It is one of the four sacred months of the year when warfare is forbidden. It is held to be the second holiest month, after Ramaḍān. The Tenth day of Muharram is known as the Day of Ashura. Better known as part of the Mourning of Muharram, Shia Muslims mourn the tragedy of Imam Hussein's family, and Sunni Muslims practice fasting on Ashura.
Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī and his family, honoring the martyrs by prayer and abstinence from joyous events. Shia Muslims eat as little as possible on the 10th of Muharram however this is not seen as fasting. Some (children, elderly or sick) don't eat or drink until Zawal (afternoon) as a part of their mourning for Husayn. In addition there is an important ziyarat book, the Ziyarat Ashura about Husayn ibn Ali. In the Shia sect, it is popular to read this ziyarat on this date.
Muharram and Ashura
The sighting of the new moon ushers in the Islamic New Year. The first month, Muharram, is one of the four sacred months mentioned in the Quran, along with the seventh month of Rajab, and the eleventh and twelfth months of Dhu al-Qi'dah and Dhu al-Hijjah, respectively, immediately preceding Muharram. During these sacred months, warfare is forbidden. Before the advent of Islam, the Quraish and Arabs also forbade warfare during those months.
Muharram and Ashura to the Muslims
Muharram is a month of remembrance. Ashura, which literally means the "Tenth" in Arabic, refers to the tenth day of Muharram. It is well-known because of historical significance and mourning for the Shahadat of Ḥusayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad.
Muslims begin mourning from the first night of Muharram and continue for ten nights, climaxing on the 10th of Muharram, known as the Day of Ashura. The last few days up until and including the Day of Ashura are the most important because these were the days in which Hussain and his family and followers (including women, children and elderly people) were deprived of water from the 7th onward and on the 10th, Husayn and 72 of his followers were killed by the army of Yazid I at the Battle of Karbala on Yazid's orders. The surviving members of Husayn’s family and those of his followers were taken captive, marched to Damascus, and imprisoned there.
Timing for Muharram
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Muharram migrates throughout the solar years. The estimated start and end dates for Muharram are as follows (based on the Umm al-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia):
|AH||First day (CE/AD)||Last day (CE/AD)|
|1439||21 September 2017||20 October 2017|
|1440||11 September 2018||9 October 2018|
|1441||31 August 2019||29 September 2019|
|1442||20 August 2020||17 September 2020|
|1443||9 August 2021||7 September 2021|
|1444||30 July 2022||27 August 2022|
Incidents that occurred during this month
- 1 Muharram: Seizure of the Grand Mosque in 1400 AH (1979 AD).
- 3 Muharram: Husayn ibn Ali enters Karbala and establishes camp. Yazid's forces are present. 61 AH (680 AD).
- 5 Muharram: Death anniversary (urs) of Baba Farid, a Punjabi Sufi saint, in 665 AH (1266 AD). His urs is celebrated for six days during Muharram, in Pakpattan, Pakistan.
- 7 Muharram: Access to water was banned to Husayn ibn Ali by Yazid's orders. 61 AH (680 AD).
- 8 Muharram: Referred to as the Muharram Rebellion, the Bengali Muslims of Sylhet lead one of the earliest anti-British uprisings in the subcontinent. 1197 AH (1782 AD).
- 10 Muharram: Referred to as the Day of Ashurah (lit. "the Tenth"), the day on which Husayn ibn Ali was martyred in the Battle of Karbala. Shia Muslims spend the day in mourning, while Sunni Muslims fast on this day, commemorating the rescue of the Israelites by Musa (Moses) from Pharaoh. Sunni Muslims also mourn for the martyrs of Karbala. Many Sufi Muslims fast for the same reason as the Sunnis mentioned above, but also for the martyred dead in Karbala.
- 15 Muharram: Birth of Muhammad Sirajuddin Naqshbandi in 1297 AH (1879 AD).
- 25 Muharram: Zayn al-‘Ābidīn, fourth Shia Imam was martyred by Marvanian in 95 AH (714 AD).
- 28 Muharram: Death anniversary (urs) of Ashraf Jahangir Semnani, an Indian Sufi saint, in 808 AH (1405 AD).
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