Muharram unlike other Islamic festivals is a month of mourning and praying with no exuberant celebrations or feasting.
The month of Muharram starts on August 11 in India, while August 20 will mark the day of Ashura – a very important day of the month.
Muharram is the second most sacred and holy occasion of Islam, recorded this year on August 20. Just like Ramadan, Muharram also depends on the date of moon sighting and is also called Muharram-ul-Haram. It is the first month of the Islamic Year or the Hijri calendar that has 354 or 355 days regarded as one of the four sacred months of the year when warfare is forbidden. It is regarded as the second holiest month after Ramadan.
The tenth day of Muharram is known as Ashura known as part of the Mourning of Muharram, Shia Muslims mourn the death of Imam Hussain, the son of Hazrat Ali and the grandson of the Prophet who was martyred in the Battle of Karbala on the day of Ashura in 680 AD.
It is one of the four sacred months of the year when warfare is forbidden. It is held to be the second holiest month after Ramadan.
Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Hussain and his family, honoring the martyrs by prayer and abstinence from joyous events. Shia Muslims eat as little as possible on the Ashura; however, this is not seen as fasting. Alevis fast twelve days, each day for one of the Twelve Imams of Shia Islam, to commemorate and mourn the Imams, as if a very close relative has passed away. Some (excluding children, elderly or sick) don’t eat or drink until zawal (afternoon) as a part of their mourning for Hussain. In addition, there is an important ziyarat book, the Ziyarat Ashura about Hussain. In Shiaism, it is popular to read this ziyarat on this date.
The Significance of Ashura
Prophet Muhammad in Islam is considered to be a messenger of God, and Muslims call the month of Muharram as the ‘sacred month of Allah’ and the history of Muharram dates 1443 years back when Prophet Muhammed and his companions were forced to move from Mecca to Medina on the first day of Muharram in Circa 622 AD.
As told, he was forbidden from spreading the message of Islam in Mecca. The day Ashura is observed on the 10th day of Muharram to mourn the death of Imam Hussain, the son of Hazrat Ali and the grandson of the Prophet. He was martyred in the Battle of Karbala on the day of Ashura in 680 AD.
Therefore, the month of Muharram starts on August 11 in India, while August 20 will mark the day of Ashura – the crucial day of the month when Imam Hussain grandson of Prophet Muhammed was left in the desert without food and water and killed mercilessly by enemy soldiers.
This month is especially very important for Shia Muslims and they mourn the death of Hussain by forming a chain and beating themselves, which is known as Tatbir or Qama Zani, the Sunni Muslims spend their day by observing fast and chanting “Ya Hussain” or “Ya Ali”.