As the first month of the Islamic New Year, Muharram holds great importance in Islam and is one of the four sacred months in the Islamic calendar.
A lot of people are in the dark regarding Muharram. Many Muslims believe that Muharram is significant only because of a certain event that took place in this month, after the time of the Prophet ﷺ. However, this is not the case as Muharram holds great significance long before the Prophet’s ﷺ time.
Aashura holds special significance due to which Muhammad ﷺ used to fast on this day. Earlier on, it was obligatory to fast on the 10th of Muharram. However later, fasting was made obligatory in Ramadan only. As narrated by Ibn Umar (RA):
عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ قَالَ كَانَ عَاشُورَاءُ يَصُومُهُ أَهْلُ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ، فَلَمَّا نَزَلَ رَمَضَانُ قَالَ “ مَنْ شَاءَ صَامَهُ، وَمَنْ شَاءَ لَمْ يَصُمْهُ ”
“Fasting was observed on the day of ‘Ashura’ (i.e. 10th of Muharram) by the people of the Pre-Islamic Period. But when (the order of compulsory fasting) in the month of Ramadan was revealed, the Prophet said, “It is up to one to fast on it (i.e. day of ‘Ashura’) or not.” [Bukhari]
But why did he fast on this day? On this day, Prophet Musa (AS) performed the miracle with the help of Allah whereby he was able to save his people from the Pharaoh by dividing the sea, thus creating a pathway for his people to safely cross the sea, while the Pharaoh’s army drowned. Hence, the Jews used to fast on Ashura i.e. the 10th of Muharram. The Prophet ﷺ himself fasted on this day and also ordered the Muslims to do so.
Some of the common misconceptions
Qiyamah will occur on the day of Ashura
People often believe that Qiyamah will occur on the day of Ashura.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “the days were shown to me, and among them Friday was shown to me. It looked like a shiny mirror in the middle of which was a black spot. I asked, ‘What is this?’ It was said, ‘The Hour.’ (Ibn Abi Shaybah, 5561)
Even though we are told that the Day of Judgment will occur on a Friday, the month has not been specified and we do not have any evidence in the form of Quranic verses or Ahaadith to support this claim.
“They ask you about the Hour (Day of Resurrection): ‘When will be its appointed time?’ Say: ‘The knowledge thereof is with my Lord (Alone). None can reveal its time but He’” (al-A’raaf 7:187)
Muharram is an evil month
Often people believe Muharram to be an evil or unlucky month due to the incident of Karbala. No doubt, it was an unfortunate event that took place in Islamic history. However, Muharram is known as the month of Allah.
“The most excellent fast after Ramadan is in Allah’s month; al-Muharram, and the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed is prayer during the night.” (Muslim 6: 2661)
It is not an evil month, in fact it is one of the most sacred months of Islam.
Nikaah can’t be done in this month
Many Muslims are of the opinion that no festivities are to be carried out in this month. It is a sacred month, however the only forbidden acts are those of violence, warfare and hurting others. Nikaah is a Halal act and can be done in this month or any other, for that reason.
Certain events in Islamic history occurred on the day of Ashura
People often have this misconception that certain significant events in Islamic history took place on the day of Ashura. Some people believe that Allah created Prophet Aadam (AS) on this day while others are of the view that Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was born on this day. This is not true as there is no Quranic evidence to corroborate this claim.
Whoever bathes on the day of Ashura will not get ill
A common misconception is that if you bathe on the day of Ashura you will be immune to any illness in the future. This claim is also without any Quranic proof.
A Muslim should always be on a continuous mission to improve oneself. Thus, if we are at wrong and have any misconceptions, we should educate ourselves under the leadership of the rightly-guided scholars and endeavour to practise on the Complete Noble Deen!