بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
So, what does “just deserts” mean exactly?
Yes, it’s “just deserts” and not “just desserts” (not unless you have a cooking show anyway).
So, just deserts means getting what you deserve. So, you can stop thinking about:
So now, that the grammar mama in me is very happy, we can move on.
Currently, we are in the month of Muharram. Apart from having some virtues (which you can read about here), a great incident also took place in this month, one where somebody got their “just deserts”.
This incident took place on Ashura, which is the 10th of Muharram (which is tomorrow) and it caused Musa (alaihissalam) to fast on it as a sign of gratitute to Allah.
عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ ـ رضى الله عنهما أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَمَّا قَدِمَ الْمَدِينَةَ وَجَدَهُمْ يَصُومُونَ يَوْمًا، يَعْنِي عَاشُورَاءَ، فَقَالُوا هَذَا يَوْمٌ عَظِيمٌ، وَهْوَ يَوْمٌ نَجَّى اللَّهُ فِيهِ مُوسَى، وَأَغْرَقَ آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ، فَصَامَ مُوسَى شُكْرًا لِلَّهِ. فَقَالَ “ أَنَا أَوْلَى بِمُوسَى مِنْهُمْ ”. فَصَامَهُ وَأَمَرَ بِصِيَامِهِ.
Narrated Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhu): When the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) came to Madinah, he found (the Jews) fasting on the day of Ashura (i.e. 10th of Muharram). They used to say: “This is a great day on which Allah saved Musa and drowned the folk of Pharaoh. Musa observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah.” The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “I am closer to Musa than they.” So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Hadeeth No. 609]
This incident has been mentioned in the Quran in multiple places.
وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰ أَنْ أَسْرِ بِعِبَادِي إِنَّكُم مُّتَّبَعُونَ
فَأَرْسَلَ فِرْعَوْنُ فِي الْمَدَائِنِ حَاشِرِينَ
إِنَّ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ لَشِرْذِمَةٌ قَلِيلُونَ
وَإِنَّهُمْ لَنَا لَغَائِظُونَ
وَإِنَّا لَجَمِيعٌ حَاذِرُونَ
فَأَخْرَجْنَاهُم مِّن جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ
وَكُنُوزٍ وَمَقَامٍ كَرِيمٍ
كَذَٰلِكَ وَأَوْرَثْنَاهَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ
فَلَمَّا تَرَاءَى الْجَمْعَانِ قَالَ أَصْحَابُ مُوسَىٰ إِنَّا لَمُدْرَكُونَ
قَالَ كَلَّا ۖ إِنَّ مَعِيَ رَبِّي سَيَهْدِينِ
فَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰ أَنِ اضْرِب بِّعَصَاكَ الْبَحْرَ ۖ فَانفَلَقَ فَكَانَ كُلُّ فِرْقٍ كَالطَّوْدِ الْعَظِيمِ
وَأَزْلَفْنَا ثَمَّ الْآخَرِينَ
وَأَنجَيْنَا مُوسَىٰ وَمَن مَّعَهُ أَجْمَعِينَ
ثُمَّ أَغْرَقْنَا الْآخَرِينَ
إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً ۖ وَمَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُهُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ
And We inspired Musa, saying: “Take away My slaves by night, verily, you will be pursued.”
Then Firaun (Pharaoh) sent callers to (all) the cities. (Saying): “Verily! These indeed are but a small band. And verily, they have done what has enraged us; But we are host all assembled, amply fore-warned.”
So, We expelled them from gardens and springs. Treasures, and every kind of honourable place.
Thus [We turned them (Pharaoh’s people) out] and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit them.
So they pursued them at sunrise.
And when the two hosts saw each other, the companions of Musa said: “We are sure to be overtaken.”
[Musa] said: “Nay, verily! With me is my Lord, He will guide me.”
Then We inspired Musa (saying): “Strike the sea with your stick.” And it parted, and each separate part (of that sea water) became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain.
Then We brought near the others [Firaun’s (Pharaoh) party] to that place.
And We saved Musa and all those with him.
Then We drowned the others.
Verily! In this is indeed a sign (or a proof), yet most of them are not believers.
And verily, your Lord! He is truly the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.
[Surah Ash-Shuara (26) : 52-68]
So, that’s what happened on Ashura. The sea split and Pharoah and his troops were history (in more ways than one, I suppose).
This story is also mentioned in brief in Surah Al-Baqarah.
وَإِذْ فَرَقْنَا بِكُمُ الْبَحْرَ فَأَنجَيْنَاكُمْ وَأَغْرَقْنَا آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَأَنتُمْ تَنظُرُونَ
And (remember) when We separated the sea for you and saved you and drowned Firaun’s people while you were looking (at them, when the sea-water covered them). [Surah Al-Baqarah (2): 49-50]
In his explanation of this ayah (verse), Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen (rahimahullah) pointed out a very, very, very, very interesting benefit. [No, really, it was THAT amazing.]
[Please note that the point of benefit was mentioned in brief but I’ve expanded upon it for ease of understanding.]
He basically said that Pharoah got exactly what he deserved. Yep, “just deserts”.
Why? Well, first, let’s look at what Pharoah said whilst he was alive.
وَنَادَىٰ فِرْعَوْنُ فِي قَوْمِهِ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ أَلَيْسَ لِي مُلْكُ مِصْرَ وَهَـٰذِهِ الْأَنْهَارُ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِي ۖ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ
أَمْ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِّنْ هَـٰذَا الَّذِي هُوَ مَهِينٌ وَلَا يَكَادُ يُبِينُ
And Firaun (Pharoah) proclaimed among his people, saying: “O my people! Is not mine the dominion of Egypt, and these rivers flowing underneath me. See you not then? Am I not better than this one [Musa], who is Maheen [has no honour nor any respect, and is weak and despicable] and can scarcely express himself clearly? [Surah Az-Zukhruf (43) : 51-52]
So, let’s see:
- He bragged about all the land that he owned (i.e. Egypt)
- He bragged about his rivers
- He demeaned Musa (alaihissalam)
Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen points out that Pharoah was destroyed by the same type of thing he bragged about. How? Pharoah boasted about his rivers and he ended up drowning in one of them!
And that’s not all. Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen also pointed that the land that he boasted about got inherited by Musa (alaihissalaam), the person that Pharoah demeaned!
كَذَٰلِكَ وَأَوْرَثْنَاهَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ
Thus [We turned them (Pharaoh’s people) out] and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit them. [Surah Al-Shuara (26) : 59]
Subhan Allah, look at that. Pharoah boasted so much and and it all came back to haunt him. He got his just deserts i.e. he got EXACTLY what he deserved.
You know what the sad part is? So many people today behave like the Pharoah. They brag about their wealth and demean others. And guess what? I’ve seen some of the people fast on Ashura!
Ironic, isn’t it? The reason that we fast Ashura is because the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) ordered us to do so because we have more right over Musa (alaihissalam) who fasted out of gratitude to Allah for having saved him from this tyrant – a tyrant who had constantly demeaned and oppressed him.
Yet, there are people who behave a lot like Pharoah and fast Ashura, not realising the importance of this day.
It just shows that we don’t reflect over our actions. We need to be careful about what we do, because one day all our sins WILL come back to haunt us, either in this world or the hereafter – if we don’t repent from that, that is.
So, in shaa Allah, when we fast tomorrow on Ashura (for the virtues mentioned here), let’s take a moment to reflect over this great event and also over our lives.
It’s not enough to say “I fasted Ashura”. We also need to learn the lessons that it teaches us.