all the difficulties on his/her way, to reach a shrine? What is it that drives this huge number of people here?
In what follows, you will find out about Arbaeen and the ceremonial walk on this day.
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.
After the event of Karbala, Imam Hussain’s (AS) family including his sister Lady Zainab (AS) and his son Imam Sajjad (AS), were taken as prisoners to Sham (Damascus) to Yazid’s court. Imam Hussain’s (AS) head was also sent to Yazid’s court along with his family .
According to some historical accounts , some of the members of Imam Hussain’s (AS) family after being released from the bondage of Yazid 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  & .
But these are not the only reasons behind the commemoration of Arbaeen every year. Visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine is one of the recommended deeds at any time of the year, especially in Arbaeen [i]. Also, Imam Baqer (AS) enumerates the several benefits of this action. These include the increase in wealth, acceptance of prayers by Allah, longer life, and pardoning of the sins .
But, why would visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine be of such importance? It is not where we are visiting, but who we are visiting and what he taught us that makes this action so worthy of attention. In fact, in paying a visit to Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine, we try to remind ourselves of these two messages:
1. To never surrender to injustice and oppression, as Imam Hussain (AS) did not yield to the tyrant of his time.
2. To always be eager in improving and reforming ourselves and our society, as Imam Hussain (AS) answered people’s call for improvement and did his best to help them, despite the fact that his will remained unfulfilled due to his enemies’ deception.
Now, we can better understand the Prophet’s (AS) conviction that Imam Hussain’s (AS) personality would forever guide the humanity toward everlasting peace and success. And ignoring the values he emphasized would cause eternal distress and calamity .
Visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine is more recommended on some occasions, especially Arbaeen which could be because of the history of this day. Yet, this does not mean that this action cannot be done on any other days of the year.
But, this is not the only reason for this huge number of people to gather together on this day. In fact, they are all driven by the lasting message that Imam Hussain (AS) left for us through his courageous and rightful movement. That is the urge to stand against injustice, oppression and to strive in the way of improving their situation socially or individually. Arbaeen walk is where people reunite to commemorate these lessons of Imam Hussain’s (AS) revolution together.
The journey on foot from Najaf to Karbala which is called Arbaeen walk takes almost three days. But, everything is ready for those who want to take part in this life-changing walk. Many camps (Mawkib) are prepared on this way by people voluntarily which provide free food and accommodations for the respected pilgrims of Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine.
Muslim or non-Muslim, a large number of people take part on this journey. According to the Independent: “Nusayyef al-Khattabi, who heads the Karbala provincial council, said he expected the total number of visitors over several days to range ‘between 17 million and 20 million’” .
While Arbaeen Walk is one of the greatest Muslim gatherings, it is not an obligatory ritual. In other words, it cannot be considered as one of the practical principles of Islam (e.g., prayer (Salat), fasting (Sawm), Khums, Hajj, etc.) which a Muslim is required to perform. Participating in this journey is totally up to your choice, decision, and interest. Yet, Arba’een walk is a recommended ritual which carries many spiritual benefits for the one who takes part in it.
Anyone, from any nationality, religion or any age, can join this walk. This is a gathering of those who respect humanity and peace, are after making changes for the better and do not surrender to injustice. As Imam Hussain (AS) believed being free-spirited and honest is what guarantees human dignity . So, as long as you believe in these values, you are most welcomed on this journey.
It only takes your decision. And you might need to prepare some necessary things to carry with you in this walk. Also, it is better to be both physically and spiritually ready for this experience. Since, like many other life-changing experiences, it has its own hardships and challenges.
Note that the walk starts three days before Arba’een so that you will reach Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine on Karbala on this day. So, you should start your journey from the 17th of Safar and finish it on 20th.
While visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine on Arba’een is a recommended deed, what matters most is to be aware of the philosophy behind this action. Imam Hussain’s (AS) universal and all-encompassing message, is not limited to an especial location or a specific time .
We can declare our commitment to Imam Hussain’s (AS) cause anywhere and at any time. So, if you couldn't manage to take part in Arba’een’s ceremony, there are some actions that would help you benefit from this occasion spiritually, such as reciting the Ziarat al-Arba’en or Ziarat al-Ashura. The least you can do is to send your peace and salutations to Imam Hussain (AS) wherever you may be:
Peace be upon Hussain (AS) and Ali ib al-Hussain and Hussain’s children and Hussain’s companions 
[i] Imam Hassan al-Askari (AS) told in a hadith that, among the signs of a faithful person, is visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine .
- for more information see Salam Islam’s ebook: 40 Points about Imam Hussain (AS) and the Event of Karbala
- 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.
- Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.10, p.239.
- Hashim al Bahrani, Al-Burhan Fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol.3, p.232.
- Shaykh Tusi, Tahdhib al-Ahkam , vol.6, p.52.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p.49.
- Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.10, p.309.
- Ziarat al-Ashura
When it comes to fasting, many questions might come to mind. Is it even healthy? Is it safe? Does it benefit my fitness goals? Those are the very most typical questions that are asked by the public about fasting. The purest form of fasting, as I am sure you have heard of it, is that of intermittent fasting (IF). Which happens to be good for your health, apt to your fitness goals, and safe.
Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular health and fitness trends nowadays, except that it `is´ not, but `has been´ for thousands of years, practiced by different societies and cultures for a wide range of variable causes. Whether a Zen monk, yogi, Tibetan monk about the Himalayas, or a participant of any Abrahamic or dharmic faith, they all have one thing in common; and that is that they all have fasted.  As mentioned in the Holy Quran, “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous(2:183) and as Imam Baqir (AS) has said “Islam has five pillars, and those are: the Prayers (Salat), the alms-tax (Zakat), the holy Pilgrimage (Haj), fasting (of Ramadhan) (Sawm), and the leadership (Imamate),” further centering on the importance of Fasting . Moreover, as the Prophet (PBUH&HP) bids, “All that it is due of Zakat, and Fasting is that of the body´s” .
Fasting in Islam is a symbol of freeing oneself from false earthly desires to a more grandiose world, in which possibilities are limitless and power is infinite. In fact, we are too driven by day-to-day life that we never contemplate the things that matter anymore, or at the very least, we do not get to do so. Imam Sadiq (AS) has bid, “Allah has manifested fasting as an obligation to bring equality between the poor and the rich” .
Such spiritual undertakings such as fasting and praying have a single most important thing in common, and that is the essence of the present moment. The more engaged one is with the high vibrational energies of the moment, the less compulsive and unconscious one becomes. Now we can say that acts like prayers (which brings awareness and facilitates brain and heart coherence) and meditations separate us a little bit from the compulsive and sub-conscience-driven life style of the modern society.
But, imagine you were introduced to a life style of letting go of compulsive behaviours, thoughts, and actions; and deeply become more integrated into the present moment in which high vibrational energies reside. Ramadhan provides this opportunity for over a billion Muslims and the people of other faiths who fast because of the fun it brings, and all fasting acts for that matter. It is very important to know that we are being so driven by life that we don’t know what fun is anymore. We are so reactive nowadays, that we are no more proactive towards our lives, being triggered left and right by what the scholars call super-stimuli (over-stimulating aspects of the modern society, which our cave-man brains have not adapted to its bursts evolutionary-wise) , which our ancestors did not dispose of until as late as late twentieth century. With the rise of super-stimuli, and the further adaptation, but not evolution, of the human brain to the dopamine (the motivation, and reward neurotransmitter) hits, we live a life of chasing phantoms(reliefs) and not challenges.
One of the hot topics of modern productivity is the deactivation of the brain´s reward centre for a period of time. Our brain´s reward centre has become very reactive, and non-proactive, and keeps on rewarding us a little shot of dopamine, whether craving a cigarette, a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, or even as far as watching pornography and binge eating for several hours. Activities which have been proven to deliberately deteriorate our physical state . Yet, our brain´s reward centre keeps hitting us with feel-good chemicals. This process goes on and on as far as lowly losing the initial sensation to the initial amount, bringing up the threshold, hence; the excessive habit loop. During Ramadan, though, we break the bad old habits, we become new, as whole as a little baby, as though we have had our serotonin (wellness neurotransmitters) re-set button pushed. Fasting is not only about freeing oneself from food, but rather from all other super-stimuli, such as; negativity, excessive sexual activities, and spilling stimulating liquids down our throats all day long.
Now, we are freed of compulsive unconscious behaviours, and embrace the true happiness of life, the state of blissfulness and joy which is what we are born with. We can sit down not eating, not drinking, not engaging in highly stimulating activities and still feel joy, and a continuous state of happiness, what had since long been robbed of us by the advancements of the modern society. We can feel great now, with the strongest paradigm of manifestation, as mentioned by David R. Hawkins, the one and only superior paradigm to all others: being.  Not having, not doing, but simply letting go of the earthly, and connect to the great source of all consciousness that is “God”. As Imam Ali (AS) said “Fasting is as much staying aloof of the taboos as it is staying away of eating” .
Studies have shown that the time restricted feeding (TRF) or intermittent fasting (IMF) leads to more weight loss, which is clearly manifested in the Islamic approach to fasting. Consuming more calories in the morning has shown to be more effective than that of evening, as far as metabolism, weight loss, and prevention of obesity-which has come to be a major epidemic in the developing nations. There are self-reports of significant decrease in the volume of the fat tissues under skin which distort the good looks of our bodies. Referred experiments prove that the TRF significantly decreases the body fat, but does not affect the weight in short period of 15 days. Although more weight loss upon hitting a 30 days threshold is expected. 
Although cutting calories from everyday diet has quite similar effects like the IMF, Small reductions in total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting glucose and insulin with IMF have been reported in several studies. The greatest decrease of which is in bad cholesterol contributing to a lesser chance of suffering from heart diseases.
Health benefits of fasting encompasses far greater areas than that of the physical health. It mentally alleviates the individual, and activates a new set of body-substances , which grants us to focus on long-term goals and areas of our lives, and become more process-oriented than result-oriented, and adapts our brain´s reward centre to long-term rewards rather than short-term pleasures. Fasting is very complex, common people have been observed achieve the uncommon by long-term fasting; in fact, so complex that by all advancements in medical science, delving deeper into the topic is an area of future investigations.
- Armutcu, Ferah. (2019). Fasting may be an alternative treatment method recommended by physicians.
- Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi , Forou Kafi, vol. 4, Pg. 62, 1.
- Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi , Al-Kafi, vol. 4, Pg. 62, 3.
- Muhammad ibn Babawayh , Man La Yahdaraho al-Faqih, vol. 6, Pg. 43, 1.
- de Zwaan, M. Binge eating disorder and obesity.
- Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 93, Pg. 249,
- Erik H. Cohen, Rachel Sagee et Rivka Reichenberg, « Being, Having and Doing Modes of Existence
- Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting and Time-Restricted Feeding Compared to Continuous Energy Restriction for Weight Loss.