The month of Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, and one of the four sacred months of the year. It is second only to Ramzan (the annual month of fasting), which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is believed to be the month in which the Quran was revealed.
The Islamic calendar, which is based on the cycles of the lunar phase (the phase of the Moon, which changes as the Moon orbits the Earth) consists of 12 Hijri months. These months are called Muharram, Safar, Rabbi al-Awal, Rabbi al-Akhir, Jumada al-Ula, Jumada al-Akhira, Rajab, Shaban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhu al-Qa’da and Dhu al-Hijja.
The word Muharram is derived from the Arabic word haram, or sinful. Some Muslims fast throughout the month. The tenth day of the month is known as the Day of Ashura, and is also commemorated by Shia Muslims as a day of mourning for the death (Shahada) of Hazrat Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), in the Battle of Karbala.
There are also various other events that took place on the Day of Ashura, which add to its (and Muharram’s) importance.
It was on this sacred day that the skies, the Earth and the Lauw-e-Qalam (the pen which writes fate) came into existence.
The first (parents) of mankind – Hazrat Adam and Hazrat Hawa (Eve) – were also created on the 10th of Muharram. And after Hazrat Adam and Hazrat Hawa begged for forgiveness from Allah for disobeying his orders and eating from the forbidden tree, it was on this very day his Tauba or apology was accepted after his exile from Jannah (Paradise).
It was on this day that Pharaoh and his evil army was vanquished, and Moosa (Moses) fasted on this day in thanksgiving. Fasting on Ashura was a gradual step towards fasting throughout the month of Ramzan.
It is narrated in Sahih Muslim that Abu Qatada relates that the Holy Prophet said fasting on the Day of Ashura would atone for the sins of the preceding year.
Hazrat Nooh (Noah) successfully completed his voyage on his Arc and as a show of his gratefulness for God’s protection fasted on this day. It was also on this sacred day that Hazrat Yaqub (Jacob) regained his eyesight and was reunited with his son, Hazrat Yusuf (Joseph), after 40 years.
Hazrat Yunus (Jonas) was also expelled from the belly of the fish (alive) on this day.
Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham) was also saved from burning alive in the fire thrown by Namrood by Allah on this sacred Day of Ashura.
It is stated in Sahih-Bukhari that when Allah is happy, he makes it rain. The first time it ever rained on Earth, it was 10th of Muharram.
The Day of Ashura was when Hazrat Dawood (David) was forgiven by Allah and the kingdom of Suleiman (Solomen) was restored.
It was on this day that, according to Islamic faith, Hazrat Isa (Jesus) was raised to the heavens.
Lastly, it is believed that the Day of Judgement will arrive on the Day of Ashura.
While it is the first month of the Islamic New Year – we hope it will be a great year for Muslims around the world and we wish you a very happy new year – we would also like you to remember the significance of this month, and pray for the martyred Hazrat Hussain and his followers. May peace be upon them. Amen.