Today is the 10th of Muharram in the Muslim calendar and is called the Asyura Day. Asyura comes from the Arabic word, asyara which means ten. It is one of the significant days in the Muslim calendar as there are many stories involving prophets, among them, the day:
- God created the universe
- God gave His blessings
- God gave rain
- God created ‘Arasy
- God created Gabreal, the angel
- God created Adam, the first human
- The day God pardoned Adam a.s. after years of repent for disobeying God
- Noh a.s. and his faithful followers saved from the big flood which happened for six months. His ark landed on the summit of a mountain.
- Ibrahim a.s. was born
- Yusuf a.s. freed after seven years in prison
- Yaakub a.s. was cured of his blindness the day his son, Yusuf a.s. returned
- Ayub a.s. was cured from his illness
- Musa a.s. was saved from the Firaun army, the day when the Red Sea opened up for him
- The holy Taurat was given to Musa a.s.
- Yunus a.s. came out safely from the mouth of a great whale after being inside the fish for 40 days
- Daud a.s. was forgiven by God
- Sulaiman a.s. was given a very big empire by God
- Isa a.s. was lifted to heaven when the Romans were chasing him to crucify him
- Saidina Hussein ibni Ali, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.’s grandson was killed at Karbala (as in Karbala now in Iran).
Normally Muslims would fast voluntarily during this day to show respect and remember the many history behind the day. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was said to fast during Asyura as it was the norm among Arabs in Makkah. When he migrated to Madinah, he found that the Jews also fast during the day. The tenth of Muharram for them is called Yom Kippur which also means ten.
Now as a tradition for our family in Brunei, Mom always cook Bubur Nasi on Asyura. She will cook in this very big pan and distribute it to neighbours and relatives. I always look forward to her Bubur after a day fasting. In fact she is cooking it now as I type…hmmm…
Mom has been cooking Bubur Nasi on every Asyura day for as long as I can remember. As I grow up with this tradition, I never ask why she do it and now I can understand.
Bubur Nasi is a rice broth cook in thick coconut sauce and mix with all types of nut that you can imagine. I particularly like the broad bean. The secret to a good broth, mom said, is firstly, not to talk during cooking (I think this is more to hygiene, you can imagine); second, pour in the coconut sauce first then only seasoning; and thirdly, that old proverb, too many cooks spoil the broth, is true. I used to play around while waiting for the broth to cook as you can imagine it took hours to make a broth, more if you are cooking in large quantity. Then came my sisters and brothers who also couldnt wait…
For next year, 2010, Asyura falls on the 16 December. Six more hours to go to break the fast…