Ashura 2016 mourning in Imam Hossein Square, Tehran 02.jpg
Ashura commemorating martyrdom of Prophet's grandson, Tehran, 2016
Native nameٱلْمُحَرَّم (Arabic)
CalendarIslamic calendar
Month number1
Number of days29-30 (depends on actual observation of the moon's crescent)
Significant daysAshura

Muḥarram (Arabic: ٱلْمُحَرَّم) (fully known as Muharram ul Haram) is the first month of the Islamic calendar.[1] It is one of the four sacred months of the year when warfare is forbidden.[2] It is held to be the second holiest month after Ramadan.

The tenth day of Muharram is known as Ashura. Better known as part of the Mourning of Muharram, Shi'a Muslims mourn the tragedy of Ḥusayn ibn Alī's family.

Shiites mourn the martyrdom of Ḥusayn by abstaining from joyous events. Instead, Shia Muslims hold many events to offer condolences to Imam Husayn and to honor the martyrs by prayer, reading supplications, and holding charity events. Shiʿi Muslims eat as little as possible on the Ashura; however, this is not seen as fasting. Alevis fast ten or twelve days, each day for one of the Twelve Imams of Shiʿa Islam, to commemorate and mourn the Imams, as if a very close relative has died. Some (excluding children, elderly or sick) do not eat or drink, avoid entertainment until zawal (afternoon) as a part of their mourning for Husayn.[2] In addition, there is an important ziyarat book, the Ziyarat Ashura about Ḥusayn. In Shiʿism, it is popular to read this ziyarat on this date.[3]

Muharram and Ashura

The word Muharram means forbidden or prohibited. Before Islam, it is said that this month was called as Safer ul Awwal.[2] The sighting of the new moon ushers in the Islamic New Year. The first month, Muharram, is one of the four sacred months mentioned in the Quran (although not mentioned by name), along with the seventh month of Rajab, and the eleventh and twelfth months of Dhu al-Qi'dah and Dhu al-Hijjah, respectively, immediately preceding Muharram. During these sacred months, warfare is forbidden. Before the advent of Islam, the Quraish and Arabs also forbade warfare during those months.[4] Before Islam, the Arabs also fasted on the tenth day of Muharram. This day also had importance in other Semitic religions like Judaism and Christianity. Muhammad also fasted many times on this day before his prophethood and after his migration to Medina and also ordered the Muslims to fast on this day and ninth and eleventh day as well. But the fasting was optional after Ramadan fasting was made obiligatory.[2] It is narrated by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet Muhammad said, "The most virtuous fasting after the month of Ramadan is (in) Allah's month Al-Muharram."[5]

Muharram and Ashura to the Muslims

Main article: Mourning of Muharram

Shia Muslims in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in a Hussainiya as part of the commemoration of Muharram
Shia Muslims in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in a Hussainiya as part of the commemoration of Muharram
Shia Muslim children in Amroha, India on camels in front of the Azakhana as part of the procession commemorating events on and after Day of Ashura
Shia Muslim children in Amroha, India on camels in front of the Azakhana as part of the procession commemorating events on and after Day of Ashura

Ashura, which literally means the "Tenth" in Arabic, refers to the tenth day of Muharram.[6]

According to Sunni Muslims, fasting on Ashura, the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram was a practice established by Muhammad in the early days of Islam that commemorates the parting of the Red Sea by Moses.[7][8]

While in Shia Islam, Muharram is a month of remembrance. Ashura is well known in Shia tradition because of its historical significance and mourning for the Shahadat (martyrdom) of Ḥusayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad.[9] Shia Muslims begin mourning from the first night of Muharram and continue for ten nights, climaxing on the 10th of Muharram, known as the Day of Ashura. The last few days up until and including the Day of Ashura are the most important because these were the days in which Hussain and his family and followers (including women, children and elderly people) were deprived of water from the 7th onward and on the 10th, Husayn and 72 of his followers were killed by the army of Yazid I at the Battle of Karbala on Yazid's orders. The surviving members of Husayn's family and those of his followers were taken captive, marched to Damascus, and imprisoned there.

Timing for Muharram

Conversion of Hijri years 1343 to 1500 to the Gregorian calendar, with first days of al-Muharram (brown), Ramadan (grey) and Shawwal (black) bolded, and Eid al-Adha dotted – in the SVG file, hover over a spot to show its dates and a line to show the month

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Muharram migrates throughout the solar years. The estimated start and end dates for Muharram are as follows (based on the Umm al-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia):[10]

Muharram dates between 2020 and 2024
AH First day (CE/AD) Last day (CE/AD)
1442 20 August 2020 17 September 2020
1443 09 August 2021 07 September 2021
1444 30 July 2022 27 August 2022
1445 19 July 2023 16 August 2023
1446 07 July 2024 04 August 2024

Incidents that occurred during this month

Scenes in the Taziya procession at the Muharram
Scenes in the Taziya procession at the Muharram

See also


  1. ^ Huda (25 June 2019). "Overview of the Islamic Calendar". Learn Religions. Dotdash. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Yaşaroğlu, M.Kâmīl (2006). MUHARREM - An article published in Turkish Encyclopedia of Islam (in Turkish). Vol. 31 (Muhammediyye - Munazara). Ankara: TDV Encyclopedia of Islam. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-97-53-89458-6.
  3. ^ "Ziyarat Ashoora – Importance, Rewards and Effects". p. 24. Retrieved 7 November 2019 – via
  4. ^ "Muharram 2020: History, Significance And Know All About The Day Of Ashura". Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  5. ^ Sahih at-Tirmidhi : Hadith 740
  6. ^ "How Muharram is being observed in India and around the world". The Indian Express. 12 October 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  7. ^ "ʿĀshūrāʾ: Islamic holy day". Britannica.
  8. ^ "Ashura fasting in Muharram 2022: Date, history, significance of Shia and Sunni Muslims' fast in Muharram". Hindustan Times. 2 August 2022. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  9. ^ "Muharram". 8 December 2010. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2010.
  10. ^ Gent, R.H. van. "The Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia".
  11. ^ Sahih Bukhari 003.031.222-225 Archived November 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Allama Majlisi. Bihar al-Anwar. Vol. 46. pp. 152–54.

Further reading