Muharram marks the start of the Islamic year. There are twelve months according to the Islamic calendar, four of which are sacred. These four months, according to the authentic traditions, are Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab as Allah mentions in the Glorious Quran:
“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve (in a year): It was so ordained, by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” [al-Tawbah 9:36]
Allah has raised the status of noble deeds in some days in contrast to others, so that the Muslims can extract maximum benefits in those days by devout worshiping and reach the ranks of the righteous predecessors by His mercy. One such month is the month of Muharram and one such day is the day of Aashoora (10th Muharram).
Here are some of the things we should do in this month:
Virtues of Muharram:
Hasten to do Good:
Ibn ‘Abbaas said in the tafseer for the above Ayah, that good deeds done during the four sacred months (including muharram) bring a greater reward. 1 Therefore, we should hasten to do maximum good deeds.
Refrain from sins:
Qataadah said, concerning the words “so wrong not yourselves therein”: Wrongdoing during the sacred months is more serious and incurs a greater burden of sin than in other months.
Fasting this month especially on Day of Aashoora:
General Fasting: The Messenger of Allah said: “The best fasting after Ramadaan is the month of Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” 2
Fasting on 10th Muharram (Day of Aashoora) : Ibn ‘Abbaas said: The Prophet came to Madeenah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashoora’. He said, “What is this?” They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Moosa fasted on this day.” He said, “We are closer to Moosa than you.” So he fasted on this day and told the people to fast.
Ibn ‘Abbaas also said:“I never saw the Messenger of Allah so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of ‘Aashooraa’.” 3
Fasting the Day of ‘Aashoora is an expiation of a year of sins. The Prophet said: “Fasting the day of ‘Arafat’ I hope Allaah will expiate thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and fasting the day of ‘Ashoora’ I hope Allaah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” Narrated by Muslim, 1162. 4
Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “When the Messenger of Allah fasted on ‘Aashooraa’ and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allah said, ‘If I live to see the next year, in sha Allah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah passed away before the next year came.” 5
Debunking some myths:
There are many wrong traditions associated with the Day of Aashooraa and Muharram, which have nothing to do with factual findings, therefore we should guard ourselves from falling into these wrong traditions. We must realize the sanctity of Muharram remained even before these events occurred!
One such event is the martyrdom of Husain. No doubt, the story of Husain is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of ‘Ashoora’ cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of ‘Ashoora’ was established during the days of the Prophet , even before the birth of Husain .
Some people consider Muharram to be an evil month, thus they don’t hold weddings and other celebrations during this month. This is, again, a baseless concept, which is contrary to the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah.
Some people mourn and lament the death of Hussain and hold special ceremonies for this very purpose. However, the Prophet has forbidden us from holding mourning ceremonies on the death of any person, which was the practice of the people of jahiliyyah (ignorance).
As it is mentioned:
“He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah.” 6
Others hold special prayers, offer sacrifice or visit the graves, specifically on the 10th of Muharram, thinking that there is a special reward or meaning for doing so in the Sharee’ah. This is also a kind of bid’ah that one should stay away from.
Stay clear off the baseless innovations and take this month to draw closer to your Creator. And happy fasting!