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Moharram and Ashura: How Do People Celebrate This Month?

Moharram is the first month in the Hijri year in which war is forbidden by order from Allah.

Before Islam, Arab people called it as al-Asam (الأصم, deaf in English) for there is no voices of weapons or march of fighters. Also, they called it Safar al Awal ( صَفَر الأول) to distinguish it from the month of Safar.. But after Islam, it’s known widely as Moharram

In this article, you’ll learn the significance of this month and Ashura day, why people fast it, besides other important information. Keep reading.

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What Is the Month of Moharram?

Moharram is a holy, religious month in the Islamic calendar that has a special sanctity prophet Mohammed has fasted on the tenth day of it and showed the virtues of fasting it.

Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari (RAA) narrated, ‘The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was asked about fasting on the day of Arafah (the 9th of the month of Dhul Hijjah). He replied, “Fasting on the day of Arafah is an expiation for the preceding year and the following year.” He was also asked about fasting on the day of Ashura (the 10th of the month of Muharram). He replied, “Fasting on the day of Ashura is an expiation for the preceding year.”

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was also asked about fasting on Monday, and he replied, “This is the day on which I was born and the day on which I was sent (with the Message of Islam) and the day on which I received revelation.” Related by Muslims.

When is Moharram 2022?

Muharram is the first month in the higri year that follows the lunar calendar. the commencement of Muharram in 2023 might correspond with Monday, 9 August 2022 and it’s considered a public holiday in most countries around the globe.

What Happened on 1st Moharram?

There are many events in Islamic chronology that happened on the first day of Muharram

The siege of Banu Hashim by Quraish in the 6th year before immigration to Al Madinah
The immigration of Mohammed to Al Madinah with Abu Bakar (According to some narrations)

The expedition of Dhat al-Riqa  in July AD 625 (or April 626, Muharram AH 5 of the Islamic calendar according to al-Waqidi),

The Islamic conquest of Alexandria under the leadership of the companion Amr ibn al-Aas, and it’s assimilated into the Islamic empire
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What’s Moharram Meaning?

Moharram means in Arabic the sacred and it’s called that because it’s one of the four months in which Allah forbade fighting. as he said in surah al Tawba

 إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَقَاتِلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ كَافَّةً كَمَا يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ كَافَّةً ۚ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ سورة التوبة 36.

(9:36) Surely the reckoning of months, in the sight of Allah, is twelve months, laid down in Allah’s decree on the day when He created the heavens and the earth; and out of these months, four are sacred. That is the true ordainment. Do not, therefore, wrong yourselves, with respect to these months.

The four sacred months in Islam are Dhu al-Qadah, Dhu’l-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab)

Why Do People Mourn in Moharram?

Shia people mourn In Muharram as they evoke the story of al-Husayn death.

According to historical chronology, the day of Ashura ( 10th of Muharram) marks the martyrdom of al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib in the battle of Karbala by the forces of ʿUbayd Allāh ibn Ziyād after a siege lasted three days.

Throughout those days, al-Husayn and his family were deprived of water from the 7 Moharram until the 10th of this month.

After his death, People have been divided into two sects. the first sect is of people that mourn and show sadness and self-blaming feelings in this day for their ancestors doesn’t help al-Husayn. On this day, you can them slapping their cheeks, beating their chests, and tearing their pockets apart.

What’s Moharram Fasting?

There are many hadith from sunna that refer to fasting in the month of Moharram

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported that he (the Messenger of Allah) was asked which fast was most excellent after the month of Ramadan. He said: the most excellent fast after (fasting) in the month of Ramadan is the fast in God’s month al-Muharram. ( Sahih Muslim )

Also, there are many hadith of the prophet in which he incited his nation to fast 10th Muharram

It was narrated from ‘Ubaidullah that:

he heard Ibn ‘Abbas, when he was asked about the fast of ‘Ashura’ say: “I do not know that the Prophet fasted any day because of its virtue, except this day” meaning the month of Ramadan and the day of Ashura.’

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Another Hadith About Moharram Fasting

Narrated Ibn `Abbas:

The Prophet (ﷺ) came to Medina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He asked them about that. They replied, “This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued Bani Israel from their enemy. So, Moses fasted this day.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “We have more claim over Moses than you.” So, the Prophet fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast (on that day).

In a book (فتح الباري), ibn Hajar wrote that seemingly prophet Mohammed was fasting Ashura when he saw Jewish im Mecca fasting this day and wanted to imitate them for commemorating the event of Moses’ rescue. But after the conquest of Mecca and the spread of Islam, he wanted to disagree with the Jewish so he was fasting Ashura and also the day before (9th Moharram and the day after it.

Read also: 34 Dua for Studying When You’re Worried About Exams

Why Is Moharram Celebrated?

Muharram is one of the months Allah preferred in the Quran as a sacred month, and Muslims await this month since it’s the start of the Islamic New Year. This month, there is Aushua, a significant day for millions of Muslims. On this day, Allah approved Adam’s repentance and rescued Moses from Pharoah. So, prophet Mohammed incited his nation to fast on this day
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Read also: 7 Authentic Signs of Laylatul Qadr You Must Know

What Is Ashura and Why It Is Celebrated in Sunna and Shia Countries?

Ashura, for the sunna Muslims, is a sacred day in which Allah rescued Moses and Banu Israel from Pharos when he ordered Moses to hit the sea with his stick to make a road, then he drowned the Pharos and his legion. The story says that when Prophet Mohammed visited Madinah, he found the Jewish people fasting this day and when he realized the reason, he ordered his nation to fast, saying we have a claim over Moses more than them.

Ashura is considered an official holiday in some countries, such as Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Bahrain, India, and Iraq. Though, The rituals of celebrating Ashura are different between sunna and Shia

The celebration of Ashura was held in many Sunni countries and the forms of Moharram festivals differ from one country to another. In Egypt, for example, people eat a special food plate made of wheat berry, sugar, and milk.

Shia Ritual on Ashura Day

For Shia Muslims, this day is associated in their minds with the death of al Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed in the Battle of Karbala. So, they imitate the suffering he had faced by flagging themselves, beating their chests with metal chains, weeping, and mourning.

Shī’ah Ithna-‘Ashari sect, also called the Ja’fari, performs some specific rituals like vising the shrine of al Hussain, lighting up candles, recounting the story of Al-Imam Hussain and weeping when listening to it, self-beating to express sadness, and listening to sermons about Al-imam martyrdom as a symbol for fighting against oppression. In the same event, water is distributed among the sitter as an evocation of the Imam’s dehydration on this day.

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What Can You Do During Moharram?

For the significance of this month, we collected some deeds you can do to have great rewards and get Allah’s satisfaction During Moharram.

1. Fasting

Fasting Ashura is one of the most recommended things you can do for its great virtue and it’s a sunna Prophet Mohammed did it.

2. Dua
Though there is a specific dua from sunna to pray on this day, we collected for you some of the desirable duas to pray.

للهم أنت رازق السائلين وغائث الغائثين، إياك نعبد وإياك نستعين، اللهم افتح لنا أبواب رحمتك، اللهم نجنا مما نخاف، واسترنا بسترك العظيم، ربنا اللهم اشفي مرضانا ومرضى المسلمين”.

O Allah, you are the Provider of the beggar and the helper of the helpless, it is you who we worship and seek help.

“لا إله إلا الله العظيم الحليم، لا إله إلا الله رب العرش العظيم، لا إله إلا الله رب السماوات ورب الأرض ورب العرش الكريم، اللهم إني أسألك الجنة وأستجير بك من النار”.

“There is no god but Allah, the Great, the Forbearing, there is no god but Allah, Lord of the Great Throne, there is no god but God, Lord of the heavens, Lord of the earth, and Lord of the Noble Throne, O God, I ask you for heaven and seek protection through you from the fire.”

“اللهم آتنا في الدنيا حسنة وفى الآخرة حسنة وقنا عذاب النار”..”.

“Oh God, give us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and protect us from the torment of the Fire.”

3. Repentance
Repentance and asking Allah’s forgiveness are preferred in this month as Allah opened his door for his repented servants

It was narrated that Ali (رضي الله عنه) said:
A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said O Messenger of Allah, tell me of a month that I can fast after Ramadan. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “If you want to fast a month after Ramadan, then fast al-Muharram, for it is the month of Allah and in it is a day on which Allah forgave people and will forgive more people.`

4. Giving to The Family
providing sustenance and being generous to your family is a sunna as in a hadith.
Ibn Mas’ud reported God’s messenger as saying,
“If anyone gives liberally to his family on the day of ‘Ashura, God will give him generously the rest of the year.”


Moharram is a distinct month for millions of Muslims. it signals the beginning of the new day, in which Allah rescued his prophet Moses and Mohammed fasted and Al-Husein was killed…

Muslims Sunni and Shia tackle this event differently. While Sunni Muslims celebrate by fasting and eating traditional foods, Shia Muslims weep, whip themselves, and commemorate the memory of Al-Imam’s martyrdom.

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