Muharram FAQ’s



  1. What is the meaning of Muharram?                                                                                                                                                                               A: Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. The term “Muharram” means “Sacred” or “Forbidden.” Even before the advent of Islam, this month was recognized as sacred, and all forms of warfare were forbidden during this time.
  2. Which are the sacred Months of the Islamic calendar?                                                                                                                                          A: There are four sacred months in the Islamic calendar: Zul-Qa’dah, Zul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab. The sanctity of these months was observed by all the previous Prophets (Alayhimus Salaam)
  3. What are the common misconceptions regarding the 10th of Muharram?                                                                                                   A: The following are some baseless misconceptions:

a) This is the day in which Adam Alayhis salaam was created.
b) This is the day in which Ebrahim Alayhis salaam was born.
c) This is the day in which Allah accepted the repentance of Adam Alayhis salaam.
d) This is the day on which the Qiyaamah will take place.
e) Whoever takes a bath on the 10th of Muharram will never get ill.

f) Holding special prayers, offering sacrifices or visiting the graveyard on the 10th of Muharram thinking that there is special reward or meaning for doing so.

All the above are untrue and are not substantiated from authentic Islamic sources.

4. Which is the most significant day in the Month of Muharram and why?

The 10th of Muharram, known as the day of Aashura, is the most significant day of the month. When Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) arrived in Madinah, he found the Jews fasting on Aashura. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) asked them about the reason for their fasting, and they replied, “This is a blessed day. On this day, Allah saved Moosa (Alayhis Salaam) and drowned Fir’aun. Moosa (Alayhis Salaam) fasted on this day in gratitude to Allah.” Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) then said, “I am closer to Moosa (Alayhis Salaam) than you.” He fasted on that day and commanded the Muslims to fast as well. (Sahih Bukhari)

5. Is the 10th of Muharram sanctified because of the Martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husain Radhiyallahu Anhu?                                      A: The 10th of Muharram is not sanctified due to the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husain (Radhiyallahu Anhu). While the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husain (Radhiyallahu Anhu) is one of the most heart-rending episodes in our history, the sanctity of the 10th of Muharram was established during the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), long before the birth of Sayyiduna Husain (Radhiyallahu Anhu).The significance of this day is rooted in the events that took place much earlier. However, it is a merit of Sayyiduna Husain (Radhiyallahu Anhu) that his martyrdom occurred on this blessed day.

6. Is there any basis in Islam to host ceremonies to lament over the Martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husain Radhiyallahu Anhu on the 10th of Muharram?                                                                                                                                                                                                             A:The martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husain (Radhiyallahu Anhu) is indeed one of the most tragic events in Islamic history. We remember and honour the sacrifices made by Sayyiduna Husain (Radhiyallahu Anhu) and the family members of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) who stood with him on the plains of Karbala. Their courage and steadfastness serve as a powerful lesson for us.

However, Islam does not endorse acts of mourning that are contrary to the teachings of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). In pre-Islamic times, people would mourn their deceased with loud lamentations, tearing their clothes, and beating their cheeks and chests. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) forbade such practices, saying: “He is not from us who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes, and cries in the manner of the people of Jahiliyyah (ignorance).”(Sahih Bukhari)

Instead, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) taught us to observe patience and to say, “Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon” (To Allah we belong and to Him we will return) at times of calamity.

Shortly before his demise, Sayyiduna Husain (Radhiyallahu Anhu) echoed the guidance of his beloved grandfather (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) by advising his sister, Sayyidatuna Zainab (Radhiyallahu Anha), saying, “My dear sister, I swear upon you that if I die, you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone, nor pray for your death.” (Al-Kamil, ibn Kathir vol. 4 pg. 24)

Sayyiduna Husain (Radhiyallahu Anhu), even under the most difficult conditions, perfectly emulated the conduct of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Therefore, as the month of Muharram approaches, it is fitting for us to strive to emulate the same conduct.

7. Is there a special reward for fasting on the 10th of Muharram?

A: Yes. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) stated, “The fast of Ashura wipes out the sins of the previous year.” (Sahih Muslim)


8. How should the fast of the 10th of Muharram be observed?

A: Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) advised that an additional fast be kept either a day before or a day after the 10th, as the Jews fasted on the 10th only. This practice ensures that Muslims remain distinct from the practices of non-Muslims.

9. Is it permissible to fast on the day of Ashura (10th of Muharram) only?


  1. It is Mustahab (preferable) to observe the fast of Ashura in one of the following ways:
  2. To fast on the 9th and 10th of Muharram together.
  3. To fast on the 10th and 11th of Muharram together.
  4. To fast on the 9th, 10th, and 11th of Muharram altogether.


It is Makrooh (disliked) to fast only on the 10th of Muharram (the day of Ashura) without accompanying it with a fast on either the 9th or 11th. (Tabyeenul Haqaaiq 1/332)

However, if someone is only able to fast on Ashura for some reason, then there is no problem doing so.


10. Q: What is the virtue of spending on one’s family on the day of Aashura?

 A: Sayyiduna Abu Huraira (Radhiyallahu Anhu) reports that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said: “Whoever is generous to his family on the day of Aashura, Allah Ta’ala will be generous to him throughout the year.” (Shu’ab al-Iman #3537)

 11. What does it mean to be generous to one’s family on the day of Aashura?


A: Being generous to one’s family on the day of Aashura includes providing food, clothing, and gifts. This can be fulfilled by giving gifts, new clothes or even preparing a special meal for the family. (Shaami 6/430)

Note: “Family” here refers to one’s dependents (household), not the entire extended family. There is no virtue in giving gifts to one’s extended family.

12. What is the time limit to spend on one’s family on the day of Aashura? Is it the Islamic day and night of the 10th of Muharram or does it include the 9th, 10th, or 11th days and nights of Muharram?


A: The day of Aashura is specifically the 10th of Muharram. For fasting, one should fast on the 10th and either the day before (9th) or the day after (11th) to avoid imitating the Jews, who only fast on the 10th.

However, for spending on one’s family, only the 10th of Muharram is considered. This period begins from the evening of the 10th (Maghrib time) and lasts until the next Maghrib. (Faydul Baari 3/372)

Note: For South Africa in 2024, the 10th of Muharram begins at Maghrib on Tuesday, 16th July, and ends at Maghrib on Wednesday, 17th July. The virtue of spending on one’s family on the day of Aashura is applicable during this time.

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best


Mufti Moosa Salie

Mufti Taahir Hansa


(The answer hereby given is specifically based on the question asked and should be read together with the question asked. Islamic rulings on this Q&A newsletter are answered in accordance to the Hanafi Fiqh unless otherwise stated.) 


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