by Asma Binte Shameem
Soon, insha Allaah, the month of Muharram is coming upon us and we will begin another Hijri year.
Just as the devout Muslim eagerly awaits any chance to earn good deeds and gain Allaah’s Good Pleasure, and is careful not to transgress any boundaries, we should prepare ourselves for the coming of the month of Muharram.
This is because Muharram is one of the four months that are SACRED in the eyes of Allah.
“Verily, the number of months with Allaah is twelve (in a year): It was so ordained, by Allaah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” [al-Tawbah 9:36]
These four months, according to the Prophet (pbuh) are Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. (Bukhaari)
Be EXTRA CAREFUL about SINS this Month
Due to its sacredness, any bad deeds done during the sacred months are WORSE than in other months.
Qutaadah said concerning the ayah (so wrong not yourselves therein…) that “Wrongdoing during the sacred months is more serious and more sinful that wrongdoing at any other time. Wrongdoing at any time is a serious matter, but Allaah gives more weight to whichever of His commands He wants….” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer)
Do EXTRA GOOD DEEDS this Month
Similarly, good deeds during this month bring a greater reward than in other months.
Ibn ‘Abbaas said in the tafseer for the above Ayah, that good deeds done during the four sacred months bring a greater reward. (Ibn Katheer)
Pay special attention to FASTING:
Fasting during the month of Muharram has special meaning and the Prophet (pbuh) has highly encouraged it.
Abu Hurayrah said:
“The Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) said: ‘The best of fasting after Ramadaan is fasting Allaah’s month of Muharram.’” (Muslim).
Fast on the Day of ‘Aashooraa(10th Muharram)
Ibn ‘Abbaas said:
“The Prophet (pbuh) came to Madeenah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Aashooraa’. He said, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allaah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Moosa fasted on this day.’ He (pbuh) said, ‘We have more right to Moosa than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day.” (Bukhaari)
If one fasts on the 10th of Muharram, Allaah will forgive the sins of the previous year.
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“For fasting the day of ‘Aashooraa’, I hope that Allaah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Muslim)
Ibn ‘Abbaas said:
“I never saw the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of ‘Aashooraa’.” (Bukhaari).
It is Mustahabb to fast the 9th of Muharram as well
It is mustahabb to fast on both the ninth and tenth days, because the Prophet (pbuh) fasted on the tenth, and intended to fast on the ninth. But, it is OK to fast only the 10th as well.
Ibn ‘Abbaas said:
“When the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) fasted on ‘Aashooraa’ and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) said, ‘If I live to see the next year, insha Allaah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) passed away before the next year came.” (Muslim).
Some Misconceptions and Baseless Traditions
There are many wrong traditions associated with the Day of Aashooraa and Muharram, which have nothing to do with the Shariah. We have to guard ourselves from falling into these wrong traditions and bid’ah because this is also sin.
1) Some other people attribute the sanctity of Aashooraa to the martyrdom of Husain, RA. No doubt, the story of Husain, RA 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 Prophet (pbuh) , much earlier than the birth of his grandson Husain.
2) Some people consider Muharram an evil or unlucky month, for Husain, RA was killed in it. So they don’t hold weddings, and other celebrations during this month. This is again a baseless concept, which is contrary to the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah. Having superstitions, such as this, is committing a kind of shirk since one associates a particular event or person with having power to harm or do good and only Allaah is the One Who has power over all things.
3)Some people think it is Sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal on the 10th, and they hold big gatherings for this purpose. This, again has no basis in the Sharee‘ah.
4) Some people mourn and lament over the death of Hussain RA and hold special ceremonies for this very purpose.
However, the Prophet (pbuh) has forbidden us from holding mourning ceremonies on the death of any person, which was the practice of the people of jahiliyyah (ignorance).
“He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah.” (Bukhaari)
And if you really think about it, it is the greatest merit and reward that Hussain RA received, when he attained martyrdom for the sake of Allaah.
5) Some people go to the other extreme and dress up and cook special dishes, etc. as a kind of celebration for this Day and that is ALSO against the Quraan and Sunnah.
6) Others hold special prayers or offer sacrifice or visit the graves, specifically on the 10th of Muharram, thinking that there is special reward or meaning for doing so in the Sharee’ah and this is also a kind of bid’ah that one should stay away from.
Our behavior during this month should be like the behavior of the Sahabah, not one of mourning, neither one of celebration. Rather, we should value Muharram as one of Allaah’s sacred months in which we should strive to do good deeds and be extra careful of sinning. We should try and fast as much as we can in this month, especially the 9th and 10th. We should not be superstitious about it (or for anything else, for that matter) and if someone wants to get married during it, they may. We should not cook special meals on the 10th and if someone invites us for such a meal, we should not go.