In this article, we provide simple information about the sacred month of Muharram and the day of `Ashura’ so that Muslim parents would easily read it to their kids and educate them about the blessed days.
♦ Muharram is the first month of the Hijri calendar and is one of the four sacred months concerning which Allah says, “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” (At-Tawbah 9:36)
♦ Muharram is called so because it is a sacred (muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity. Allah Almighty says, “…so wrong not yourselves therein…” which means do not wrong yourselves in these sacred months, because sin in these months is worse than in other months.
♦ The sacred months are four: Dhul-Qi`dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab. Sins in these months are more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward. Therefore, Muslims are encouraged to refrain from sins and increase the good deeds during these months.
♦`Ashura’ is the 10thday of Muharram, which Muslims celebrate by fasting.
♦ The tradition of `Ashura’ fasting is very ancient.The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram while they were in Makkah (before the hijrah).
♦ It was a day on which people of Makkah used to change the covering (kiswah) of the Ka`bah. Quraysh also used to fast on this day.
♦ After the hijrah when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to Madinah, he found that the Jews of Madinah also used to observe this day with fasting. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked them the reason of their fasting on this day. They said, “This is a blessed day. On this day Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt) and so Prophet Musa fasted on this day giving thanks to Allah.”
♦ The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “We have more claim to Musa than you.”He fasted on that day and commanded Muslims to fast on this day.
♦ `Ashura’ fasting was obligatory (fard) in the beginning. In the second year of hijrah (624 CE) when Allah’s command came that Muslims should fast the whole month of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then sent someone to announce to people that fasting of `Ashura’ had become voluntary (nafl). This indicates that whosoever wishes to fast, may fast and whosoever does not want to fast, there will be no blame on him/her. However, those who choose to fast, should fast the 9th and the 10th of Muharram to distinguish ourselves from the Jewish community.
♦ Fasting the 9th and the 10th of Muharram is a Prophetic Sunnah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Fasting the day of `Ashura’, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the previous year.”(Reported by Muslim)