By Alh. Lukman Idris
October 14th 2015; the first day of Muharram, is our Muslim New Year. It heralds 1437 A.H. Our calendar year, unlike many others around the globe, begins and ends with sacred months. The year begins with Muharram and ends with Zhil Hijjah and both of these months are among the four sacred months in Islam in addition to Zhil Qa’dah and Rajab.
An essence is usually attached to events, happenings or commemorative incidents in Islam. Our new year uniquely marks the rather unhappy migration of Prophet Muhammad (saws) from Makkah to Madinnah. It is therefore a time to reflect on the lessons of our Holy Prophet’s departure from the fold of enemies of Islam to the welcoming fold of the Ansar of Madinnah.
We are therefore enjoined to also try and make it a season of spiritual departure from our not-so-commendable ways, and rather strive to please Allah (swt) in everything we do.
The month of Muharram has certain other characteristics peculiar to it, the first of which is fasting. It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (RA) said: The Messenger of Allaah (SAS) said: “The best fasting after Ramadhan is the month of Allaah Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” Narrated by Muslim.
This Hadith refers to doing Nafl or optional fasting any of the days in Muharram and not all of it as it was proven that the Prophet (SAS) did not fast any month in full apart from Ramadhan. Thus it is highly encouraged to fast any days in the month of Muharram. Secondly, The Day of Ashura is the most sacred among the days of Muharram. It is the tenth day of Muharram. Ibn ‘Abbaas (RA) said: The Prophet (SAWS) came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’. He said, “What is this?” They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allaah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Moosa (A.S) fasted on this day.” He said, “We are closer to Moosa (A.S) than you.” So he fasted on this day and told the people to fast.
It is also reported that in the beginning, fasting on the day of Ashurah was obligatory for the Muslims. It was later that when fasting in Ramadan was made obligatory and the fast on the day of Ashurah was made optional.
Aisha (RA) narrated: “When the Prophet (SAS) came to Madinah, he fasted on the day of Ashura and directed the people to fast it. 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 Ashurah was abandoned. One can fast on this day, if he so wills, or can avoid fasting, if he so wills.”
In addition to fast the 10th of Muharram it is recommended to fast a day before or after it, which means: the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th. Let us be reminded that the virtue of fasting the Day of Ashura is great. The Prophet (SAS) said: “Fasting the day of ‘Arafah I hope Allaah will expiate all sins thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and fasting the day of ‘Ashura’ I hope Allaah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” Narrated by Imam Muslim.
The 10th of Muharram will be Friday October 23rd Inshaallah thus fasting should be on either on October 22nd and 23rd or October 23rd and 24th.
May Allah accept all our acts of ibadah. Amin.