Muharram is the first month of the Islamic Calendar. With the sighting of the new moon, the new Islamic month starts. It is a month of great reward and virtue. Muharram means sacred.” It is from those months mentioned as sacred in the Holy Quran.
The Almighty Allah states in the Holy Quran,
إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّهُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِى كِتَٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ مِنْهَآ أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا۟ فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ وَقَٰتِلُوا۟ ٱلْمُشْرِكِينَ كَآفَّةً كَمَا يُقَٰتِلُونَكُمْ كَآفَّةً ۚ وَٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلْمُتَّقِينَ
“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). That is the right religion, so wrong, not yourselves therein” [AlQuran 9:36].
Ibn Katheer (R.A.), regarding the verse, explains, “Allah has chosen elites from His creation: from among the angels He chose Messengers, from among humanity He chose Messengers, from among speech He chose remembrance of Him (dhikr), from among spaces on earth He chose the mosques, from among the months He chose Ramadan and the sacred months. So, venerate that which Allah has chosen, for people of understanding and wisdom respect that which has been chosen by Him”. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer)
Fasting in the month of Muharram
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) observed fast on this day and advised His companion to fast on Ashura. Even before Prophethood, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) fasted in the month of Muharram.
The Holy Prophet (SAW) says that:
“The one that keeps a fast in the month of Muharram will receive the reward of thirty fasts for each fast (in this sacred month).”
“This fast is a compensation for the (minor) sins of the past year.”
Although the fasting of Muharram is Nafl ( the fasts one observes out of his own choice without being obligatory on him.) yet the above Hadith gives importance to the significance of Muharram fasting that is most reward able after Farz fasting in Ramadan.
The Day of Ashura (10th Muharram)
Muharram is a month of remembrance often considered synonymous with the event of Ashura. Ashura, the “Tenth” in Arabic, refers to the tenth day of Muharram.
Ashura is one of Allah’s most essential and blessed days in the Islamic calendar.
Ashura gained significance due to the martyrdom of the son of Prophet (SAW) Hazrat Hussian Ali.
Best fast after Ramadan
Fasting on the month of Muharram is the best month after Ramadan.
In Hadith, the Holy Prophet (SAW) says about the significance of Fasting in Muharram. He (SAW) said that:
Besides the month of Ramadhan, the best of fasts is the fasting of Allah’sAllah’s month of Muharram.”
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported,
“I asked the Prophet: ‘Which Prayer is the best after the obligatory Prayers?’ He said:’Prayer during the mid of the night.’ I asked: ‘Which fasting is the best after Ramadan?’ He said,’ The month of Allah that you call Muharram” (Sahih Muslim)
Ibn’ Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said,
“I never saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of ‘Ashura,’ and this month, meaning Ramadhan.” (Sahih Al Bukhari)
Events in Muharram
Prophet Musa (A.S.) saved
Hazrat Abbas (R.A.), a companion of the Holy Prophet (SAW) when the Holy Prophet (SAW) migrated to Madinah, found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th of Muharram. They said it was the day the Holy Prophet Musa (A.S.) and his followers miraculously crossed the Red Sea, and the Pharaoh drowned in its water.
On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet (SAW) said,
“We are more closely related to Musa than you.”
So the Prophet (SAW) directed the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashura. (Abu Dawood)
As Jews used to fast on the day of Ashura, it is advised by the Holy Prophet (SAW) that we should fast on the 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th of Muharram so that Muslims can be distinguished from Jews.
Martyrdom of Second Caliph
Hazrat Umar (R.A.), who became the second Caliph and the companion of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), was martyred on the 1st of Muharram. Abu lulu Al-Fayruz, the Magian and non-believer of Roman origin, stabbed Umar while he was in the Fajr Salah (dawn Prayer) with a dagger of two blades.
Event of Karbala
The grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), son of Hazrat Fatima (R.A.) and Hazrat Ali (R.A.), Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A.) was martyred in the month of Muharram at the field of Karbala.