The number of the months according to Allah is twelve months (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on the day in which He created heavens and the earth. Among these (twelve months) there are four sanctified.
One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.
Fasting During The Month:
The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadhan are those of the month of Muharram.
Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet, the one who fasts in these days out of his own will and choice is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewarded ones among the Nafl fasts i.e. the fasts one observes out of his own choice without being obligatory on him. The Hadith does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.The day of ‘Ashurah’
Although the month of Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named ‘Ashurah’. According to the Holy Companion Ibn ‘Abbas (Radhiallaahu Anhu). The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), when migrated to Madinah, found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which the Holy Prophet Musa (Moses) (Alayhis salaam) and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:
We are more closely related to Musa (Alayhis salaam) than you.
When the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) came to Madinah, he fasted on the day of ‘Ashura’ and directed the people to fast it. But when the fasts of Ramadhan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadhan and the obligatory nature of the fast of ‘Ashura’ was abandoned. Whoever so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes can avoid fasting on it.(Sunan Abu Dawud)
In short, it is established through a number of authentic Hadiths that fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ is Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and makes one entitled to a great reward.
Some Misconceptions about ‘Ashura’:
There are some legends and misconceptions with regard to ‘Ashura’ that have managed to find their way into the minds of the ignorant, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources.
- This is the day in which Adam (Alayhis salaam) was created.
- This is the day in which Ibrahim was born.
- This is the day in which Allah accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam (Alayhis salaam)
- This is the day on which the Qiyaamah (doomsday) will take place.
- Whoever takes bath in the day of ‘Ashura’ will never get ill.
All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit.
Some people take it as Sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal in the day of ‘Ashura’. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic sources.
Some other people attribute the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ to the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) during his battle with the Syrian army. No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ was established during the days of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) much earlier than the birth of Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu). On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that his martyrdom took place on the day of ‘Ashura’. Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Sayyidna Husain was killed in it. It is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept which is contrary to the express teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. Such superstitions have been totally negated by the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). If the death of an eminent person in a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day, free from this bad luck, out of 360 days of the whole year, because each and every day has a history of the demise of some eminent person. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) have made us free from such superstitious beliefs, and they should deserve no attention.
Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mouming ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu). As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of jahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying “Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon”. A number of authentic Ahaadith are available on the subject. To quote only one of them: “He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah“. (Sahih Bukhari) All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is absolutely impermissible.
Even Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) at shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Sayyidah Zainab (Radhiallaahu Anha) at not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said, “My dear sister, I swear upon you that you, in case I die, shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death”. (Al-Kamil, ibn Kathir vol. 4 pg. 24) It is evident from this advice of Sayyidna Husain, (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and his beloved grand child Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu).