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The Islamic calendar is comprised of 12 months; each of which has a different meaning and separate traditions in which Muslims partake. The month of Muharram is a sacred one, as no other month is given the honour of being the month of Allah (SWT). However, other months have their own significance.

As one can imagine, Muharram is rich in historical and religious significance, which is why it’s honoured so highly within the Muslim community. In fact, Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, which marks the Hijrah (emigration) of the Muslims toMadina, whereby the first Islamic state was established in 622CE.

What is Muharram?

As previously mentioned, Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, meaning that it indicates the beginning of the Islamic New Year. In addition to this, Muharram is one of the four sacred months in the Islamic calendar, the others being Rajab, Dhul Q’ada, and Dhul Hijjah. As a result, all rewards for good deeds that are performed in Muharram are multiplied, whilst the punishment for any sin is also intensified.

When is Muharram?

The Islamic year follows the lunar calendar, meaning that it doesn’t coincide with the Gregorian calendar. It’s for this reason that in 2023, Muharram is likely to begin on 19th July; however, the starting date is determined via the sighting of the moon, meaning it’s subject to change.

When Does Muharram End?

This year, Muharram is estimated to end at sundown on 17th August. All Islamic observances begin at sundown and end at sundown the following day(s).

The Muharram Story

Around 14 centuries ago on the Day of Ashura, Imam Hussain(RA) , who was the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and his son were ruthlessly murdered by a brutal and tyrannical leader in the Battle of Karbala. Despite this, Imam Hussain (RA) remains victorious, due to his message of equality, justice, and kindness prevailing beyond his death.

The 10th of Muharram is otherwise known as the Day of Ashura and, on this day in the 61st year of the Islamic calendar, the brutal Battle of Karbala occurred. This was fought between a handful of supporters and Imam Hussain’s (RA) relatives, and a larger military of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph.

The modest army of Imam Hussain (RA) consisted of only his family, friends, and some young children and women, meaning they weren’t equipped to handle the heavily armed enemy army of thousands. This army was responsible for the capturing of Imam Hussain (RA) and his group, which resulted in them being deprived of food and water for three days. Furthermore, Imam Hussain (RA) and his six-year-old son were killed by the soldiers, whilst the women were taken as captives.

Ultimately, Muharram is a very emotional month in which Muslims honour the sacrifice of innocent lives via the observation of a mourning period during Muharram.

The Muharram Meaning

Muharram is an incredibly holy month, as Muslims across the globe mourn the death of Imam Hussain (RA) and his family. This mourning is expressed via making sacrifices such as fasting and refraining from joyous events. The mourning period begins on the first day of Muharram and continues until the 10th, as this was the day that Imam Hussain (RA) passed. Shia Muslims observe Muahrram in this way, while Sunni Muslims reflect on other events and miracles that occurred during this month.

What Happened on the 9th Muharram?

On the 9th of Muharram, the soldiers mounted and advanced against Imam Hussain (RA) and his supporters. As a result, it’s recommended for Muslims to fast on the 9th Muharram, just as the Prophet Musa (AS) did to differ from the People of the Book.

10th Muharram Fasting

As previously mentioned, the 10th of Muharram is otherwise known as the Day of Ashura, which refers to the day upon which the Battle of Karbala occurred, as well as being a day on which many significant events occurred. Therefore, Muslims are encouraged to partake in fasting on the 10th Muharram, much like the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Fasting in Muharram compensates for minor sins of the previous year and displays gratitude towards Allah (SWT) for saving the believers.

Fasting the 11th Muharram

Some schools of thought will also recommend fasting on the 11th Muharram, in order to reap the rewards of the blessed month. This may be done to make up for a missed fast on the 9th Muharram, or some Muslims will do so to ensure they fast for the entirety of the 10th Muharram.

Muharram Du’as

In order to seek the favour and mercy of Allah (SWT) during this auspicious month, there are many good deeds that can be performed. As previously mentioned, fasting is one of the best forms of worship for the 10th Muharram. On top of this, Muslims should make regular dua and might also read the Qur’an and give regular Sadaqah; since Muharram marks the Islamic New Year, this is the perfect opportunity to make resolutions and establish good habits.

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