The first month of the Islamic calendar is Muharram ul-Haram or the month of Muharram. It’s the second holiest month after Ramzan for the Muslims across the globe. The word Muharram, meaning ‘forbidden,’ is one of the four sacred months for Muslims in the Islamic calendar. Being the first month of the Islamic year, the first day of the month marks the beginning of the new year. The 10th day is well-known as ‘Day of Ashura,’ i.e., marked as the day of mourning for the death of the grandson of the Prophet, Ḥusayn ibnʿAlī’s and his family.
Significance of Muharram
Muharram is widely celebrated as the beginning of the Islamic new year by Muslims around the globe. It is considered as one of the sacred months by the Muslim community. It is considered to be the second most holy month, coming next to Ramadan. Thus, Muslims across the world indulge in prayers and fasting during the month.
Certain historical and religious events highlight the importance of the month. The first 10 days of the month are honored by Shia Muslims across the world. They spend the days in mourning as it’s on the 10th day of the month of Muharram that Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was martyred in the Battle of Karbala. Thus, the 10th day is known as the day of Ashura. The people offer tribute to the sacrifice of the humble army of Hussain, which comprised only of his friends and family, including women and young children.
The day of Ashura is also significant for Sunni Muslims as they believe that on the day, another Prophet of Islam, Moses gained victory over the Egyptian Pharaoh. Also during the month of Muharram, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) migrated from Makkah to Madinah.
History of Muharram
The history of Muharram dates back in time when Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and his companions were forced to move from Makkah to Madinah on the first day of the month in Circa 622 AD. Prophet was debarred from spreading the message of Islam in Makkah. It is believed that Imam Hussain, the son of Hazrat Ali and the grandson of the Prophet, led a revolution against Caliph Yazid against this oppression. The revolution resulted in the Battle of Karbala. He was martyred in the battle on the 10th day of Muharram in 680 AD.
Facts about Muharram
Let us have a look at some of the facts about Muharram:
1. Many Muslims fast on the ninth and tenth days of this month. According to Prophet Muhhamad (PBUH), fasting on the day of Ashura wipes out the sins of the previous years.
2. To express their grief and mourn over the death of Hazrat Ali, Shia Muslims indulge in painful practices like cutting themselves with sharp objects, beating themselves with chains, and conducting mournful public procession. On the other hand, Sunni Muslims consider Ashura as a day of respect; hence do not take part in such rituals.
3. During this month, Muslims refrain from taking part in any celebrations. Shia Muslims also don’t wear jewelry and other fashionable clothing during this month.
4. On the Day of Ashura, it is a tradition to read Ziyarat Ashura, which is a book containing salutations to the martyrs of Karbala.
5. Muslims celebrate the new year by visiting the mosque, spending time with their family and friends and exchanging homemade sweet rice with near and dear ones. Also, as sharing food with the needy is considered a good act, people share the food made in the house with people on the streets.
6. The 10th day of Muharram or Day of Ashura is also called as Youm-e-Ashura.
7. The Grand Mosque was captured in a revolt led by Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani in the month of Muharram.
8. For over 500 years now, the procession of the Battle of Karbala is carried throughout India on the Day of Ashura. It is where an imaginary tomb of Imam Ali is taken through the alleys of cities in India.
Muharram is highly significant in Islam as it is a sacred month and marks the day of mourning for the death of Imam Ali. Therefore, people observe this day with immense faith and remorse in their hearts.