Benefits Within the Islamic New Year
As the first month of the Islamic calendar, the importance of Muharram is profound. The Hijri calendar is lunar and consists of 12 months. Four of these twelve months are sacred: Dhul Qaeda, Dhul Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab.
“Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve—in Allah’s Record since the day He created the heavens and the earth—of which four are sacred.” [Qur’an 9:36]
We’ve completed two sacred months already, which granted us an excellent opportunity to come closer to Allah, and the third month, Muharram, finishes those three months. It is the first month and marks the beginning of a new Islamic year.
Narrated Abu Bakr: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Time had come back to its original state when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth; the year is twelve months, four of which are sacred. Three of them are in succession; Dhul-Qaeda, Dhul-Hijjah and Al-Muharram, and (the fourth being) Rajab Mudar (named after the tribe of Mudar as they used to respect this month), which stands between Jumad (al Thani) and Sha’ban.”
The Importance of Muharram – The Month of Allah
The month of Muharram is among the four sacred months in Islam, but it is more than that. This month is “the month of Allah” and contains a special day that marks the most known importance of Muharram. On the 10th of Muharram is the Day of Ashura, and this day was obligatory to fast before fasting in Ramadan was ordered.
“Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered (the Muslims) to fast on the day of ‘Ashura, and when fasting in the month of Ramadan was prescribed, it became optional for one to fast on that day (Ashura) or not. [Sahih Al Bukhari 1892]
In the month of Muharram, we are encouraged to increase worship, especially fasting. Fasting is the only action we do that keeps us in a constant state of worship from sunrise to sunset.
Abu Hurairah narrated that: the Messenger of Allah said: “The most virtuous fasting after the month of Ramadan is Allah’s month Al-Muharram.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi 740]
The 10th of Muharram – Day of Ashura
The day of Ashura shows the importance of Muharram. The word “Ashura” literally means ‘tenth.’ Derived from that is a term used when camels were kept from water for ten days, then allowed to drink. Similarly, we receive goodness on this day after being spiritually dehydrated, especially during days of celebration.
Events that Occurred on the Day of Ashura
The Day of Ashura is significant to Muslims for many reasons. It was a day of rejoicing when Allah saved our Prophets from their hardships. It is a day of reward after conviction in Allah was tested. The day Musa (as) said, “Truly my Lord is with me, He will guide me through.” [Quran 26:62]
Ibn’Abbas (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) arrived in Medina and found the Jews observing fast on the day of ‘Ashura. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said to them: What is the (significance) of this day that you observe fast on it? They said: It is the day of great importance when Allah delivered Moses and his people and drowned the Pharaoh and his people, and Moses observed fast out of gratitude, and we also observe it. Upon this, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: We have more right, and we have a closer connection with Moses than you have; so Allah’s Messenger (saw) observed fast (on the day of Ashura) and encouraged Muslims to follow. [Sahih Muslim 1130c]
- Allah withdrew punishment from Prophet Yunus (as)
- Allah accepted the repentance of Prophet Adam (as)
- Prophet Ayyub (as) recovered from his illness
- Allah accepted the repentance of Prophet Yusuf (as) brother
- Bani Israel (people of Musa as) crossed the sea, and Allah saved them from Pharaoh (the day Pharaoh drowned)
- Allah saved Prophet Nuh’s Ark from the flood.
Fasting on the 10th of Muharram
Abu Qatadah (RA) reported on the importance of Muharram, saying: The Messenger of Allah (saw) responded to observing As-Saum (the fast) on the tenth day of Muharram, saying, “It is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year.” [Sahih Muslim 1162b]
When the Prophet (saw) was alive, he fasted only the 10th of Muharram and not the 9th or 11th. However, someone came to the Prophet to ask why we were doing the same as the Jews. So, to distinguish between what the Jews do, the Prophet (saw) said that if he is still alive, he would also fast on the 9th of the following year. He did not live to see the next year. However, his companions would also fast on the 9th because of this.
Ibn’ Abbas reported that when the Messenger of Allah (saw) fasted on the day of ‘Ashura and commanded his companions to observe it. A companion said: “Messenger of Allah, it is a day which the Jews and Christians hold in high esteem.” Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: When the next year comes, God willing, we would observe fast on the 9th, but the Messenger of Allah (saw) died before the advent of the following year. [Sahih Muslim 1134a]
The importance of Muharram: A Chance to Begin the Islamic New Year Right
Kicking off the first month of the Islamic calendar year strong will help us throughout the year. A solid start will give us the strength to continue during the year in an attempt to draw closer to Allah. Even though we are fighting off distractions, we can establish our intentions for the year with good actions. Beginning the Islamic New Year right isn’t about setting a “New Year’s resolution.”
Instead, it’s taking benefit from the Month of Allah. Our religion is action-based, so we must establish our intention through our actions. We may slip many times during the year, but InshaAllah, this start will strengthen us to keep trying our best. Understanding the importance of Muharram helps us to make the most of it.
The hadith below indicates how to begin the year right, which is with fasting and the night prayer:
Humaid bin ‘Abdur-Rahman- that is, Ibn’ Awf reported that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: ‘The best fasting after the month of Ramadan is the month of Allah, Al-Muharram, and the best prayer is prayer at night.'” [Sunan an-Nasa’i 1613]
To-Do List During the Month of Muharram
- Fast as much as possible
- Signup for a Quran recitation class
- Make a point of fasting on the 10th of Muharram (and 9th or 11th to distinguish between the Jews)
- Wake up in the last part of the night and pray Tahajjud salat
- Give charity often
A Hijri year is about to end, and a new one is about to begin. It’s Time to increase our ibadah in this sacred month and raise our hands in dua. Ask Allah (SWT) for the best in this life and the next. Ameen.