Muharram

Next Thursday, 26 June 2025

Muharram will begin on July 7, 2024. Muharram marks the start of the Islamic Calendar followed by Muslims all over the world or Islamic New Year.

The celebration will continue for 10 days and end on July 17 or Ashura.

The word 'Muharram' means forbidden or sinful. This is because violence and bloodshed is forbidden during this period.

Muslim Men Praying in a Mosque

The 10th day of Muharram is a gazetted holiday in India, so schools and offices remain closed. However, it is not a public holiday in the United States. 

Why is Muharram Celebrated: The Battle of Karbala

The history of Muharram is quite tragic and celebrates the martyrdom of Hussain Ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. This was all because he refused to succumb to the evil tyrant ruler Yazid.

Yazid was hated by his people for his evil deeds while Hussain Ibn Ali was loved and admired by all because of his generousness. Yazid hatched a plan and decided to bring Hussain to his side. However, the latter rigidly rejected his request.

Now that his life was in danger, Hussain left his hometown Medina, and traveled to the holy city of Mecca. However, the evil Yazid did not leave him even there. Hussain had to leave Mecca as well and started traveling to Kufa, a city in Iraq.

Unfortunately, Yazid was successful in trapping Hussain and his 72 men in the desert town of Karbala where he was once again given the ultimatum of either joining the Government or being killed.

Hussain told his men to leave and save themselves once again showing his selflessness. However, his companions chose to stay and die by his side. 

Significance of Muharram

Muharram is the first sacred month of the Islamic calendar. It is the ideal time for reflection on past behavior, repentance, and seeking forgiveness from Allah.

Violence and warfare are strictly prohibited during Muharram because it is a period of peace, love, and repentance. Muslims look forward to the new year, pray, and work on self-development. 

Muharram Celebration

Muharram is celebrated differently by Sunnis and Shias. 

Dressing in Black (Observed by Shias)

Muharram is a 10-day period of grief or mourning. People dress in black and attend prayer meetings in mosques. They do not attend weddings or any joyous occasion during this time. 

Muslim Women wearing black on Muharram
Women wearing Black on Muharram  Image By: Payam Moein, CC 4.0, unedited

Self-Flagellation (Observed by Shias)

Self-flagellation during the Muharram Procession is another custom followed by Shia Muslims on the 10th day of Muharram or Ashura. They whip themselves with sharp objects on their backs because it is a sad observance.

Ziarat Ashura

Reading Ziarat Ashura is also a custom followed on Muharram. It's a collection of salutations specifically directed towards the martyrs of Karbala, particularly Imam Hussain Ibn Ali.

By reciting these salutations, observers pay homage to the bravery and unwavering faith showcased during the historic Battle of Karbala. It's a way to connect with their spirit and reflect on the significance of their sacrifice.

Fasting (Observed by both Shias and Sunnis)

A muslim woman praying at the dinner table

The Prophet Muhammad is said to have fasted on the Day of Ashura (10th of Muharram). He also fasted on Ashura and encouraged others to do the same.

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Thursday, 26 June 2025

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