Ten things you need to know about Muharram and Ashura
Muharram is the first month of the Arabic calendar followed by the months of Safar, Rabi-al-Thani, Jumada al-Awwal, Jumada ath-Thaniyah, Rajab, Shaban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Zu al-Qadah and Zu al-Hijjah
Allah Subhanahu Ta’la has honored The four months of the Hijri year: Zu al-Qadah, Zu al-Hijjah, Muharram, and Safar. Muharram is one of the most virtuous and blessed months among these four months.
The first month of the Arabic year, i.e., the 10th of Muharram is an important day for Muslims. This day is also known as Ashura.
Depending on where you are and the sighting of the Moon of Muharram 1444, the Gregorian Date of the first of Muharram in 2022 is either Saturday, July 30, or Sunday, July 31.
The importance of Muharram and Ashura for the Muslim Ummah
Like the English year, the Hijri year is limited to 12 months. However, the number of days in the Hijri calendar is less than the English calendar. It is known in the Qur’an that the matter of calculating the year was determined before the creation of the heavens and the earth. You can learn ten critical things about Muharram and Ashura in this article.
Importance of the month of Muharram
The meaning of the word Muharram is ‘forbidden’ – i.e., it is so sacred that specific actions become forbidden during it. In the history of Islam, this month is notable and memorable for many events. The importance of the month of Muharram is immense because of the unique circumstances and prestige. This month has been given special status in Quran. Allah says:
اِنَّ عِدَّۃَ الشُّهُوۡرِ عِنۡدَ اللّٰهِ اثۡنَا عَشَرَ شَهۡرًا فِیۡ کِتٰبِ اللّٰهِ یَوۡمَ خَلَقَ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضَ مِنۡهَاۤ اَرۡبَعَۃٌ حُرُمٌ ؕ ذٰلِکَ الدِّیۡنُ الۡقَیِّمُ
Meaning: 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. [Surah At-Tawba 9:36]
Abu Bakr RA narrates from Prophet Muhammad SAW about these four honorable months: ‘There are 12 months in the year; 4 months out of it are Haram (respected months). Three consecutive months- Dhul-Qa’dah and Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and the other is the month of Rajab.’ (Bukhari)
Naming the month of Muharram
One of the reasons for naming this month Muharram is that this month is Haram; when fighting, Shedding of blood is Haram or prohibited. Osman RA proposed to make Muharram the first month of Hijri to emphasize this issue. According to his suggestion, Muharram was fixed as the first month of the Hijri year and named Muharram for prohibition.
Warning message in the month of Muharram
The month of Muharram is a warning from Allah. Allah Almighty said,
فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنْفُسَكُمْ
Meaning: Do not oppress yourselves during this period (the month of Muharram). [Surah At-Tawba 9:36]
Allah SWT commanded, “Do not oppress one another during the four months forbidden.” In this month, particular emphasis is given to abstinence from sin.
Ibn Abbas RA explained in this verse that Allah Subhanahu Ta’ala had forbidden oppression in all months. However, he emphasized the importance of refraining from indulging in wrongdoing during the four forbidden months.
Hazrat Qatadah rahmatullahi alaihi said although oppression and wickedness are considered significant sins in other months, indulging in oppression and evil in these prohibited months is the greatest sin.
Virtues of fasting more in the month of Muharram
Abu Hurairah RA narrates that Prophet Muhammad SAW said, “The best fast after the month of Ramadan is fasting during the (four) forbidden months of Allah.” (Muslim)
It is proven from Prophet Muhammad SAW that fasting more in the month of Sha’ban is not better than the prohibited (four) months.
Reasons for fasting on Ashura
Ibn Abbas RA said, Prophet Muhammad SAW came to Medina and saw the Jews fasting on the 10th of Muharram and said – What is this fasting? They said it was an important day; On this day, Allah Sunhanahu Ta’ala freed Musa (peace be upon him) and his followers from Pharaoh.
Hearing this, Prophet Muhammad SAW said, ‘I am more entitled than you regarding Prophet Musa PBUH. Then he fasted and ordered the companions to fast too.’ (Bukhari)
In this joy of liberation, Prophet Musa PBUH celebrated the fast of Ashura on the 10th of Muharram by thanking Allah SWT.
Virtues of fasting on Ashura
Ibn Abbas RA narrates, I did not see the Prophet Muhammad SAW give priority to the fasting of any other day over the fasting of the day of Ashura, and this month, i.e., the month of Ramadan (I did not see the importance of additional months over it).’ (Bukhari)
The Prophet hopes for the forgiveness of sins by fasting on Ashura. It is mentioned in the hadith-vlk
Prophet Muhammad SAW said, “I hope that this will forgive the sins of the past one year.”(Muslim)
Fasting on Ashura is a great favor from Allah Almighty that for fasting just one day in the month of Muharram, Allah will forgive the sins of a whole year.
Command to fast on Ashura
It is mustahabb to fast on Ashura. Also, it is mustahabb to fast on the 9th before the 10th. It is mentioned in the hadith-
Ibn Abbas RA narrated that when Prophet Muhammad SAW fasted himself on the 10th of Muharram and ordered others to fast, the Companions said – O Messenger of Allah! This day is also observed as a great day by Jews. Then Prophet Muhammad SAW said, “When the next year comes, in sha Allah, we will keep fast on the 9th of Muharram as well.” Ibn Abbas RA said the Prophet Muhammad SAW passed away before the month of Muharram of the following year. (Muslim)
This is why Hazrat Imam Shafi’i, Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Ishaq, and others considered fasting on the 10th and the 9th as mustahabb. Because the Prophet Muhammad SAW himself fasted on the 10th, he intended to fast on the 9th.
The way the Prophet Muhammad SAW kept the fast of Ashura
Prophet Muhammad SAW had four conditions of Ashura fasting. They are-
He observed Ashura fast during his stay in Mecca but did not order anyone to fast during that time.
In Medina: When Prophet Muhammad SAW arrived in Madinah, he saw the Jews fasting on this day, and after asking them why, he also preferred to fast on this day and ordered his Companions to fast.
In the second Hijri:
When the fasting of Ramadan became obligatory in the second year of Hijri, he no longer ordered the Sahabah to fast on Ashura. In other narrations, he neither commanded nor forbade the Companions.
Before Prophet’s death:
Before the death of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, he and his Companions used to fast only on the 10th of Muharram. But when the Companions complained that on this day, the Jews also consider it a day of the festival and fast, Then the Prophet Muhammad SAW said, “If I live next year, I will fast on the 9th also, Insha Allah.”
It should be noted that Imam Qurtubi Rahmatullahi Alayhi said, It is known from the narration of Ayesha RA that during the Jahili period (Makkah), Quraish also fasted on Ashura. This proves that this day was known to them even in the Jahili period. Perhaps it was also the Shari’ah of Ibrahim PBUH and Ismail PBUH. Because the Quraysh of Makkah were the followers of Ibrahim PBUH and Ismail PBUH. And the Jews of Medina were the followers of Musa PBUH.
What is the order of fasting on Ashura during the journey?
Narrated Mu’awiyah bin Salih under the authority of Hazrat Abu Jabalah, who said, I was traveling with Imam Zuhri (Ibn Shihab). When he fasted on Ashura, it was said to him – Will you fast on Ashura while traveling? But there is a restriction on observing the obligatory fast of Ramadan while traveling.
In reply, he said. Indeed Allah has said about the fasting of Ramadan that if he is in a state of travel, he will make up for it in the days after Ramadan. But there is no such statement regarding Ashura. If you leave the fast of Ashura while traveling, then its reward will also be gone.
Ibn Rajab rahmatullahi alaihi said, a section of the salaf; They used to fast Ashura even while traveling. They are Hazrat Ibn Abbas, Abu Ishaq, Imam Zuhari etc.
If the obligatory fasting of Ramadan is left, what is the fasting order on Ashura?
Shaykh Muhammad bin Salih al-Uthaymeen rahmatullahi alaihi said, whoever fasts on the day of Ashura with the intention of Ashura. At the same time, the fasting of Ramadan is left, and his fast will be purified. But if one keeps the rest of his (obligatory) fast on this (Ashura) day, he will earn both rewards. (Fatawa Al-Uthaymeen)
Therefore, a believing Muslim should refrain from quarrels, bloodshed, and oppression to protect the virtues and dignity of Muharram. Fasting Ashura. I am applying the hadith correctly and adopting the teachings of Muharram for the rest of the year.
May Allah grant the Muslim Ummah the strength to protect the dignity of the month of Muharram. Give us strength to fast, Ashura. Please give us the power to be free from the Sagirah sins of the past year. Amen.