Muslims around the world tend to become hopeless when the Hajj season is over. With Ramadhan having passed us, the two Eids over and people settling back in upon returning from Hajj, many become despondent as they eagerly await the moment for another spiritual boost in next year’s Ramadhan. For those of us in this dilemma, there’s good news. There’s no need to wait! The first Islamic month, known as Muharram, brings with it its very own significance which will uplift you spiritually.
Historically, the Islamic calendar played a tremendous role in civil life for Muslims around the world. However, this practice is sadly becoming uncommon for many Muslim countries which has led to a lack of significance for the Islamic months.
The month of Muharram is regarded as one of the four sacred months according to the Qur’an. It is in these months that wronging and fighting one another was forbidden and there was good reason for this. With Muharram arriving immediately after Dhul Hijjah (Hajj month), the month allowed room and time for safe passage for the many travellers returning home. But Muharram is not just a sacred month.
Marking the beginning of the Islamic calendar, it’s a month which allows Muslims to renew their intentions for the upcoming year. The 1st of January might be a time when you make all your worldly resolutions, but Muharram is when one should be making all their spiritual resolutions. With Allah affording us the opportunity to once again reconnect with our faith, Muharram stands for a lot more by offering us certain special days.
Fasting in Muharram
Did you know that fasting in the month of Muharram is the next best thing after fasting in Ramadhan? What’s more, the 10th of Muharram has been prescribed as a specific day to fast along with a day before or after it.
When the Prophet ﷺ arrived at Medina, he noticed that some people among the Jews used to respect Ashura’ (i.e. 10th of Muharram) and fast on it. The Prophet (ﷺ) then said, “We have more right to observe fast on this day.” and ordered that fasting should be observed on it. [Sahih al-Bukhari]
At the time, the Prophet ﷺ also added, “If I remain alive till the next year, I shall also observe fast on the ninth of Muharram.” [Sahih Muslim]
The Prophet ﷺ made it very clear that fasting in this month was more significant than any other, except Ramadhan.
“A man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said: ‘Which fasting is better after the month of Ramadan?’ He said: ‘The month of Allah which is called Muharram.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
He ﷺ also mentioned, “The best of fasts after the month of Ramadan is in the Month of Allah, which you call Muharram. And the best of prayer after the obligatory prayer is the night prayer.” [Sahih Muslim]
The Tenth of Muharram – The Day of ‘Ashura
The 10th of Muharram is a rather special day. When the companion Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked about this day, he remarked, “I did not see the Messenger of Allah ﷺ fast a day while more avid to seek its virtue than this day,” [meaning the Day of `Ashura]. [Sahih al-Bukhari/Sahih Muslim].
In fact, it has been recorded that prophets such as Prophet Musa and Prophet Nuh (peace be upon them both) committed to fasting on this day.
After migrating to Madinah, the Prophet ﷺ found the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ (i.e. 10th of Muharram). When asked why they did this, they replied, “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 ﷺ said, “I am closer to Moses than they.” So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. [Sahih Bukhari]
The Prophets Before Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
The exodus of Prophet Musa and his people was not the only reason why this day was given significance. According to some texts, the 10th of Muharram was also the day when the flood of Prophet Nuh (may Allah be pleased with him) ended, the day when Prophet Sulaiman (may Allah be pleased with him) was crowned as king and the day on which Prophet Isa (may Allah be pleased with him) was born.
Although these events of the prophets are what make this day what it is, the most important of all is the story of Prophet Musa. It was his struggle and success that prompted the Jews to fast in the first place, which then became a means of fasting being prescribed in Islam. Defeating the Pharaoh was no easy feat. By leading his people out of Egypt safely to the doorsteps of Jerusalem, Prophet Musa protected his people from the never-ending tyranny of the Pharaoh. This alone adds weight to the importance of this day.
The Tragic Event of Karbala
The 10th of Muharram also marks the day on which one of the most tragic events in Islamic History took place. The story of Hussain RA – grandson of the Prophet ﷺ – is well known amongst Muslims and is an event which unites people. On this sorrowful day, many Muslims lament and commemorate the heroic leader which creates a sense of joy and happiness, knowing that the words of Allah are true; “they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision.” [Qur’an | 3:169]
This year, the 1st of Muharram will be on Saturday 30th July 2022.
Main Image Credit – Wolfgang Hasselmann – Unsplash