The Virtues of Muharram as One of Islam’s Most Sacred Month | Wasat No. 45 / September 2022

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Wasat 45-3

The Virtues of Muharram as One of Islam’s Most Sacred Month

01 September 2022 12:03 am // Written by Afiq Zikry Bin Zulkifli

Allah ta`ala has created never-ending occasions of goodness, where rewards are multiplied, and souls are purified. When one event comes to an end, another one begins. Whenever one worship concludes, another begins. As a result, the loving worshipper maintains a constant connection with the Almighty.

The month of Muharram is one of the great occasions of goodness, and the Prophet s.a.w made fasting during it one of the best fasts after the month of Ramadan. Furthermore, during the month of Muharram, history has shown that the 10th day is known to be one of the most eventful days of the year. On this day, Allah ta`ala delivered prophet Musa a.s from the clutches of Pharaoh. The Jews have honored this day, and the Prophet s.a.w commanded Muslims to honor it by performing good deeds and fasting.

The following texts are a selection of authentic hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. These texts demonstrate the virtues of the month of Muharram and its superiority over all other months, as well as the superiority of the day of `Asyura’ over all other days. They discuss the significance of `Asyura’ and the importance of fasting on it.

Abu Bakrah r.a. reported that the Prophet s.a.w said, “The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhu’l-Qa’idah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar [Mudar is an Arab tribe who honour the month of Rajab the most] which comes between Jumaada and Sha’ban.” (Reported by al-Bukhari)

Allah ta`ala has mentioned in the Qur’an,

“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” (Al-Tawbah: 36)

It was reported that Ibn `Abbas said that this phrase “…so wrong not yourselves therein…” 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 a greater reward.

Qatadah explained this phrase “…so wrong not yourselves therein…” that wrongdoing during the sacred months is far more serious and more sinful than wrongdoing at any other time.

Making a sin, or wrongdoings at any time should not be disregarded lightly, but Allah ta`ala gives more weight to whichever of His command that He wills. Ibn Kathir wrote, “Allah ta`ala has chosen certain ones of His creation; He has chosen from among the angels Messengers and from among mankind Messengers. He chose the mosques from the earth, the month Ramadhan and the sacred months, the days Friday and the night of Lailatul-Qadr to venerate that which Allah ta`ala has told us to venerate. People who understand the wisdom and knowledge would venerate towards what Allah ta`ala has commanded” (see Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Al-Tawbah: 36, at www.altafsir.com).

The history & virtues of `Asyura’

 Muslims are encouraged to fast on the day of `Asyura’ (10th day of the month of Muharram). In fact, the practice of fasting on `Asyura’ was already known even in the days of Jahiliyyah, before the Prophet’s mission.

It was reported that the Prophet s.a.w used to fast on `Asyura’ in Mecca, before he migrated to Madinah. When he migrated to Madinah, he found the Jews celebrating this day.

Ibn `Abbas r.a. said, “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of `Asyura’. He said, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Musa fasted on this day.’ He said, ‘We have more right to Musa than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded the Muslims to fast on that day.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

Ibn `Abbas also reported that the Prophet s.a.w said, ‘When the following year comes–Allah willing–we shall fast (also) on the ninth.’ The death of the Prophet (saws) came before the following year.” (Reported by Muslim and Abu Dawud) 

Fasting on `Asyura’ was a gradual step in the process of introducing fasting as a prescribed obligation in Islam. Fasting appeared in three forms. When the Messenger of Allah s.a.w came to Madinah, he told the Muslims to fast on three days of every month and on the day of `Asyura’, then Allah made fasting obligatory as mentioned in, “… observing the fasting is prescribed for you…” (Al-Baqarah:183).

Fasting in the of day of `Asyura’ was obligatory, until it was abrogated by the obligation of fasting in Ramadan. Then it was reaffirmed by making it a general non-obligatory command upon all Muslims.

It was reported from Ibn Mas`ud that when fasting Ramadhan was made obligatory, the obligation to fast `Asyura’ was lifted; it was no longer obligatory to fast on this day, but it is still highly encouraged to.

The Prophet s.a.w said: “For fasting the day of `Asyura’, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Reported by Muslim)

From the above hadith mentioned, we can understand that fasting on the day of `Asyura’ can be granted as an expiation for the year before, by Allah’s mercy and blessings. Granted, that all who have sinned should repent at any point of time. But as a humble servant, we can take this opportunity to further seek Allah’s forgiveness and further supplicate our deeds in this sacred month.

Closing remark

We should never underestimate Allah’s mercy no matter how small or how much we have sinned. In order for us to attain Allah’s mercy and blessings, we should also understand that He have set a certain importance for specific dates and days for a reason, for us to supplicate our deeds as a servant who craves for His blessings. Wealth and status do not mean anything in the eyes and judgement of Allah ta`ala as compared to those who prostrate with humility and bring greatness to society.

May Allah accept all our deeds and forgive us on what we have sinned in this blessed month, Amin.

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