The word, Muharram, means ‘forbidden’, ‘sacred’ or ‘honourable’. The first month of Islamic (lunar) calendar is known as Muharram. It is a sacred month and one of the four haraam or sacred months (Dhul-Qadah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab). Allah (SWT) made the month sacred by mentioning it in Qur'an. Allah (SWT) says: “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 confuse with one another during these months… (SuraTawbah: 36).Concerning this month the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “… The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred: three consecutive months, Dhu al-Qa‘dah, Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab of Mudar which comes between Jumaada and Sha‘baan.” (Bukhari).
The month of Muharram is regarded as the second holiest month of the year after Ramadan. Even before the arrival of The last Messenger Muhammad (PBUH), Muharram was considered as the sacred month. Warfare between the tribes of Arabian Peninsula was banned during this blessed month. It is the glorious month when the rewards for good deeds are multiplied. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to encourage his companions to perform voluntary fasting during Muharram and describe this month as the ‘sacred month of Allah.’ It is proved by authentic narrations that the best fasting after Ramadan is fasting in the month of Muharram. Abu Hurayrah (Ra) reported that The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” (Sahih Muslim).
The significance of Ashura was such, that it was obligatory to fast on this day before the obligation was abrogated by the fasts of Ramadan. Aisha (Ra.) narrated: “Allah’s messenger ordered (the Muslims) to fast on the day of ‘Ashura, and when fasting in the month of Ramadan was prescribed, it became optional for one to fast on that day (Ashura) or not. (Sahih Bukhari).According to Islamic Shariyah, it is not Wajib (mandatory) to fast on the day of Ahura, but it has a great virtue and an immense reward. It expiates sins for one year that went before. Abu Qatada (Ra.) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘the fasting on the day of Ashura atones for the sins of the preceding year.’ (Sahih Muslim).
The prophet (PBUH) recommended us to be different from the Jews to fast on the 9th or the 11th day of Muharrum. The prophet (PBUH) said: "Fast on the day of Ashura, but do so differently than the Jews by fasting the day before it or the day after it." (Musnad Ahmad). The Prophet (PBUH) meant was that he would also fast on the 9th as well as the 10th to which he was accustomed of. We also should try fasting on the 9th and the 10th of Muharram.
The martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the beloved grandson of our Prophet ( PBUH) is undoubtedly the most significant, one of the most pathetic and painful chapter of Islamic history. We should remember and pay solemn respect to the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (Ra.) for the establishment of Islam and pray for the martyrs of Karbala. But showing love for Imam Hussain (Ra.) through beating heads, lamenting the saddest episode of Karbala, mourning and displaying grief are completely forbidden in Islam. Abdullah IbnMas’ud (Ra) narrated that The messenger of Allah ( PBUH) said, “He who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and follows the ways and traditions of the Days of Ignorance is not one of us.” (Sahih Bukhari).
The writer is a national award winning Qari and Khatib of BaitushShafiq Mosque, Gazipur