Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, is one of the four sacred months mentioned in the Glorious Qur'ãn:
Lo! The number of the months with Allah is twelve months by Allah's Ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred: that is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves in them...(9:36)
The specification of these four sacred months is stated in a Hadeeth narrated by Aboo Bakrah t that Rasoolullah s said,
"Verily time has completed its cycle and returned to its original stage as it was on the day Allah created the heavens and the earth. The year consists of twelve months, four of which are sacred. Three of them occur consecutively; Zul Qa'dah, Zul Hijjah and Muharram, (the fourth being) Rajab of Mudhar (named after the tribe of Mudhar as they used to respect this month) which occurs between Jamãdiul Ãkhir and Sha'bãn." (Bukhãri)
From out of the four sacred months, Muharram has been blessed with certain specific virtues. The noble Prophet s said, "The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadhãn is the fasting of Allah's Month of Muharram and the best of salãt besides the fardh (compulsory) salãt is the tahajjud salãt (performed after midnight before dawn)." (Muslim)
In another Hadeeth, Ibne 'Abbãs t reports that the Messenger of Allah s said, "He who fasts on the day of Arafah (9th Zul Hijjah), his fast will be a compensation for the sins of two years and one who keeps a fast in the month of Muharram will receive the reward of thirty fasts for each fast." (Tabrãni, at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb)
THE DAY OF ÃSHOORÃ (10th MUHARRAM)
The tenth day of the month of Muharram is known as Ãshoorã. It is one of the most important and blessed days in the Islamic calendar. Some 'ulãma (scholars) are of the opinion that before the fasts of Ramadhãn, the fast of the day of Ãshoorã was compulsory upon the Ummah. This is stated in a Hadeeth reported by 'Ã'ishah t that the noble Prophet s ordered the observance of the fast of Ãshoorã. However, when the fast of Ramadhãn became compulsory, then whosoever wished, kept this fast and whosoever desired did not observe this fast. (Bukhãri)
But the Prophet s, nevertheless continued to fast this day and encouraged his companions to do the same. Ibne 'Abbãs t says, "I did not see Rasoolullah s anxiously await the fast of any day, which he gave preference to over other days, but this day, the day of Ãshoorã." (Bukhãri)
Humayd Ibne 'Abdur Rahmãn t narrates that he heard Mu'ãwiyah Ibne Abee Sufyãn t on the day of Ãshoorã, during the year he performed Hajj, saying on the pulpit, "O the people of Madeenah! Where are your 'ulãma? I heard Rasoolullah s saying, 'This is the day of Ãshoorã. Allah has not enjoined its fasting on you, but I am fasting it. Whosoever wishes, keep (this) fast and whosoever desires do not observe (this fast).'" (Bukhãri)
In another Hadeeth, Ibne 'Abbãs t narrates that the noble Prophet s came to Madeenah and found the Jews fasting on the day of Ãshoorã. Hence the noble Prophet s inquired of them, "What is (the significance of) this day on which you fast?" They replied, "This is a great day. On this day Allah saved Moosã u and his people and drowned Fir'awn and his nation. Thus Moosã u fasted on this day as a token of thanksgiving, therefore we too fast on this day." The Messenger of Allah s said, "We are more worthy of Moosã and nearer to him than you." Thereafter, the noble Prophet s fasted on this day and ordered (his companions y) that a fast be kept on this day. (Muslim)
RECOMMENDED DEEDS ON THE DAY OF ÃSHOORÃ
1. The noble Prophet s has exhorted and encouraged his Ummah to fast on this day. Aboo Qatãdah t narrates that the noble Prophet s was asked regarding the fast of the day of Ãshoorã. The noble Prophet s replied, "It is a compensation for the (minor) sins of the past year." (Muslim)
NOTE: It must be borne in mind that wherever a promise of forgiveness of sins is made upon the fulfilment of some action, it is only the minor sins that are forgiven.
The major sins are not forgiven without true tawbah (repentance).
2. One should also observe the fast of the 9th or 11th Muharram to safeguard his deed from resemblance with the non-Muslims who fast only on the 10th Muharram. Ibne 'Abbãs t said, "When Rasoolullah s observed the fast of the day of Ãshoorã and ordered (his companions y) to fast, they said, 'O Rasoolullah! s It is a day revered by the Jews and Christians.' Rasoolullah s said, 'The coming year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth (also)." (Muslim)
Ibne 'Abbãs t reports that Rasoolullah s said, "Should I live until the coming year, I will definitely fast on the ninth (also)." (Muslim)
The noble Prophet s said, "Observe the fast of Ãshoorã and oppose the Jews. Fast a day before it or a day after." (Bayhaqi)
Hence, it is important to either fast on the
ninth and tenth of Muharram or the tenth and eleventh. To fast only on the day of Ãshoorã is makroohe tanzeehi as stated by 'allãmah Ibne Ãbideen Shãmi rahmatullãhi alayh.
3. One should be generous on one's family and dependants and spend more on them than what is normally spent. Aboo Hurayrah t reports that Rasoolullah s said, "One who generously spends on his family on the day of Ãshoorã, Allah will increase (his provision) for the whole year." (Bayhaqi, at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb)
This Hadeeth is not very authentic according to the science of Hadeeth. However, scholars of Hadeeth like Bayhaqi and Ibne Hibbãn have accepted it as reliable.
These are the only actions supported by Ahãdeeth.
ACTS TO REFRAIN FROM
1. It is absolutely clear that the significance of the day of Ãshoorã is from the time of the noble Prophet s. However, many people regard this day as the day of mourning the martyrdom of Husayn t. The martyrdom of Husayn t was indeed a great tragedy, but Islãm is not a religion of perpetual mourning. Aboo Sa'eed t relates that Rasoolullah s has cursed mourners and those who listen to them. (Aboo Dãwood)
The pages of Islamic History are filled with the blood of the martyrs. Should we begin to mourn the martyrdom of the Sahãbah y alone, every other day would be a day of mourning. Thus, to attribute the significance of Ãshoorã to the martyrdom of Husayn t is baseless. Therefore, the host of baseless customs with regard to his martyrdom - mourning, lamenting and displaying grief - must be discarded. If mourning was permissible, then the day of the demise of Rasoolullah s would have been more worthy for mourning and lamenting.
2. The following misconceptions with regard to Ãshoorã are baseless:
This is the day in which Ãdam alayhis salaam was created.
This is the day in which Ibrãheem alayhis salaam was born.
This is the day on which Qiyãmah will take place.
Whoever takes bath on the day of Ãshoorã will never get ill.
3. Some regard the tenth of Muharram as the day of 'Eed. They indulge in adornment, applying surmah (collyrium), wearing new clothes, spending lavishly and cooking a particular type of meal which is not generally prepared. All these actions are regarded as sunnah according to their belief, whereas no authentic narration sanctioning and permitting such actions can be found.
4. Another misconception is that the month of Muharram is an unlucky month; hence marriage ceremonies should be avoided in this month. This concept is again contrary to the teachings of Rasoolullah s.
Let us observe this great day according to the way of Rasoolullah s and the Sahãbah y and refrain from all innovations which deprive us of the blessings from Allah. May Allah guide us all upon the Straight Path and save us from every act which brings His Displeasure. Ãmeen.