MUHARRAM [المحرّم]

  • Muharram is the first month of the Islamic Calendar with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar.
  • It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Quran says, “The number of the months according to Allah is twelve (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on the day He created heavens and the earth. Among these (twelve months) there are four sanctified.”
  • Early Makkah attributed themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim, they observed the sanctity of these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these months.
  • These four months, according to the authentic traditions, are Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab.
  • Muharram[month of Muharram] is a month of remembrance, it is also known as Ashura. Ashoura[The day is named ‘Ashurah’ Literary means 10th and derived from  Hebrew ʿāsōr עשרה via Babylonian Ahur vis Sanskrit Asur]. is marked on the tenth day of Muharram, by all Muslims.
  • Ashura marks the day Nuh (Noah) left the Ark after the great flood and the day Musa (Moses) was saved from the Pharaoh of Egypt by God. Prophet Muhammad used to fast on Ashura in Mecca, where it was a common tradition for the early Muslims and the dwellers of Mecca City.
  • When  Prophet Muhammad, came to Madinah, he fasted on the day of ‘Ashura’ and directed the people to fast. But when the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadan and the obligatory nature of the fast of ‘Ashura’ was abandoned. Jews used to fast on the day of Ashura alone, and Prophet Muhammad wanted to distinguish the Muslim way of fasting from that of Jews.
  • Shia Muslims celebrate this day to mourn the death of Ali`s son Husayn Ibn Ali. All celebratory events are avoided out of respect, during the first ten days of the month.
  • Ali the father of Husayn Ibn Ali was murdered in AD 661 and his leading opponent Muawiya bin Abu Sufiyan became Caliph. Muawiya was succeeded by his son Yazid. Ali’s son Hussein Ibn Ali refused to accept Yazid’s legitimacy.
  • Shia means “the supporters” in Arabic.
  • Husayn Ibn Ali, grandson of Prophet Muhammad was beheaded during the Battle of Karbala near the Euphrates river on the tenth day of Muharram in 680 CE [Muharram 10, 61 AH]. Hereditary line of Imams continues through Hazrat Imam Husayn’s son, Imam Zayn al-Abidin, Sunnis denied it.  Ali Husayn’s sister Zaynab was taken away as a slave to Damasks.
  • The death of Imam al-Hussein is considered by the Shia community as a symbol of humanity’s struggle against injustice, tyranny and oppression.
  • Sunni Muslims [follower of ‘Sunna’-tradition of Muhammad] observe this day to celebrate the victory of Moses over Egyptian Pharaoh.

Heb. עשר (eser), Arab. ‘ashr, etc. prob. meant orig. ‘a group collection’, whence ‘a group of ten’, and ultimately ‘ten’

The words Ashir עשיר – wealthy, and osher עושר –  means riches apart from ten.  Esher in Akkadian, `asharah in Arabic refer ‘ten’. Ten in Aramaic is עסר (asar), whereas rich in Aramaic is עתיר (atir) – a term still used in Modern Hebrew.