Muharram: In Light of Quran and Hadith

We announce the start of the Islamic new year, 1440 After Hijrah (AH)! According to the methodology followed by the Hilal Committee of Metropolitan Toronto & Vicinity (local moon sighting) and the methodology followed by the Fiqh Council of North America (calculations), the first day of Muharram was Tuesday, September 11. Therefore, the 10th of Muharram (Day of ‘Ashura) will be on Thursday, September 20. Please try to make an effort to fast on this day. Also, in order to not imitate people of other faiths who also fasted on ‘Ashura, the Prophet (SAW) has advised us to also fast a day before or after this day.

Read on for more details on the significance and rewards…

The month of Muharram is the first month of the Arabic year, and it is one of the four sacred months of Allah. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “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.” [al-Tawbah 9:36]

Al-Bukhaari (3167) and Muslim (1679) narrated from Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The division of time has turned to its original form which was current the day Allah created the heavens and earth. The year consists of twelve months of which four are sacred: three consecutive months, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab of Mudar which comes between Jumada and Sha’baan.”

Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (Muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity. Allah’s words (interpretation of the meaning): “so wrong not yourselves therein” mean do not wrong yourselves in these sacred months, because sin in these months is worse than in other months.

It was proven from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that the best fasting after Ramadaan is fasting in the month of Muharram. It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1163).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “For fasting the day of ‘Ashura’, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Reported by Muslim, 1976). This is from the bounty of Allah towards us: for fasting one day He gives us expiation for the sins of a whole year. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.

The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) used to fast this day even in Mecca, though he had not yet ordered others to do so, as mentioned in both Bukhari and Muslim. [Bukhari (2002), Muslim (1125)]

When he migrated to Medina, and found the People of the Book fasting this day and venerating it, he ordered the Muslims to fast it, and encouraged it so much that even the children would fast it.

It has been reported in both Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), that, “When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) reached Medina, he found the Jews fasting the Day of ‘Ashura, so he asked them, ‘What is this day you are fasting?’ They said, ‘This is a tremendous day. Allah saved Musa and his people on this day and drowned Pharaoh and his people. Musa fasted it out of thanks, so we fast it too.’ The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, ‘And we are more deserving of Musa than you are.’ So he fasted this day, and ordered that it be fasted.” [Bukhari (2004) and Muslim (1130)]

At the end of his life, the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) made the determination not to fast this day alone, but with another day [fast either before or after it], in order to be different from the People of the Book.

It has been reported in the Sahih of Imam Muslim (Allah have mercy on him), also from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that, “When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) fasted the Day of `Ashura and ordered his companions to fast it, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! This is a day that the Jews and Christians venerate.’ So the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, ‘When next year comes if Allah wills we will fast the Ninth [of Muharram with it].’ But the next year did not come before the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) passed away.” [Muslim (1134), Abu Dawud (2445)]

And it is reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him), from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Fast the Day of ‘Ashura and be different from the Jews by fasting a day before it or a day after it.” [Ahmad]

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