A Sacred Month

There are 12 months in the Islamic calendar – but we tend to know more about some months than we do about others. Everybody knows that we fast in Ramadan, and many know about the sacrifice of Dhul Hijjah. Muharram, however, seems to be a bit less well-known. This sacred month is referred to in Hadith as the month of Allah (SWT), no other month is given such an honour.

A man came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said: ‘Which fasting is better after the month of Ramadan?’ He said: ‘The month of Allah which is called Muharram.’
(Ibn Majah)

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What is Muharram?

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, and thus marks the start of the Islamic New Year. Muharram also holds a greater significance – we know from the holy Qur’an that Muharram is one of the four sacred months.

“Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous [who fear Him].” (Qur’an, 9:36)

During this blessed month, the rewards for our good deeds are multiplied, and any wrongdoing is more serious.

What are the four sacred months?

In a hadith recorded by Imam Al-Bukhari, the four months were mentioned by name. The Prophet (PBUH) said:

“The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred: three are in succession, namely, Dhul-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and (the fourth one) Rajab (of the tribe of) Mudar, which is between Jumada (Thani) and Shaban.” (Bukhari)


When is Muharram?

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar (also known as the Lunar or Hijri calendar). This 2021 Islamic calendar is based on 12 lunar months, the sighting of a new moon determines the start of a new month.

In 2021, Muharram begins on 9th August.


Virtues of Muharram

The sacred months offer us the opportunity to seek the mercy and favour of Allah SWT. Thus, there is an opportunity to gain more reward every day; but also the danger of gaining more sins with our bad deeds.

There are simple things we can do to take advantage of the benefits of the sacred month of Muharram:

Fast: Keep a fast on the 9th and 10th Muharram (the day of Ashura), or on the 10th and 11th Muharram. Fasting expiates sins.

Read the Qur’an: If you are unable to fast, reading the Qur’an or doing Dhikr can help you to feel the blessings of Muharram. Remember, any gathering for the sake of Allah SWT will also be filled with barakah and the Angels will join you.

Give regular Sadaqah: Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year, so it’s the perfect time to make resolutions and establish good habits like giving regular charity, so that you can gain blessings all-year round.