Muharram and Ashura: What to Do -Mostak Ahmed


Muharram, the first month of Arabic year is renowned for various reasons. It has theological and historical importance in Islam. This month is selected as one of the Haram (sacred) months by Allah (SWT). Many prophets were rescued from their enemy, trouble and so forth in this month. Some of them were got forgiveness and reward from Allah (SWT).
The word Muharram means forbidden. The month is called Muharram as war, violence and so on was forbidden in this month even before the prophet (?). In holy Quran Allah (SWT) says, “Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah’s ordinance since the day when He created the heavens and the earth, of these four being sacred; that is the right reckoning; therefore be not unjust to yourselves regarding them, and fight the polytheists all together as they fight you all together; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).” [Al-Quran- 9:36]. The Prophet (SM) has clearly fixed these four sacred months. Muharram is one of them. Narrated Abu Bakra, The Prophet (?) said. “The division of time has turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earths. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in succession Dhul-Qa’ da, Dhul-Hijja and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumadi-ath-Thaniyah and Sha ban.” [Bukhari: 3197]. Muharram is regarded as the month of Allah (SWT) and fasting in Muharram is most virtuous fasting after Ramadan. Narrated Abu Hurairah, Allah’s Messenger (S) said: “The most virtuous fasting after the month of Ramadan is that of Allah’s month of Al-Muharram. And the most virtuous Salat after the obligatory is the night prayer.” [Tirmidhi: 438]. Muharram was sacred to the Quraish (tribe of prophet sm) before the birth of prophet (SM) also. They didn’t war in that month.
Muharram contains a day naming Ashura (tenth day of Muharram). The day of Ashura was sacred for both the Quraish and the Jews. Quraish were fasting on that dayin the age of darkness. Narrated `Aisha, “Ashura was a day on which the tribe of Quraish used to fast in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance. The Prophet (?) also used to fast on this day. So when he migrated to Medina, he fasted on it and ordered (the Muslims) to fast on it. When the fasting of Ramadan was enjoined, it became optional for the people to fast or not to fast on the day of Ashura.” [Bukhari: 3831]. When the prophet (SM) went to Medina, he found Ashura as a sacred day to the Jews because Moses got rid of Pharaoh. Narrated Ibn `Abbas, When the Prophet (?) arrived at Medina, the Jews were observing the fast on Ashura and they said, “This is the day when Moses became victorious over Pharaoh,” On that, the Prophet (?) said to his companions, “You (Muslims) have more right to celebrate Moses’ victory than they have, so observe the fast on this day.” [Bukhari: 4680].
Fasting in the day of Ashura was obligatory before Ramadan. The prophet (?) said to keep fasting even without eating anything. Narrated Salama bin Al-Akwa`, Allah’s Messenger (?) said to a man from the tribe of Al-Aslam, “Proclaim among your people (or the people) on the day of Ashura, ‘Whosoever has eaten anything should fast for the rest of the day; and whoever has not eaten anything, should complete his fast.’ ” Besides fasting, Zakah (2.5% tax from the Muslim regarding specific amount of wealth) was also given in the day of Ashura before Ramadan. The companion of the prophet (?) gave their Zakah in the day of Ashura. It was narrated that Qais bin Sa’d bin ‘Ubadah Said, “We used to fast on Ashura and give Zakatul-Fitr, and when the command to fast in Ramadan was revealed, and the command to give Zakah was revealed, we were neither commanded to give it, nor told not to do so, and we used to do it.” [Nasa’i: 2505]. Fasting in Ashura erases sins of preceding year. As Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari (RAA) narrated, ‘The Messenger of Allah (?) was asked about fasting on the day of Arafah (the 9th of the month of Dhul Hijjah). He replied, “Fasting on the day of Arafah is expiation for the preceding year and the following year.” He was also asked about fasting on the day of Ashura. He replied, “Fasting on the day of Ashura is expiation for the preceding year.” The Messenger of Allah (?) was also asked about fasting on Monday, and he replied, “This is the day on which I was born and the day on which I was sent (with the Message of Islam) and the day on which I received revelation.” [Bulugh al-Maram: 680]
According to Islamic interpretation, numerous events has taken place on the day of Ashura; inception of earth, creation of Adam and Eve, descending of them on earth, accepting their repentance and meeting of them happened this day. Starting and ending of Deluge of Noah’s time, victory of Moses over Pharaoh, extrication of Abraham from fire, climbing up of Jesus to sky, the tragedy of Karbala etc. occurred that day. And finally the universe will be destroyed again on this historically significant day. Ashura is a sacred day for the Muslim and for people of some other religion. Fasting in this day is emphasized by hadith (the speech, work and approval of the prophet sm). But many Bidat (that new work which is contradictory with the Holy Quran and Sunnah) are performed by some Muslim sects on this day. Some take Ashura as a mourner day and arrange mourner rally, some hit themselves cruelly and some create symbolic grave and show honor to it. But according to Sunni view, all these things have no base in Islam.
Allah (SWT) chooses some things as special in his own wish. He chooses Prophets from all mankind, mosques from the Ground, the day of zumma (Friday) from the week, the night of Qadr (a special night of Ramadan) from all the nights and respectively He chooses the month of Ramadan and four sacred months from all twelve months. As Muharram is one of the sacred months, we should perform much more virtuous act such as fasting, in this month and avoid sinful acts. Especially we shouldn’t engage into any bidat in the shape of religious action.

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