The Islamic calendar is also known as the Hijri calendar or the Lunar Hijri calendar. This calendar is used by Muslims all over the world. The calendar according to the moon, consisting of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days. To regulate the proper days of Islamic holidays and rituals, such as the annual period of fasting and the proper time for the Hajj, it is used. The civil calendar is the Gregorian calendar, with Syriac month-names used in the Levant and Mesopotamia (Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine), in almost all countries where the predominant religion is Islam. Remarkable deviations to this rule are Iran and Afghanistan, which use the Solar Hijri calendar. Regular commitments such as rents, wages, and similar are generally paid by the civil calendar. With the month of Muharram, the Islamic calendar starts. We at Best Quran Teaching celebrate this sacred month with our learners every year.
What is Muharram?
One of the important months for Muslims is Muharram. Being the first month of the Islamic calendar, we Muslims believe this month is a blessed and sacred month like Ramzan. When 1st Muharram comes, Muslims start special preparations for the whole month.
This sacred month is associated with the many stories in Islam. According to Muslims, the day of Ashura is the 10th day of Muharram. Many Muslims fast on this day. For many Muslims, this month is considered a month to mourn Imam Hussain’s martyrdom in the Battle of Karbala. We as Muslims believe that fasting on the 10 Muharram is the best fast after Ramadan.
Muharram marks the beginning of the Arabic New Year. Generally, the tenth of Muharram is the day that is very significant for Muslims. Both Sunni and Shia Muslims all over the world celebrate it.
Shias remember and mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and Sunnis, fast and pray to Allah on 9, 10 Muharram. As a symbol of the Battle, a large number of people gathered to decorate with ‘Tazia’.
Different assemblies known as ‘Majalis’ are organized by Shia Muslims starting from the first Muharram. The events, incidents, and the lost lives of the soldiers during the Battle of Karbala are remembered in these assemblies.
On these days of grieving, Shias cause themselves pain to mourn for the martyred Imam Hussain and his soldiers. In the Muharram 10 processions, they express their sorrows by thumping their chest and wounding themselves. The Muslim communities in many parts of the world, whether they are Shia or Sunni, set up langar where water and juices are served free to all.
Why is Muharram celebrated?
Many Muslims fast on this day. Muslims of the whole world, consider the month of Muharram a month to mourn Imam Hussain’s martyrdom in the Battle of Karbala. Thus, because of this, there is always something sad about Muharram. That’s why when 1st Muharram comes the atmosphere of the world automatically becomes sorrowful.
Sunnis, fast and pray to Allah but Shias remember and mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. They cause themselves pain to mourn for the martyred Imam Hussain and his soldiers. Muharram’s story is narrated in different majalis to keep the new generation aware of the sufferings and sacrifice of Muslims.
What is Al Ashura?
Then catching sight of the new moon ushers in the Hijri New Year. In the Islamic calendar, the first month, Muharram, is one of the four sacred months mentioned in the Quran, along with the seventh month of Rajab, and 11th and 12th months of Dhu al-Qi’dah and Dhu al-Hijjah, respectively, immediately preceding Muharram. During these sacred months, warfare is forbidden. The Quraish and Arabs also forbade warfare during those months before the advent of Islam.
On the Day of Ashura, 10 Muharram, this day Hazart Hussein sacrifices his life he is the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ). To observe this event many processions take place across the world starting from 1st Muharram.
Considered as part of the Mourning of Muharram, on 9 10 Muharram, Shia Muslims mourn the tragedy of Imam Hussein’s family, and Sunni Muslims practice fasting on Ashura.
Honoring the martyrs by prayer and abstinence from joyous events, Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī and his family. Shia Muslims eat as little as possible on the Muharram 10 as it is the Muharram meaning for them, however, this is not seen as fasting.
Arabic New Year is a month of remembrance. Ashura meaning is “Tenth” in Arabic, refers to the tenth of Muharram. This day is famous because of historical significance and mourning for the Shahadat of Ḥusayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad(ﷺ).
Climaxing on the 10th of Muharram, known as the Day of Ashura, Muslims begin mourning from the first Muharram and continue for ten nights. These days are the most important because these were the days in which Hussain and his family and followers (including women, children and elderly people) were deprived of water from that day that is declared the 7 Muharram onward and on the 10th, Husayn and 72 of his followers were killed by the army of Yazid at the Battle of Karbala on Yazid’s orders. These days are remembered as remaining alive members of Husayn’s family and those of his followers were taken captive, marched to Damascus, and imprisoned there. This is Muharram meaning, to mourn for Hussain and his family.
Why Ashura is celebrated?
The day on which Husayn ibn Ali was martyred in the Battle of Karbala is called Muharram Ashura. While Sunni Muslims fast on this day, commemorating the rescue of the Israelites by Musa (Moses) from Pharaoh, Shia Muslims spend the day in mourning. The martyrs of Karbala are also mourned by Sunni Muslims. Many fast for the same reason as the Sunnis mentioned above during Ashoora, but also for the martyred dead in Karbala.
In the first month of the Islamic calendar, Shab e Ashura is the tenth night of Muharram. God saved Moses and the Israelites from Pharaon, creating a path in the Sea on the day of Muharram. It marks the day that Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad(ﷺ), was martyred in the Battle of Karbala. In Shia Islam, Ashura is a major holy day and occasion for pilgrimage.
Ashura names the acme of the Remembrance of Muharram, the annual commemoration of the death of Hussain and his family and supporters at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH.
Battle of Karbala
It took place within the catastrophe environment resulting from the succession of Yazid. Instantly after progression, Yazid instructed the governor of Medina to compel Hussain and a few other prominent figures to pledge their allegiance (Bay’ah). Hence, he believed that Yazid was openly going against the teachings of Islam and changing the sunnah of Muhammad(ﷺ). To seek asylum in Mecca, his sons, brothers, and the sons of Hasan left Medina. From that day Intezar e Muharram starts.
The people in Kufa sent letters urging Hussain to join them and pledging to support him against the Umayyads at the time of Muawiyah’s death. He corresponded back to them saying that he would send his cousin Muslim ibn Aqeel to report to him on the situation and that if he found them supportive, he would accompany them because an Imam should act in accordance with the Quran and uphold justice, proclaim the truth, and dedicate himself to the cause of God. According to reports, 18,000 men pledged their allegiance as the pursuit of Muslims was initially successful. This is the reason when Yazid made Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad the new governor of Kufa, ordering him to deal severely with Ibn Aqeel, the scene changed. This is the main Muharram story told till now.
Imam Hussain got to know that murderers had been sent by Yazid to kill him in the holy city in the midst of Hajj, in Mecca. Without knowing the circumstances, he abandoned his Hajj to conserve the holiness of the city and specifically that of the Kaaba, and encouraged others around him to follow him.
Hussain found that his messenger on the way, Muslim ibn Aqeel, had been killed in Kufa. So, he reached Karbala by turning to the left, where the army forced him not to go further and stop at a location that had limited access to water.
To offer Ḥussain and his supporters the opportunity to swear allegiance to Yazid, the head of the Kufan army was ordered. The governor cut off Hussain and his followers from access to the water of the Euphrates. That is the day of 7 Muharram. He arranged the Kufan army in battle order, the next morning.
This battle continued from morning to sunset on 10 October 680 (Muharram 10, 61 AH). The army of enemies was under the command of Umar ibn Sa’ad, so, followers of Hussain and family members (in total around 72 men and the women and children) fought against a large army.
The army of Yazid killed Imam Hussain along with the male followers.
Only a few years after his death, the grave of Hussain became a pilgrimage site among Shia Muslims. An oral history developed of pilgrimage to the Imam Hussain Shrine and the other Karbala martyrs, known as Ziarat Ashura.
Muharram for Shias:
It is a sad event for Shia Muslims, while Sunni Muslims view it as a victory God gave to Moses. For them, it is a period of intense grief and mourning. For sorrowful, poetic recitations such as marsiya, noha, latmiya, and soaz performed in memory of the martyrdom of Hussain, grievers assemble at a mosque, lamenting and grieving to the tune and chants of “Ya Hussain”. With themes of his personality and position in Islam, Ulamas give sermons, and the history of his uprising to explain the Ashura meaning.
To allow his listeners to relive the pain and sorrow endured by Hussain and his family, the Imam retells the Battle of Karbala and they read Maqtal Al-Husayn. In some Islamic countries, passion plays known as Ta’zieh are performed, reenacting the Battle of Karbala. Both Muslims and non-Muslims attend this event by depicting an environment of mutual respect and tolerance. It is customary for mosques and some people to provide free meals on certain nights of the month to all people from the starting of the Hijri New Year.
In many places of the world, Sunnis regard fasting during Ashura as recommended, having been superseded by the Ramadan fast. Ashura was already known as a commemorative day during which some Meccan residents used to observe customary fasting, according to the hadith record in Sahih Bukhari. Muhammad(ﷺ) fasted on the Day of Ashura, 10th Muharram, in Mecca. The fast of Ashura was made non-compulsory when fasting during the month of Ramadan became obligatory.
Yum e Ashura observes the day Allah freed the Israelites from the tyrannical Egyptian Pharaoh. In the leading days of Muharram, Sunni Muslims should reflect on Allah’s benevolence to the Prophet Moses by reading scriptures related to:
The Prophet Moses’ 40 days fast.
Allah splitting the Red Sea.
Muslims should fast on the 9th and 10th days of Muharram. According to the hadith, the Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ) instructs followers of Islam to fast during Ashura and the day preceding it. It is not compulsory to fast for all Muslims but was made optional following the introduction of the Ramadan fast.
During Muharram, some religious communities hold the fast on the 10th and 11th instead.
Muslims show gratitude to Allah for liberating the Israelites. The day when Allah led the Israelites out of Egypt. He showed Moses an incredible amount of grace that we can never truly repay Him for. In this way you can thank Allah for His kindness and love by doing the following before Ashura ends:
Perform the standard Nafl Salat prayers.
One should recite Surah Al-Ikhlas, 1000 times.
Deliver the entire Dua E Ashura.
The Islamic schism was caused by the Battle of Karbala. Sunnis do not mourn the Imam as a forsaken leader. Whereas, they do reflect on the Imam’s death and, more importantly, the conflict that caused it and split the faith.
Sunnis treat the battle as a lesson about why reform is better than betrayal instead of reliving the tragedy with displays of sorrow and pain. Therefore, it is important to observe Muharram as a Sunni Muslim as it is considered the day of sorrow for all the Muslims around the world.