Muharram 2020: Significance, History & Virtues Of Fasting On The Day Of Ashura

Muharram 2020: Significance, History & Virtues Of Fasting On The Day Of Ashura

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar that is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar calendar, or the Gregorian calendar, to which most western countries refer.

Muharram festival is Islamic calendar’s first month. After Ramzan it’s considered the second holiest month. Muslims around the globe celebrate Muharram, one of the four holiest months. During Muharram month, some mosques provide free meals to all residents on some nights of the month.

“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.”

(Surah At-Taubah: 9:36)

The Significance of Muharram in 2020

The Muharram month is extremely holy to Muslims, and on this day of grief, Shia Muslims are mourning the death of Imam Hussein and his family. They honor their service and pray constantly, and refrain from all happy activities.

The mourning period begins on Muharram’s 1st day and continues for 10 days until Imam Hussein’s death day. They mourn by putting on black clothing, watching abstinence, fasting and then breaking their fast on Ashura’s day, the 10th.

Conventionally, some even break the fast after zawal (afternoon), when they pay tribute to Imam Hussein by cutting themselves with knives, whipping themselves in public with chains, cutting with sharp objects and holding desolate public processions. This painful observance is an expression of their sorrow over the death of their chief Hussain, also known as Allah’s representative. But most people mourn by holding sad processions in a more non-violent way, and by chanting “Ya Hussain,” wailing loudly.

The History Behind The Month Of Muharram

On the Day of Ashura, some fourteen centuries ago, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussain, and his little friend, were mercilessly killed in the Battle of Karbala by a cruel and oppressive king. While Imam Hussain was slain in the battle, his message of compassion, justice and equality still lives on among those who love him, and this is his true victory.

The real story behind the mourning of Muharram is a very tragic one. The actual story behind Muharram’s mourning is a very sad one. The fierce Battle of Karbala took place on the 10th day of Muharram, also called Ashura, in the 61st year of the Islamic calendar. The war was fought between a tiny group of supporters and relatives of Imam Hussain, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph, a much larger military force.

The modest army of Imam Hussain consisted only of his friends and family including women and young children. Yet a heavily armed enemy force of thousands surrounded them. They captured Hussain and his party, and for three successive days deprived them of water and food in desert heat. Hussain and his 6-year-old son were brutally killed by the barbaric soldiers and taken the women as captives.

It is a very emotional tale and by observing a time of mourning in the month of Muharram, Muslims respect the sacrifice of innocent lives.

The Day Of Ashura & Fasting

Ashura, Muharram ‘s 10th day also commemorates the day Allah rescued the Israelites from Pharaoh. When Prophet Muhammad came across Madina ‘s people at 622 CE, he heard from the Jews that they fasted on this day because Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy, the Pharaoh in Egypt, and that Prophet Moses also fasted on this day as a sign of gratitude to Allah.

Since then, Muhammad has also wanted to see his followers observe a two-day fast on Ashura day and the day before. While the Shias are mourning Imam Hussein ‘s death on Ashura, Sunni Muslims are holding a Prophet Muhammad who follows fast.

  • The Prophet said, “Fasting the Day of Ashura (is of great merits), I hope that Allah will accept it as an expiation for (the sins committed in) the previous year.”


  • Ibn Abbas used to say: We should fast on two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram to distinguish ourselves from the Jewish community.


Misconceptions About Muharram

There is no question that discussion above shows the significance and virtues of the Day of Ashura as it is a day of the blessings of Allah and Sunnah is verified to observe fast on this day. There are still some myths about Ashura’s day that have managed to make their way into some Muslims’ minds. The following are some very common myths and superstitions:

  • Anyone taking bath on Muharram 10th can never get sick.
  • Judgment Day is to be held on Friday, Muharram 10.
  • On this day, Allah created the Prophet Adam (A.S.)
  • On this day, the prophet Adam (A.S.) acknowledged forgiveness from Allah.
  • Prophet Muharram Ibrahim (A.S.) was born on the 10th.
  • One who’s putting kohl in his eyes this day does not have eye disease.
  • During the month of Muharram, many Muslims don’t get married (Nikkah), as they think it’s an unfortunate month.
  • Some people say it is Sunnah to prepare and then serve a certain form of meal on that specific day.

Nothing about either of the above-mentioned events was recorded in any Sahih Hadith from the Prophet (S.A.W.) or from his Companions (R.A). And none of the four Imams promoted these things or recommended them. Not even a single credible scholar of Islam has narrated something like this. So, these are all misconceptions and nothing to do with Shariah or Islam. Therefore, all these things should be avoided and no Muslim will obey.

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