The Sacred Month of Muharram
Added Date: 11/17/2012 2:12:33 AM
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Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar (Hegira) Calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Quran Says (what means): {Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred…}[Quran 9: 36]

These four months, according to the authentic traditions (Prophetic narrations), are Thul-Qi'dah, Thul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Noble Quran are unanimous on this point, because the Noble Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) declared in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah): "One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Thul-Qi'dah, Thul-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab."

The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadhaan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that even the pagans of Makkah accepted their sanctity.

The sanctity of these four months was established right from the day Allaah created the universe. Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed themselves to Ibraaheem (Abraham) may Allaah exalt his mention who observed the sanctity of these months, they also observed the sanctity of these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these months.

In Islam, the sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Quran referred to them as the "sanctified months". Muharram has certain other characteristics special to it, which are stated below:

Fasting during the month:

The Noble Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) said: 'The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadhaan are those of the month of Muharram."

Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet one who fasts in these days out of his own will is entitled to a great reward by Allaah Almighty. The Hadeeth cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewardable ones among the voluntary fasts. It 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.

The day of ‘Aashooraa’:

Although Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named ‘Aashooraa’.  According to Ibn 'Abbaas may Allaah be pleased with him the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) when he migrated to Madeenah, found that the Jews of Madeenah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which Prophet Moosa (Moses) may Allaah exalt his mention and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) said, "We are worthier of Moosa than you," and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’. [Abu Daawood]

It is also reported in a number of authentic traditions that in the beginning, fasting on the day of 'Aashooraa' was obligatory for the Muslims. It was later that the fasts of Ramadhaan were made obligatory and the fast on the day of 'Aashooraa' was made optional. 'Aa’ishah may Allaah be pleased with her said: "When the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) came to Madeenah, he fasted on the day of 'Aashooraa' and directed the people to do likewise. But when the fasts of Ramadhaan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadhaan and the obligatory nature of the fast of 'Aashooraa' was abandoned. Whoever so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes can avoid fasting on it." [Abu Daawood]

However, the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) used to fast on the day of 'Aashooraa' even after the fasting in Ramadhaan was made obligatory. Abdullaah Ibn Moosa may Allaah be pleased with him reports that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) preferred the fast of 'Aashooraa' on the fasts of other days and preferred the fasts of Ramadhaan on the fast of 'Aashooraa'. [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

Misconceptions and Innovations:

However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to 'Aashooraa' that have managed to find their way into the minds of the unlearned, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very common of them are these:

·        This is the day on which Aadam may Allaah exalt his mention was created.

·        This is the day when Ibraaheem may Allaah exalt his mention was born.

·        This is the day when Allaah accepted the repentance of Aadam may Allaah exalt his mention.

·        This is the day when Doomsday will take place. Whoever takes a bath on the day of 'Aashooraa' will never get ill.

All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit. Some people take it as Sunnah (established recommended practice) to prepare a particular type of meal on the day of 'Aashooraa'. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic sources.

Some other people attribute the sanctity of 'Aashooraa' to the martyrdom of Al-Hussayn may Allaah be pleased with him. No doubt, the martyrdom of Al-Hussayn may Allaah be pleased with him is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of 'Aashooraa' cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of 'Aashooraa' was established during the days of the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) much earlier than the birth of Al-Hussayn may Allaah be pleased with him. On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Al-Hussayn may Allaah be pleased with him that his martyrdom took place on this blessed day.

Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Al-Hussayn was killed in it. It is for this misconception that some people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept, which is contrary to the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition). If the death of an eminent person on a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day of the year free from this bad luck because every day is associated with the demise of some eminent person. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) have liberated us from such superstitious beliefs.

Lamentations and mourning:

Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Al-Hussayn may Allaah be pleased with him. As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbalaa’ is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of Pre-Islamic ignorance era used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) prevented the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying "Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji'oon" (To Allaah We belong, and to Him is our return). A number of authentic narrations are available on the subject. To quote only one of them: "He is not from us who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah (Pre-Islamic ignorance)". [Al-Bukhaari]

All the prominent jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is impermissible. Even Al-Hussayn may Allaah be pleased with him shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Zaynab may Allaah be pleased with her not to mourn over his death in this manner. He may Allaah be pleased with him said, "My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death." (Al-Kaamil, Ibn Katheer vol. 4 pg. 24)

It is evident from this advice, that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ).

 

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