Muharram and Its Importance

By Dr. Filza Tahir.

Muharram, the first month of Islamic calendar is month of great importance. Muharram means  forbidden and is mentioned as one of the sacred months in Islamic year. Fighting or war in this month should be avoided.

Allah says in the Holy Quran:

Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous [who fear Him].

“The most excellent fast after Ramadan is in God’s month; Al-Muharram, and the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed is prayer during the night.” [Muslim 6: 2661]

Like Ramadan, fasting is not obligatory in this month but voluntary fasting in this month is appreciated more than any other month of the Islamic year.

The Islamic calendar is lunar and is 11 to 12 days shorter than solar year. The Georgian calendar  also called solar calendar is followed by western countries. Month of Muharram in lunar calendar varies from year to year. Islamic calendar is also called HIJRI Calendar, it is based on the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. However, the use of the Hijri Calendar began in AD 639 or 17 AH during the Khilafat of Hazrat Umar Farooq (RA).

The letters which Umar (RA) used to send to The governor of Yemen Abu Musa Ashari did not bear any date. He informed Umar (RA) about this issue who then decided to resolve it by setting up a small committee.

The committee decided to use the hijrat or migration  of Muslims from Mecca to Medina as basics to start the Islamic calendar. Therefore, AD 622 became the 1 AH. As decision to migrate was made right at the end of the month of Dhul-Hajj, and the first moon to rise after this was that of Muharram which was decided to be the first month of Islamic Hijri calendar. This month serves as a great reminder of the sacrifices and patience of the Muhajreen and their love for Allah Subhana Tala and his Rasool (SAW).

Tenth of Muharram (ten is translated as “Ashara” in the Arabic language) is called Ashura.

Ashura” is a highly important day in Islam. Muslims look at Ashura as a day of respect and gratitude (for Prophet Moosa and his nation).

One of the many Ahadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) that attests to that is in Bukhari that states:

Narrated by al-Bukhari (1865) from Ibn ‘Abbaas, who said: The Prophet (saws) came to Madinah 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 (the Prophet Muhammad) said, “We are closer to Moosa (Prophet Moses) than you.”

 OUR Prophet told the people to fast on this day.

The prophet observed the fast on the 10th of Muharram, and ordered (Muslims) to fast on that day. (Agreed upon Hadith i.e. Bukhari & Muslim).

Abdullah Ibn Abbas(RA) also reported;

“that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) had said: If I live till the next (year), I would definitely observe fast on the 9th, and the narration transmitted by Abu Bakr is: “He meant the day of Ashura.” (Muslim: Book 006, Hadith Number 2529)

So, one should combine another day with the Ashura and fast on either the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th in order to avoid resemblance of the Muslim way of fasting from that of the Jews.

We being Muslims try to fast in this month especially 10th of  Muharram to grasp the blessings of ALLAH ALMIGHTY  and  his forgiveness because this fast is the compensation for minor sins of the past year.

May ALLAH ALMIGHTY help us to follow the right path which leads us  to success not only in this world but also in the eternal world thereafter. Aameen!

Writer is a Pharmacist based in Islamabad and writes on health and social issues.

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