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The Month of Muharram

Dec 22, 2009
Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar is one of the four sacred months mentioned in the Glorious Quran:

Lo! The number of the months with Allah is twelve months by Allah's Ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred: that is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves in them. (9.36)

The specification of these four sacred months is stated in a Hadeeth narrated by Aboo Bakrah (radhiyallahu anhu) that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: Verily time has completed its cycle and returned to its original stage as it was on the day Allah created the heavens and the earth. The year consists of twelve months, four of which are sacred. Three of them occur consecutively; Zul Qa'dah, Zul Hijjah and Muharram, (the fourth being) Rajab of Mudhar (named after the tube of Mudhar as they used to respect this month) which occurs between Jamadiul Akhir and Sha'ban. (Bukhari)

From out of the four sacred months, Muharram has been blessed with certain specific virtues. The noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadhan is the fasting of Allah's Month of Muharram and the best of salat besides the fardh (compulsory) salat is the tahajjud salat (performed after midnight before dawn).(Muslim)

In another Hadeeth, Ibne Abbas (radhiyallahu anhuma) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: He who fasts on the day of Arafah(9th Zul Hiijah), his fast will be a compensation for the sins of two years and the one that keeps a fast in the month of Muharrarm will receive the reward of thirty fasts for each fast.(Tabrdni, At-targheeb Wat-tarheeb)

The tenth day of the month of Muharram is known as Ashoora. It is one of the most important and blessed days in the Islamic calendar. Some ulama (scholars) are of the opinion that before the fasts of Ramadhan, the fast of the day of Ashoora was compulsory upon the ummah. This is stated in a Hadeeth reported by Aishah (radhiyallahu anha) that the noble Prophet(Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) ordered the observance of the fast of Ashoora. However, when the fast of Ramadhan became compulsory, then whosoever wished, kept this fast and whosoever desired did not observe this fast. (Bukhari)

But, nevertheless the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) continued to fast this day and encouraged his Companions to do the same. Ibne Abbas(radhiyallahu anhuma) says: I did not see Rasoolullah(Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) anxiously await the fast of any day, which he gave preference to over other days, but this day, the day of Ashoora. (Bukhari)

Humayd lbne Abdur Rahman narrates that he heard Mu'awiyah Ibne Abi Sufyan (radhiyallahu anhu) on the day of Ashoora, during the year he performed Hajj, saying on the pulpit: "O the people of Madeenah! Where are your ulama? I heard Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) saying: This is the day of Ashoora. Allah has not enjoined its fasting on you but I am fasting it. Whosoever wish, keep (this) fast and whosoever desires do not observe (this fast)." (Bukhari)

In another Hadeeth, Ibne Abbas (radhiyallahu anhuma) narrates that the noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) came to Madeenah and found the Jews fasting on the day of Ashoora. Hence the noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) inquired of them, "What is (the significance of) this day on which you fast?" They replied, "This is a great day. On this day Allah saved Moosa and his people and drowned Fir'awn and his nation. Thus Moosa (alayhis salaam) fasted on this day as a token of thanksgiving, therefore we too fast on this day. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, "We are more worthy of Moosa and nearer to him than you." Thereafter, the noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) fasted on this day and ordered (his Companions) that a fast be kept on this day. (Muslim)

1.The noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has exhorted and encouraged his ummah to fast on this day. Aboo Qatadah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that the noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was asked regarding the fast of the day of Ashoora. The noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) replied:" It is a compensation for the (minor) sins of the past year." (Muslim)

NOTE It must be borne in mind that wherever a promise of forgiveness of sins is made upon the fulfillment of some action, it is only the minor sins that are forgiven. The major sins are not forgiven without true tawbah (repentance).

2.One should also observe the fast of the 9th or 11th Muharram to safeguard his deed from resemblance with the non-Muslims who fast only on the l0th Muharram. Ibn Abbas (radhiyallahu anhuma) said: When Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) observed the fast of the day of Ashoora and ordered (his Companions) to fast, they said, "O Rasoolullah! It is a day revered by the Jews and Christians." Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, "The coming year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth (also)." (Muslim)

lbne Abbas (radhiyallahu anhuma) reports that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: "Should I live until the coming year, I will definitely fast on the ninth (also)."(Muslim)

The noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) said:"Observe the fast of Ashoora and oppose the Jews. Fast a day before it or a day after." (Bayhaqi)

Hence, it is important to either fast on the ninth and tenth of Muharram or the tenth and eleventh. To fast only on the day of Ashoora is makrooh tanzeehi as stated by Allamah Ibne Abideen Shami.(rahmatullahi alayh)

3.One should be generous on one's family and dependents and spend more on them than what is normally spent. Aboo Hurayrah (radhiyallahu anhu) reports that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)said: "One who generously spends on his family on the day of Ashoora, Allah will increase (his provision) for the whole year." (Bayhaqi, At-targheeb Wat-tarheeb). This Hadeeth is not very authentic according to the science of Hadeeth. However, scholars of Hadeeth like Bayhaqi and Ibne Hibban have accepted it as reliable. These are the only actions supported by Ahddeeth.

1. It is absolutely clear that the significance of the day of Ashoora is from the time of the noble Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). However, many people regard this day as the day of mourning the martyrdom of Husayn (radhiyallahu anhu). The martyrdom of Husayn (radhiyallahu anhu) was indeed a great tragedy, but Islam is not a religion of perpetual mourning. Aboo Sa'eed (radhiyallahu anhu) relates that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has cursed mourners and those who listen to them. (Aboo Dawood)

The pages of Islamic History are filled with the blood of the martyrs. Should we begin to mourn the martyrdom of the Sahabah alone, every other day would be a day of mourning. Thus, to attribute the significance of Ashoora to the martyrdom of Husayn (radhiyallahu anhu) is baseless. Therefore, the host of baseless customs with regard to his martyrdom – mourning, lamenting and displaying grief – must be discarded. If mourning was permissible, then the day of the demise of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) would have been more worthy for (mourning and lamenting).

2. The following misconceptions with regard to Ashoora are baseless:

* This is the day in which Adam (Alayhis Salaam) was created.

* This is the day in which Ibrahim (alayhis salaam) was born.

* This is the day on which Qiyamah will take place

* Whoever takes bath on the day of Ashoora will never get ill.

3. Some regard the tenth of Muharrarm as the day of 'Eid. They indulge in adornment, applying surmah (collyrium), wearing new clothes, spending lavishly and cooking a particular type of meal which is not generally prepared. All these actions are regarded as sunnah according to their belief, whereas no authentic narration sanctioning and permitting such actions can be found.

4.Another misconception is that the month of Muharram is an unlucky month; hence marriage ceremonies should be avoided in this month. This concept is again, contrary to the teachings of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).

Let us observe this great day according to the way of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) and refrain from all innovations, which deprive us of the blessings from Allah Ta'ala. May Allah guide us all upon the Straight Path and save us from every act which brings His Displeasure.

Shakyh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat


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