With the siting of the new moon, the new Islamic year starts. Te First Islamic Month is Muharram. Muharram is so-called because it is unlawful to fight during this month, the word is derived from the word “haraam” which means “sinful”.
The Holy Month of Muharram is often considered synonymous with the event of Ashura. Ashura is a religious observance marked every year by Muslims. The word “Ashura” literally means the “Tenth” in Arabic, refers to the tenth day of Muharram.
The History of Ashura dates back to 61 AH when the event took place in Karbala at the bank of river Euphrates.
As the word is derived from the word “haraam” which means “sinful”. In pre-Islamic days it was considered that fighting is unlawful during this month of Muharram. This tradition was continued even after the advent of Islam. Even after the provision of situations like fighting a war to threaten the sovereignty of the empire was introduced but due to traditions war was still considered unlawful.
War of Karbala
The war of Karbala was fought against this tradition that was totally against the Islamic Laws. The inhabitants on the banks of river Euphrates and Tigris were old rivals. Their rivalry was since the time of Holy Prophet (SAW) but this rivalry strengthened when Hazrat Ali (R.A), the son in law of Prophet (SAW) became the caliph. Hadrat Ali (R.A) has two sons, Hazrat Hassan (R.A) and Hazrat Hussain (R.A). Hazrat Hussain (R.A) became the ruler of the part of the empire known today as Iran.
The other part of modern Iraq was ruled by the Umayyads. Hazrat Hussain ( R.A) was called on by the people of Kufa, a small town of Umayyad kingdom to accept their allegiance and claim his place as the leader of the Islamic community. This call was against the wishes, Yazid, the ruler of Kufa who instructed his governor, Ibn-e-Ziad to take appropriate action. Meanwhile, in response to the call of the people of Kufa, Hazrat Hussain (R.A) headed towards Kufa accompanied by his family members. When they reached the ground Karbala, the forces of Yazid surrounded them and their 70 men. They were tortured and killed, and Hazrat Hussain(R.A) ‘s head was severed and presented to the king. They received no help from the people of Kufa.
In remembrance of his event, the Shia Muslims observe sadness this Month. They put on Black clothes and mourn.
In contrast to Shia Muslims, the Sunni Muslims believe that Hazrat Hussain (R.A) the grandson of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), was martyred at the Battle of Karbala on the tenth day of Muharram in 61 AH(680 AD). The pious Sunni Muslims fast on this day according to the Hadith of Prophet (SAW).
Importance of 10th Muharram
According to the “Hadith”, the Prophet (SAW) saw that the Jews fast on the 10th of Muharram to commemorate their liberation from Egyptian slavery and the extermination of the army of the Pharoah in the waters of the Red Sea. Prophet Mohammed(SAW) liked the custom for he believed that it was Allah who saved the Israelites from their enemy in Egypt. He started to fast on the same day as the Jews but he planned to fast on the 9th and 10th from the following year. Usually, Sunni Muslims are recommended to fast either on the 9th and 10th of Muharram or on the 10th and 11th of Muharram.
Whether Shia or Sunni the Month of Muharram is considered sad by them due to the great martyrs of our Muslim Men. It makes us aware of the people, then and now, who tried to destroy Islam and the family of the Prophet (SAW) and all that they stood for – as well as those who watched, listened, and did nothing.