The Sacred Month of Muharram {Islam}

Posted on September 22, 2017 · Posted in Blog, General, Personal

Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar (Hegira) Calendar. It is one of the four sacred months about which the Quran Says (what means): {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…} [Quran 9: 36]

These four months, according to the authentic Prophetic narrations, are Thul-Qi’dah, Thul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the interpreters of the Noble Quran are unanimous on this point, because the Noble Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) declared in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah): “One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sacred months; three of them are in sequence; Thul-Qi’dah, Thul-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.”

The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadan is admittedly the most sacred month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sacred months for the simple reason that even the pagans of Makkah accepted their sacredness.

The sacredness of these four months was established right from the day Allah created the universe. Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed themselves to Ibraaheem (Abraham), may Allah exalt his mention, who observed the sacredness of these months; they also observed the sacredness of these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these months.
In Islam, the sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Quran referred to them as the “sanctified months”. Muharram has certain other characteristics special to it, which are as follows:

Fasting during the month:

The Noble Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: ‘The best fast after the fast of Ramadan is to fast in the month of Muharram.” 
Even though the fast during the month of Muharram is not obligatory, one who fasts these days out of his own will is entitled to a great reward from Allah, the Almighty. The Hadeeth cited above signifies that fasting in the month of Muharram is the most rewardable among voluntary fasting. It does not mean that the award promised for the fast of Muharram can be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, fasting any day during this month has its merits. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.

The day of ‘Aashooraa’:

Although Muharram is a sacred month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named ‘Aashooraa’. According to Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, when the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) migrated to Madeenah, he found that the Jews of Madeenah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which Prophet Moosa (Moses), may Allah exalt his mention, and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said, “We are worthier of Moosa than you,” and he urged the Muslims to fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’. [Abu Daawood]

It is also reported in a number of authentic narrations that in the beginning, fasting on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ was obligatory for the Muslims. It was later that the fast of the month of Ramadan was made obligatory and the fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ was made optional. ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “When the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) came to Madeenah, he fasted on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ and urged the people to do likewise. But when the fast of the month of Ramadan was made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to

Ramadan and the obligatory nature of the fast of ‘Aashooraa’ was abandoned. So, whoever wishes to fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’, he may do so, and whoever chooses not to fast, then he may also do so.” [Abu Daawood]

However, the Prophet, used to fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ even after the fasting of the month of Ramadan was made obligatory. Abdullaah Ibn Moosa, may Allah be pleased with him, reports that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) preferred the fast of ‘Aashooraa’ over the fasts of other days and preferred the fast of the month of Ramadan over the fast of ‘Aashooraa’. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Misconceptions and Innovations:

However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to ‘Aashooraa’ that have managed to find their way into the minds of the unlearned, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources; some very common of them are these:

· This is the day on which Aadam, may Allah exalt his mention, was created.

· This is the day when Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, was born.

· This is the day when Allah accepted the repentance of Aadam, may Allah exalt his mention.

· This is the day when Doomsday will take place. Whoever takes a bath on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ will never get ill.

All these and other similar whims and illusions are totally baseless and the narrations referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit. Some people take it as Sunnah (established recommended practice) to prepare a particular type of meal on the day of ‘Aashooraa’. This practice, has also no basis in the authentic Islamic sources.

Some other people attribute the sanctity of ‘Aashooraa’ to the martyrdom of Al-Hussayn, may Allah be pleased with him. No doubt, the martyrdom of Al-Hussayn, may Allah be pleased with him, is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of ‘Aashooraa’ cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of ‘Aashooraa’ was established during the days of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) much earlier than the birth of Al-Hussayn, may Allah be pleased with him. On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Al-Hussayn, may Allah be pleased with him, that his martyrdom took place on this blessed day.

Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Al-Hussayn was killed in it. It is for this misconception that some people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept, which is contrary to the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). If the death of an eminent person on a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, then one can hardly find a day of the year free from this bad luck because every day is associated with the demise of some eminent people. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) have liberated us from such superstitious beliefs.

Lamentations and mourning:

Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of the martyrdom of Al-Hussayn, may Allah be pleased with him. As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbalaa’ is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) has forbidden us from holding mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of Jaahiliyyah (Pre-Islamic Era of Ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and beating their cheeks and chests. Indeed, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) prevented the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying “Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon” (To Allah we belong, and to Him we shall return). A number of authentic narrations are available on the subject. To quote only one of them: “He is not from us who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of Jahiliyyah (Pre-Islamic Era of Ignorance)”. [Al-Bukhari]

All the prominent jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is impermissible. Even Al-Hussayn, may Allah be pleased with him, shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Zaynab, may Allah be pleased with her, not to mourn over his death in this manner. He, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death.” (Al-Kaamil, Ibn Katheer vol. 4 pg. 24)
It is evident from this advice, that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ).

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