Muharram Is a Virtuous Month

Muslims must avoid gathering on the occasion of 10th of Muharram.

By Mufti Jaseemuddin Qasmi

Coordinator, Online Darul Ifta, MMERC, Mumbai

New Year is a is a common festival nowadays and people all over the world irrespective of Christians, Jews, Hindus or Muslims celebrate 1st January as a New Year fete. They exchange gifts, hold parties and share with each other greetings for the New Year. 

Muslims Shariah matters depend on the lunar month. The first month of the Muslim lunar calendar is Muharram. So they should also observe this month as a significant beginning of the year.

Muharram is a month of happiness not only because it is a first month of Islamic calendar but also it is a month in which prophet Adam (as) was born and his plea of forgiveness was granted. And prophet Yunus (as) got away from the darkness of sea after ages; prophet Ismael (as) was born and prophet Moosa (as) with his tribe got free from oppressive rule of Pharaoh.

As it is alluded in a Hadith that when prophet (saws) entered Madinah for the first time, he found Jews fasting on 10th of this month and he asked them which day it was? Then they replied that it was the "10th of Muharram, in which Moosa (as) was liberated from the hands of Pharaoh." Then he said "We are more deserving to follow Moosa (as)" [Al Mojam Al-Tabrani]

But Muslims' festival days are not merely for the sake of having fun and enjoyment, but, in fact, it is an occasion to extend gratitude to Allah Almighty. That is why two rak'at thanksgiving salah is mandatory on both the Islamic festivals Eidulfitr and Eidulazha. 
Hence, we should mark this propitious month with fasting, because, Allah's apostle (saws) stated "The best fast after the fasting of Ramadan is the fast of Allah's month of Muharram." [Tirmizi]

So, to keep fast on 10th of Muharram with one day after or before it is mustahab and a great virtue. Prophet (saws) was very punctual of fasting on this day, as his wife Hafsa (ra) narrates "Prophet (saws) never missed fasting on 10th of Muharram." [Nasai] 

But unfortunately there is a gross misunderstanding about this auspicious month, that is, common people think that Muharram is a holy month, only because the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (saws) was martyred on 10th of this month. 

This day and this month has been notable not only in the period of prophet (saws) but before Islam as well.

Prophet (saws) used to fast on that day and told: "Whosoever keeps fast on 10th of Muharram, his sins of two years, last year's and the coming year's would be forgiven." (Muslim) 

On the other hand, there are some Muslims who regard Muharram as a bleak month and their dogma is that this is a month of sorrow and despair since Hussain (ra) the grandson of prophet (saws) was martyred in this month, Consequently they mourn and make beat their breasts with sorrow, and flagellate their backs by chains and blades to show their love and affection towards him and their deep grief over his martyrdom. 

Of course, the shahadat of Hussain (ra) was unfortunate and a sorrowful incident but the matter of great concern is that to be martyred in the way of Allah is a matter of sorrow or matter of bliss? 

When we go deeply through the ayah of the glorious Qur'an and prophetic injections we will get to know that to be shaheed (martyr) is not only a virtue but also it was the wish of prophet (saws) and his companions. As Allah's apostle once said "I am desirous of being killed in the way of Allah then brought to life and then martyred, and then recreated then killed then again resurrected and then martyred" 

The aforementioned Hadith shows that how strong the longing of martyrdom was in his heart!

Likewise the second Caliphate Umar (ra) expressed his heart's feelings, praying to Allah "Oh, Allah! Bless me with martyrdom in your way and put me to death in the city of Your Messenger (saws)". 

Even the personality over whose demise they mourn, was well pleased to receive this blessing of martyrdom as he termed it a 'success' stating "By the Lord of Ka'ba! I succeeded" as he took his last breath.

When the matter is so, then it is hard to understand the reason that why his self-declared followers grieve for his death. Apparently they do not believe that "shahadat" is a success, a virtue, and a cause for happiness.

In fact, any shahadat irrespective of forms is not a question of regret and lament. 

So, to wail in that very day is irrational and does not have the backing of Shariah. That is why a great mystic Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani makes the matter clear stating "If it had been permissible in Islam to adopt anybody's day of quietus, a day of sorrow then Monday was the best day for it, because Allah's apostle Prophet Muhammad (saws) and his beloved companion Abubakar (ra) passed away on that day." 

Moreover there are so-called lovers of Hussain (ra) who make a replica of his grave-shaped tomb with bamboos and shining papers (taziya). And they wear green or black clothes as a mark of misery, roaming with that in the streets and lanes shouting the slogans "Ya Husain !Ya Husain!" and at the some time chanting dirges on Hussain (ra). 

And some people distribute in this month sweet water (sharbat) to remind that Hussain (ra) was martyred while he was thirsty and they intend to send its reward to him.

These all are unIslamic actions and bid'at (innovation in Islam) which is strictly forbidden in Islam as Prophet (saws) mentions "Every bid'at is delusion and every delusion is in fire." It means whosoever invents any new thing in Islam which does not match its basic principles, is straying. And he who goes stray, will be thrown in hell's blazing fire.

So, Muslims must avoid gathering on the occasion of 10th of Muharram, because to participate in it, is as though one helped transgressors in innovation and bida't which is grievous sin. And to assist someone in committing sins is rigorously proscribed by the glorious Qur'an (Al Maida, Ayah02).

Furthermore, to congregate and watch their sinful activities is in a way participating in their activities. And the Hadith says: "He who imitates any community he will be counted among them." 

Islam is a complete set of principles for life. Allah has completed it; afterwards no one is allowed to invent anything new in it. So to invent anything new is to impute that the prophet Muhammad (saws), God forbid, did not leave the deen complete and therefore there is a need of an addition. We only have to follow strictly the sunnah of the prophet (saws) and that of companions and fulfill our religious duties without adding anything new that is foreign to the corpus of the tradition.