Muḥarram 1433 Ḥijrī – The Islamic New Year and the Fasts of the Day of ʿĀshūra

The ending of the month of Dhū’l-Ḥijja marks the sighting of the new moon of the month of Muḥarram al-Ḥarām – the first month of the Islamic New Year and one of the four sacred months.  Thus, also begins the 1433rd year after the Ḥijra of our Noble Prophet (saw) – a remarkable event that changed the course of history generally, and Islam especially.

Four months were ordained as sacrosanct in Islam in order to establish safety of passage for pilgrims during their Ḥajj.  The four months consist of two months prior to Dhū’l-Ḥijja, the month of Dhū’l-Ḥijja and the month of Muḥarram, following the Ḥajj.

It is common that many people celebrate the general New Year with prayers and voluntary devotional practices, and it is thus noteworthy that the Islamic New Year should be ushered in with even more fervent prayers and voluntary devotional practices such as the giving of ṣadaqa, etc.  It marks the anniversary of the migration of the Holy Prophet (saw) from Makka to Madīna and as such marks the greatest event that sparked a revolution in the Arabian peninsula which was to shape the course of Islam for the future.  The importance of the Hijra is immense and one that must be remembered and revived in the hearts of Muslims.

This month, whose very name indicates a warning or a prophecy in the ultimate eternal knowledge of Allāh, according to Ḥaḍrat Khalīfatul Masīḥ al-Rābiʿ (rḥ), has much significance for all Muslims.  Although it is commonly known for the grieving practices of the Shīʿa – and although their practices may have reached one extreme, the significance of the month should not be affected by this amongst those Muslims who revere and love the family of the Holy Prophet (saw) as they are obligated to do.

Muarram is a word that stems from the root word ‘arama’ (from ‘ḥ-r-m’) which means ‘forbidden’ or ‘sacrosanct’.  Thus Muḥarram is that place or time during which things are forbidden or things are made sacrosanct.  The honorific title that is usually applied to this name is ‘al-arām’.

Fasting on the day of ʿĀshūra  – Tuesday 6th December 2011

According to most calculations in the UK, the 1st day of Muḥarram 1433 was Sunday 27th November 2011.[1]   Therefore, the day of ʿĀshūra will most likely be on Tuesday 6th December 2011.[2]  For clarity, and in case of any confusion, one should consult their local or national Imām or the Muftī of the Jamaʿāt.

One of the voluntary devotional practices that Muslims have been observing in following the Sunna of the Holy Prophet (saw) and the practices of the early Muslims and one that is highly recommended, is the fast of the day of ʿĀshūra which is on the 10th day of the month of Muḥarram al-Ḥarām[3] and is regarded as the best of fasts after the fasts of Ramaḍān.   Some jurists have stated that it is also highly recommended to fast on the day before it or after it  – for example, if the day before the day of ʿĀshūra is a Friday, then because of the discouragement of fasting on yaum al-Jumuʿah, one should fast the day after ʿĀshūra, etc.

It is reported from Ḥadrat Abū Hurayra (ra) that the Holy Prophet (saw) referred to the month of Muḥarram al-Ḥarām as ‘Shahr-Allāh’ – the ‘month of Allāh’ and said:

“The best of fasts after the month of Ramadan are in the Month of Allah, which you call Muharram. And the best of prayer after the obligatory prayer is the night prayer.”   [Muslim, 1163]

According to scholars, this refers to the voluntary fasts in this month as there are no obligatory fasts in the month of Muḥarram.  The fact that the Prophet (saw) has referred to the month as the ‘month of Allāh’ has a special significance and highlights the importance of this month in the sight of the Holy Prophet (saw) and in the sight of Allāh.  It is reported in the Ṣaḥīḥ (authentic) collections of Aḥādīth of Imām Bukhārī and Imām Muslim from Ḥaḍrat Ibn Abbās (ra) that he was asked about fasting on the day of ʿĀshūra to which he responded:

“I did not see the Messenger of Allāh (saw) fast on a day more ardently seeking its reward, than [on] this day,” referring to the day of ʿĀshūra.” [Bukhari (2006) and Muslim (1132)]

The Day of ʿĀshūra in pre-Islamic times

The history of fasting on the day of ʿĀshūra finds virtue and proof amongst many of the great prophets of the past – and as such it is a truly Prophetic tradition – which has further been completely verified and attested to by our Holy Prophet (saw)  – without whose assent we would have been unsure of its veracity and authenticity as it finds no mention in any other divine and un-interpolated source of law or guidance.  In this way, Ḥaḍrat Nūḥ (as) and Ḥaḍrat Mūsa (as) are both known to have fasted the day of ʿĀshūra.

Many Aḥādīth conclude that that the Holy Prophet (saw) use to fast on the day of ʿĀshūra before he had instructed others of his followers to do so.  It is narrated that when the Holy Prophet (saw) migrated to Madīnah al-Munawwarah, he found the ahl al-Kitāb (the People of the Scripture) observing the fast and celebrating on this day, and he thus ordered the Muslims to fast it, and encouraged even the children to fast.  The Aḥādīth record a narration from Ibn Abbās (ra) that:

“When the Messenger of Allāh (saw) reached Madīnah, he found the Jews fasting the day of ʿĀshūra, so he asked them, ‘What is this day you are fasting?’  They said, ‘This is a tremendous day.  Allāh saved Mūsa and his people on this day and drowned Pharoah and his people.  Mūsa fasted it out of thanks, so we fast it too.’  The Messenger of Allāh (saw) said, ‘And we are more deserving of Mūsa than you are.’ So he fasted this day, and ordered that it be fasted.”        [Bukhari (2004) and Muslim (1130)]

Towards the end of his (saw) life, the Messenger of Allāh (saw) made the determination not to fast on this day alone, but to fast it along with a day after or before it, in order to differ from people of the book.  This was something that the Holy Prophet (saw) was particular about, for he wished the Muslims to differ from non-Muslims in many of the devotional acts they performed – thus they were also instructed not to merely imitate the non-muslims in these acts by fasting this day, but rather to fast it with either the day before or after.  Imām Muslim (rh) has include the report from Ibn Abbās (ra) that:

“When the Messenger of Allah (saw) fasted the day of ʿĀshūra and ordered his companions to fast it, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! This is a day that the Jews and Christians venerate.’ So the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, ‘When next year comes – if Allāh wills – we will fast the Ninth [of Muharram with it].’ But the next year did not come before the Messenger of Allah (saw) passed away.”  [Muslim (1134)]

It is also reported by Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (rh) in his Musnad, from Ibn Abbas (ra) that the Holy Prophet (saw) said:

“Fast the Day of ʿĀshūra and be different from the Jews by fasting a day before it or a day after it.” [Musnad of Imām Aḥmad]

Charity on the day of ʿĀshūra

It has been reported from Abdullāh ibn ʿAmr al-ʿĀs (ra) that:

“Whoever fasts ʿĀshūra it is as if he has fasted the entire year. And whoever gives charity this day it is like the charity of an entire year.”

Although not narrated as a ḥadīth of the Holy Prophet (saw) it is highly indicative from this narration that this is a praiseworthy practice.

The day of ʿĀshūra – a blessed day

Imām al-Tirmidhī (rh) has reported that the Holy Prophet (saw) said:

“If you want to fast a month after Ramaḍān, then fast Muḥarram, for it has a day in which Allāh forgave an entire people, and He turns to others in repentance in.” [Tirmidhī (841)]

Ḥaḍrat Masīḥ-e-Maʿūd’s (as) Remembrance of Imām al-Shuhadā, Ḥaḍrat Imām Ḥussayn (ra)

It is narrated by Ḥaḍrat Sayyida Nawāb Mubārikah Begum (ra)[4] that on one occasion, Ḥaḍrat Masīḥ-e-Maʿūd (as) was resting on a chaise in his garden when he beckoned her and Mubārak Aḥmad sahib, who were very young at this time, and said to them: “Come, come, let me narrate to you the incident of Muḥarram…”  Upon saying this, Ḥaḍrat Imām Mahdī (as) narrated to them, with a heavy heart full of pain and emotion, the incident of the martyrdom of Ḥaḍrat Imām Ḥussayn (ra).  It is narrated that Ḥaḍrat Imām Mahdī (as) continued to narrate the incidents and as he did so, tears would be running from his blessed eyes and he (as) would be narrating and simultaneously wiping away his tears with his fingers.  After having narrated the painful incidents, Ḥaḍrat Imām Mahdī (as) stated with great emotion:

“Yazīd, the accursed, subjected the grandson of our beloved Messenger (ṣallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) to such torture, but God quickly revenged the oppressors with their just rewards soon thereafter.”

It is stated that at this time, a strange state overcame Ḥaḍrat Imām Mahdī (as) and recounting the painful martyrdom his Holy Master’s (ṣallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) beloved progeny underwent, Ḥaḍrat Imām Mahdī’s (as) sense of peace was deeply distressed.

Ḥaḍrat Khalīfatul Masīḥ al-Rābiʿ (rḥ) became teary-eyed and his voice wavered as he recalled this special month in Liqāʾ maʿal ʿArab – meeting with the Arabs[5]  – and stated that he understood that this month was destined in Allāh’s eternal and unlimited knowledge as a sacred month, and that it had turned out to be the month in which the pure and purified members of the Noble Family of the Holy Prophet (saw) were mistreated.

At the beginning of the Islamic Year of 1430, in his Khutba al-Jumuʿa of 2nd January 2009, Ḥaḍrat Khalīfatul Masīḥ al-Khāmis (ayyadahu’Allāh) gave a beautiful sermon in which he exhorted us to mark that Islamic new year – which also coincided with the Gregorian new year – by bringing about a pure reformation within ourselves and our practice of our faith.  It behooves all of us to ponder over, and ultimately act upon the goodly advice of our Imām, some aspects of which I reproduce summarily below: (Friday Sermon English 02 Jan 2009; See Also: Friday Sermon English 10th December 2010 – Muharram and Greatness of Imam Hussayn)

Ḥuḍūr remarked that pertaining to acceptance of prayers and the month of Muḥarram, it is important to recite the Durūd al-Sharīf with abundance during this month as this is a formula which has been taught to us especially by the Holy Prophet (saw) and that Ḥaḍrat Masīḥ-e-Maʿūd (as) has shown the effectiveness of, and blessings that are attached to, the abundant recitation of Durūd al-Sharīf through his personal experience and example and has drawn or special attention to this matter.   Thus we should sincerely recite and reflect upon the essence of the Durūd al-Sharīf and if we do this and understand its importance then problems, disputes and troubles and disorder will disappear by themselves.   When reciting the Durūd al-Sharīf, and when sending blessings and praise upon the progeny and family of the Holy Prophet (saw), one remembers those spiritual and physical relationships who maintain a relationship with the Holy Prophet (saw) – in this way there are those blessed companions of the Holy Prophet (saw) who, not caring for their own lives one bit, spread their own chests out in order to protect the blessed body of the Holy Prophet (saw) from being injured or harmed – the occasion of the cave is specifically stated in the Holy Qurʾān and Ḥaḍrat Abū Bakr is stated as the Holy Prophet’s (saw) most eminent companion.  Thus, true love with one’s beloved is expressed by loving those whom He (saw) loved also.  Thus, you should express and manifest an unparalleled love for the family and progeny of the Holy Prophet (saw) and his companions and for all those whom our Beloved Liege-Lord (saw) loved.

May Allāh protect us all in the coming year and Assist us to perfect our morals, character, strengthen us in faith and resolve, and give us the capacity and ability to present the beauties of the noble teachings of the Holy Prophet (saw) to the world.  May He grant us the love of the Holy Prophet (saw) and his Holy and Purified Progeny.

Jān-o dilum fidā-i jamāl-i Muḥammad-ast

Khākum nisār Kūchā-yi Āl-i Muḥammad-ast

My life and my soul be sacrificed for the Beauty of Muḥammad (ṣallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam)

 My dust, in the alley [amongst] the scattered pearls of the Progeny of Muḥammad (ṣallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam)

[a couplet from a Persian verse of praise for the Ahl al-Bayt of

the Holy Prophet (saw), Durr-e-Thamīn Farsī, p.89]



Allāhumma Ṣalli ʿalā Muḥammadin wa ʿalā Ālihi al-Ṭayyibīn al-Ṭāhirīn


O’ Allāh, send blessings upon Muḥammad and upon his purified and holy family


[2] It is important to note that because of the Holy Prophet’s (saw) prohibition of fasting on the day of Jumuʿa on its own, if one perceives Friday to be the day of ʿĀshūra then they should in any case fast the day before or after it as well – as fasting on Friday on its own is disliked because of the Holy Prophet’s (saw) statement: ‘Let none of you fast Friday, unless they fast a day before it or after it.’ [Ṣaḥiḥ al-Bukhārī, Vol. 3, Book 31, No. 206].  However, as it does not fall on Friday this year, this point is for information only.

[3] Fiqh Aḥmadīyya, 4th Ed., 2004, Nazārat Nashr-o Ishāʾat, Qadian, India, p.272


[5] Session No.46, recorded on 06/06/1995: Part 1 of this can be viewed here: