Month of Muharram
Muharram literally means ”Forbidden”. It is one of the four sacred months during which waging a war and fighting is not allowed.
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah’s ordinance since the day when He created the heavens and the earth, of these four being sacred; that is the right reckoning; therefore be not unjust to yourselves regarding them.” [Surah 9 :At-Taubah, Verse 36]
Prophet Muhammad (saw) informed us about the four sacred months in the following narration:
“The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in succession Dhul-Qa’ da, Dhul-Hijja and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab…” [Bukhari Vol 004, Book 054, Hadith 419
Muharram – The Beginning of a new Islamic year
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic Hijri calendar. It is based on the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) 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 Syedna Umar Farooq (ra).
The governor of Yemen during this reign was Abu Musa Ashari. The letters which Umar (ra), used to send to him did not bear any date. He informed Umar (ra) about it who then decided to resolve this issue by setting up a small committee.
It was decided that the Islamic calendar will begin from the hijra (migration) of the Muslims from Mecca to Medina. Therefore AD 622 became the 1 AH and since the 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, thus Muharram came to be the first month of the Islamic Hijri calendar. (Fatah Al bari 334/7 Hadith 3934)
Time is indeed the greatest blessing of Allah Subhaan’o wa Ta’ala, rolling diligently along its own pattern and set speed. It waits and stops for no one and slips through our hands quickly. Every New Year makes the one gone by, the past. Time will come and go, as Allah Subhaan’o wa Ta’ala has decreed, but what remains written in Time is how man utilized that time so that it may benefit him in the hereafter. So this new month of Muharram is reminding us to lead a purposeful life doing good, productive work and righteous deeds in order to make the passing moments as reward points secured in our favor thereby making eternal success our destiny and saving ourselves from eternal disaster.
Junaid Baghdadi has said,
“Assess each moment of life by evaluating how close you have come to Allah Subhaan’o wa Ta’ala, how far you have distanced yourself from Shaitan, how close you have come to Jannah and how far you have moved away from Jahannum.”
So gear up physically and mentally by making a resolve to:
· Strengthen your relationship with Allah Subhaan’o wa Ta’ala
· Return to your worships with renewed enthusiasm and diligence.
· Improve upon serving your parents well and giving the relatives their rights.
· Refocus on the moral/Islamic upbringing of your family and children.
· Plan further learning and self-development.
· Seek to participate in social works for the betterment of those less fortunate than yourselves in the society.
· Keep on adding what your heart tells you as a result of your own self-assessment.
· And make sure to do your best to fulfill your promise to yourself. So that your resolve is not just a wishful thinking but it is a way of life for you to seek Allah’s pleasure and a sign that all your obedience and worship is only for Allah. Amen.
The Significance of Muharram can be best understood by the saying of Prophet Muhammad saw narrated by Abu Huraira (ra) “The most excellent fast after Ramadan is in Allah’s month; al-Muharram, and the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed is prayer during the night.” [Muslim 6: 2661]
Prophet Muhammad (saw) called Muharram “Allah’s Month” which shows its importance and sanctity and the fasts of the month of Muharram are most reward able ones among the Nafl (voluntary) fasts.
Fasting on Ashura:
The entire month of Muharram is sacred and special and fasting on any day of Muharram has special rewards from Allah, but the 10th of Muharram, called Ashura holds a more significant position than the rest of the days.
We know from a number of authentic traditions that in the beginning, fasting on the day of Ashura was obligatory for the Muslims. It was later when the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory that the fast on the day of Ashura was made optional.
Narrated by Aisha (ra): “The people used to fast on ‘Ashura (the tenth day of the month of Muharram) before the fasting of Ramadan was made obligatory. And on that day the Ka’ba used to be covered with a cover. When Allah made the fasting of the month of Ramadan compulsory, Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever wishes to fast (on the day of ‘Ashura’) may do so; and whoever wishes to leave it can do so.”[Bukhari Vol 02, Book 026, Hadith Number 662]
However, Rasul Allah saw used to fast on the day of Ashura even after fasting in Ramadan was made obligatory.
Atonement of Sins:
Fasting on the day of Ashura expiates the sins of the previous year as told by our Prophet Muhammad saw.
“Abu Qatada al-Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) was asked about his fasting… He was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura (10th of Muharram), whereupon be said: It expiates the sins of the preceding year…”[Muslim: Book 06: Hadith 2603]
Hazrat Musa (as) and his people the Bani Israel were saved from the Egyptian Pharaoh by the miracle of the parting of the sea on the day of Ashura. It was for this reason that the Jews used to fast on this day. Prophet Muhammad (saw) also then ordered the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashura as well.
Ibn e Abbas ra narrated: “When the Prophet came to Medina, 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 Moses and drowned the folk of Pharaoh. Moses observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah.” The Prophet said, “I am closer to Moses than they.” So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. [ Bukhari: Vol 4, Book 055, Hadith Number 609]
Command to distinguish the Muslim fast of Ashura with the fast of the Jews
Ibn ‘Abbas ra reported: ”When the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) fasted on the day of ‘Ashura and commanded that it should be observed as a fast, they (his Companions) said to him: Messenger of Allah, it is a day which the Jews and Christians hold in high esteem. Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: When the next year comes, God willing, we would observe fast on the 9th But the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) died before the advent of the next year.” [ Musim : Book 006, Hadith Number 2528]
Abdullah ibn Abbas (ra) also reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) had said:
If I live till the next (year), I would definitely observe fast on the 9th.[ Muslim: Book 006, Hadith Number 2529]
Hence, one should combine another day with the fast of Ashura and fast on either the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th in order to distinguish the Muslim way of fasting from that of the Jews.
May Allah accept all our good deeds. Amen. May Allah Bless us all. Amen. Received from M. Bukari … edited by M. Rafiq Lakhani … Please remember us & our families & whole Muslim umah in your prayers
Regards and Salam,
May Allah shower his Rahamat & Magfirat on all of us. Amen.