What is the meaning of Muharram?
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar – meaning “Forbidden”. Even before Islam, this month was always known as a sacred month in which un-lawful acts were “forbidden”, prominently the shedding of blood.
Which are the sacred Months of the Islamic calendar?
There are four sanctified months of the Islamic calendar according to authentic Ahadith. They are the months of Zul-Qa’dah, Zul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. The sanctity of these months were observed by all the previous Ambiyaa Alayhimus Salaam.
What are common misconceptions regarding the 10th of Muharram?
The following are some misconceptions, which are baseless:
- 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) To hold special prayers or offer sacrifice or visit the graves, specifically 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.
Which is the most significant day in the Month of Muharram and why?
The 10th of Muharram is the most significant day of the Month of Muharram which is also known as the day of Aashura. When Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam came to Madinah, he found the Jews fasting on Aashura. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam enquired as to the reason for fasting to which they replied, “This is a blessed day. On this day, Allah saved Moosa Alayhis Salaam and drowned Fir’aun. Moosa Alayhis Salaam thereafter fasted on this day in gratitude to Allah.” Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said, “I am closer to Moosa Alayhis Salaam than you.” He then fasted on that day and commanded the Muslims to fast as well.(Sahih Bukhari)
Q. 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. No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husain Radhiyallahu Anhu is one of the most heart-rending episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of the 10th of Muharram cannot be ascribed to the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husain Radhiyallahu Anhu for the simple reason that the sanctity of the 10th of Muharram was established during the days of the Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam prior to the birth of Sayyiduna Husain Radhiyallahu Anhu. On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyiduna Husain Radhiyallahu Anhu that his martyrdom took place on the 10th of Muharram.
Q. 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 incident of the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husain Radhiyallahu Anhu is one of the most tragic events of Islamic history. We remember the sacrifice of Sayyiduna Husain Radhiyallahu Anhu and the honoured family members of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam who were with him on the plains of Karbala and we draw strength and lesson from their courage.
However, we do not engage in such acts that are contrary to the teachings of Rasulullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam.The people of Jaahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam forbade these practices saying: “He is not from us who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of Jahiliyyah.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Rather, Rasulullah Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam directed us to observe patience by saying “Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon” (To Allah we belong and to Him we will return) at the time of calamities.
Shortly before his demise, Sayyiduna Husain Radhiyallahu Anhu, echoed the guidance of his beloved grandfather Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam and advised 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 displayed, even under the most difficult conditions, perfect emulation of the conduct of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam. It is thus fitting at the advent of the month of Muharram that we strive to achieve the same.
Q. Is there a special reward for fasting on the 10th of Muharram?
A. Yes. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam stated, “The fast of Aashura wipes out the sins of the previous year.” (Sahih Muslim)
Q. How should the fast of the 10th of Muharram be kept?
A. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam advised keeping an additional fast a day before or a day after the 10th as the Jews fasted on the 10th only.
Q. Is it okay to fast on the day of Aashura/10th of Muharram only?
A. It is Mustahab (preferable) to keep the fast of Aashura in the following manner:
1- To fast on the 9th and 10th of Muharram together.
2- To fast on the 10th and 11th of Muharram together.
3- To fast on the 9th, 10th and 11th of Muharram all together.
It is Makrooh (disliked) to keep fast on the 10th of Muharram (the day of Aashura) only. The reason for this is to distance oneself from enacting the practice of the Jews who fasted on the 10th of Muharram only. If a person, for a valid reason, is only able to fast on Aashura, then this will not be Makrooh. (Tabyeenul Haqaaiq 1/332)
Q. What does it mean to spend on ones family on the day of Aashura?
A. Spending on one’s family on the day of Aashura is general and applies to spending on one’s family in terms of food, clothing and gifts as well. Therefore, it would suffice for one to spend on his/her family on the day of Aashura by giving gifts, clothing or making a special meal for the family. (Shaami 6/430)
Note: Spending on one’s family refers to one’s dependants and not on one’s entire family.
Q. What is the time limit to spend on ones family on the day of Aashura? Is it the Islamic day and night of the 10th of Muharram or is it the 9th, 10th or 10th, 11th or 9th, 10th and 11th days and nights of Muharram?
A. The day of Aashura is the 10th of Muharram. The day of Aashura is not the 9th or 11th of Muharram. Yes, in keeping the fast of Aashura, a person should keep the fast of the 10th of Muharram together with a fast before or after it to avoid enacting the practice of the Jews who fasted on the 10th of Muharram only.
However, in the case of spending on ones family on the day of Aashura, the 9th or 11th is not included. As such, the Islamic day and night of the 10th of Muharram is taken into consideration. Therefore, if one wishes to spend on his/her family on the day of Aashura and earn its rewards of expansion in sustenance throughout the year, he/she may do so from the 10th evening (Maghrib time) until the Maghrib time of the following day. (Faydul Baari 3/372)
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