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Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim, "And indeed, He is the One who makes to laugh and cry" (53:43) "Their sides turn away from their beds [into prayer], they call upon their Lord out of FEAR and HOPE and spend from what We have sustained them with." (32:16) "Indeed, with every difficulty there is ease. Indeed, with every difficulty there is ease." (94:6) The 10th of Muharram (ʿĀshūrāʾ) is a day that polarizes Muslims greatly, between only sadness, grief and mourning or only happiness and joy. People on both sides believe that if you don't agree with them, if you don't follow their understanding, then you're deficient in your love and faith. In Sunni Islamic spirituality, also known as tasawwuf (Sufism) or ihsan (perfective beauty), we are taught that the servant fluctuates, during his/her life in this world, between Divine Jamal (Beauty) and Jalal (Majesty), also known as bast (expansion) and qabd (constriction), yusr (ease) and ʿusr (difficulty).

The lives of all prophets and messengers, including – most auspiciously – the life of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, follows this Divine trajectory. Our master ﷺ’s lofty rank with Allah was unveiled when he received revelation, itself an event that was difficult to bear yet joyous, combining constriction and expansion. This was followed by some of his closest family members rejecting him and others embracing his message ÿ.

Then, during 'am al-huzn (the year of sadness), he would lose both his uncle Abu Talib and wife Khadija, peace be upon them, and was stoned out of Ta'if, with his blessed feet bleeding and seeking Divine Mercy, only to be honored soon after with the mi'raj (night ascension) journey.

Then, the conquest of Makkah – and world – would soon follow with the greatest calamity the Muslims would ever experience: the passing of their beloved Prophet ﷺ from this worldly abode. As many companions would proclaim during his lifetime: “Every calamity besides you [, your demise] is ease.”

Perhaps the most severe of calamities the Muslim community would face after the transition of their Beloved Prophet ﷺ is the massacre of his blessed family, peace be upon them, at Karbala' in the year 61 of the Hijrah, which took place on 'Ashura'.

During the lifetime of the Prophet ﷺ, on that same day, shortly after arriving in Madina, he ﷺ found the Jews in the city fasting as a form of gratitude to Allah for saving Moses ¡ and the Israelites from Pharaoh and destroying the latter and his army in the Red Sea. As it is narrated in both Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet ﷺ prescribed fasting on that day for his community because “We [Muslims] have more of a right over Moses.”

But the Prophet ﷺ was also foretold by the angel Gabriel of the martyrdom of his grandson imam Husayn, peace be upon him, in multiple narrations. And yet, he ﷺ did not inform his community to stop fasting on 'Ashura' due to the calamity that would occur in the future after his transition from this world.

One can argue – as extremes on both sides do – about the historical and textual proofs for their position and against the other’s. Often, this involves an outright denial of statements and actions of the Prophet ﷺ that are found in the most authentic sources, such as the hadith prescribing the fasting on 'Ashura'.

Similarly, and perhaps more egregiously, some among the Wahhabis, for instance, accuse imam Husayn of being mistaken, God forbid, for marching to Karbala' and that the accursed Yazid was right.

My objective in this essay is not to debate naql (transmitted texts) or ʿaql (reasoning), but rather to return and focus on the spiritual dimension of Jamal and Jalal to reach a balanced perception of our duty as Muslims on this day, as Sunnis who adhere to tasawwuf and ihsan (perfective beauty), that complete lens through which to perceive reality.