The Hijri year begins with the month of Muharram, which holds great significance to Muslims. This is one of the four sacred months among the twelve months in the Islamic calendar, as mentioned in Quran. However, Muharram isn’t very well-known as Ramadan and Dhul Hijjah, as most of us don’t know its virtues rightly.
In 2023, the Muharram month will start on the 19th of July. There are a few special Sunnah in this holy month, such as fasting and doing other forms of worship. Let’s delve into the virtues and things to do in this blessed month.
What is Muharram?
Muharram is the first month of the lunar calendar. It begins after Dhul Hijjah of the previous year, and the next month of Muharram is Safar. The Arabic word ‘Muharram’ means prohibited or forbidden, which itself emphasizes its sanctity. In Allah, there are four sacred months in the year, and Muharram is one of them. It signifies warfare is forbidden in this month. Some historians claimed the month was called ‘Safer al-Awwal’ before Islam.
FYI: Islamic year is derived from the event of Hijrah (migration) of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. And this is determined by the new moon sighting. That’s why the Islamic calendar is also called the Hijri calendar or lunar calendar. The Islamic year is 10 or 11 days lesser than the solar year.
When is Muharram 2023?
Islamic year consists of 12 lunar months that start through the Muharram month. In 1445 AH, the month of Muharram will begin on 19th July 2023. As the Islamic calendar is based on moon sightings, thus the date may vary with the region.
What are the Important Dates of Muharram?
Some of the key dates in Muharram are-
a) 1st Muharram
This is the first day of the new lunar year. So, plan to do more good deeds this year than before. FYI, Islam doesn’t allow celebrating the new year like the non-Muslims.
However, you can recite the Dua sighting the new moon.
اَللّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ، اَللّٰهُمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالْأَمْنِ وَالْإِيْمَانِ، وَالسَّلَامَةِ وَالْإِسْلَامِ، وَالتَّوْفِيْقِ لِمَا تُحِبُّ رَبَّنَا وَتَرْضَى، رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكَ اللّٰهُ
Allah is the Greatest. O Allah, bring us the new moon with security and Faith, with peace and in Islam, and in harmony with what our Lord loves and what pleases Him. Our Lord and your Lord is Allah. [Jami At-Tirmidhi, Ad-Darimi]
b) 10th Muharram
This day is named Ashura, which has religious and historical significance. Fasting is recommended on this day.
c) 9th and 11th Muharram
It’s Sunnah to fast either the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th Muharram for two days to differ with Jews.
Significance of the Month of Muharram
Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’Ala and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ mentions the holy month Muharram in the Quran and Hadith, which manifests the significance of this month.
Allah declares four months as sacred when fighting is forbidden. These are Dhul Qadah, Dhul Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab. These four months are called ‘Ashur E Hurum’ together.
Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’Ala says in the Quran,
إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّهُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِى كِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ مِنْهَآ أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا۟ فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ وَقَـٰتِلُوا۟ ٱلْمُشْرِكِينَ كَآفَّةً كَمَا يُقَـٰتِلُونَكُمْ كَآفَّةً ۚ وَٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلْمُتَّقِينَ
“Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve—in Allah’s Record since the day He created the heavens and the earth—of which four are sacred. That is the Right Way. So do not wrong one another during these months. And together, fight the polytheists as they fight against you together. And know that Allah is with the righteous.” [Sura At-Taubah, 9: 36]
The following hadith mentions the names of the sacred month, including Muharram,
Abu Bakrah (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: “The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah, and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumaada and Sha’baan.” [Musnad Ahmad]
According to the above verse, it’s haram (forbidden) for Muslims to initiate battles in the holy months.
Qatadah (RA) said about Allah’s statement, “(So do not wrong one another during these months.) Wrongdoing during the sacred months is more serious and incurs a greater burden of sin than in other months. Wrongdoing is a serious matter in any circumstances, but Allah makes whatever He wills of His commands carry more weight.” [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]
But if the idolaters initiate a fight against Muslims, it’s permissible for Muslims to fight against them.
Why is Muharram So Special?
The first month of the lunar calendar, Muharram, is special for Muslims due to its unlimited virtues.
i. Muharram is the Chosen Month by Allah
The first Islamic month, Muharram, is an elite month chosen by Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’Ala.
“Allah has chosen elites from his creation: from among the angels He chose Messengers, from among the mankind He chose Messengers, from among speech He chose remembrance of Him (Dhikr), from among spaces on earth He chose the mosques, from among he chose the month of Ramadan and sacred months (including Muharram)…So, venerate that which has been chosen by Allah, for people of understanding and wisdom respect that which has been chosen by Him.” [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]
ii. Muharram is the ‘Month of Allah’
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ mentioned Muharram as the “Month of Allah.” [Sahih Muslim]
As the month of Muharram is attributed to Allah; thus, we can easily realize how virtuous it is.
iii. Fasting on Muharram is Honorable after Ramadan
In hadith, fasting during the Islamic month of Muharram is described as the best fasting after Ramadan.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “The best fasting after Ramadan is the blessed month of Muharram (Month of Allah).” [Sahih Muslim]
iv. The Day of Ashura is on Muharram
Ashura (10th Muharram) is an important day in Islam. It has both historical and religious significance. As mentioned in hadith, fasting on this day expiates the minor sins of the previous year.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Fasting the day of ‘Ashura,’ I hope Allah will expiate the sins of the year went before.” [Sahih Muslim]
What to Do in the Month of Muharram?
Now we’ll discuss some of the righteous actions that you can do in the month of Muharram.
a) Fasting on Muharram
The most important thing to do on Muharram is fasting, as mentioned in the hadith.
“A man came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and said: ‘Which fasting is better after the month of Ramadan?’ He ﷺ replied: ‘The month of Allah which is called Muharram.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Jews fasted on Ashura day as a blessing to Allah to save the people of Israel from the oppression of Pharaoh through Musa (AS). That’s why Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said to fast on this day to the Muslims. But later on, He ﷺ said to fast for two days, either the 9th and 10th Muharram or the 10th and 11th Muharram, to differ them. But, if you are unable to fast for two days, fast at least on Ashura day.
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ says about fasting on Ashura that says,
“Fast on the day of Ashura and one more day before or after Ashura to avoid the likeness of the Jews.” [Musnad Ahmad]
Besides fasting on these days, you can also fast more days this month, especially on Ayyame beed or white days (13, 14, and 15 of each month) and Monday and Thursday of each week.
b) Sincere Repentance
At the beginning of the Islamic year, seeking Allah’s forgiveness is essential. Repent yourself for the previous sins sincerely. And oath not to commit sins again.
It’s narrated in a hadith that Allah forgave an entire people on a day of Muharram.
The Prophet ﷺ said to a man, “If you want to fast a month after Ramadan, then fast Muharram, for it has a day in which Allah forgave an entire people, and He turns to others in repentance in.” [Jami at-Tirmidhi]
c) Make Dua
We don’t know what is going to happen this year. So, Muslims should offer special supplications to Allah to make this year blessed at the beginning of the month of Muharram. We should also make dua for the martyrs of Karbala, as this event happened on the 10th of Muharram.
d) More Worship
Offering Ibadah in the month of Muharram will multiply the reward in-sha-Allah, as this is the ‘month of Allah.’ So perform voluntary prayers, especially Tahajjud, as much as you can. Also, recite Quran, and do Dhikr. And do other forms of worship like helping others, conducting good behavior, avoiding sins, etc.
We also recommend you donate in this sacred month as charity expiates sins and helps to get Allah’s mercy. You can donate to GTAF as a part of Sadaqa Jariah to fulfill our mission to educate and inspire Muslims to get closer to Allah.
e) Maintaining the Purity of Muharram
As Muharram is a sacred month. So, we should maintain its holiness properly. Refrain from sinful acts and avoid all types of quarrels, hurting others with words or hands, and any form of clash for the sake of Allah.
f) Set Some Goals for the New Year
It’s important to create new challenges for yourself at the beginning of the year for your personal and professional growth. For example, you can create a Daily One Ayah Quran Memorization task for your spiritual development. On the other hand, you can plan to acquire new skills as professional challenges.
After a year, the new Islamic year starts with the month of Muharram. This month has immense significance in guiding Muslims on their spiritual journey. It’s recommended to fast this month as much as you can, especially on the 10th Muharram, with one more day before or after. And do other obligatory and voluntary worship too. So, don’t miss this sacred month to get closer to Allah.