Muharram is the name of the first month in the Islamic calendar, and it marks the Hijrah (emigration) of the Muslims from Makkah to Madina, as well as the beginning of the Islamic New Year. ‘Muharram’ derives from the root word ‘haram’, meaning ‘forbidden’, and the Ka’bah (Al Masjid Al Haram) also derives from this same Arabic word. This name relates to the fact that fighting in this sacred month is forbidden, which ensures Muslims can go and return from Hajj safely. As it is a sacred month, Muslims observe Muharram by fasting, praising and worshipping Allah (SWT), and by refraining from sinning. This year, the month of Muharram starts in the evening of Friday 29th July 2022.
Although it is not obligatory to fast in this month, it is advised to do so as much as possible, as encouraged by the hadith; “The best fasting after Ramadan is the fasting of Muharram” (Muslim). Fasting on certain dates which hold special significance to Muslims during this month is highly recommended, particularly the 10th day of Muharram, which is commonly known as the Day of Ashura, meaning ‘the tenth’. To distinguish from the Jewish practice of fasting on the 10th, it is recommended to fast either on the 9th and 10th, or the 10th and 11th days of Muharram, but it is also adequate to fast the 10th alone.
While many events have occurred during the month of Muharram, there are two main ones that Muslims reflect on during this month, the first being the martyrdom of Hussain Ibn Ali (RA) during Karbala, who was the son of Ali (RA) and Fatima (RA), and grandson to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This is reflected on by Shia Muslims, who mourn this event. The second is when Allah split the sea to save Musa (AS) and his followers from Pharoah, which Sunni Muslims focus more on, as well as increasing worship and praise of Allah (SWT) in this sacred month.
It is recommended to make dua and seek forgiveness from Allah (SWT) in Muharram, and there are specific duas that many Muslims recite when doing so, which can be recited at certain times during the month. By learning more about Muharram, reciting duas and increasing worship, it will ensure you make the most of this sacred month.
There are many virtues in the month of Muharram, whereby good deeds and actions have more reward in them, so we should increase giving charity in this month as well as other forms of worship such as praising Allah (SWT) and reading Quran to draw closer to Him. However, sins committed in this month are also heavier on our scales than in other months, so we should take care to refrain from sinning.