Reason & Practises of Muharram

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar.  It is one of the four sacred months of the year in which fighting is prohibited.  Muharram is derived from the word ‘haram’, meaning ‘forbidden.’  It is called such because it is unlawful to fight during this month.  ‘Haram’ also has the connotation of sacred.  It is the most sacred of all the months, excluding Ramadhan.  Some Muslims fast during these days.  The tenth day of Muharram is called 'Ashura, meaning ‘tenth’.

Allah (s.w.t.) Described the Prophet (s.a.w.) as Mercy to all the Worlds:

We Sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures. (Surah al-Anbiya’:107)

Further, He Said:

And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character. (Surah al-Qalam:4)

If we follow the way of Muhammad (s.a.w.), we will never see difficulties.  If we follow our desires, we find problems in our life.  We try to save ourselves by following what the Prophet (s.a.w.) brought.  What changed the life of the universe was the migration from Makkah to Madina.  Muharram is the month Allah (s.w.t.) Ordered the Prophet (s.a.w.) to move to Madina to establish the infrastructure of the state and the khilafah.  It was in this month that Allah (s.w.t.) Gave a place to the Prophet (s.a.w.) from which Islam spread.

When the Prophet (s.a.w.) arrived at Yathrib or Tha’iyyabah as it was also known then, he found the Jews fasting the tenth of Muharram.  He asked, “Why are they fasting on this day?”

They replied, “Because on that day, Allah Saved Musa from Fir’awn.”

And the Prophet (s.a.w.) fasted that day and ordered the Muslims to fast that day.  Imam Muslim (r.a.) narrated in one of the hadits of ‘Ashura, that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said that whoever fasts that day, will be Forgiven all the sins of the previous year.

Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.) said, “That day was an obligatory fast in the beginning of Islam.”

Imam Shafi`i (r.a.) said, “It is a sunnah to fast it but not obligatory.”

Imam Abu Hanifah (r.a.) said that it was an obligation to fast this day in the first decade of Islam.  But it is important to remember that Allah (s.w.t.) will Waive one year’s sins we have committed.  This is a Mercy that Allah (s.w.t.) Sent to us.

ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.), the greatest mufassir of Qur’an, said that the Prophet (s.a.w.) fasted the day of ‘Ashura because of its importance and he ordered the people to fast it.  This is recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim.

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (r.a.) related that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever fasts the day of ‘Ashura, Allah (s.w.t.) will Waive the preceding year’s sins and the following year’s sins.”

The reason for this is because on that day, Allah (s.w.t.) Honoured many prophets.  According to some narrations and according to Sufi tradition, it is a Day when the Gates of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Mercy are Opened.  Here is a summary of some of the events that took place on this day for this is the day of Deliverance, especially for the prophets of Allah (s.w.t.).  Allah (s.w.t.) Chose Adam (a.s.) to be father of humanity on that day.  Adam (a.s.) was Forgiven his sin after the Fall.  He Raised Idris (a.s.) to Heaven.  He Saved Nuh (a.s.) with his people in the ark.  He Saved Ibrahim (a.s.) from the fire of Namrud.  Ayyub (a.s.) was Delivered from his Test and Healed from his afflictions.  Yunus (a.s.) was Freed from the three layers of darkness.  Musa (a.s.), Harun (a.s.) and the Children of Isra’il were Delivered from Fir’awn’s army and crossed the Red Sea.  Yusuf (a.s.) was freed from prison.  Ya’qub’s (a.s.) blindness was Cured after Yusuf’s (a.s.) shirt was thrown over his eyes.  He Forgave Dawud (a.s.) for his lapse of judgement.  Sulayman (a.s.) was Restored to his kingdom.  He Raised ‘Isa (a.s.) to Heaven and Saved him from crucifixion.  And on that day, our Messenger, the Seal of Messengers whom Allah (s.w.t.) Chose, married Khadijah (r.a.) and He Made him migrate to Madina on that day.  And He Created the heavens and earth on that day and He Created the Pen, al-Qalam, on that day.  And that day was always a Friday.

Imam al-Hamadani (r.a.), one of the greatest muhadditsin, related that when Allah (s.w.t.) Ordered Nuh (a.s.) to build his ship, he built it from 124,000 planks.  And we know in the tafsir of ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) regarding Surah al-A’araf, that Allah (s.w.t.) Sent 124,000 prophets, and among them were 313 messengers.  When Nuh (a.s.) began to put each plank in place, the names of the prophets appeared on them.  When he reached one plank, number 123,999, the name of Muhammad (s.a.w.) appeared on plank 124,000.  Nuh (a.s.) knew that he was the last prophet.  He then needed four more planks to complete the ship.  As soon as he put these, the names of the four rightly-guided caliphs appeared on those planks.  Allah (s.w.t.) Said to him, “For the sake of Muhammad, I will Save this ship.”  Imam al-Hamadani (r.a.) said, “For Allah’s Love of them, He Put their names on that ship.”  Whoever loves the Prophet (s.a.w.) and his companions, Allah (s.w.t.) Loves them.

The following are some of the ahadits on Muharram.

ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever fasts the last day of Dzu al-Hijjah and the first day of Muharram, he completes a whole year's worth of fasting in that previous year, and Allah Gives him penance for fifty years.”

Anas (r.a.) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever fasts the first Friday of Muharram, Allah will Forgive his preceding sins, and whoever fasts three days of Muharram - Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Allah will Write for him worship and prayers for nine hundred years.”

‘Aishah (r.a.) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever fasts the first ten days up until ‘Ashura, he will inherit Jannah al-Firdaws.”

The fasting of 'Ashura is a sunnah al-mu`akkadah.  When the Prophet (s.a.w.) saw the Jews of Madina fasting on that day, he asked them for what it was.  They told him it was the day Musa (a.s.) led the Bani Isra`il from Fir’awn.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said to them, “I have more rights with Musa than you.”  So he fasted that day and ordered for its observance.  This was part of a longer narration from ‘Aishah (r.a.).

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever fasts the ‘Ashura, Allah will Write for him a thousand wishes and a thousand years of age, and will Grant him the Reward of a thousand martyrs, and will write for him the reward of Isma’il, and Write for him seventy palaces in Paradise, and makes his flesh forbidden from the Hellfire.”

In another hadits, the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever fasts on 'Ashura, he will be Granted the Reward of a thousand angels.  And whoever recites ‘Qul Huwa Allahu Ahad’ a thousand times on the day of ‘Ashura, Allah will Glance at him with the Eyes of Mercy, and will Write him from amongst the Swiddiqqin.”

In another hadits, the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Distinguish yourselves from the Jews by fasting either the day before 'Ashura or the day after it as well.”

Whoever prays in ‘Ashura, four sunnah rak’ah, where after Surah al-Fatihah in each rak'ah recites Surah al-Ikhlasw eleven times, Allah (s.w.t.) Forgives his sins of fifty years, and will Build for him a pulpit from light.  And whoever takes the sunnah shower on 'Ashura, he will not suffer sickness in that year except the illness of death, and whoever wears the kohl on his eyes on ‘Ashura he will not suffer sickness on that year.


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