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Hijri Calendar: The Month Of Muharram

Hijri Calendar: The Month Of Muharram

The month of Muharram is fast approaching insha’Allah! Did you know that Muharram is the very first month of the Hijri (or Islamic) calendar? The first day of Muharram therefore marks the first day of the Islamic year, and we are about to enter the year 1443 AH (After Hijrah) insha’Allah. What else do you know about the month of Muharram? Read our article below to learn more, including its meaning, significance in the sunnah and Islamic history!

Meaning of Muharram

Muharram, or Al-Muharram (in Arabic: المُحَرَّم), comes from the root letters ح ر م which carry different meanings:

1. sanctified, sacred, inviolable; a sanctuary, a sacred territory;

2. forbidden, unlawful, sinful (opposed to حَلَال [Halal]); unacceptable, abhorrent;

3. prevented, banned, deprived, disadvantaged, denied;

4. desolate, destitute.

The word “muharram” specifically means sanctified, sacred or forbidden. Muharram is among the four sacred months in which fighting and war were prohibited unless the enemy initiated the fight. The four sacred months are Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab.


Chronological order in the Hijri calendar

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. This month comes after Dhul Hijjah and before Safar. Muharram is the only month called شَهْرُالله [shahrullah], “The Month of Allah,” as emphasized in the hadith reported by Abu Hurayrah رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ who narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The most virtuous fasting after the month of Ramadan is Allah’s month Al-Muharram.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 740)


When will Muharram take place this year?

This year (2021), Muharram is expected to begin on August 9th, 2021, insha’Allah.

The 1st of Muharram marks the first day of the new Hijri (or Islamic) year 1443 AH.


Significance of Muharram in the Quran

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِندَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ

“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…” (Quran, 9:36)


Significance of Muharram in the Sunnah

A Sacred Month

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Time has come back to its original state which it had when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth; the year is twelve months, four of which are sacred. Three of them are in succession; Dhul-Qa’da, Dhul-Hijja and Al-Muharram, and (the fourth being) Rajab Mudar (named after the tribe of Mudar as they used to respect this month) which stands between Jumad (ath-thani) and Sha’ban.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 4662)


Abu Hurayrah رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ narrated that: the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The most virtuous fasting after the month of Ramadan is Allah’s month Al-Muharram.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 740)

Day of Ashura: The 10th of Muharram

This is the day when Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى gave Prophet Musa عليه السلام victory over the Pharaoh by parting the waters of the Red Sea to allow him and his people to flee the tyranny and threats of the Pharaoh, and then drowning the Pharaoh and his army in it as they attempted to follow them:

When the Prophet ﷺ arrived at Medina, the Jews were observing the fast on ‘Ashura’ (10th of Muharram) and they said, “This is the day when Moses became victorious over Pharaoh,” On that, the Prophet ﷺ said to his companions, “You (Muslims) have more right to celebrate Moses’ victory than they have, so observe the fast on this day.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 4680)

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was asked about observing As-Saum (the fast) on the tenth day of Muharram, and he replied, “It is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year.” (Muslim, Riyad as-Salihin 1252)

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “If I live until next year, I will fast the ninth day (of Muharram) too.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 1736)


Keep scrolling to learn more about Muharram!

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Significance in Islamic History

The Conquest of Kahibar: Muharram 7AH

After the Hudaibiyah Treaty, the major party of the anti-Islam tripartite coalition, the Quraish, was neutralized. Therefore, the Prophet ﷺ considered it an appropriate time to settle his affairs with the other two wings-the Jews and the Najd tribes-in order that peace and security could prevail and the Muslims may devote their time and effort in propagating the message of Allah and calling people to embrace it.

The Jews of Khaybar, united by an ancient alliance with the Confederates, provoked Bani Qurayzah to practice treachery, maintained contacts with Ghatafan and the Arabians, and even devised an attempt on the Prophet’s life. In fact, the continual afflictions that the Muslims sustained were primarily attributable to the Jews. Envoys were repeatedly sent to them for a peaceful settlement, but all in vain. Consequently, the Prophet (ﷺ) came to the conclusion that a military campaign was a must in order to solve this problem.

Ibn Ishaq said: “When Allah’s Messenger ﷺ came back from Al-Hudaibiyah, he resided in Madinah during the month of Dhul-Hijjah and part of Muharram. Then he left at the end of Muharram for Khaybar.”

Interpreters of the noble Quran suggest that capturing Khaybar had been a Divine promise implied in Allah’s Words:

وَعَدَكُمُ اللَّهُ مَغَانِمَ كَثِيرَةً تَأْخُذُونَهَا فَعَجَّلَ لَكُمْ هَٰذِهِ وَكَفَّ أَيْدِيَ النَّاسِ عَنكُمْ وَلِتَكُونَ آيَةً لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَيَهْدِيَكُمْ صِرَاطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا ‎“Allah has promised you much booty that you will take [in the future] and has hastened for you this [victory] and withheld the hands of people from you – that it may be a sign for the believers and [that] He may guide you to a straight path. (Surah Al-Fath, 48:20)

(i.e., the Hudaibiyah Peace Treaty and the surrender of Khaybar)

The Prophet ﷺ invited only those who were willing to fight in the cause of Allah to accompany him in his march against Khaybar. 1400 men only, who had sworn allegiance in response to his call.

Another incident of high significance is the acceptance of Islam by Abu Hurayrah ﷺ, a venerable Muslim scholar and an authentic narrator of the Prophetic traditions that occurred during this time.

(Reference: The Sealed Nectar, الرّحيق المختوم)


Learn about other Hijri months here!

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