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Online Quran Academy - Islamic Mentors

The Month of Muharram: Events, Sacredness, and Practices

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Introduction

The month of Muharram is of great significance in the Islamic calendar, marking the beginning of the Islamic New Year. It is a time to reflect on our faith and its teachings. Traditionally, warfare is forbidden during this month, emphasizing the importance of peace and self-reflection from pre-Islamic times to the time of Hazrat Muhammad (SAW).

Muharram is a time for historical reflection and personal growth. It offers us the opportunity to strengthen our faith, seek forgiveness, and develop courage. It sets a thoughtful and spiritual tone for the new year, encouraging acts of worship and personal growth.

What is Muharram in Islam?

Muharram is derived from the Arabic word “ḥaram,” which means forbidden or sacred. This reflects the sanctity of the month and emphasizes the importance of avoiding sinful behavior during this time.

Muharram is often referred to as the Month of Allah (SWT), highlighting its special status in the Islamic tradition. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said,

The most excellent fast after Ramadan is God’s month. Al-Muharram and the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed is prayer at night.

[Sahih Muslim 1163a]

Events in the Month of Muharram

The month of Muharram is significant in Islamic history due to two major events: the death of Hazrat Umar (RA) and the Battle of Karbala.


Death of Hazrat Umar (RA)

Hazrat Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA), the second Caliph of Islam, passed away on the 1st of Muharram. He is revered for his just and effective leadership, playing a pivotal role in the early expansion of Islam and implementing administrative and legal reforms. His reign focused on justice, public welfare, and adherence to Islamic principles.

Read this blog for more information about the life of Hazrat Umar (RA): The Inspiring Life and Martyrdom of Hazrat Umar (RA).


The Battle of Karbala

The Battle of Karbala took place on the 10th of Muharram in 680 CE (61 AH). The battle occurred between the small army led by Imam Hussein (RA), grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and the much larger army of Yazid, the Umayyad Caliph. This battle resulted in the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (RA), his family members, and his companions.

For more information about the importance of Karbala and Fasting in Ashura in Islam, visit these links:

Sacredness of the Month of Muharram

Before Islam, the Haram months were considered sacred in Arabia. During these months, all fighting was prohibited, and people honored this tradition to guarantee safety for travelers and traders.

After the beginning of Islam, the Haram months gained more religious significance. In the Islamic lunar calendar, four specific months are designated as holy months, as mentioned in the Quran.

Surah At-Tawbah Ayah 36 about four holy months in Islam.
“Indeed, the number of months with Allah (SWT) is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah Almighty [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah (SWT) is with the righteous [who fear Him].” (Surah At-Tawbah Ayah 36)

The four Haram months, according to the Holy Quran, are:

  • Muharram (the first month)
  • Rajab (the 7th month)
  • Dhu al-Qadah (the 11th month)
  • Dhu al-Hijjah (the 12th month)

Muharram is a holy month because it is one of Islam’s Haram months.


When is the 10th Muharram in 2024?

The day of Ashura falls on 16 July 2024. However, the exact date of 10 Muharram 2024 is decided after the sighting of Muharram’s moon.


Why is Muharram Celebrated?

Muslims celebrate Muharram as it marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year. It is a time for reflecting on the past year, setting goals for the future, and seeking Allah’s (SWT) blessings for the year ahead. The month also carries sorrow as it is the month of Karbala, especially the 10th of Muharram, known as Ashura.


To-Do List During the Month of Muharram

Muharram is the month in which the martyrdom of Husain (RA) at Karbala is marked as a significant and sorrowful event. The day of Ashura is a holy day that occurred before the Karbala. The significance of Ashura was established during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), long before the birth of Hazrat Hussain (RA).

Here is a to-do list of important activities and practices we can engage in during this blessed month:

  • Increase the number of voluntary prayers (Nafl) alongside the five obligatory daily prayers.
  • Spend more time reciting the Quran and understanding its meanings and teachings.
  • Fast on the 10th of Muharram, the Day of Ashura. Fasting another day before or after Ashura (9th or 11th of Muharram) is recommended to differentiate it from other traditions. The following hadith will clear it,

When the Prophet (saw) arrived in Medina, he noticed that some people among the Jews used to respect Ashura (i.e., 10th of Muharram) and fast on it. The Prophet (saw) then said, “We have more right to observe fast on this day,” and ordered that fasting should be observed on it.

[Sahih al-Bukhari 3942]
  • Wake up in the last part of the night and pray to Tahajjud.
  • Increase the recitation of various supplications and praises of Allah (swt) (dhikr), such as Tasbeeh, Tahleel, and Takbeer.
  • Learn about the Battle of Karbala and Imam Hussain’s martyrdom, reflecting on the lessons of courage, sacrifice, and resistance to oppression.

To learn more about the lessons from the Battle of Karbala, visit this link: Lessons of Karbala: Justice, Unity, and Resilience.

Engaging in these activities and practices helps us draw closer to Allah (SWT) during this blessed month of Muharram.


Is it Haram to Get Married in Muharram?

From an Islamic perspective, it is not haram (forbidden) to get married during the month of Muharram. According to Islamic law (Sharia), there are no restrictions on conducting marriages during this month. In fact, marriage is considered a highly recommended and blessed act in Islam. There are no specific prohibitions against marriage in any particular month, including Muharram. Therefore, couples can marry at any time during the year without religious restrictions.

Some people mistakenly consider Muharram an unlucky or evil month due to the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RA) during this time. As a result, they abstain from holding weddings and other celebrations. However, this belief is baseless and contrary to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.

For more information about marriage in Islam according to the Quran and Sunnah, you can visit this blog: Marriage in Islam According to the Quran and Sunnah.


What to avoid in Muharram?

In the context of Muharram, especially for those observing it as a religious or cultural event in Islam, there are several important considerations:

  • Holding Mourning Ceremonies: Some people mourn and grieve the death of Hazrat Hussain (RA) by holding special ceremonies. While it’s okay to remember Imam Husain (RA) and his sacrifices, we should not mourn excessively by crying loudly or hurting ourselves. However, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) forbade mourning ceremonies for the deceased, a practice associated with the period of jahiliyyah (ignorance). Instead, Muslims are encouraged to remember the martyrs of Karbala with respect and reflection, avoiding extreme displays of grief.
  • Special Prayers: Some people believe that performing special prayers, offering sacrifices, or visiting graves on the 10th of Muharram holds special rewards or significance in Sharee’ah. These practices are considered bid’ah (innovations) and should be avoided.
  • Wearing New Outfits: There is no Islamic ruling on wearing new clothes specifically for Ashura.
  • Committing Sins: Muharram is a time for increased devotion and avoiding sin. Evil deeds are considered worse during these holy months. It is important to avoid committing sins during Muharram.
  • Avoidance of conflict: It’s important to be sensitive to others during Muharram, particularly Shia Muslims who observe Ashura as a day of mourning. Avoid actions or behaviors that might cause misunderstandings or conflicts during this period.

By avoiding these practices and focusing on the correct observance of Muharram, we can appropriately the memory of significant historical events.


Conclusion

The month of Muharram is a time for deep spiritual reflection and historical remembrance. The martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RA) at the Battle of Karbala and the death of Hazrat Umar (RA) are among the critical events remembered this month, symbolizing the themes of justice, sacrifice, and steadfast faith. Muharram’s holiness calls for increased worship, such as fasting on the Day of Ashura, additional prayers, charitable acts, and reflection on the Quran.

The month of Muharram is a time for deep spiritual reflection and historical remembrance. It is a time to remember the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RA) at the Battle of Karbala and the death of Hazrat Umar (RA), events that symbolize justice, sacrifice, and steadfast faith. Muharram’s holiness calls for increased worship, such as fasting on the Day of Ashura and reflection on the Quran.

When observing Muharram, it is essential to do so with sincerity and faithfulness. Engage in meaningful worship, educate yourself about the historical events that define this period, and strive to follow the principles of selflessness and courage.

Let us welcome Muharram sincerely, seeking to represent the principles of mercy, justice, and righteousness throughout the year.

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