‘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, so do not wrong yourselves during them…’ (Qur’an, 9:36)
Shahru-Allah al-Muharram is the first month of the Hijri calendar and one of the four sacred months of the Islamic year (the other three being Rajab, Dhul Qa’dah and Dhul Hijjah).
The month of Muhurram is so important to Allah (swt) that He gave His own name to it, something He has not done for any other month.
Many of us understand the importance of the month of Ramadan but often neglect otherholy months like Muhurram. The fact is that these holy months offer us a wealth of opportunities to seek the mercy and favour of Allah (swt), the likes of which cannot be found at any other time of the year.
These months have been specifically selected by Allah (swt) Himself as the best times to draw closer to Him, just as the Prophet (saw) was selected to guide the Ummah towards the light of Islam. Here are some of the ways you can make the most of al-Muharram, the Sacred Month of Allah.
‘On the authority of Abu Hurairah (ra) who said, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “The best fasting after Ramadan is the Sacred Month of Allah (al-Muharram) and the best prayer after the obligatory ones is the night prayer (Tahajjud)”’. (Muslim)
We know that the Prophet (saw) marked the most important days of the Islamic calendar with fasting, but the month of al-Muharram is of such sanctity that even the Quraysh in the days of Jahiliyah (ignorance) used to fast on certain days. One such day is the Day of ’Ashura, which celebrates Allah (swt) freeing Prophet Musa (as) and his people from the bonds of Pharaoh:
’Ibn ’Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: “The Prophet (saw) came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ’Ashura. He said, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah (swt) saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Musa fasted on this day.’ He said, ‘We have more right to Musa than you,‘” so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day’. (Bukhari)
Fasting on the Day of Ashura, will, ‘expiates the minor sins of the past year’ (Muslim).
The Prophet (saw) advised his Ummah to also fast on the 9th or 11th of Muharram to differentiate his Ummah from the People of the Book and as we know, following his Sunnah contains immense blessing.
It is also good to keep as many nafl fasts as you can during this month, although fasting the whole month is reserved for Ramadan only.
Do good deeds
During Muhurram, both sins and good deeds committed carry a heavier weight than at any other time of year. In his commentary on Surah at-Tawbah, verse 36, Ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him), explains:
‘Allah (swt) has chosen elites from His creation: from among the angels He chose Messengers, from among mankind He chose Messengers, from among speech He chose remembrance of Him (dhikr), from among spaces on earth He chose the mosques, from among the months He chose Ramadan and the sacred months… So, venerate that which has been chosen by Allah, for people of understanding and wisdom respect that which has been chosen by Him’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer)
Simply make your intention and commit to an act of goodness, no matter how big or small,that you can maintain during al-Muharram and beyond, allowing you to reap the rewards all-year round.
Give Zakat and Sadaqah
The increased reward available for honoring special times of the year favored by Allah (swt) is one of the reasons why many Muslims around the world choose to give their Zakat and Sadaqa in al-Muharram.
The Prophet (saw) was known for his incredible generosity and there is no better way to seek the mercy of Allah (swt) than by emulating His most favored creation, ‘You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah, a beautiful pattern [of conduct] for anyone whose hope is God and the Final Day’ (Qur’an, 33:21).
Remember, zakat does not need to be a grand gesture:
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “The acts most beloved to Allah, Exalted be He, are those which are done regularly, even if they are small”. (Muslim)
At Muslim Hands, several of our projects are Zakat and Sadaqah eligible. Most of them give you the option to choose to make either a one-off donation or a smaller regular payment.