Muharram is the first month in Islamic calendar which is considered as the second most important month after Ramadan. The festival of Muharram is not celebrated in a joyous environment rather it’s a solemn one being observed in the memory of the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, the grandson of Hazrat Mohammad (SWT).
The tenth day of Muharram aka Ashura is particularly significant since this is the day on which his death is memorized with due respect in the form of long processions, fasting or other rituals especially among the Shia Muslims of India.
Know the background of Muharram
Muharram is celebrated among both the Shia & Sunni communities in India & the whole world. Shia Muslims have always been more sensitive about Muharram & they observe different rituals throughout the entire month of Muharram to mourn for the departed soul of Imam Hussain. The 10th of this month marks the date when a tragic bloodshed was organized at Karbala’s steppe by the forces of Yazid & Imam Hussain died while fighting the battle.
There is a controversy among Muslims regarding the exact date of his death & they believe the date falls in between 9 to 11th day of Muharram. Some muslims also believe that 10th Muharram is the day on which Adam & Eve were created by Almighty. An Egyptian pharaoh is believed to get drowned in the Red Sea along with his soldiers on this day.
Why is Muharram Celebrated?
Sunnis consider 10th Muharram as a victory day for the Moses who fought successfully against Egyptian Pharaoh who later drowned in the Red Sea. However, they don’t involve themselves in any grand celebration rather they do it on a quite note through silent offerings.
On the other hand, it’s a day of mourning for the Shia community. This is the day on which Hazrat Imam Hussain embraced his tragic death while fighting the battle of Karbala in 680 AD. He fought till his last breath to protect Shias from the wrongful rule of Yazid, the Umayyad Caliph. His death was followed by the imprisonment of his family members in Damascus which adds more tragic to this event. That’s why Shia muslims repent on this day remembering the old golden days they had once.
The day of Muharram
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The dates of Muharram change every year since they follow lunar calendar depending on the movement of the moon. However, whatever the date it marks on the English calendar, the 10th day of every Muharram is being declared as a gazetted holiday in India. Government offices, post offices, bank, school, college are remained closed on this day. Some of the Islamic organization or international business companies may run their activities but they reduce the opening hours on Ashura.
Processions, large discussion meetings, or marches may cause a severe traffic jam on this particular day. So, if you’re going out for anything important, make sure you have enough time in hand to spare sitting idle in the jam. You may also contact the local transport authority to know if they’ve made any changes in their timetables.
Fasting on Muharram
Some of the conservative Shias avoid drinking water during the sunlight hours of a day & do it through the first 10 days of Muharram. They show solidarity with those 72 helpless women, children, & elderly people who were not allowed to drink water or eat food between the 7th to 10th day of Muharram during the Battle of Karbala.
Sunnis don’t fast like those conservative Shias rather they fast on the days in between 9th to 11th day of Muharram, in some cases on each of these days. Some observe fasting only on a single day which is the Ashura or 10th Muharram. It’s entirely dependent on individual’s personal consideration since they’re not bound to fast on any specific day.
Arrangement for rituals, prayers, or discussion meetings are some essential activities to celebrate Muharram all over India & it’s mostly observed in those states having large muslim communities. Their spontaneous participation is a great sign of the integrity of muslim brotherhood showcasing a tribute to the respected Hazrat Imam Hussain.
Photo by Gabby Canonizado 02 (New account)