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Muharram and the Day of Ashura: Things to Know

Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year.  

More than just the start of a new year, Muharram is one of the four sacred months in Islam, as highlighted in the Qur'an:

“Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them.” (Qur’an, 9:36)

The Sacred Months in Islam

The Islamic calendar includes four sacred months: Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab. These months are sanctified in Islam, with specific injunctions against warfare and heightened opportunities for spiritual reward.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: “The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred: three are in succession, namely, Dhul-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and (the fourth one) Rajab (of the tribe of) Mudar, which is between Jumada (Thani) and Shaban.” (Bukhari)

🗓️ When is Muharram 2024?

In 2024, Muharram begins on Sunday, July 7th.  

🗓️ When is the day of Ashura 2024?

In 2024, the day of Ashura is on Tuesday, July 16th.

What to do in Muharram

Muharram is a time for increased worship and self-reflection. During this blessed month, the rewards for good deeds are multiplied, and any wrongdoing is considered more serious.  

Here are some recommended actions to observe during Muharram:

1. 🗓️ Fasting:

One of the most significant observances in Muharram is fasting, particularly on the 10th day, known as the day of Ashura. It is recommended to also fast on the 9th and 10th, or the 10th and 11th days of Muharram.  

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) emphasized the importance of fasting during this month: “A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: ‘Which fasting is better after the month of Ramadan?’ He said: ‘The month of Allah which is called Muharram.’” (Ibn Majah)

2. 📖 Reading the Qur'an:

Engaging with the Qur'an through recitation and reflection can bring a sense of peace and spiritual enrichment.  

3. ❤️ Giving Charity (Sadaqah):

Muharram marks a new beginning, making it an ideal time to establish good habits such as regular charity.

The History and Significance of Ashura

The Day of Ashura, observed on the 10th of Muharram, holds significant historical and religious importance in Islam. It marks several key events:

  1. Battle of Karbala: In 680 CE, Hussain (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), and his small group of family and companions were martyred by the much larger forces of Yazid ibn Muawiyah, the Umayyad Caliph, in Karbala, Iraq. Imam Hussain's refusal to pledge allegiance to Yazid, a tyrannical ruler, led to this tragic confrontation. His stand against oppression and sacrifice to preserve Islamic values is a pivotal moment in Islamic history.
  1. Prophet Musa (AS): On Ashura, Allah saved Prophet Musa (AS) and Bani Israel from Firawn and his army. Firawn, who declared himself a god, pursued Musa and his followers to the Red Sea. By Allah's command, the sea parted, allowing Musa and his followers to escape, while Firawn and his army were drowned.
  1. Other Prophetic Events: Ashura is also associated with other significant events. According to some narrations, it was the day when Prophet Nuh's (AS) ark came to rest after the flood, when Prophet Adam (AS) was forgiven, and when Prophet Yunus (AS) was released from the belly of the whale.

✨ Hadith on Fasting on the Day of Ashura ✨

  1. The Prophet (ﷺ) came to Medina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He asked them about that. They replied, "This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued Bani Israel from their enemy. So, Moses fasted this day." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "We have more claim over Moses than you." So, the Prophet fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast (on that day). (Bukhari)  
  1. Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) said: “I never saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of `Ashura...” (Bukhari)
  1. Abu Qatadah (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’, and he said, “It expiates [wipes out the minor sins of] the past year." (Muslim)

This Muharram, follow the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), by increasing your fasting and giving. Allah says: "You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah, a beautiful pattern [of conduct] for anyone whose hope is God and the Final Day” (Qur’an, 33:21).

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