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History of Muharram: A thorough Narration of First Ten Days  

The Pre-Islamic period in the Arabian Peninsula was the era of warring tribes. In the absence of strong leadership, there were conflicts and wars on minor issues. Muharram is one of the four sacred months in which fighting was strictly prohibited. The event of Karbala is associated with Muharram as the occasion happened in the forbidden month and Muslims hold great importance to it. Here is the detailed narration of what happened on every day in the first ten days of Muharram:

  • On the first Muharram, the elegy of Muslim bin Aqil is carried out
  • On the second Muharram, Imam Hussain Ibn Imam Ali (RA) enters Karbala and establishes camp. Yazid’s forces are also present. The year is 61 AH (680 AD)
  • On the third Muharram, an elegy of Ruqaiyyah binte Imam Hussain (RA) is carried out by the mourners.
  • On the fourth Muharram, an elegy of children of Bibi Zainab and Al-Hurr or two sons of Muslim bin Aqil is carried out, their story and martyrdom are narrated.
  • On the fifth Muharram, an elegy of ‘Abd Allah b.al-Hasan is carried out by the mourners
  • On the sixth Muharram, mourners lament the death of Qasim; son of Imam Hassan
  • On the seventh Muharram, Imam Hussain and his household were denied access to the water on the orders of Yazid. The elegy of Imam Hussain’s infant son Ali Al-Asghar is also recited
  • On the eight Muharram, the elegy of Ali al-Akbar is recited who is another son of Imam Hussain
  • On the ninth Muharram also called as the Day of Tasu’a, the mourners lament over the elegy of Hazrat Abbas; the flag-bearer and brother of Imam Hussain
  • The Tenth Muharram also known as Ashura is the day on which Imam Hussain (RA) was martyred in the Battle of Karbala.

Shia Muslims spend the day in mourning, while Sunni Muslims fast on this day, commemorating the rescue of the people of Israel by Hazrat Musa from Pharaoh.

  • The night of the tenth day is called Sham-i-Ghariban (The Evening of Strangers) in which elegy of Bibi Zainab is recited.

Though the mourning continues for the whole month of Muharram and Safar for the Shia Muslims, they end their mourning after 8th Rabi ul awwal as instructed by Imam Zain ul Abideen, so any celebrations are asked to be carried out after 8th Rabi ul Awwal.

Significance of Muharram: It is More than What You Thought!

As already mentioned, the month of Muharram is extremely holy for the Muslims. The Shia Muslims mourn by putting black clothes, weeping in Majalis, listening to Nohas and by fasting on the tenth day of Muharram. However, some Muslims usually fast till Asr prayer to pay respect to Imam Hussain (RA).

Muharram is the Month of Allah and Allah says about the Holy Month in the Quran: “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. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them…” [Quran 9:36]

Also read: Hazrat Umar (RA): The Companion of Holy Prophet (Saww)

Fasting on Ashura

The tenth of Muharram also commemorates the day that Allah saved the children of Israel from Pharaoh. In 622 CE, when Holy Prophet (Saww) came across People of Madina where he learnt from the Jews that they fasted on this day because Allah saved the children of Israel, he also fasted as a sign of gratitude to Allah. While the Shias mourn the death of Imam Hussain and observe Faqah on Ashura, Sunni Muslims hold fasts on 9th and 10th Muharram following Prophet Muhammad’s ritual.

Imaam an-Nawawi (RA) said that it recompenses all minor sins and that “Fasting the day of ‘Arafah expiates sins for two years, and the day of ‘Aashooraa’ expiates for one year… If there are minor sins for which expiation is desired, expiation for them will be accepted; if there are no minor sins or major sins, good deeds will be added to the servant’s account and he will be raised in status… If he had committed major sins but no minor sins, we hope that his major sins will be reduced.” [Al-Majmoo’ah al-Muhaththa

The New Islamic Year has begun, it has begun with significant events and narrations from The Quran, we as Muslims are required to be united, follow Islam in its true sense and leave behind doubts and concerns as the time asks us to be united as one!

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