Muharram – victory comes from sacrifice and a shared vision

Muharram - victory comes from sacrifice and a shared vision

If you do not help him, God has already helped him, when those who disbelieved expelled him, and he was the second of two in the cave. He said to his friend, ‘Do not worry, God is with us.’ And God made His tranquility descend upon him, and supported him with forces you did not see, and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the Word of God is the Highest. God is Mighty and Wise. (9:40)

This ayah refers to the Hijrah (migration) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Madinah. As the new Islamic year begins, we reflect on the Hijrah which was a new beginning for the Muslims. There are certain events in history which change its course, as today’s landslide victory for the Labour party and crushing defeat of the Conservatives.

We know that after the Prophet ﷺ received the first revelation at the age of 40, he ﷺ spent thirteen years trying to spread the divine message in Makkah, but out of a population of about 5000 only about 115 people accepted Islam. We don’t have accurate statistics, as there was no census at the time, but historians and scholars of his biography estimate this was the case. Tirelessly, day and night he ﷺ delivered the message to his community as well as the tribes around Makkah. He ﷺ tried his best, but his own uncle and his own people fought him.

Don’t give up

The lessons we learn from Hijrah are many. One important point is never to give up even when the challenges are beyond your capacity and power. As long as you are committed to the truth and connected to Allah, He will make a way for you to deliver His message. The Quryash tried to kill him ﷺ many times after he refused to compromise in matters of faith. Though he ﷺ was open to negotiating in worldly matters, when it came to belief, his principles were immutable. The leaders of Quraysh suggested that he worship their gods one year and in exchange they would worship his God the next year. But the Prophet ﷺ refused and recited Surat al Kafiroon, which was revealed in response. There is no compromise when it comes to belief.

The Quraysh, unable to negotiate, became more hostile. The Prophet’s ﷺ uncle, Abu Talib took him ﷺ under his wing and protected him while they were under siege in Shi’b Abi Talib, where they spent three years under siege, and were forced into starvation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was there with his wife, Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her), and children and companions until Allah facilitated a way out for them.

In Makkah, the Prophet ﷺ was establishing the concept of tawheed, nurturing human character, and instilling the pillars of imaan, justice, fairness, goodness, and cooperation. He ﷺ was laying the foundations of knowledge and connection with Allah.

Later those who migrated from Makkah became the teachers who would deliver the knowledge to the host community in Madinah (known as Yathrib), because they had learned from him ﷺ for 13 years. The Makkan period was a time of building imaan and facing the challenges of the community and not giving up. It was about having a strong character and a strong bond between believers. Then in the 12th year after revelation, a group from Madinah came to perform Hajj and they accepted Islam. When they went back to Madinah they told others about the message and next year, 73 of them came and made the second pledge and a new page for the Ummah started. Shortly afterwards, the Prophet ﷺ received permission to migrate to Madinah.

When the people pledged allegiance to him during Dhul Hijjah when they came for Hajj, the Prophet ﷺ stayed in Makkah for another two and a half months. He ﷺ left at the end of Safar for Hijrah. He ﷺ arrived in Madinah on 12th Rabial Awal. His ﷺ Hijrah is an inspiration it teaches us that even if all the doors shut in your face, don’t give up. He ﷺ had started with his tribe and ended with Taif, but they humiliated him ﷺ and refused to believe. If you believe the truth, cling to it and don’t let go, but you need to be patient.

The Prophet ﷺ started a new community in Madinah and victory was his. But it took 2 decades. Victory is not an overnight dish – it has many ingredients and takes a long time to perfect. In order to succeed you have to be able to see the vision and mobilise the people around you who share the vision and are willing to make sacrifice, as the companions sacrificed their wealth time and families and even their lives for Allah. Sacrifice is one of the main ingredients in delivering the truth. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is our leader, our role model and in this day and age we have many challenges, but we have to be patient to find a way out of these challenges.

The new government has been elected. I hope they will focus on what is useful for the nation – and tackle health, poverty and education. We have more and more people relying on food banks. The cost of living it very high. We hope it is a new page and we should be striving towards delivering the truth and achieving goodness wherever we are. The Prophet ﷺ set the bar high, building a diverse community of believers – a community of cooperation. We too have to deliver justice and fairness.

It is the Sunnah to fast on 9th and 10th Muharram or 10th and 11th. It is a sacred month and the Prophet ﷺ used to fast a lot. We have to emulate him ﷺ as much as possible.

From Hijra we are inspired to follow the footsteps of our Messenger ﷺ to be the messengers of goodness.

Based on the Khutbah of Shaykh Haytham Tamim 5th June 2024


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.