THE VIRTUES OF MUHARRAM

An adaptation of :The Virtues of the Month of Muharram and Ashoora
by Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid

Opening Salutation:
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and Peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets and Chief of the Messengers, and upon all his family and companions.

The Months of Allah
Muharram is the first month of the Hijri calendar and is one of the four sacred months.
Etiquette of the Muslim during the four sacred months
Allah SWT says:
“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred, (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islâmic calendar).
That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein, and fight against the Mushrikûn (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the
Oneness of Allâh) collectively), as they fight against you collectively. But know that Allâh is with those who are Al-Muttaqûn ” (At-Tawbah 9:36)

Explanation of: “… so wrong not yourselves therein”
It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas said that this phrase (so wrong not yourselves therein…) referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.
What does an Islamic year look like?
12 months that comprise the Islamic year are:

1. Muharram 7. Rajab
2. Safar 8. Sha’ban
3. Rabi’ al-awwal (Rabi’ I) 9. Ramadan
4. Rabi’ al-thani (Rabi’ II) 10. Shawwal
5. Jumada al-awwal (Jumada I) 11. Dhu al-Qi’dah
6. Jumada al-thani (Jumada II) 12. Dhu al-Hijjah
http://webexhibits.org/calendars/calendar-islamic.html

The four Sacred months
Narrated by Abu Bakr (RA): The Prophet (PBUH) said. “(The division of time has turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earths. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in succession Dhul-Qa’ da, Dhul-Hijja and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumadi-ath-Thaniyah and Sha ban.” Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity.” [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 419]
The Sunnahs of Muharram
1. Increase naafil fasts during Muharram.
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “The most excellent fast after Ramadan is God’s month al-Muharram, and the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed is prayer during the night.” [Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2611]
2. Fasting on Ashoora
The historical significance of Aashooraa
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: When the Prophet came to Medina, he found (the Jews) fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ (i.e. 10th of Muharram). They used to say: “This is a great day on which Allah saved Moses and drowned the folk of Pharaoh. Moses observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah.” The Prophet said, “I am closer to Moses than they.” So, he (PBUH) observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4,Book 55, Number 609]
“Moosa fasted on this day” – a report narrated by Muslim adds: “… in thanksgiving to Allah, so we fast on this day.” According to a report narrated by al-Bukhaari: “… so we fast on this day to venerate it.”

A version narrated by Imam Ahmad ads: “This is the day on which the Ark settled on Mount Joodi, so Noah fasted this day in thanksgiving.”

It was also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to fast on ‘Aashooraa’ in Makkah, before he migrated to Madeenah. When he migrated to Madeenah, he found the Jews celebrating this day, so he asked them why, and they replied as described in the hadeeth quoted above. He commanded the Muslims to be different from the Jews, who took it as a festival, as was reported in the hadeeth of Abu Moosa (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: “The Jews used to take the day of ‘Aashooraa’ as a festival [according to a report narrated by Muslim: the day of ‘Aashooraa’ was venerated by the Jews, who took it as a festival.
The virtues of fasting ‘Aashooraa’
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: “I never saw the Prophet seeking to fast on a day more (preferable to him) than this day, the day of ‘Ashura’, or this month, i.e. the month of Ramadan.” [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 224]
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “…For fasting the day of ‘Aashooraa’, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” [Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2602]. This is from the bounty of Allah towards us: for fasting one day He gives us expiation for the sins of a whole year. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.
Which day is ‘Aashooraa’?
Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Our companions said:
‘Aashooraa’ is the tenth day of Muharram and Taasoo’aa’ is the ninth day. This is our opinion, and that of the majority of scholars (al-Majmoo’)
3. It is mustahabb (encouraged) to fast on the ninth and the tenth, Taasoo’aa’ with ‘Aashooraa’. This is what Ahmad said, and it is the opinion of Ishaaq.”
Ibn ‘Abbas reported that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) fasted on the day of ‘Ashura and commanded that it should he observed as a fast, they (his Companions) said to him: Messenger of Allah, it is a day, which the Jews and Christians hold in high esteem. Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: When the next year comes, God willing, we would observe fast on the 9th But the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) died before the advent of the next year. [Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2528]
Why do muslims fast on ‘Aashooraa’ ?
Imaam al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“It expiates for all minor sins, i.e., it brings forgiveness of all sins except major sins.” Then he said (may Allah have mercy on him):
“Fasting the day of ‘Arafaah expiates for two years, and the day of ‘Aashooraa’ expiates for one year.
When a person says ‘Aameen’ it coincides with the ‘Aameen’ of the angels, he will be forgiven all his previous sins…
Each one of the things that we have mentioned will bring expiation. (al-Majmoo’ Sharhal-Muhadhdhab, part 6, Sawm Yawm ‘Arafaah).
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Tahaarah, salaah, and fasting in Ramadaan, on the day of ‘Arafaah and on ‘Aashooraa’ expiate for minor sins only.” (al-Fataawa al-Kubra,part 5).
Dua/Supplication:
We ask Allah to make us followers of the Sunnah of His Noble Prophet, to make us live in Islam and die in a state of faith. May He help us to do that which He loves and which pleases Him. We ask Him to help us to remember Him and be thankful to Him, to worship Him properly and to accept our good deeds. May He make us of those who are pious and fear Him. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.

4 thoughts on “THE VIRTUES OF MUHARRAM

  1. Pingback: HALF MILLION (500,000) READS BY THE GRACE OF ALLAH…………… « Siraat-e-Mustaqeem

  2. Asalaamoalaikum Brother Ali, Thank you for your detailed comment. I apologize for the delay in the response. I was hoping that the author would respond, nevertheless here are my humble observations:
    While researching an Islamic topic, what is easily available is loads of material by orientalists and non muslim writers. unfortunately the authentic original texts are buried in museums.
    As muslims we live by a single criterion:
    We match all sources of information (orientalists, writers and researchers of any faith and persuasion) against the Quran and the Sunnah and if they do not match we hold the Quran and the Sunnah to be true, and discard all else.
    Please review the post in this blog on “the excesses of deen, from Surah Al Maidah”
    I am confident that you are certainly aware how a Hadith becomes Sahih. You are probably also aware of the detailed and painstaking documenting process of all the references to each Hadith and Sunnah, sifting out the ones that can be called SAHIH.
    As far as nafil fasts are concerned they are done for the pleasure of Allah, not to grieve for someone nor to be happy. The reward of these fasts will be given by Allah and is unfathomable at this time.
    As far as I know muslims do not celebrate Ashura as a festival. In no way does a nafil fast on Ashura connote that one does not respect and revere the Prophet’s (PBUH) grandsons.
    I pray that we as muslims concentrate on what brings us together as an Ummah rather that what splits us apart.May Allah guide us continuously and focus our efforts on bringing us closer to our brethren by ignoring their faults and magnifying their good actions.

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  3. Some traditions are found in Sunni books to the effect that the Prophet (s.a.w.) on migrating to Medina found the Jews fasting on the 10th of Muharram. He asked them why, and was told: “It is an auspicious day; it is the day when God delivered the children of Israel from their enemy (i.e. Pharaoh); and, therefore, Moses fasted on that day.” The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “I am worthier of Moses than you are.” Thereupon, he fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast.

    1. al-Sahih of al-Bukhari, Vol.3; Egypt ed.; p.54

    2. Mishkatul-Masabih; Delhi ed.; 1307 A.H.; p.l72

    It is noted by the commentator of Mishkatul-Masabih that “it was in the second year, because in the first year the Prophet had arrived at Medina after ‘Ashura, in Rabi’ul-awwal.”

    How much importance was this fast supposed to have may be judged from another tradition narrated in al-Sahih of. al-Bukhari: “The Prophet (s.a.w.) ordered a man from the (tribe of) Aslam: Announce to the people that whoever has eaten should fast the rest of the day, and whoever has not eaten should fast (the whole day), because today is the ‘Ashura (10th day of Muharram).”

    That very year the fast of Ramadan was ordained and the obligation to fast on ‘Ashura was abrogated, as has been claimed in other traditions narrated in the same book. Still, reportedly, it carries much importance as a voluntary fast.

    Now let us look closely at these traditions:

    First: The Jews had their own calendar and months. There is no logic in saying that they fasted on the 10th of Muharram – unless it could be proved that this date always coincided with a Jewish day of fast.

    It was mentioned in my article, “Martyrdom of Imam Husayn and the Muslim and the Jewish Calendars” (Alserat, Vol.VI, No’s 3 & 4; Muharram 1401 Nov.1980) that the first month of the Jews (Abib, later named Nisan) coincided with Rajab of the Arabs. W.O.E.Oesterley and Theodore H.Robinson have written that in Arabia “the most important of all the new-moon festivals was that which fell in the month of Ragab (sic), equivalent to the Hebrew month ‘Abib, for this was the time when the ancient Arabs celebrated the Spring festival.” (Hebrew Religion; S.P.C.K., London; 1955; p.128)

    Probably, in ancient times the two branches of Abraham’s house followed the same system of intercalating an additional month 7 times in a cycle of 19 years. And in this way the 7th Jewish month, Tishri I, coincided with Muharram. And the ‘Ashura of Muharram synchronized with 10th of Tishri I, the Jewish Day of Atonement – a day of fast. In that article, it was observed that the two calendars lost their synchronization when Islam, in the 9th year of hijra, disallowed intercalation. But on deeper consideration it transpired that that parity was lost long before the advent of Islam, because the Arabs did not follow any mathematical calculation in their intercalation. That was why the Muharram of the 2nd year of Hijra began on 5th July, 623 C.E. (Al-Munjid, 21st ed.), months before Tishri I (which always coincides with September-October).

    Clearly, ‘Ashura of Muharram in that year (or, for that matter, during the Prophet’s whole life at Medina) had no significance whatsoever for the Jews.

    The question is: Why did they fast on that day?

    Second: The Jewish Midrashic literature relates the 10th day of the 7th month (Yom Hakippurim – Day of Atonement) to the event of bringing the tablets of the Covenant from Mount Sinai, as Dr. Mishael Maswari-Caspi has written in his letter, quoted in my previous article, mentioned above.

    The question is: If the Jews had wanted to keep the long-lost synchronization of Tishri I and Muharram in view, how was it that they forgot to narrate this tradition to the Prophet?

    Third: The month in which God delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh was Abib (i.e. Rajab), as the Bible clearly says: “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.” (Deut., 16:1)

    The question is: How could the Jews transfer an event of Abib (originally coinciding with Rajab) to Muharram, in open defiance of their Torah?

    And lastly here is a point to ponder for the Muslims: The Prophet (s.a.w.) was sent with a religion to abrogate all previous religions and shari’ah. How was it that he deigned to imitate the custom of the Jews?

    It is clear from above-mentioned facts that the Jews had no reason at all to fast on ‘Ashura of Muharram at that period; and this story, built on that premise, is just that – a fiction. Obviously, it was invented by a narrator who only knew that once upon a time Muharram coincided with the Jews’ Tishri I; but was totally unaware of contemporary Jewish religion and culture.

    One feels constrained to mention here that this and other such traditions were forged by camp-followers of the Umayyads, after the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, as a part of their campaign to turn the 10th of Muharram into a day of rejoicing. These traditions are of the same genre as those which say that it was on the 10th of Muharram that Noah’s ark rested on Mount Arafat, the fire became cool and safe for Abraham, and Jesus ascended to the heaven. In the same category came the traditions exhorting the Muslims to treat ‘Ashura as a festival of joy, and to store one’s food-grain on this very day as it would increase one’s sustenance and bring the blessings of Allah to the household.

    http://al-islam.org/al-serat/default.asp?url=fastofashura.htm

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