By Haruna Razaq
MUharram is the first month of the Islamic (Hijrah) calendar and is one of the four sacred months in Islam in which Allah warned man thus: “… so wrong not yourselves therein…” (Q9:36).
Concerning the phrase which is referring to Ashuru Hurum, (forbidden months) Ibn ‘Abass (RA) is reported to have said that it referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring greater rewards.
Also, in Hadith, The Prophet (SAW) said “…The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred:…and Muharram,… Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (Muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity.” (Bukhari 4/54) Some of the authentic recommended acts of worship in the month include:
Fasting on Ashura: It is on record that when the Prophet came to Medina, he found (the Jews) fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ (i.e. 10th of Muharram). They used to say: “This is a great day on which Allah saved Musa and drowned the folk of Fir’aun. Moses observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah.”
The Prophet said, “I am closer to Moses than they.” So, he (SAW) observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. But, He commanded the Muslims to be different from the Jews, who took it as a festival.
The virtues of fasting ‘Ashura’: The Prophet (SAW) said: “…For fasting the day of ‘Ashura’, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Muslim 6/ 2602).
This is from the bounty of Allah towards the Muslim, to fast one day and have the sins of a whole year forgiven. But, it should be noted that this expiation is for all minor sins according to Imaam al-Nawawi in al-Majmoo’ Sharhal-Muhadhdhab. And Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah in al-Fataawa al-Kubra,part 5.
Days to fast: It is mustahabb (encouraged) to fast on the ninth and the tenth of Muharram. Al-Nawawi (RA) said: “Our companions said: ‘Ashura’ is the tenth day of Muharram and Tasu’a’ is the ninth day. This is our opinion, and that of the majority of scholars (al-Majmu’). This is what Ahmad said, and it is the opinion of Ishaaq.”