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Muharram: The first month in the Islamic calendar
Contrary to popular belief, Muharram is not a particular day, but  the name of a month that marks the beginning of the year according  to the Islamic calendar. Muharram is one of four months that have  been designated as holy according to the Islamic calendar, the other  three being – Dhul-Qa’adah, Dhul-Hijjah and Rajab.

Fasting in the month of Muharram
Fasting is advocated in the month of Muharram. The Prophet (Salla  Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa 'aalihi Sallam) is believed to have said: “The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of  Muharram.” Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not  obligatory, yet one who fasts in these days out of his own will is  entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. Fasting on the tenth  day of Muharram, called Ashura, is particularly important, as it supposed to lead to great rewards. A person does not have to fast  for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month  has merit. It is recommended to fast at least two days, the ninth  and tenth of Muharram.

Muharram an auspicious time
The month of Muharram is also associated with many auspicious events in Islamic history. Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) created the heavens and the earth on this blessed day. On this day He give His infinite blessings and bounties to many of His Prophets (may Allah bless them) and delivered them from the clutches of their enemies.  Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) created Hadrat Adam (alaihi asalam) in this month and pardoned him of his mistake. Hadrat Noah’s (A.S) Ark landed successfully on Mount Judi during this time centuries ago. Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) also said to have saved Hadrat Ibrahim (alaihi asalam) from fire and rescued Hadrat Musa (A.S) from the Pharaoh during the month of Muharram.

You must be wondering what else there is to remember then?  The tenth day of Muharram or Ashura is of supreme importance for all  Muslims as they remember the martyrdom anniversary of Hadrat  Imam Hussain (Radi Allahu tala anhu), the beloved grandson of  the Most Noble & Beloved Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allahu ta'ala  'alayhi wa 'aalihi wa Sallam).

The tragedy at Karbala
In the month of Muharram many centuries ago, (approximately  October 20th 680 A.D.), an event took place in Iraq at a place  known as Karbala on the bank of the river Euphrates.

 A large army, which had been mobilised by the Umayyad regime,  besieged a group of persons numbering less than a hundred and  put them under pressure to pay allegiance to the Caliph of the time  and submit to his authority. The Caliph was a man much taken with  earthly pleasures that deviated from the Islamic way of life. The  small group resisted and a severe battle took place in which they  were all killed. The leader of the small band of men who were martyred in Karbala was none other than Hadrat Imam Husain (Radi  Allahu tala anhu), the grandson of the Most Beloved Prophet  (Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa 'aalihi wa Sallam).

Hadrat Imam Husain’s (Radi Allahu tala anhu) martyrdom at Kerbala  represents a conscious confrontation with anti-Islamic forces and  a courageous resistance for a sacred cause. The tragedy was that  the one who stood up to defend Islam was cut down in so cruel a  manner. It is for this reason that the death of Hadrat Imam Husain (Radi Allahu tala anhu) is remembered annually in the Muslim world.

The Fast of ‘Ashura (The 10th of Muharram)
Hadrat Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan (Radi allahu ta'ala 'anhu) relates: I heard the Beloved Messenger of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) say: "It is the day of ‘Ashura. Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) has not made fasting obligatory for you. But I am fasting. He who likes to observe fast among you should do so, and he who likes not to observe it (does not have to) observe it." Sahih Muslim

Hadrat Abu Qatada (Radi allahu ta'ala 'anhu) relates that the Beloved Nabi (Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) said that the fast on the 10th of Muharram atones for the sins of the preceding year. Sahih Muslim

Hadrat Abu Huraira (Radi allahu ta'ala 'anhu) reports that the Beloved Nabi (Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) said that after Ramadan, the fasts of Muharram have the greatest excellence. Sahih Muslim

Alhamdulillah, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) has blessed us to see another year. The first month of this year is Muharram. In this month is an excellent day of ‘Ashura which falls on the 10th of Muharram. The Most Beloved Nabi (Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) recommended that we fast on this day, by his Sunnah. He also indicated how we should observe the fast of ‘Ashura.

Hadrat Hakam ibn Al-Arat  (Radi allahu ta'ala 'anhu) relates: I went to Hadrat Ibn Abbas  (Radi allahu ta'ala 'anhu)… I said to him: Tell me about fasting on ‘Ashura. He said, "When you seen the new moon of Muharram count the (days) and (begin to) observe fast on the 9th." I said to him: "Is it how the Beloved Messenger of Allah (Sall Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) observed the fast?" He said, "Yes." Sahih Muslim

Hadrat Ibn Abbas (Radi allahu ta'ala 'anhu) relates that when the Beloved Nabi (Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) said: "If I survive till next year, I will definitely observe fast on the 9th of Muharram (as well)." Sahih Muslim

(Note: What the Beloved Nabi (Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) meant was that he would also fast on the 9th as well as the 10th to which he was accustomed. We also should try fasting on the 9th and the 10th of Muharram.)

The Historical Significance of ‘Ashura
Hadrat Ibn Abbas (Radi Allahu ta'ala 'anhu) reports that the Beloved Nabi (Salla Allahu ta'ala alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) arrived in Madinah and found the Jews observing fast on the day of ‘Ashura… They said: "It is the day of great (significance) when Allah delivered Hadrat Musa ('Alaihis-Salaam) and his people and drowned Pharoah and his people, and Sayyadina Musa ('Alaihis-Salaam) observed fast out of gratitude. And we also observe it." The Beloved Messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu ta'ala alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) responded: "We have more right, and we have closer connection with Sayyadina Musa ('Alaihis-Salaam) than you have"; so Allah’s Beloved Messenger (Salla Allahu ta'ala alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) observed fast (on the day of ‘Ashura) and gave us orders to observe it. Sahih Bukhari and Muslim

Ashura is a day of great historical significance. On this day: Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) accepted the repentance of Sayyadina Adam ('Alaihis-Salaam) after his exile from Paradise; Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) saved Sayyadina Nuh ('Alaihis-Salaam) and his companions in the ark; Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) extinguished the fire in which Sayyadina Ibrahim ('Alaihis-Salaam) was thrown by Nimrod; And Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) spoke directly to Sayyadina Musa ('Alaihis-Salaam) and gave him the Commandments. On this same 10th of Muharram, Sayyadina Ayyub ('Alaihis-Salaam) was restored to health (from leprosy); Sayyadina Yusuf ('Alaihis-Salaam) was reunited with his father Ya’qub ('Alaihis-Salaam); Sayyadina Yunus ('Alaihis-Salaam) was taken out from the belly of the fish; and the sea was divided as the nation of israel was delivered from captivity and Pharoah’s army was destroyed. ‘Ashura is also the day the kingdom of Sulaiman ('Alaihis-Salaam) was restored; Sayyadina Isa ('Alaihis-Salaam) was raised to Jannah; and Sayyadina al-Husayn  (Radi allahu ta'ala 'anhu) the Beloved Nabi’s, Salla Allahu ta'ala alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam grandson achieved the honour of Martyrdom.

Worship Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) as much as you can on ‘Ashura. Whoever fasts on this day is like one who fasts all his life. Whoever clothes a naked person Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) will release him from a painful punishment. He who visits a sick person, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) will grant him a reward that will not be decreased. Whoever places his hand on an orphan’s head, or feeds a hungry person or gives water to a thirsty man, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) will feed him a feast from Paradise and will quench his thirst with Salsabil (a wine that does not intoxicate). And who ever takes a Ghusl on this day will enjoy excellent health and freedom from sickness and indolence. Whoever provides generously for his family on this day, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) will be generous to him throughout this year. And whoever applies Kuhl to his eyes will never suffer from eye-sore again, Insha’Allah al-Aziz

Important Anniversaries of Muharram
Islamic New Year
Wissal Shaykh Abul Hassan Ali Bukhari, Baghdad Shareef
Birth ; Hadrat Umar Farooq,
Birth ; Hadrat Shahabuddin Suharwardi
Urs ;  Pir Jamal Shah Bin Murtaza 
Wissal Hadrat Khwaja Ma'roof Kirki, Baghdad Shareef
Wissal Hadrat Khwaja Hassan Basri
Urs ;  Hadrat Baba Fariduddin Ganj Shakar
Chatti Shareef, Khawaja Gharib-e-Nawaz, Ajmer Shareef
Wissal ; Hadrat Imam Zayn al-Abideen Medina Munawwara
Urs ;  Hadrat Mawlana Hashmat Ali Khan, Pilibit Shareef 
Shab-e-Ashura Amal
Yaum-e-Ashura Amal
Allah Ta'ala Created the Heavens and Earth
On this Very Day would be the Day of Qiyyamah (Judgement)
Allah (S.W.T) gave his infinite blessings and bounties to many of his Prophets and delivered them from the clutches of the enemies
Ship of Hadrat Noah came to rest on Mount Al-Judi
Hadrat Ayyub (Alayhi Asallam) was delivered from distress
Hadrat Yunus (Alayhi Asallam) was cast onto the shore after being swallowed by a fish for 40 days
Hadrat Moosa (Alayhi Asallam) got victory over the Pharoah
The Birth of  Hadrat Ibrahim (Alayhi Asallam)
Martyrdom of Hadrat Imam Hussain at Karbala
Hadrat Sayyadi Shah Barkatullah Ishki, Mahrehah Shareef
Urs ;  Pir Rahmat Shah Saheb, Gojarkhan, Rawalpindi
Ghiyarwee Sharif ; Hadrat Shaykh Abd'al-Qadir al-Jilani
Urs ;  Mufti-e-Azam Had Mustafa Raza Khan Bareilly Sh
Wissal Hadrat Sayyad Ahmad al-Jilani, Baghdad Shareef
Wissal ;  Hadrat Bilal (R.A)
Wissal ; Hadrat Shah Waliyullah Dhelvi
Wissal ; Mawlana Muhammad Nazir al-Akram Sahib Naeemi
Urs ;  Hadrat Zinda Pir,Ghamkhol Shareef
Birth ; Hadrat Imam Hassan (R.A)
Urs ; Hadrat Tajul Awliya, Baba Tajuddin, Nagpur Shareef
Urs; Hadrat Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir,Kicchocha Shareef
Ridwanallahi ta'ala m'ajmaim