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20 I SPECIAL FEATURE Passion Islam I January 2010
The Start of the Islamic Calendar
Muharram is the month with which four months and despite their Holy Prophet Musa (Moses) and
the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah frequent tribal battles, they held it his followers crossed the Red Sea
Calendar. It is one of the four unlawful to fight in these months. miraculously and the Pharaoh was
sanctified months about which the In the Shariah of our Holy Prophet drowned in its water.
Holy Quran says, “The number of the sanctity of these months was On hearing this from the Jews,
the months according to Allah is upheld and the Holy Quran referred the Holy Prophet said, “We are
twelve months (mentioned) in the to them as the “sanctified months”. more closely related to Musa than
Book of Allah on the day in which you” and directed the Muslims to
He created heavens and the earth. The month of Muharram has fast on the day of Ashurah. (Abu
Among these (twelve months) there certain other characteristics Dawood)
are four sanctified”. peculiar to it, which are specified It is also reported in a number
These four months, according below. of authentic traditions that in the
to the authentic traditions are the Fasting during the month beginning, fasting on the day of
months of Zulqadah, Zulhijjah, The Holy Prophet has said: Ashurah was obligatory for the
Muharram and Rajab. All the “The best fasts after the fasts of Muslims.
commentators of the Holy Quran are Ramadan are those of the month of It was later that the fasts of
unanimous on this point, because Muharram.” Ramadan were made obligatory
the Holy Prophet in his sermon on Although the fasts of the month and the fast on the day of ‘’Ashurah
the occasion of his last Hajj, has of Muharram are not obligatory, yet, was made optional. Sayyidah
declared: the one who fasts in these days Aishah has said: “When the Holy
“One year consists of twelve out of his own will and choice is Prophet came to Madinah, he
months, of which four are sanctified entitled to a great reward by Allah fasted on the day of Ashurahh and
months, three of them are in Almighty. The Hadith cited above directed the people to fast it. But
sequence; Zulqadah, Zulhijjah, signifies that the fasts of the month when the fasts of Ramadan were
Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.” of Muharram are most reward-able made obligatory, the obligation of
The specific mention of these four ones among the Nafl fasts i.e. the fasting was confined to Ramadan
months does not mean that any other fasts one observes out of his own and the obligatory nature of the fast
month has no sanctity, because the choice without being obligatory on of Ashurah was abandoned. One
month of Ramadan is admittedly him. can fast on this day, if he so wills, or
the most sanctified month in the The Hadith does not mean that can avoid fasting, if he so wills.”
year. But these four months were the award promised for fasts of However, the Holy Prophet used
specifically termed as sanctified Muharram can be achieved only to fast on the day of Ashurah even
months for the simple reason that by fasting for the whole month. On after the fasting in Ramadan was
their sanctity was accepted even by the contrary, each fast during this made obligatory.
the pagans of Makkah. month has merit. Therefore, one Abdullah Ian Masud reports that
In fact, every month, out of the should avail of this opportunity as the Holy Prophet preferred the fast
twelve, is originally equal to the much as he can. of Ashurah to the fast of other days
other, and there is no inherent and preferred the fast of Ramadhan
sanctity, which may be attributed The day of Ashurah to the fast of Ashurahh. (Bukhari
to one of them in comparison to Although the month of Muharram is and Muslim.
other months. When Allah Almighty a sanctified month as a whole, yet, In short, it is established through
chooses a particular time for His the 10th day of Muharram is the a number of authentic hadith that
special blessings, then it acquires most sacred among all its days. The fasting on the day of Ashurah is
sanctity out of His grace. day is named Ashurah. Sunnah of the Holy Prophet and
Thus, the sanctity of these four According to the Holy companion makes one entitled to a great
months was recognized right from Ibn Abbas. The Holy Prophet , when reward.
the days of Sayyidina Ibrahim. Since migrated to Madinah, found that the According to another Hadith, it
the Pagans of Makkah attributed Jews of Madinah used to fast on the is more advisable that the fast of
themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim 10th day of Muharram. They said Ashurah should either be prefixed
they observed the sanctity of these that it was the day on which the or suffixed by another fast. It means
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