The Month of Muharram

Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar, is from amongst the four sacred months.

Allāh Ta‘ālā mentions in the Glorious Qur’ān: “Lo! The number of the months with Allāh Ta‘ālā is twelve months by Allāh’s Ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred: that is the right religion…” (9:36)

Abū Bakrah radhiyallāhu 'anhu narrates that the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said: “Verily time has completed its cycle and returned to its original stage as it was on the day Allāh Ta‘ālā created the heavens and the earth. The year consists of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred. Three of them occur consecutively; Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, (and the fourth is) Rajab of Mudar (named after the tribe of Mudar as they used to respect this month) which occurs between Jamādī-al-Ākhir and Sha'bān.” (Al-Bukhārī)

Virtues of fasting in Muharram

Abdullāh Ibn ‘Abbās radhiyallāhu 'anhuma reports that the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said: "...One who keeps a fast in the month of Muharram will receive the reward of thirty fasts for each fast.” (At-Tabrāni)

In another Hadīth, the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said: ”The best of fasts besides the fasts of Ramadhān is the fasting of Allāh's month of Muharram..." (Muslim)

The day of 'Āshūrā

The 10th day of Muharram is known as 'Āshūrā. It is a very blessed and important day in the Islamic calendar. Some 'Ulamā are of the opinion that before the fasts of Ramadhān, the fast of the day of 'Āshūrā was compulsory.

'Ā'ishah radhiyallāhu 'anha reports that the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam ordered the observance of the fast of 'Āshūrā. However, when the fasting of Ramadhān became compulsory, then whosoever wished, kept this fast and whosoever desired did not observe this fast. (Al-Bukhārī)

In another Hadīth, Abdullāh Ibn 'Abbās radhiyallāhu 'anhuma narrates that the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam came to Madīnah and found the Jews fasting on the day of 'Āshūrā. Hence the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam inquired of them: "What is the significance of this day on which you fast?" They replied: "This is a great day. On this day Allāh Ta‘ālā saved Mūsā 'alayhis salām and his people and drowned Fir'awn and his nation. Thus, Mūsā 'alayhis salām fasted on this day as a token of thanking Allāh Ta‘ālā, therefore we too fast on this day." The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said: "We are more worthy of Mūsā 'alayhis salām and nearer to him than you." Thereafter, the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam fasted on this day and ordered his companions radhiyallāhu 'anhum that a fast be kept on this day. (Muslim)

Recommended deeds

1) To fast on the day of 'Āshūrā

Abū Qatādah radhiyallāhu 'anhu narrates that the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam was asked regarding the fast of the day of 'Āshūrā. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam replied: "It is a compensation for the (minor) sins of the past year." (Muslim)

2) To fast on the 9th or 11th of Muharram.

This is to safeguard this good deed of fasting from resemblance with the non-muslims, who fast only on the 10th of Muharram. The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said: “Observe the fast of 'Āshūrā and oppose the Jews. Fast a day before it or a day after.” (Al-Bayhaqī)

Abdullāh Ibn 'Abbās radhiyallāhu 'anhuma said: "When the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam observed the fast of the day of 'Āshūrā and ordered his companions radhiyallāhu 'anhum to fast, they said: “O Rasūlullāh sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam! It is a day revered by the Jews and Christians.” The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam replied: “The coming year, if Allāh Ta‘ālā wills, we will fast on the ninth also.” (Muslim)

Note: It is Makrūh Tanzīhī to fast only on the 10th of Muharram as stated by Allāmah Ibn ‘Ābidīn Shāmī rahimahullāh.

An Important Lesson Mufti Taqī ‘Uthmāni hafizahullāh mentions that the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam disliked resemblance with the non-muslims in acts of worship such as fasting. From this, we understand that as Muslims, we should follow the lifestyle of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam and his companions radhiyallāhu 'anhum in every aspect of life, instead of adopting the ways of others.

The Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said: “Whoever emulates a group is from them.” (Abū Dawūd)

This Hadīth includes the resemblance of non-muslims in appearance (dress), character and specific signs of religion. However, it also implies that if one emulates the people of righteousness and piety, one will be gathered with them in the Hereafter.

3) To spend on one’s family and dependants on the day of 'Āshūrā more than one spends on a normal basis.

Abū Hurayrah radhiyallāhu 'anhu reports that the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam said: “One who generously spends on his family on the day of ‘Āshūrā, Allāh Ta‘ālā will increase (his provision) for the whole year.” (Al-Bayhaqī, At-Targhīb wat-Tarhīb)

Sufyān Ibn ‘Uyaynah rahimahullāh said: “I have practiced this (spending on the family) for fifty or sixty years, and have found nothing but good in it.”

Misconceptions regarding 'Āshūrā 

1) Many people attribute the virtue of 'Āshūrā to the martyrdom of Husayn radhiyallāhu 'anhu, whereas the significance and virtue of 'Āshūrā is from the time of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam. Husayn radhiyallāhu 'anhu was martyred many years after the demise of the Prophet sallallāhu 'alayhi wasallam. Therefore, to attribute the virtue of 'Āshūrā to the martyrdom of Husayn radhiyallāhu 'anhu is baseless. Furthermore, to regard 'Āshūrā as a day of mourning his martydom is also incorrect and contrary to the teachings of Islām.

2) Some people take it as Sunnah to indulge in adornment, wear new clothes, spend lavishly and cook a particular type of meal which is not generally prepared on the day of 'Āshūrā. This practice is incorrect as no authentic narration can be found regarding these actions.

3) The following misconceptions with regards to 'Āshūrā are baseless and one must not believe in them:

• Ādam ’alayhis salām was created on this day.

• Ibrāhīm ’alayhis salām was born on this day.

• Qiyāmah will take place on this day.

• Whoever has a bath on the day of Āshūrā will never get ill.

• The month of Muharram is an unlucky month. Hence, Nikah ceremonies should be avoided in this month.

May Allāh Ta‘ālā grant us the correct understanding of Deen and save us from every act which displeases Him. (Āmīn)




The Month of Sha‘bān

Sha‘bān, the eighth Islamic month is a month of virtues, blessings and greatness. It is due to this virtue and greatness that the Prophet s has emphasised its importance in the Ahādeeth.

Usāmah t asked, "O Rasūlullāh s I do not see you fasting in any month as much as in Sha‘bān.” He replied, “It is a month people are negligent of between Rajab and Ramadhān. It is a month in which deeds are raised towards the Lord of the worlds. Therefore, I like my deeds to be raised whilst I am fasting."


‘Ā’ishah t narrates, "…I never saw Rasūlullāh s fasting for a whole month except the month of Ramadhān and did not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha‘bān."

(Bukhārī, Muslim, Abū Dāwūd, Nasa’ī) ‘Ā’ishah t narrates, "Rasūlullāh s used to fast the (whole) month of Sha‘bān except for a few days."

(Nasa’ī) Fifteenth of Sha‘bān

Amongst the days and nights of Sha‘bān, there is one night called Laylat-al-Barā’at or Shabe Barā’at, a night known for its great blessings and merits. Abū Mūsā Al-Ash'arī t narrates that the Messenger of Allāh s said, "In the fifteenth night of Sha'bān, Allāh S manifests and forgives all His creation except for the Mushrik (idolater) and the spiteful."

(Ibn Mājah)

The Fast of the Fifteenth

The fast of the 15th of Sha'bān cannot be termed as Sunnah or Mustahab. However, the fast could be kept without taking it as a Sunnah or Mustahab considering that: a) The fasts of the first half of Sha'bān have special merits as can be seen from the practice of the

Rasoolullah s. b) The virtues of the fasts of Ayyām-al-Bīdh (i.e. 13th, 14th and 15th of the Islamic month) have been mentioned in the ahādeeth.


Recommended Deeds

(1) It is desirable that one fasts in the month of Sha‘bān as much as one can. However, if fasting in Sha‘bān is going to affect the fasting of Ramadhān then one should refrain from it.


(2) Salāh should be performed in Jamā‘ah (congregation) everyday, However, on this auspicious night, one must participate with special care in the Maghrib, ‘Ishā and Fajr Salāh. (3) Spend as much time of the night as possible in worship individually. One may engage in dhikr, recitation of the Qur’ān, salāh, learning and teaching or any other form of ‘ibādah. However, one must refrain from worldly talk and futile activities. If one cannot do 'ibādah then at least refrain from all types of sins.

One must strive to attain the full blessings and benefits of this night and refrain in particular from all those practices which have no basis in the Qur’ān and Sunnah. Indeed, this night is a great favour of Allāh S for the believers.

May Allāh S guide us all on the straight path and enlighten us with the blessings of this sacred month and its blessed night. Āmeen.

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