SHAFAQNA – Muharram-ul-Haram is the first month of the Islamic Calendar, a month that is held in great esteem and importance and is known to be the most sacred month for the Muslims excluding Ramadan. As the Islamic calendar follows the moon, Muharram moves from year to year.
The month of Muharram holds great significance for the Muslims all over the world. The literal meaning of Muharram is “forbidden”. In this month the shedding of blood is strictly prohibited. The word “Muharram” is mostly considered synonymous with Ashura, the tenth day of the holy month.
A great number of events took place in this month which grant this month the respect it is celebrated with.
The Events of Ashura: A great many events took place on this great day, most of which are mentioned below:
- Adam’s (AS) apology was accepted and he was forgiven on this day.
- The apology of the people of Younus (AS) was accepted.
- Isaa (AS) who is also known as Jesus, was born on this day.
- Ibrahim (AS) was born on this day.
- A river was torn apart for the Bani Israel.
- Yousaf (as) was liberated from the prison.
- Younas (AS) was freed from the stomach of the fish.
- Yaaqub (AS) got rid of the illness.
- Yaaqub’s (AS) eyesight returned on this day.
- Suleman (AS) was granted the kingdom.
- Moosa (AS) also called Mosses was born on this day.
- The first rain fell from the sky on this day.
- On this day the ashaab-e-kaahaf changed sides while asleep.
- The day on Judgment will arrive on Ashura.
Battle of Karbala:
This historical battle took place in the month of Muharram in which Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was martyred. It so happened that the tribes on the banks of Euphrates and Tigris were traditional rivals. Their animosity was kept in control during the time of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). But when Ali (RA), the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), became the Caliph, this enmity re-surfaced. Ali (RA) had two descendants; Imam Hussain and Imam Hassan. Imam Hussain took care of part of the empire that is now known as Iran. The other part which is now the modern Iraq was ruled by the Umayyads. The Shias of the Kufa (a small city in the kingdom) called upon Imam Hussain to accept his allegiance and to claim his place as their rightful leader. The ruler of Kufa, Yazid, did not want this to happen so he instructed his governor Ibn-e-Zaid to take the necessary action. Meanwhile, Imam Hussain accompanied by his family, on the call of Shias, headed for Kufa. When the family and people accompanying Imam Hussain reached Karbala, they were surrounded by the forces loyal to Yazid. These forces tortured Imam Hussain, his family and his troops and cut off all their contact from civilization, food and water and let them die of hunger and thirst. Imam Hussain’s brother Abbas was killed trying to bring water back to the camp.
Imam Hussain refused to swear allegiance to Yazid and so his family and troops were tortured and massacred and the leader’s head was severed and presented to the king. They received no aid from the Shias of Kufa who had asked them to come. As this tragic incident took place on the tenth of Muharram, it is considered as a day of sorrow for the Muslims. The day of martyrdom is commemorated by the Muslims all over the world starting 1st of Muharram and continues till the 10th. Shias conduct Majalis and orators give speeches about the life of Imam Hussain and the incident of Karbala is recalled many times. Many Muslims fast on this day as well.
SIGNIFICANCE OF ASHURA:
Fasting on Ashura: There is great significance of fasting on the day of Ashura. There are many ahadith regarding the fasting of Ashura. Some are as follows:
- Narrated ‘Aisha: The people used to fast on ‘Ashura (the tenth day of the month of muharram) before the fasting of Ramadan was made obligatory. And on that day the Ka’ba used to be covered with a cover. When Allah made the fasting of the month of Ramadan compulsory, Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever wishes to fast (on the day of ‘Ashura’) may do so; and whoever wishes to leave it can do so.” (Sahi Bukhari; Book #26, Hadith #662)
- Narrated Ibn Abbas: When the Prophet arrived at Medina, the Jews were observing the fast on ‘Ashura’ (10th of muharram) and they said, “This is the day when Moses became victorious over Pharaoh,” On that, the Prophet said to his companions, “You (Muslims) have more right to celebrate Moses’ victory than they have, so observe the fast on this day.” (Sahi Bukhari; Book #60, Hadith #202)
- Sayyiduna Qatadah (radi Allahu anhu) reports that the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has stated, “On the day of Ashurah I hope that through this (Ashurah) Almighty Allah will make it a means of Kafaara for past sins.” (Mishkat Shareef, Pg. 179)
Salaah on Ashura:
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) has stated:
“That person who performs four rakaats of Salaah on the day of Ashurah in this way, that he reads the entire Sura Ikhlaas (Qulhuwal laa) 11 times after Sura Fatiha in every rakaat, then Almighty Allah will forgive fifty years of his sins, and he will blessed with a Mimbar (pulpit) of Noor.” (Nuzhatul Majalis, Vol.1, Pg. 181)
Important Practices on Ashura: A few important practices have also been reported which hold great significance for the day of Ashura:
- The Masha’ikh have stated that by making Ghusl on this day, the sicknesses for the entire year are washed away.
- Shaami in “Kitaabus Saum” states that using surma on this day will not cause they eye to pain for the entire year.
Mostly Muslims are seen fasting on the day of Ashura and observing other important prayers and practices. But the month of Muharram is spent in a respectful and a quiet way to commemorate the loss of the grandson of Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) as it is considered to be one of the most sacred months of the Islamic year throughout the Muslim world.