Muharram and Ashura
MUHARRAM is the first month of the Islamic calendar. Muharram means “Forbidden.” Even before Islam, this month was always known as a scared month in which all unlawful acts were forbidden, prominently the shedding of blood. It is one of the four sanctified months about which Allah Ta’ala says: “The number of months in the sight of Allah are twelve, so ordained by Allah, the day He created the heavens and the earth; Of them four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so wrong not yourselves therein.” (Surah Tawbah – verse 36)
The four sanctified months according to authentic Ahaadeeth are the months of Zul- Qa’dah, Zul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. The sanctity of these months was observed in the shariah of all the previous Prophets. “Allah Ta’ala made them (i.e. the four months) sacred and increased their sanctity. Hence He declared a sin therein more severe and increased the virtue of good deeds and the reward thereof.” (Ibn Katheer Vol.2)
The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadhaan is the fast during Allah’s month of Muharram and the best of Salaah besides the Faraaidh (obligatory salaah) is the Tahajjud Salaah (performed after midnight). (Muslim,Vol. 1)
THE DAY OF AASHURAH( 10 TH OF MUHARRAM)
The Tenth of Muharram, known as the day of Aashura, is a very significant day in the Islamic Calendar. Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has exhorted the Ummah to fast on this day. Hadhrat Aaisha(rahiyallahu anha) reports that Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) ordered the observance of
the fast of Aashura.
However, when the fast of Ramadhaan became compulsory, Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) left the fast of Aashura (i.e. it’s compulsion). Thereafter, whoever desired, kept the fast of Aashura and whoever desired not to keep the fast did not observe it. (Bukhari, Vol. 1)
Hadhrat Ibn Abbaas(radhiyallahu anhu) says: “I did not see Rasulullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) anxiously await the fast of any day, which he gave preference to (over other days), except this day of Aashura and the month of Ramadhaan. ” (Bukhari, Vol. 1)
VIRTUE OF THE FAST OF AASHURAH
The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has said: “The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadhan are those of the month of Muharram.”
Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet, the one who fasts in these days out of his own will and choice is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewardable ones among the Nafl fasts i.e. the fasts one observes out of his own choice without being obligatory on him.
The hadith does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.
Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) was asked with regard to the blessings of this fast, he replied:” It is a compensation for the sins of the past year.” i.e. Allah will forgive the sins of the past year.”
(Muslim, Vol 1). Abu Qataada (radhiyallahu anhu) has related that the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has reported to have said, ” It is my thought that by fasting on the 10th of Muharram Allah Ta’ala will pardon the sins of the past year.” (Tirmizi). Note: For the forgiveness of major sins Taubah and Istighfaar is a pre-requisite.
Hadhrat Ibn Abbaas(radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that when Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the day of Aashura he inquired, ” What is the significance of this day on which you fast? ” They replied, ” This is the day Allah saved Nabi Moosa(alaiyhis salaam) and his followers and drowned Fir’oun and his army. Moosa(alaiyhis salaam) fasted on this day as a token of thanks – giving, thus we too fast on this day.” Nabi (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said: ” We are more worthy of Moosa(alaiyhis salaam) than you and we are more closer to him than you are.” Thereafter he fasted on this day and ordered the Sahaabah to do the same”. (Muslim, Vol 1)
According to another hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of ‘Ashurah should either be prefixed or suffixed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th an 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th of it. The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassallam) is that the Jews used to fast on the day of Aashurah alone, and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassallam) wanted to distinguish the Islamic-way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to that of Aashurah.
Rasulullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) is reported to have said: ” Observe the fast of Aashura and oppose (the ways of) the Jews. Fast a day before it (also) or a day after.” Hence, it is better to fast on the 9th and 10th or on the 10th and 11th.
GENEROSITY TO ONE’S FAMILY
Some traditions signify another feature of the day of ”Ashurah. According to these traditions one should be more generous to his family by providing more food to them on this day as compared to other days. These traditions are not very authentic according to the science of hadith. Yet, some Scholars like Baihaqi and Ibn Hibban have accepted them as reliable.
It is mentioned in a Hadeeth: ” He who will be generous to his family on the day of Aashura, Allah will be generous to him for the entire year.”
EVENTS OF MUHARRAM:-
1.Sayyidina Hussain (R.A.), the grandson of Rasullullah(sallahu alaiyhi wassallam) was martyred in this month in Karbala.
2.Shaykhain Tirmizi and Haakim has narrated from Anas(radhiyallahu anhu) that the following verse: “Allah may forgive thee of thy sins that which is past and that which is to come.” (Al-Fath) was revealed on the 10th of Muharram.
3.Prophet Muhammed(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) went to defeat Bani Muhaarin and Bani Tha’laba (Tribes of Bani Gatfan) in the month of Muharram in the year 4 A.H. (Asahhus-siyar)
Prepared by Al-Islaah Publications from Islamic Months & Nurul Huda Pamphlet on Muharram.