The Islamic New Year is marked by the month of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic Calendar. Muharram also marks the Hijrah (migration) of the Muslims from Makkah to Madina. Muharram derives from the root word ‘haram’, meaning forbidden, and this refers to fighting and conflict being prohibited in this month to allow Muslims to go to and from Hajj safely.
The Day of Ashura
The Day of Ashura falls in this month on the 10th of Muharram and translates to ‘the tenth’. It marks the day that Hussain (RA) was martyred by Yazid, the corrupt ruler, who surrounded and killed Hussain (RA) and his companions after he refused to support Yazid’s government.
Shia Muslims mourn on this day, while Sunni Muslims reflects on miracles such as where Allah (SWT) allowed Prophet Musa (AS) to split the Red Sea to escape Pharoah, Prophet Yusuf (AS) getting out of the well he was thrown into, and Prophet Yunus (AS) escaping from the belly of a whale.
How is Muharram observed by Muslims?
During this holy month, many Muslims observe Muharram by fasting and worshipping Allah (SWT) and refrain from sinning. While fasting is not obligatory, Muslims are encouraged to fast, particularly on the 10th day of this month, the Day of Ashura. “A man came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said: ‘Which fasting is better after the month of Ramadan?’ He said: ‘The month of Allah which is called Muharram.’” (Ibn Majah)
It is recommended to fast on the 9th and 10th days of the month, or the 10th and 11th days of Muharram in order to differentiate from the Jews, who only fast on the 10th; however, fasting just on the 10th is allowed.
How important is The Day of Ashura?
It is said in a hadith that if you fast on the day of Ashura, your sins for the previous year are forgiven, and this encourages Muslims to fast on this day: Abu Qatadah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was asked about observing the fast on the tenth day of Muharram, and he replied, “it is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year.” (Muslim)
In another hadith, Ubaydallah ibn Abi Yazid reported: Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I did not see the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, as eager to fast a day and preferring it over others except for this Day of Ashura and this month of Ramadan.”
For Muslims, fasting on this day is therefore a common practice, in order to follow the sunnah and practices of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
When is Muharram 2023?
In 2023, Muharram starts on the evening of 19th July. This means the Islamic New Year will begin on the 1st of Muharram 2023.
When is the Day of Ashura 2023?
The Day of Ashura is expected to fall on 28th July 2023, depending on the sighting of the moon.
What To Do in Muharram
In the month of Muharram, we should try to fast whenever we can, particularly on the 10th day, the Day of Ashura. As well as this, we should aim to engage in more acts of worship, including making more Du’a, helping others, and reading the Qur’an.
Good deeds in this month are said to be heavier than in other months, which acts as an incentive for Muslims to worship Allah (SWT) more. However, sins committed during this month can also be heavier on the scales, which means we should try to cut out bad habits.
To reap the rewards this month, please donate to Orphans in Need today.