Muharram is the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar also called the Hijri year, which celebrates the migration of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar also called the Hijri year, which celebrates the migration of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his companions from the city Makkah to the city of Madinah in 663. A day in the Islamic calendar is defined as beginning at sunset, and the Islamic lunar year is 11 days shorter than the solar year as counted by the Gregorian year. Because of that, the Islamic New Year does not occur on the same day of the Gregorian calendar every year.
Muharram is one of the four sanctified months about which Allah says in the Quran (9:36): “The number of months in the sight of Allah are 12 (in a year). So ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; Of them four are sacred: That is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves therein.”
Muslim scholars have stated that the rituals performed in these months have an effect on what a person does in the remaining months of the year.
Muharram marks the start of the Islamic New Year, signifying a time of renewal and spiritual contemplation. The significance of the month of Muharram is rooted in the fact that Allah chose it to be and commands His followers to not wrong themselves during this month. He encourages them to have pure intentions and righteous behavior, and use it as a period of prayer and reflection. This means Muslims are extra-vigilant during Muharram when it comes to how to act, whether in relationships, in worship, at work, in time management or in how we take care of our health. With the right intention, every action is an opportunity for reward!
This is why Muslims increase their acts of worship during this sacred month.
The benefits and blessings obtained from fasting during Ramadan are bountiful. The same can be said for Muharram fasting. As Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadan is the fast during Allah’s month of Muharram.”
The 10th Day of Muharram, known as the day of “Ashura,” is a very significant day in the Islamic calendar. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, has exhorted his followers to fast on this day. He is reported to have said, “Fasting the day of ‘Ashura,’ I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the sins of the previous year.” It is also reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his companions used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram while they were in Makkah before the migration to Madinah.
When Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his companions migrated to Madinah, they found that the Jews used to observe the day of Ashura by fasting. The Prophet, peace be upon him, asked them the reason for their fasting.
They said, “This is a blessed day, on this day Allah saved the children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt) and so Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, fasted on this day giving thanks to Allah.” On that, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “We (Muslims) have more right to celebrate Moses’ victory than they have, so observe the fast on this day.”
He then fasted on that day and commanded Muslims to fast on this day too.
In addition to fasting on the day of Ashura in particular, and Muharram in general, many Muslims prefer to pay their Zakat (alms giving) during this sacred month.
This year the month of Muharram marks the beginning of the new Islamic year 1445 AH (after Hijrah).
It’s also the anniversary of the great trip of migration (Hijrah) of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to the city of Madinah, seeking safety for himself and his followers after spending 13 years of persecution and violence against them in Makkah.
This year, Muslims around the world and American Muslims welcome the new Islamic year 1445 praying and hoping to be full of blessings and prosperity for all.