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Muharram and Significance of Fasting on Ashura

In the Islamic calendar, the month of Muharram holds great significance of fasting on Ashura as it marks the beginning of the new Islamic year. This sacred month, known as Muharram-ul-Haram, unveils various chapters from Islamic history, making it a special time for Muslims worldwide. Let’s delve into why Muharram is considered such a momentous month in Islam.

Why is Muharram So Special?

Muharram, also referred to as Muharram-ul-Haram, holds a revered position in the Hijri Calendar. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W) designated Muharram as ‘the Sacred Month of Allah,’ and the term ‘Muharram‘ itself means ‘forbidden.’ This designation signifies that certain acts are prohibited during this blessed month to preserve its sanctity.

This month is one of the four sacred months in Islam, as mentioned in the Quran:

“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.” (Qur’an, 9:36)

Renowned scholar Ibn Katheer explains that Allah has chosen certain elements from His creation, such as messengers, mosques, and months like Ramadan and the sacred months, to be revered and respected by people of understanding and wisdom.

So, Muharram holds special significance as it has been chosen by Allah Himself. It serves as a reminder for us to follow the right path and refrain from any wrongdoings during this sacred period.

Significance of Fasting on Ashura

Fasting from Ashura

Fasting on Ashura holds immense spiritual value as it provides an opportunity for believers to seek countless blessings and forgiveness for sins committed in the previous year. Allah, being the most benevolent and merciful, readily forgives those who sincerely repent. But why do we specifically choose to fast on the day of Ashura?

We recall the time when Prophet Musa (A.S) liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, escaping the tyranny of the Pharaoh. Allah gloriously manifested His power by parting the Red Sea, which led to the defeat of the Pharaoh and his army.

Prophet Musa (A.S) stood firmly against oppression and the false worship propagated by the Pharaoh. As a reward for his unwavering belief and his efforts to free the Israeli children, Allah designated the day of Ashura for commemorating this event. In gratitude, Prophet Musa (A.S) observed fasting on this day.

According to Al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Abbass (R.A) expressed that fasting on two days, including Ashura, distinguishes our closeness to Prophet Musa (A.S) among others.

Moreover, the pre-Islamic tradition of fasting on the 10th of Muharram was practiced by the Quraish tribe. When the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W) migrated to Madinah, he noticed the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) fasting on the same day. Upon inquiring about the reason, they responded: “This is a blessed day. On this day, Allah saved Prophet Musa and drowned the people of Pharaoh. So, Prophet Musa (A.S) fasted on this day to give thanks to Allah.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Another significant event associated with the Day of Ashura is the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain (R.A) in the Battle of Karbala. He valiantly stood for his beliefs against the tyrant Yazid, sacrificing his life while protecting his innocent family. Hazrat Imam Hussain’s (R.A) struggle serves as a reminder of the importance of upholding one’s faith and defending the dignity of Islam.

Islamic history further reveals that the Day of Ashura marked the landing of Hazrat Nuh’s (A.S) ark on Mount Judiyy, signifying the end of a catastrophic flood. During this time, Prophet Nuh (A.S) warned his people to abandon the worship of false idols and sinful ways, but they rejected his message. Consequently, Allah instructed Hazrat Nuh (A.S) to build an ark and gather pairs of every animal, his family, and a group of believers. The flood then destroyed the entire land. In gratefulness to Allah, Hazrat Nuh (A.S) observed fasting on the 10th of Muharram, seeking blessings.

Embracing The Remembrance of Allah in Muharram

Considering these profound events from Islamic history, fasting on the Day of Ashura has become a significant practice. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W) himself observed fasting on the 10th of Muharram to honour Prophet Musa’s (A.S) dedication in thanking Allah.

The Prophet (S.A.W.W) stated:

“Fasting the day of Ashura, I hope that Allah will accept it as an expiation for the previous year’s sins.” (Muslim)

He also proclaimed:

“The best of fasting after Ramadan is fasting Allah’s month of Muharram.” (Muslim 6: 2661)

According to a hadith by Ibn Abbas (R.A), “I never saw Allah’s Messenger (S.A.W.W) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the Day of Ashura, and this month, meaning Ramadan.” (Bukhari)

To seek forgiveness for the sins committed in the previous year and to earn multiplied rewards in this holy month of Muharram, it is recommended to observe fasting. By aligning ourselves with the teachings of the Quran and the practices of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W), we can experience the spiritual rejuvenation offered by this blessed month.

So, let us honour the sanctity of Muharram and the Day of Ashura by observing fasting and engaging in acts of worship and remembrance. Through sincere devotion and gratitude, we can seek forgiveness and earn the blessings bestowed upon us by the Almighty Allah.