1st Islamic Month - "Muharram"


What is Muharram ?

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, and thus marks the start of the Islamic New Year. Muharram also holds a greater significance – we know from the holy Qur’an that Muharram is one of the four sacred months.

The meaning of Muharam is forbidden, referring to the fact that it is one of the four sacred months in which warfare is forbidden. 

Muslims are encouraged to engage in increased worship during this  holy month. 

Muharram holds much significance among Muslims because as well as being one of the four sacred months, it is a month in which many important historical Islamic events took place. 

These include the Hijra sharif- migration of the muslims to Madina, and the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) and other family members of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) during the Battle of Karbala.

Key dates in Muharram:

1st Muharram

The 1st Muharram marks the beginning of the new Islamic Year.  While there are no prescribed days of worship for Muslims to observe on the 1st of Muharram, Muslims may use it as a time to  reflect on the journey and struggle  of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the Muslims of his time. 

The Day of Ashura

The Day of Ashura is observed on the 10th Muharram is one of the most virtuous days of the Islamic year. 

The Day of Ashura is the day in which the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) in the Battle of Karbala took place.  

It also commemorates when the Prophet Musa (AS) and the Children of Israeel were freed by Allah  from the Pharaoh and his army. 

The 9th Muharram is an additional recommended fast for the day of Ashura, while the 11th Muharram is a day in which one can fast for the additional recommended fast if one missed the 9th.

Commemorating Muharram

Why is Muharram commemorating?

Muharram is commemorating as one of the four sacred months as ordained by Allah (SWT). Its title is ‘the month of Allah’ which is why it’s special and one of the most blessed in the Islamic calendar. The history of Muharram is extensive and many important events have occurred in this month.

There are 12 months in the Islamic calendar – but we tend to know more about some months than we do about others. Everybody knows that we fast in Ramadan, and many know about the sacrifice of Dhul Hijjah. Muharram, however, seems to be a bit less well-known. This sacred month is referred to in Hadith as the month of Allah (SWT), no other month is given such an honour.

The month of Muharram is steeped in both religious and historical significance for Muslims. Not only is it a month decreed by Allah (SWT) as sacred, it is the first month of the Islamic calendar, marking the hijrah (emigration) of the Muslims to Medina and the establishment of the first Islamic state in 622CE.


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. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous [who fear Him].

What are the celebrations of Muharram?

Muharram is one of the sacred months ordained by Allah. Therefore it is a good time for Muslims to incorporate acts of Sadaqah Jariyah, nafl (voluntary) prayers, fasting and Qur’an recitation. 

Muslims may also reflect upon the new year by visiting the mosque, reflecting on the past Islamic (Hijri) year, and spending time with their loved ones.  

The Prophet (PBUH) said:

“The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred: three are in succession, namely, Dhul-Qi’dahDhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and (the fourth one) Rajab (of the tribe of) Mudar, which is between Jumada (Thani) and Shaban.” (Bukhari)

What happens in Muharram?

Although Muslims celebrate the coming of the new Islamic Year in Muharram  seeing it as another opportunity for them to gain nearness to Allah, Muharram is also a time of remembrance for the Muslim Ummah. 

On the 10th Muharram (Day of Ashura) in the 61st year of the Islamic Calendar, the Battle of Karbala took place. This was fought between a small army of the supporters and family of the Prophet (PBUH) and the army of Yazid, the Ummayad Caliph who had a significantly larger army. 

 Imam Hussain (AS), the beloved grandson of the Prophet (PBUH) was brutally martyred, alongside the majority of the male members of the Prophet (PBUH)’S family. 

Fasting during Muharram

A special day which falls in Muharram is the day of Ashura. On this day, which falls on the 10th day of Muharram, Muslims are encouraged to fast by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

What happens on 9th Muharram? 

The scholars of Islam consider it recommended to fast on the 9th of Muharram along with the 10th of Muharram (‘Ashura). This is due to the Hadith:

When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) fasted on the day of ‘Ashura and told the people to fast, they said, “O Messenger of Allah, this is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.” The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “Next year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth day.” But by the time the following year came, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) had passed away. (Muslim). 

The Prophet (PBUH) wanted to fast on the 9th, in order to differ from the People of the Book.

I never saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of ‘Ashura’, and this month, meaning Ramadhan.

Virtues of Muharram

The sacred months offer us the opportunity to seek the mercy and favour of Allah SWT. Thus, there is an opportunity to gain more reward every day; but also the danger of gaining more sins with our bad deeds.

There are many virtues of Muharram and simple things we can do to take advantage of the benefits of the sacred month. Here are some recommended actions or Sunnah during Muharram. 

  • Fast: Keep a fast on the 9th and 10th Muharram (the day of Ashura), or on the 10th and 11thMuharram. Fasting expiates sins.
  • Read the Qur’an: If you are unable to fast, reading the Qur’an or doing Dhikr can help you to feel the blessings of Muharram. Remember, any gathering for the sake of Allah SWT will also be filled with barakah and the Angels will join you.
  • Give regular Sadaqah: Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year, so it’s the perfect time to make resolutions and establish good habits like giving regular charity, so that you can gain blessings all-year round.
  1. Muharram – The Month of Allah
  2. Safar – The Month of Distinction
  3. Rabi Al-Awwal – The Birth of the Beloved
  4. Rabi Al-Thani
  5. Jamada Al-Awwal
  6. Jamada Al-Thani
  7. RajabA Sacred Month
  8. Sha’banThe Neglected Month
  9. Ramadan – The Month of Fasting
  10. Shawwal – The Month of Reward
  11. Dhul Qadah – A Sacred Month
  12. Dhul Hijjah – The 10 Best Days (The Month of Hajj)
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