I highly appreciate the work that you are putting in to educating all Bohra brethren, May Allah bless you for this excellent work. A question has been bothering me for a while and I will appreciate some relevant answers. With the first of Moharram is the Bohra tradition of the `Thaal` and the keeping of `Pan`, `Supari`, and `Coconut` as auspicious things. Further, there has been a tradition of `Thaal Wadhawanu`, which has been going on for ages. Is there any significance to this other than the fact that it is a tradition carried forward from the Nagar Brahmin roots of Bohras that were converted a few centuries ago that are still being manifested as everyday traditions. I am of the opinion that these are pagan rituals, please correct me if I am wrong. I will appreciate a reply as first Moharram is fast approaching. Thanks
Thaal rasms in Muharram
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad(saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
Brother, I honestly would not know the origins of these ‘Thaal’ or ‘Thaal Wadhawanu’ rasms that are done in Muharram by our elders. But what I can guarantee you in light of the guidance of the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Messenger of Allah (saws), is that these rasms have absolutely nothing to do with Islam! At best, these are pagan rituals, which have crept their way into our deen, and have absolutely no place in Islam.
Holy Quran Chapter 33 Surah Ahzab verse 21: There is indeed the best model for you to follow, in the Messenger of Allah, for every such person looks forward to Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.
The first thing we must determine when doing any rite or ritual in Islam, is whether it is a commandment of the Holy Quran, and whether the Messenger of Allah (saws) performed it. If he (saws) performed the ritual, do it without hesitation, as we are commanded in the Glorious Quran to follow the example of our Prophet (saws). If he (saws) did not do it, then stay far away from it, as it is not part of the deen.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 23 Surah Al-Mu’minun verse 52: And this ‘Ummah’ of yours is one ‘Ummah’, and I (Allah) am your Lord, so fear Me alone!
Allah says in the above aayah, that this community of Muslims is one community, and Allah is our only Lord. Islam is the religion and way of life for all muslims, and Islam has its own set of unique rites and rituals, which were taught to us by the Messenger of Allah (saws). Amongst these rites and rituals are things like, salaah, zakah, hajj, umrah, aqiqah, nikaah, janazah, etc. It is prohibited in Islam to introduce a new ritual or to change any ritual in any way in the least, after the Messenger of Allah (saws) has made these clear to us in his own lifetime. Any changes to the way taught to us by the Messenger of Allah (saws), will be known as an innovation or ‘bida’ in Islam, and should be rejected.
It has been reported in an authentic narration that the Prophet of Allah (saws) said: “Whoever introduces a ‘bida’ (innovation) in this deen brought by me (saws), it will be rejected.”
It has been reported by Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (r.a.) that the Prophet of Allah (saws) said: “If anyone introduces an innovation (in religion), he will be responsible for it. If anyone introduces an innovation or gives shelter to a man who introduces an innovation (in religion), he is cursed by Allah, by His angels, and by all the people.”
It has been reported by Jabir ibn Abdullah (r.a.) in another authentic narration that the Prophet of Allah (saws) said in a sermon: “The best speech is that which is embodied in the Book of Allah, the Al Quran; and the best guidance is the guidance given by me, Mohamed (saws). The most evil affairs are the innovations, and every innovation is an error.”
Both, the ‘thaal’ on the first of Muharram and ‘thaal wadhawanu’ are pagan rituals, and must be abolished if indeed one wants to follow Allah and His Messenger (saws). These and other such rituals and ‘rasms’ are nothing but burdens we have put on ourselves. We claim to have left the days of ‘jaahiliyya’ (pre-Islamic days of ignorance), but are unable to leave their customs and rituals. In time, these very pagan rites and rituals overtake the deen, and actually become the deen itself.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 7 Surah Aaraf verse 157-158: (So, now mercy has been assigned to those) who follow this Messenger, the Ummi Prophet, whose mention they shall find in the Torah and the Gospel with them. He enjoins them to do good and forbids them from evil. He makes pure things lawful for them, and impure things unlawful. He relieves them of their burdens and frees them from the shackles (of the customary rites and rasms) that bound them. For this reason those alone who believe in him and support and succour him and follow the Light (Al Quran) that has been sent down with him, shall attain success. O Mohamed, say, “O mankind, I am a Messenger to all of you from Allah, to Whom belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity but He. He bestows life and ordains death.” So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Ummi Prophet, who believes in Allah and His Commandments. Follow him, it is expected that you will be guided aright.
The Prophet (saws) said in one his narrations, that ‘I (saws) have come to break the chains and shackles of rasams and customs that you have put on yourselves because of jaahiliya.’
Another pagan ritual I just want to mention here is the ‘wadhawanu’ or the act of taking something in your hands and rotating it over the person or grave three or seven times. You look at this ritual and just watch the ‘aarti’ ritual that the Hindus perform in their deen, to their people as well as their idols!!! Do you see any difference whatsoever? There is absolutely no doubt that this is a pure Hindu ritual, and we have allowed it to creep into our deen of Islam!
May Allah guide you and us all to the Straight Path of Islam. May Allah guide us all to follow the example of the Messenger of Allah (saws) in everything he did, so that we may do acts that please Allah. May Allah guide us, so that we stay away from all the pagan rites and rituals that have entered our deen of Islam.
May Allah have Mercy upon us and Forgive us our sins, and disgrace us not, on the Day of Final Accounting. Ameen.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength
Your Brother and well wisher in Islam,
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