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Month of Muharram


Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar that is commonly known as the Hijrah calendar. The name Muharram means sacred.

is one of the four sacred months mentioned in the Holy Qur-an by Allah (God).  

Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islamic calendar).
Surah (Chapter) at-Tawbah (Repentance) Qur-an
The four sacred months are not named in the Holy Qur-an, but their names are available from Ahadith (Sayings of Muhammad S).

Messenger of Allah S in his farewell Khutbah (Sermon) and said: “Time has completed its cycle and is as it was on the Day when Allah created the heavens and the earth. The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred, three consecutive months Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram – and the Rajab of Mudar which comes between Jumad al Ukhrah and Sha’ban.”
Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim

Allah (God) has also commanded about maintaining the sanctity of the sacred months:

O you who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the Symbols of Allah, nor of the Sacred Month,...
Surah (Chapter) al-Ma"idah (Table Spread with Food) Qur-an 5:2

Muslims should live by a code of conduct ordained by Allah (God) that was demonstrated by His last Rasul (Messenger) all the time. But they should pay special attention to respect the four months, because Allah (God) has given them a special status.

After migrating to Madinah, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S saw the local Jews observe fasting on Ashurah (Tenth day of Muharram). Upon enquiry, he found out that the Jews fast to commemorate the day when Allah (God) freed Musa A (Moses) and his followers from the clutches of their tormentors. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S then began fasting on ‘Ashurah (Tenth day of Muharram) and commanded Muslims to do the same.

Ibn Abbas R narrated: “The Prophet S came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashurah. He asked, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Musa fasted on this day.’ He said, ‘We have more right to Musa than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day.”

There are several more reports on this topic. Muslim reported it as follows:
“This is a righteous day” [the Jews said:] “This is a great day, on which Allah saved Musa and his people, and drowned Pharaoh and his people.”
Musa fasted on this day… in thanksgiving to Allah, so we fast on this day.”
Another report from Ahmad adds:
“This is the day on which the Ark settled on Mount Judi, so Nuh fasted this day in thanksgiving.”

According to a tradition of A”ishah bint Abu Bakr R, the Quraysh of Makkah also fasted on the day of  Ashurah (Tenth day of Muharram).

The Jews of Madinah celebrated the day of ‘Ashurah (Tenth day of Muharram) with great fanfare.

The day of ‘Ashurah (Tenth day of Muharram) was venerated by the Jews, who took it as a festival.


The people of Khaybar (the Jews) used to take it as a festival and their women would wear their jewellery and symbols on that day.

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S asked Muslims to be different from the Jews and observe fast.

‘So you (Muslims) should fast on that day.’”

Fasting on the day of ‘Ashurah (Tenth day of Muharram) is Mustahab (Desirable).

IbnAbbas R narrated: “I never saw the Messenger of Allah S so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of ‘Ashurah, and this month, meaning Ramadan.”

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S expressed his desire to fast for two consecutive days of Muharram.
‘Abdullah ibnAbbas R narrated: “When the Messenger of Allah S fasted on ‘Ashurah and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allah S said, ‘If I live to see the next year, InshaAllah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah S passed away before the next year came.”

It is Mustahab (Desirable) to observe fast on both the ninth and tenth days of the month of Muharram, because the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S fasted on the tenth day, and made intention to fast on the ninth.

It is highly desirable to make up for the missed Fard (Compulsory) fasts from the month of Ramadan before observing Nafl (Extra Obligatory) fast like the one on the ninth and tenth day of Muharram.

Coincidentally, on the tenth day of Muharram in the year 61H (Hijrah), fifty years after the demise by the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S, his grandson Husayn bin ‘Ali R achieved Shahadah (Martyrdom).

A group of ignorant Muslims began associating the day of ‘Ashurah (Tenth day of Muharram) to this tragedy and instituted another set of Bid’at (Innovations) with the day.

They go for exaggerated grieving and mourning, spend the day without water, eulogizing and wailing, reciting poems of grief in a very sentimental manner, and tearing off their garments. They also slap themselves of their cheeks, beat their chests, hit themselves with chains and sharp objects, put dust in their hair and do excessive grieving and wailing.

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad S strictly forbade such display of sorrow and grief, as these were traditions from the days of pre-Islamic Jahiliyah (Ignorance).

Many Bid’at (Innovations) have been associated with the day of ‘Ashurah (Tenth day of Muharram) by another group of ignorant Muslims who celebrate the day like ‘Id.  Some of the Bid’at (Innovations) are applying Kohl and Henna, shaking hands with each other and cooking grains (Hubub) or other special dishes.

There is absolutely no evidence to this effect in any Sahih Hadith (Authentic Tradition of Muhammad S) or Da’if (Weak) tradition, nor is any evidence of this being done by any of his Sahabah (Companions). None of the Khulafa (Caliphs) of the Muslims or anyone from the Tabi’in encouraged or recommended such things.

Islamic Calendar

Jamadal Ula
Jamadal Ukhra
Dhul Qa'dah
Dhul Hijjah
Dhul Hijjah
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