As we commemorate the 40th day (Arbaeen) after Ashura and the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) and the shohoda of Karbala, it is important that we understand the importance of the number 40. In Islam, 40 is a transformational number and in this meditation we will, in sha Allah, examine what we must do for 40 days and what Allah (SWT) will reward us with, after 40 days.
Rasulullah (SAW) was sent to mankind as rahmatul-alemeen. One of the meanings of rahma is to give advice. When a child is young, the parents give advice to the child to teach them right from wrong. This is called rahma and the parents give this rahma because of their love for their child.
Likewise, Rasulullah (SAW) is the father of the entire ummah. Just as a parent teaches their child right from wrong because of their love, it is Muhammad’s (SAW) love for us that is the reason why he teaches us right from wrong.
However, the guidance of the parent is only relevant if the child listens. Likewise, the guidance of Rasulullah (SAW) is only relevant if we obey. We all know how important and valuable the guidance of Rasulullah (SAW) is, but only a few of us apply this advice.
The reason for this is the Shaitan (LA). Just as Rasulullah (SAW) guides us towards right, the Shaitan (LA) guides us towards wrong.
This is why the number 40 is so important. When we look at the Nabis (AS) of Allah (SWT), we see that many of them secluded themselves for 40 days. By secluding themselves, they secluded themselves from the Shaitan (LA) and, after 40 days, the influence of the Shaitan (LA) was neutralized.
We see this in the zikr of Maryam (AS), the mother of Isa (AS). Maryam (AS) was told to remain silent during her pregnancy and, due to her obedience for 40 days and onwards, she received great reward from Allah (SWT).
In the 37th ayat of Surah Al-Imran, Allah (SWT) describes this reward.
Zakariya (AS) was looking after Maryam (AS) and when he would enter her mehrab (her prayer chamber), he would see that there was fresh food in front of her. When Zakariya (AS) asked her where this came from, she said that it came from Allah (SWT).
The fresh food in this ayat is refered to as rizq, which does not just limit itself to food. In fact, it is both a physical provision and a spiritual provision, as one comes with the other and cannot be separated. This is why to receive provision from Allah (SWT) is to receive greater spiritual understanding and knowledge as well.
Similarly, we also see this with Isa (AS). In the 114th ayat of Surah Al-Ma’idah, Allah (SWT) describes the companions of Isa (AS). The twelve companions asked Isa (AS) to ask Allah (SWT) a tablespread of food so that they could feast. When Isa (AS) confirmed with them that they wanted this table to strengthen their faith in Allah (SWT) and the message of Isa (AS), they then obeyed Isa (AS) for 40 days.
When Isa (AS) finally answered their request, Allah (SWT) describes this answer in the 6th ayat of Surrah As-Saff. as when Isa (AS) asks for this, he is sitting with a Torah on his lap and then gives them the good tidings that after him will come another messenger, Ahmad (SAW).
The reason why Isa (AS) has the Torah on his lap is to remind his companions that they are tied to that which came before them. The reason why Isa (AS) mentioned Ahmad (SAW) was that they are tied to that which will come after them. They will receive this feast from jannat but need to obey what came before them (the Torah) and what will come after them, Rasulullah (SAW), otherwise there is a great punishment for them.
Likewise, we must also accept that which comes before us, the Torah and the Bible, whilst following the shariat of Rasulullah (SAW), otherwise there is a great punishment for us.
When we look at how Isa (AS) bought Christianity and how Muhammad (SAW) bought Islam, we see a vast difference. Isa (AS) bought Christianity to people who already believed in God and who were educated whilst Rasulullah (SAW) bought Islam, which was first revealed in Makkah, where there were idol worshippers who were illiterate.
When we understand this, we understand how much more difficult it was for Muhammad (SAW). More importantly, we see how much more important it was for the true companions of Rasulullah (SAW) had to seclude themselves for 40 days as well, so that they could be obedient enough to follow Rasulullah (SAW) in such a difficult environment.
When we examine the tragedy of Karbala, we see an even harder situation. We see the results of the true transformation of the number 40. We see how although the shohoda of Karbala were starved of food and water for three days, their obedience had ensured that they had the strength to perform that which they had to do. Indeed, it was their spiritual strength that allowed them to do what so many could not.
This is the true power of 40. The number 40 is the number of transformation because it is the number of obedience. When we are obedient to Allah (SWT) and follow the teachings of Rasulullah (SAW) for 40 days, the influence of the Shaitan (LA) is weakened and the provisions of Allah (SWT) reach us easily. These provisions are both physical and spiritual and whilst the physical can nourish us for a short period of time, the spiritual provisions transform us.
However, being obedient to Allah (SWT) for 40 days is not easy. Many of us will struggle for 40 hours or 40 minutes, however, with the wasilo of Imam Hussein (AS) and the remembrance of those who were martyred in Karbala, we can strive to gradually build up our obedience so that one day, we too can be obedient for 40 days and maintain that obedience going forward, so that the spiritual provisions of Allah (SWT) can be bountifully sent unto us.
May Allah (SWT) give us the strength to accept the rahma of Rasulullah (SAW) and be obedient to his guidance and not allow the Shaitan (LA) from guiding us away from it. May we, like Maryam (AS) and the companions of Isa (AS) maintain our obedience so that we can gain the physical and spiritual provisions from Allah (SWT). May we maintain this obedience for 40 days so that we can transform within us through the receiving of these provisions and may the wasilo of the 40 days of the shohoda of Karbala allow us to do so, aamin.