Friday, March 17, 2023

Muharram, The Islamic Mourning Month, and The Significance of 10th Muharram

Muharram also called Muharram-ul-Haram is the first out of twelve Islamic months (following the Hijri calendar). The month of Muharram is called ‘the Sacred Month of Allah’ because of its sanctity. It is the second holy month after Ramzan for Muslims. Muharram means forbidden as many of the wrong deeds and actions are forbidden in this month. Muslims, all around the world, observe the month of Muharram as per their cultures and customs keeping the spirit of Islam alive. Many Muslims use this opportunity to reflect on themselves and offer special prayers.

Muharram is also significantly known as the month of mourning in the remembrance of the tragedy of Karbala where the grandson of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Imam Hussain ibn e Ali was martyred along with his family on the land of Karbala.

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Significane of Muharram

Muharram holds significance for Muslims for many reasons. This is the month when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) along with his companions were expelled from Mecca after making their lives difficult in Mecca for spreading the message of Islam. Muharram is also the month when on 10th Muharram Israel was set free from the rule of Pharaoh.

Imam Ghazali in his book, Muskhashfa al-Qulub, says that Muharram is loaded with significant events in the history of Islam. Creation of sky and earth, Jannah, Angel Jibril, Adam, and Hawa, was done on Ashura. Moreover, Prophet Nuh found relief on Ashura.

It was on this day (Ashura) that the Ark of Nuh came to rest on Mount Judi” – Tafsir ibn Kathir

Similarly, many prophets were relieved of their hardships on this day like Adam was forgiven on this day, Prophet Ibrahim was saved from the fire, and Prophet Ayub’s long test came to an end on this day after losing his family and wealth.

This day marks to be a momentous day in Islamic history as many other Prophets faced significant events.

However, the month of Muharram and 10th Muharram, specifically, is remembered as the day when Imam Hussain, grandson of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was martyred on this day, in 680 AD, along with his 72 companions and male family members whereas children and females were captures.

10th Muharram – The Day of Mourning

Muharram is famously known for one event of history that shook the Muslims and humanity. 10th Muharram marks the day of the tragedy of Karbala. The family of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), also known as Ahly e Bayt, was martyred by Yazid’s army on his order. Therefore, it is knowns as the month of mourning in Islamic history.

Muslims, predominantly Shia Muslims, commemorate this day to remember the tragedy of Karbala and pass it down to their generations. Special Majalis and Jaloos (procession) are held to remember the event and mourn for the beloved grandson of Muhammad (PBUH). Regardless of the sect, Ashura (10th Muharram) holds significance for Muslims around the world. Many processions are held in different parts of the world to pay respect to the sacrifice of Imam Hussain and his family.

Mostly majlis and jaloos are held throughout the month of Muharram to commemorate the anniversary of the Martyrs of Karbala. However, different communities mourn the tragedy of Karbala in their ways, remembering the crux of the sacrifice. This way, Muharram holds spiritual significance for Muslims. Some non-Muslims, who are aware of the history, also pay respect to the Martyrs of Karbala and acknowledge the sacrifices of Imam Hussain. Many famous non-Muslims leaders talk about the sacrifice of Imam Hussain and how important it is to remember this message for the betterment of humanity. Edward Gibbon, Gandhi, Charles Dickens, Swami Shankaracharya, and many others.

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Muharram for Humanity

Indeed, the tragedy of Karbala holds spiritual significance for Muslims but it is beyond any religion. The cruelty that Ahl e Bayt faced and the details of the events of Karbala shakes humanity. Imam Hussain gave the biggest lesson for humanity to stand against injustice and cruelty, never leave the moral principles of Islam, and fight the tyrant till last breath. After the death of Imam Hussain on Ashura, his sister Hazrat Zainab along with other female family members kept continued to spread the message Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH).

Commemorating Karbala is not just a spiritual movement but it’s a political movement that teaches humanity to stand against tyranny and injustice. It has been teaching generations to unite themselves against injustice even in the face of cruelty. The mourning of Muharram is a lesson for Muslims and humans to follow the steps of Hazrat Muhammad and Imam Hussain in face of evil and injustice.

Nelson Mandela, who led one of the biggest liberation movements says the sacrifices of Imam Hussain gave courage to him in difficult times.

“I have spent more than 20 years in prison, then one night I thought of surrendering by signing all terms and conditions of the government. But suddenly I thought of Imam Hussai and the Karbala movement. Imam Hussain gave me strength to stand for the right of freedom and liberation and I did.”

Seeing in the light of humanity and social justice, Karbala is the biggest movement that teaches humanity the ways to fight for the right.

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Muharram is a holy month of spiritual guidance like Ramzan. However, apart from Islamic values and spirituality, Muharram teaches us the humanity the world desperately needs in this day and age. It is a lesson for people in power to use their power rightly. It is also a lesson to tyrants and morally corrupt people that like yazid, their power and wealth will be temporary and the world will only remember the struggles and sacrifices of the likes of Imam Hussain. In short, Muharram is like a booster dose of vaccines that revitalize the spirit f humanity every year.


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