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Muharram: Facts and Fiction

Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar (Hijri) Calendar.

It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Quran Says (what means): {Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred…}  [Quran 9: 36]

These four months, according to the authentic traditions (Prophetic narrations), are Dhul-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Noble Quran are unanimous on this point, because the Noble Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaih-wa-sallam) declared in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah): “One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Dhul-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.” (Al Bukhari)

The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadhaan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that even the pagans of Makkah accepted their sanctity.

The sanctity of these four months was established right from the day Allaah created the universe. Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed themselves to Ibraaheem (Alaihis salam) who observed the sanctity of these months, they also observed the sanctity of these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these months.

In Islam, the sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Quran referred to them as the “sanctified months”. Muharram has certain other characteristics special to it, which are stated below:

Fasting during the month:

The Noble Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaih-wa-sallam) said: ‘The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadhaan are those of the month of Muharram.” (Muslim)

Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet one who fasts in these days out of his own will is entitled to a great reward by Allaah Almighty. The Hadeeth cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewardable ones among the voluntary fasts. It does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.

The day of ‘Aashooraa’:

Although Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named ‘Aashooraa’.  According to Ibn ‘Abbaas (Radhi-allahu-anhu) the Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaih-wa-sallam)  when he migrated to Madeenah, found that the Jews of Madeenah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which Prophet Moosa (Alahis Salam) and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaih-wa-sallam) said, “We are worthier of Moosa than you,” and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’. [Abu Daawood]

Abdullah ibn Abbaas (Radhi Allahu Anhu) said, “I never saw the Messenger of Allaah so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other time than the day of ‘Aashooraa’ and the month of Ramadhaan.” [Al-Bukhaari]

Prophet Muhammad (sal-lal-lahu-alahi-wa-sallam) said, “For fasting the day of ‘Aashoora’a, I hope that Allaah will accept it as expiation for the past year.” [Muslim]

It is recommended to fast the ninth in addition to the tenth of Muharram.

Abdullaah ibn Abbaas (Radhi Allahu Anhu) said, “When the Messenger of Allaah (Sal-lal-lahu-alahi-wa-sallam) 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 (sal-la-lahu-alahi-wa-sallam) 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 (sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) passed away before the next year came.” [Muslim]

It is also reported in a number of authentic traditions that in the beginning, fasting on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ was obligatory for the Muslims. It was later that the fasts of Ramadhaan were made obligatory and the fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ was made optional. ‘Aa’ishah (Radhi-allahu-anha) said: “When the Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) came to Madeenah, he fasted on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ and directed the people to do likewise. But when the fasts of Ramadhaan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadhaan and the obligatory nature of the fast of ‘Aashooraa’ was abandoned. Whoever so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes can avoid fasting on it.” [Abu Daawood]

However, the Prophet (sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) used to fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ even after the fasting in Ramadhaan was made obligatory. Abdullaah Ibn Moosa (Alaihis Salam) reports that the Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) preferred the fast of ‘Aashooraa’ on the fasts of other days and preferred the fasts of Ramadhaan on the fast of ‘Aashooraa’. [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

Misconceptions and Innovations:

However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to ‘Aashooraa’ that have managed to find their way into the minds of the unlearned, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very common of them are these:

·        This is the day on which Aadam (alaihis salam) was created.

·        This is the day when Ibraaheem (alaihis salam) was born.

·        This is the day when Allaah accepted the repentance of Aadam (alaihis salam)

·        This is the day when Doomsday will take place. Whoever takes a bath on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ will never get ill.

All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit. Some people take it as Sunnah (established recommended practice) to prepare a particular type of meal on the day of ‘Aashooraa’. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic sources.

Some other people attribute the sanctity of ‘Aashooraa’ to the martyrdom of Al-Hussayn (Radhi Allahu Anhu). No doubt, the martyrdom of Al-Hussayn (Radhi Allahu Anhu) is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of ‘Aashooraa’ cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of ‘Aashooraa’ was established during the days of the Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) much earlier than the birth of Al-Hussayn (Radhi Allahu Anhu). On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Al-Hussayn (Radhi Allahu Anhu) that his martyrdom took place on this blessed day.

Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Al-Hussayn was killed in it. It is for this misconception that some people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept, which is contrary to the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition). If the death of an eminent person on a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day of the year free from this bad luck because every day is associated with the demise of some eminent person. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) have liberated us from such superstitious beliefs.

Lamentations and mourning:

Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Al-Hussayn (Radhi Allahu Anhu). As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbalaa’ is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of Pre-Islamic ignorance era used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) prevented the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying “Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon” (To Allaah We belong, and to Him is our return). A number of authentic narrations are available on the subject. To quote only one of them: “He is not from us who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah (Pre-Islamic ignorance)”. [Al-Bukhaari]

All the prominent jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is impermissible. Even Al-Hussayn (Radhi Allahu Anhu) shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Zaynab  not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said, “My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death.” (Al-Kaamil, Ibn Katheer vol. 4 pg. 24)

It is evident from this advice, that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Prophet (Sal-lal-lahu-alaihi-wa-sallam).

Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (Rahimahullah) was asked about the authenticity of things that people do on ‘Aashooraa’ to seek reward, such as wearing kohl, taking a bath, wearing henna, shaking hands with one another, cooking grains (huboob) and so on. Some other people mark this day by grieving and mourning, not drinking, wailing and rending their garments.

His reply was: “Nothing to that effect has been reported in any sound Hadeeth from the Prophet (sal-lal-lahu-alahi-wa-sallam) or his Companions. None of the Imaams encouraged such things, neither the four Imaams, nor any others. No reliable scholars have narrated anything like this, neither from the Prophet (sal-lal-lahu-alahi-wa-sallam) nor from his Companions (Ridhwanullahi ajma’een) nor from the Taabi’een; neither in any authentic report or in a weak report; neither in the books of Saheeh, nor in as-Sunan, nor in the Musnads. No Hadeeth of this nature was known during the best centuries, but some of the later narrators reported Hadeeths like: `Whoever puts kohl in his eyes on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ will not suffer from eye disease in that year, and whoever takes a bath on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ will not get sick in that year’ and so on. They also reported a fabricated hadeeth that is falsely attributed to the Prophet (sal-lal-lahu-alahi-wa-sallam) which says, `Whoever is generous to his family on the day of Aashooraa, Allaah will be generous to him for the rest of the year.’ Reporting all of this from the Prophet (sal-lal-lahu-alahi-wa-sallam) is tantamount to forging lies against him.”‘

compiled from: islamweb.net

December 3, 2010 - Posted by | Islamic Months | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I want to ask real historic facts about Hazrat Yazeed. He was among the gruop of muslim navy fighters who conconred ” Qustuntunia ” and as per sayings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him,who congratulated them for ” Bahisht “. As per my belief one can never be of loose character whom congratulated by prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, for “Jannat”. I have read in a book that Hazrat Yazeed’s character was such that it should be followed and during his tenure of governership, not a single attitude was seen which can be put up against him. The group of ” Shiyas ” had spread bad rumors to disgrace him. I want to know real facts about him and about his attitude with the remaining people of historic event of Karbala.

    Comment by Muhammad Sana-ur-Rab | December 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Dear brother, I dont know what you are saying by Qustuntunia or Bahist.
      Here is the reply given about Yazeed by Shaykh Salih al Munajjid. This will clear many of your doubts, Insha’Allah.

      “Praise be to Allaah.

      His name was Yazeed ibn Mu’aawiyah ibn Abi Sufyaan ibn Harb ibn Umayaah al-Umawi al-Dimashqi.

      Al-Dhahabi said: he was the commander of that army during the campaign against Constantinople, among which were people such as Abu Ayyoob al-Ansaari. Yazeed was appointed by his father as his heir, so he took power after his father died in Rajab 60 AH at the age of thirty-three, but his reign lasted for less than four years.

      Yazeed is one of those whom we neither curse nor love. There are others like him among the khaleefahs of the two states (Umawi/Umayyad and ‘Abbaasi/Abbasid) and the governors of various regions, indeed there were some among them who were worse than him. But the issue in the case of Yazeed is that he was came to power forty-nine years after the death of the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him); it was still close to the time of the Prophet and some of the Sahaabah were still alive such as Ibn ‘Umar who was more entitled to the position than him or his father or his grandfather.

      His reign began with the killing of the martyr al-Husayn and it ended with the battle of al-Harrah, so the people hated him and he was not blessed with a long life. There were many revolts against him after al-Husayn, such as the people of Madeenah who revolted for the sake of Allaah, and Ibn al-Zubayr.

      (Siyar A’laam al-Nubalaa’, part 4, p. 38)

      Shaykh al-Islam described people’s attitudes towards Yazeed ibn Mu’aawiyah, and said:

      The people differed concerning Yazeed ibn Mu’aawiyah ibn Abi Sufyaan, splitting into three groups, two extreme and one moderate.

      One of the two extremes said that he was a kaafir and a munaafiq, that he strove to kill the grandson of the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to spite the Messenger of Allaah and to take revenge on him, and to avenge his grandfather ‘Utbah, his grandfather’s brother Shaybah and his maternal uncle al-Waleed ibn ‘Utbah and others who were killed by the companions of the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), by ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib and others on the day of Badr and in other battles – and things of that nature. To have such a view is easy for the Raafidis who regard Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmaan as kaafirs, so it is much easier for them to regard Yazeed as a kaafir.

      The second extreme group think that he was a righteous man and a just leader, that he was one of the Sahaabah who were born during the time of the Prophet and were carried and blessed by him. Some of them give him a higher status than Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, and some of them regard him as a prophet. Both views are obviously false to one who has the least common sense and who has any knowledge of the lives and times of the earliest Muslims. This view is not attributable to any of the scholars who are known for following the Sunnah or to any intelligent person who has reason and experience.

      The third view is that he was one of the kings of the Muslims, who did good deeds and bad deeds. He was not born until the caliphate of ‘Uthmaan. He was not a kaafir but it was because of him that the killing of al-Husayn happened, and he did what he did to the people of al-Harrah. He was not a Sahaabi, nor was he one of the righteous friends of Allaah. This is the view of most of the people of reason and knowledge and of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah.

      Then they divided into three groups, one which cursed him, one which loved him and one which neither cursed him nor loved him. This is what was reported from Imaam Ahmad, and this is the view of the fair-minded among his companions and others among the Muslims. Saalih ibn Ahmad said: I said to my father, some people say that they love Yazeed. He said, O my son, does anyone love Yazeed who believes in Allaah and the Last Day? I said, O my father, why do you not curse him? He said, O my son, when did you ever see your father curse anybody?

      Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi said, when he was asked about Yazeed: according to what I have heard he is neither to be cursed nor to be loved. He said, I also heard that our grandfather Abu ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Taymiyah was asked about Yazeed and he said: we do not deny his good qualities or exaggerate about them. This is the fairest opinion.”

      Majmoo’ Fataawa Shaykh al-Islam, part 4, p. 481-484 (Taken from http://islam-qa.com/en/ref/14007/yazeed)

      Comment by MuQeet | December 30, 2011 | Reply

  2. can i start opening my office 17th mhharram on the day.place help me and give me answer?

    Comment by Jalal | November 30, 2012 | Reply

    • If you have read the post clearly, you must not hesitate to go ahead.
      Have trust in Allah and proceed, Inshaa’Allah.

      Comment by MuQeet | November 30, 2012 | Reply

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  6. […] For more details, please read Muharram InshaaAllah […]

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  7. Jazakallahu khair for enlightening us with true facts and clearing many miscinceptions.May Allah reward you.

    Comment by Asifa | September 22, 2017 | Reply

  8. Is there any particular Dua in Moharram , some scholar was telling about this , I think it is fabricated or weak Hadith . Please clarify

    Comment by Syes umar farooq | September 10, 2018 | Reply

    • No such du’aa is mentioned in any of the authentic sayings, brother.

      Comment by MuQeet | September 10, 2018 | Reply

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