There are 12 months in the Islamic calendar, and Muharram is the first month in the Lunar Calendar, and it is one of the four sacred months in Islam where Muslims try their best to do only good deeds and stay away from fighting and doing any bad deeds.
What is the virtue of Muharram fasting? Why is it called Muharram? What makes it so important? Let’s find out.
Why is it called Muharram?
Muharram fasting has many virtues and rewards, it is one of the sacred months in Islam where bad actions are not allowed. Before we get to the rewards of fasting this special month let’s first understand where the name came from. Each name has a history behind it and a reason for it so goes for the Islamic months, the word Muharram literally means “forbidden”.
Each name that we know and use now has a reason why it was called that name. The scholar Al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“Shaykh ‘Alam ad-Deen as-Sakhaawi stated in a book that he compiled, entitled al-Mashhoor fi Asma’ al-Ayyaam wa’sh-Shuhoor, that Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (Muharram) month. I think that it was so-called to affirm its sanctity because the Arabs used to change it, making it not sacred one year and making it sacred another year. He said: The plural form of Muharram is Muharramaat or Mahaarim or Mahaareem.”
So Muharram is an Islamic month and it is one of the 4 sacred months in Islam as we can conclude from the following hadith:
The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) said: “The division of time had turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earths. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in subsequent Zulkaedah, Zulhijjah, and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumadith-Thaniyah and Sha’ban.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
From the hadith, we conclude that the sacred months are:
During the 4 sacred months fighting, battles, and wars are forbidden.
The Virtue of Voluntary Fasting in the Month of Muharram.
One of the greatest virtues of Muharram fasting is fasting on the Day of Ashura. It is the tenth day of the month of Muharram, fasting Ashura erases our past year’s sins, and due to its importance, our beloved prophet made sure to fast that day every year and instructed all Muslims to do the same.
Allah said in the Holy Quran:
“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred, (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islamic calendar). That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein.” [Soourat at-Tawbah 9:36].
In the above verse, Allah instructs us not to commit any sins or bad deeds. Abu Bakrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “… The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred: three consecutive months, Dhu al-Qa‘dah, Dhu al-Hijjah and al-Muharram, and Rajab of Mudar which comes between Jumada and Sha‘ban.” [al-Bukhari, 2958]
It was narrated that the prophet Muhammad said about the virtue of Muharram fasting: “The best of fasting after Ramadan is fasting Allah’s month of Muharram.” (Sahih Muslim)
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: “I asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): ‘Which Prayer is the best after the obligatory Prayers?’ He (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ’Prayer during the mid of the night.’ I asked: ‘Which fasting is the best after that Ramadan?’ He (PBUH) said, ‘The month of Allah that you call Muharram’” (Sahih Muslim)
From the above hadiths, we can see clearly that our beloved instructed us to fast during the month of Muharram as the importance of Muharram fasting comes right after the month of Ramadan.
The Reward of Fasting in the Month of Muharram.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The best fast after Ramadan is in the month of Allah al-Muharram.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1982)
Due to the great virtue of Muharram fasting our beloved prophet instructed us to fast during it, and Allah instruct us not to do anything bad during the sacred months.
The Reward of Fasting on Ashura in the Month of Muharram.
One of the most important days in Muharram is the Day of Ashura, which our beloved prophet instructed us to fast every year for its significant virtue. When fasting on the day of Aurah Allah forgives the sins of the previous year, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Fasting the day of ‘Arafah I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and fasting the day of ‘Ashura I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” [Muslim, 1162.]
Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I never saw the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) so keen to make sure he fasted any day and preferring it over another except this day, the day of ‘Ashura, and this month (meaning Ramadaan).” [al-Bukhaari, 1867.]
But why is the day of Asura so important? Because it was the day when Allah saved the prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and his people.
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Madinah, and he found the Jews fasting on the Day of Ashura. They were asked about that and they said: This is the day on which Allah granted victory to Moosa and the Children of Israel over Pharaoh. We fast on this day out of respect for it. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “We are closer to Moosa than you,” and he enjoined fasting on that day.” [Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3943) and Muslim (1130).]
From this, we can conclude that Muharram fasting is significantly important our beloved prophet made sure to fast a big deal of it, and instructed us to do the same.
The Position of Muharram in the Arabic Lunar Calendar.
Muharram is the first month in the Arabic Lunar Calendar, and the 12 months of the Islamic calendar in order are:
- Rabi al-awwal
- Rabi ath-thani
- Jumada al-ula
- Jumada al-akhirah
- Dhu al-Qadah
- Dhu al-Ḥijjah
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