It is the divine system of Allah Ta’ala that He has afforded special virtue and significance to certain things over others.
From mankind, it is the Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam) who have been blessed with the highest status and most distinguished position over the rest of the creation.
From the different places in the world, it is the Haramain Shareefain (Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Munawwarah) and Musjidul Aqsa that have been accorded a special rank over the rest of the world.
From the twelve months of the Islamic calendar, special sanctity and sacredness has been given to Ramadhaan and the four sacred months i.e. Zul Qa’dah, Zul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab.
Likewise, among the days of the Islamic year, the Day of Aashura has been blessed with exclusive virtues and immense blessings.
While the month of Zul Hijjah has been divinely selected for the fulfilment of the rituals of Haj and sacrifice, it is the month of Muharram that enjoys the honour of being the month of Allah Ta’ala and the month which contains the fast of the Mubaarak Day of Aashura.
The immense virtues and abundant blessings of this day can be gauged by the desire and eagerness that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) expressed in awaiting its arrival.
Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) reports, “I did not see Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) await the fast of any virtuous day with more eagerness than the Day of Aashura.” (Saheeh Bukhaari #2006)
Virtues of the Month of Muharram
1. Muharram is the first month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muhadditheen (Commentators of Hadith) are of the opinion that from the four sacred months, the month of Muharram is the most sacred and blessed month.
Hazrat Hasan (rahimahullah) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “The most virtuous and rewarding salaah, after the fardh salaah, is the salaah performed in the middle portion of the night (i.e. tahajjud salaah), and the most virtuous month, after the month of Ramadhaan, is the month of Muharram.” (Lataaiful Maarif, Pg. 79)
2. In the Quraan Majeed, Allah Ta‘ala takes an oath on the first morning of Muharram.
Allah Ta‘ala says:
وَ الۡفَجۡرِ ۙ﴿۱﴾
By the dawn!
Imaam Qataadah (rahimahullah) has mentioned that in this verse, the dawn on which Allah Ta‘ala takes an oath is the dawn of the first morning of the month of Muharram, as it is not only the dawn of this morning – but is the dawn of the entire year which is to follow. (Lataaiful Maarif, Pg. 35)
3. In regard to the month of Muharram, it should be noted that the first ten days of Muharram have more virtue than the rest of the month, just as the first ten days of Zul Hijjah have more virtue than the rest of the month of Zul Hijjah, and just as the last ten days of Ramadhaan have more virtue than the rest of the month of Ramadhaan.
Hazrat Abu Uthmaan Nahdi (rahimahullah) mentioned that (from all the sacred months,) there were ten days of three months that the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) would show greater honour and respect to (by them exerting themselves in ibaadah in these periods. These ten days were) the last ten days of Ramadhaan, the first ten days of Zul Hijjah, and the first ten days of Muharram. (Lataaiful Maarif, Pg. 35)
Sunnats and Aadaab of the Month of Muharram
1. One should learn and recite the Masnoon Dua at the Commencement of Muharram.
It is reported in the Hadith that the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) would learn the following dua and recite it at the beginning of a new Islamic month or new Islamic year (i.e. the beginning of Muharram):
اَللّٰهُمَّ أَدْخِلْهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالْأَمْنِ وَالْإِيمَانِ وَالسَّلَامَةِ وَالْإِسْلَامِ وَرِضْوَانٍ مِّنَ الرَّحْمٰنِ وَجِوَارٍ مِّنَ الشَّيْطَان
O Allah! Let it (this new month or new year) enter upon us with safety, imaan, security, Islam, the pleasure of Rahmaan (i.e. Allah Ta’ala) and protection from shaitaan. (Al-Mujamul Awsat #6241)
2. One should increase his good deeds in the month of Muharram, as the month of Muharram is among the four sacred months, and the rewards of good deeds carried out in these months are multiplied.
Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) mentioned, “Allah Ta’ala made four months exclusive (in their sacredness and virtues). He sanctified them and increased their blessedness. He has made sinning in them more severe (compared to sinning at other times), and He has made carrying out good deeds during these months more rewarding (compared to carrying out good deeds at other times).” (Lataaiful Maarif, Pg. 222)
3. One should refrain from committing sins in this month, as the severity of sins is also multiplied in the sacred months.
In regard to abstaining from sins during the four sacred months, Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Qur’aan Majeed:
فَلَا تَظۡلِمُوۡا فِیۡهِنَّ اَنۡفُسَکُمۡ
So, do not wrong yourselves (by committing sins) during them (the sacred months).
Under the commentary of this verse, Imaam Qataadah (rahimahullah) mentioned,
“Indeed, sinning during the sacred months is more serious and bears a greater burden compared to sinning in the other months, though it should be remembered that all sins, at all times, are serious. However, Allah Ta’ala, according to His wish, has afforded special honour to certain things.” (Tafseer Ibnu Katheer 4/148)
4. One should abstain from inconveniencing people, fighting or quarrelling in this blessed month, as these actions cause one to be deprived of the blessings of this month.
5. One should try to fast during the month of Muharram. For every day that one fasts in Muharram, one will receive the reward of fasting for an entire month.
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “The one who observes the fast of the day of Arafah (the 9th of Zul-Hijjah) will have two years of his sins forgiven, and the one who fasts during the month of Muharram, then for each day that he fasts, he will receive the reward of fasting for an entire month.” (Al-Mujamus Sagheer #963)
6. The 10th of Muharram is the Day of Aashura. Fasting on this day is among the great sunnats of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). The reward for fasting on this day is that one’s minor sins of the previous year will be forgiven.
Hazrat Abu Qataadah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was asked regarding (the virtue of) fasting on the Day of Aashura (the 10th of Muharram). Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied, “It (fasting on the Day of Aashura) wipes out the sins of the past year.” (Saheeh Muslim #1162)
7. Together with fasting on the 10th of Muharram (the Day of Aashura), one should also fast one day before or one day after (i.e one should fast on the 9th and 10th, or the 10th and 11th of Muharram). This is in order to oppose the Jews who only fasted on the Day of Aashura.
Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbaas (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Observe the fast of Aashura and oppose the Jews by also fasting a day before or after i.e. the 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th of Muharram.” (As-Sunanul Kubra #8406)
8. Together with the fast of Aashura being a means of reaping immense virtues, the occasion of Aashura also teaches an important lesson. This is the lesson of firmly maintaining one’s Islamic identity at all times and completely refraining from imitating the kuffaar (disbelievers, Jews and Christians) in their culture. Hence, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) instructed the Ummah to fast for two days (i.e. the ninth and tenth or tenth and eleventh) in order to oppose the Jews.
When Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) expressed such dislike for his Ummah to resemble the Jews in the aspect of fasting (which is an ibaadah), then one can well imagine how much more Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) would dislike his Ummah emulating the disbelievers in their culture, dressing and other aspects of their lives.
9. On the Day of Aashura, one should be more generous in feeding his family and spending upon them. The virtue of being generous to one’s family on this day is that Allah Ta’ala will bless one with abundant sustenance for an entire year.
Hazrat Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever spends freely upon his family on the Day of Aashura, Allah Ta’ala will bless him with abundant sustenance for an entire year.” (Shuabul Imaan #3515)
10. One should refrain from engaging in baseless practices and customs which people engage in on the 10th of Muharram such as mourning over the martyrdom of Hazrat Husain (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) as practised by the Shias.
It should be borne in mind that the gruesome martyrdom of Hazrat Husain (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was undoubtedly among the most tragic and heart-breaking events that occurred in the annals of history. However, it should nevertheless be understood that the occasion of Aashura and its virtues are not associated with the martyrdom of Hazrat Husain (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). Instead, Aashura had received its virtue and auspiciousness even before the birth of Hazrat Husain (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). Hence, the custom of mourning the martyrdom of Hazrat Husain (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), as practised by the Shias, has no basis in Islam.