By Hwaa Irfan
In communities where suspicion is the over-riding factor to the truth, the second month of the Islamic calendar S’afar al-Muzaffar is an auspicious month where only bad things happen. It is perceived by as a month that one does not get married in when Prophet Muhammed (SAW), in fact married A’isha in the month of S’afar, but Ali ibn Abu Talib (AS) and Fatima (AS) were not married in Safar as many contend, but in the Islamic month of Dhul Hijja
Impregnated with bad omens by suspicious minds, this month has come to mean a time when one does not begin/commit to anything new, or travel. This thinking is only reflects the lack of trust with our Creator. During the pre-Islamic times of Jâhiliyyah (Days of Ignorance).this thinking was prevalent. Prophet Muhammed (SAW) refuted this belief as follows:
“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, ‘(There is) no ‘Adwa (no contagious disease is conveyed without Allah’s permission) nor is there any bad omen (from birds), nor is there any Hamah, nor is there any bad omen in the month of Safar…” (Muslim 71 #608)
It could be said that we have returned to a time of ignorance, just as Prophet Muhammed (SAW) warned that we would. We have become lazy and non-observant of the interconnectedness of all life, and have created layers upon layers of self discrimination which manifests as discrimination against others and other fellow creatures. Our arrogance takes for granted our presence on this earth, so we are unable to judge what impact our thoughts and our actions have on others, and our environment. To make our lives seem worthy in the paths we have trod, we blur our vision so that we what we chose to see is not distracted by the truths. It could be said of this time, that many of the crises we face on a global and a personal level are but manifestations of our blurred vision.
However, the month of Sa’far was a month of grief for many Shia Muslims with the 20th of Sa’far marking the 40th day of grieving for the death of the grandson of Prophet Muhammed (SAW), Imam Hussein and his friends and relatives at Kerbala, for those who were caught alive after the month of Muharram were tortured in the worst possible way. In Islam, to initiate and complete a process of change takes 40 days/months/years. Forty days marks the most important developmental process of embryogenesis, when all the bodily parts, and organs form.
2009 presented a rude awakening for many on all levels, but who said giving birth to something new is easy. Yet, when in the midst of difficulties, the ability to see that what one has grown accustomed to is not viable is a challenge that must be met, because the world conspires to open our eyes, and learn the lessons that must be learned in order that we may move on. In mundane everyday terms we are given that chance Islamically, to move on 40 days after a divorce has taken place once finalized, and 40 days to grieve on the death of someone we know.
Forty days marks change, renewal, birth, rebirth despite any prevailing sadness. It is a journey from old to the new. In fact the word “safari” comes from the Arabic “safar” which means a journey, and as we know on a spiritual level, that journey is not necessarily a physical journey. In pre-Islamic times, the month of S’afar was a time when homes would be empty as Arabs would venture away on expeditions, signifying a physical journey. After Kerbala, it was banned that men should enter into wars. It has also been linked to the time of the year when the winds are so strong that they whistle, again signifying change. Living in the Middle East one can experience those winds at the change of the seasons from summer – autumn, and from spring – summer – there is a season for everything, and a time for every purpose… there are no coincidences
The root of S’afar is safr which means to whistle, chirp, as in a cause to be happy, it also means to be yellow, or pale when applied to humans, as in not being at ease, as we usually are when circumstances change, or to be empty, vacant when we no longer see ourselves through our physical and emotional possessions.
“I am falling short. Forgive me, my Lord.” That, we are not claiming to be perfect, we are asking to recognize our faults and move into that reality.” – Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani.
We live in a world that demands perfection, but offers malfunction, because we have not learned to love ourselves in our weaknesses and in our strengths. We have made it a man-made sin to feel weak, to feel hurt to have skills and talents that cannot be reduced to a commodity, and so constantly feel worthless, and aimless no matter what extremes we go to, to fit into these man-made prerequisites.
Here we are in the midst of change telling us that we can change, and no matter how much we believe in the man-made definitions that have set limits on our horizons; the winds of change will help to prepare us to change because there is no other alternative. We have to learn to love ourselves, so that we can love others, and only then, can we find and establish the mizan – the balance that our souls are seeking to reclaim from our egos for we are not two souls in One Breath! One Breath, many hearts were not made for a person to divide their souls from their hearts, and their hearts from their minds, which manifests as dividing others, and others from the creative Whole. With One Breath, life came from life, and with blurred vision we take life from life.
S’afar is the second month in the New Year, and as the revolution of the Islamic months demonstrates that new years can unfold at anytime of the year, at any moment. Let us not wait for the end of the year to look back in regret. Let us look instead to what is seen, the now, the present that presents an ongoing opportunity to give birth to our souls, and to let the ego take a back seat. For where the ego cannot lead us to what is right for us, and cannot hear the sounds of S’afar, our souls can.