Which is the first month of the Islamic calendar and what is it's meaning?
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar- meaning "Forbidden". Even before Islam, this month was always known as a sacred month which un-lawful acts were "forbidden", prominently the shedding of blood.
Which are the four sanctified months that are alluded to in the Quran and according to the Hadith ?
" The number of months in the sight of Allah are twelve, so ordained by Allah, the day He created the heavens and the earth; Of them four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so wrong not yourselves therein." (Surah Tawbah - verse 36). The four sanctified months according to authentic Ahaadeeth are the months of Zul- Qa'dah, Zul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. The sanctity of these months was observed in the shariah of all the previous Ambiyaa.
Which day in the month of Muharram is most significant and what is it called?
10th of Muharram called Day of Aashurah.
What special action did Rasulullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) perform on the 10th of Muharram ?
He(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) fasted. Sayyidina Ayesha(radhiyallahu anha) reported that: when the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) came to Madinah, he fasted on the Day of Aashurah and directed the people to fast it.
Which other prophet fasted on the 10th of Muharram as a token of Thanks(shukr) ?
Nabi Moosa(alaiyhis salaam)
Which other nation observed the fast of the 10 th of Muharram in Madinah at the time of Rasullullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) and why ?
Hadhrat Ibn Abbaas(radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that when Nabi(sallallalhu alaiyhi wassallam) came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the day of Aashura he inquired, " What is the significance of this day on which you fast? " They replied, " This is the day Allah saved Nabi Moosa(alaiyhis salaam) and his followers and drowned Fir'oun and his army. Moosa(alaiyhi salaam) fasted on this day as a token of thanks - giving, thus we too fast on this day." Nabi(sallallalhu alaiyhi wassallam) said: " We are more worthy of Moosa(alaiyhis salaam) than you and we are more closer to him than you are." Thereafter he fasted on this day and ordered the Sahaabah to do the same. (Muslim, Abu Dawud)
Is the sanctity and significance of the 10 th of Muharram(Day of Aashurah) attributed to Sayyidina Husain(radhiyallahu anhu) ?
Many people regard the 10 th of Muharram(Day of Aashurah) as a day of mourning, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husein(radhiyallahu anhu). No doubt, the martydom of Sayyidina Husain(radhiyallahu anhu) is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of Aashurah cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of Aashurah was established during the days of the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) much earlier than the birth of Sayyidina Husain(radhiyallah anhu). To attribute the significance of Aashurah to Sayyidina Husein(radhiyallahu anhu)'s martyrdom is totally baseless because the sanctity of Aashurah is proven, beyond doubt, from the time of Rasulullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), whilst Sayyidina Husain(radhiyallahu anhu) was martyred more than 50 years AFTER Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) left this earthly abode. On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidina Husein(radhiyallahu anhu) that he was martyred on the Day of Aashurah. The sanctity of Aashurah is also established from the shariah of previous prophets.
Is it permissable to make 'Ta'zia'(wooden structures representing the mausoleums of the martyrs of Karbala) to parade the streets, mourning their death?
No, it is not permissable. Hadhrat Imran bin Hassan(radhiyallahu anhu) as recorded in Ibn Majah, that Rasulullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) saw in a funeral ceremony that that the people had taken off their sheets and were putting on only shirts, as a mark of mourning. The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) was very much displeased with this and declared that it was a custom of the days of ignorance which deserved to be condemned. On this admonition, the people put on their sheets and never committed this offence later on. This proves that, it is unlawful to adopt special guises, garments, structures etc., to form an attitude of expressing mourning and grief.
Is it permissable to marry in the month of Muharram?
Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Sayyidina Husain(radhiyallahu anhu) was martyred in it. It is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept which is contrary to the express teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Such superstitions have been totally negated by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaiyhi Wassallam). If the death of an eminent person in a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day, free from this bad luck, out of 365 days of the whole year, because each and every day has a history of the demise of some eminent person. The Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihi Wassallam) have made us free from such superstitious beliefs, and they should deserve no attention.
Is it permissable to hold lamentations and mourning ceremonies in the memory of Sayyidina Husain(radhiyallahu anhu)?
Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain (R.A.). The event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassallam) has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased relatives or friends through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassallam) stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying "Inna lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji oon". A number of authentic ahâdîth are available on the subject. To quote only one of them: "He is not from our group who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah." All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is absolutely impermissible. Even Sayyidina Husain (R.A.) shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Sayyidah Zainab(R.A.) not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said:"My dear sister, I swear upon you that you, in case I die, shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death". It is evident from this advice of Sayyidina Husain(R.A.) that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) and his beloved grand child Sayyidina Husain (R.A.).
What can be done on the Day of Aashurah(10th of Muharram) ?
1. It is Mustahab(desirable) to fast on this day.
2. To be generous in spending on one's family according to one's capacity is permissable(Mubah).