Short Answer: Muharram commemorates the migration of the Prophet pbuh from Makkah to Madina and it is the first month of the lunar Hijri calendar. It is one of the four forbidden months and the tenth day commemorates the successful crossing of the Red Sea by the Children of Israel in their flight from Pharaoh and his army. The main emphasis is on deep reflection, remembrance, and gratitude.
Muharram commemorates the migration of the Prophet pbuh from Makkah to Madina and it is the first month of the lunar Hijri calendar. It is one of the four forbidden months and the tenth day commemorates the successful crossing of the Red Sea by the Children of Israel in their flight from Pharaoh and his army.
The main emphasis is on deep reflection, remembrance, and gratitude.
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic Year and the first day has no special significance. It commemorates the migration of the Prophet pbuh from Makkah to Madina.
The month of Muharram is significant for Muslims as Allah tells us:
“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein … ” [Qur’an 9:36]
Abu Bakarah r.a. reported that the Prophet pbuh said:
The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumadah and Sha’ban. [Bukhari]
Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity. Allah’s tells us in the Qur’an “……. so wrong not yourselves therein …….” means do not commit sins in these sacred months, because sin in these months is worse than in other months. The simple fact that Allah highlights this for us shows the importance for us. It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that this phrase referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.
Fasting in Muharram
Note: Not wronging yourself means to abstain from sins and the preferable way to do that is to fast.
The best fasting after Ramadan is fasting Allah’s month of Muharram. [Muslim]
Ibn Abbas: r.a. narrates: The Prophet came to Madina and saw the Jews fasting the Day of Ashura (10th). He asked, What is this? They replied, This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Musa (Moses – on whom be peace – a.s.) fasted on this day. He said We have more right to Musa a.s. than you, so he fasted on that day and commanded the Muslims to fast on that day. [Bukhari]
Ibn Abbas r.a. also narrates:
I never saw the Messenger of Allah so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other time than the Day of Ashura and the month of Ramadan, [Bukhari]
Prophet Muhammad pbuh said:
This fast (Ashura) is a compensation for the (minor) sins of the past year. [Muslim]
In another hadith we find the Prophet pbuh said:
One who generously spends on his family on the Day of Ashura, Allah will increase (his provision) for the whole year. [Bukhari]
Fasting on ‘Ashura’ was first made obligatory. The Messenger of Allah pbuh came to Madinah, he told the Muslims to fast on three days of every month and on the day of ‘Ashura’, then Allah made fasting obligatory when He said:):
” … observing the fasting is prescribed for you … ” [Qur’an 2:183]
It was reported from Ibn Mas’ud that when fasting Ramadhan was made obligatory, the obligation to fast ‘Ashura’ was lifted, that is, it was no longer obligatory to fast on this day, but it is still desirable.
Abdullah ibn Abbas r.a. said: When the Messenger of Allah pbuh fasted on Ashura’ and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said,
‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians. The Messenger of Allah pbuh said, If I live to see the next year, in sha Allah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But the Messenger of Allah pbuh passed away before the next year came.” [Muslim]
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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