ON THE BLESSED MONTH OF AL-MUHARRAM & ITS MERITS

By Shaykh Muhammad Shareef bin Farid

All praises are due to Allah ta`ala who has made the number of the months of the year twelve and has made some of these months sacred. I ask Allah ta`ala to make this year for all of you one of fearful awareness, increase in nearness to Allah, love for the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, increase in permissible wealth and well-being for you, your wives, husbands, children, men and women, amirs, wazeers and kutaab.

Allah ta`ala says:

﴿إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِندَ اللّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْراً فِي كِتَابِ اللّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَات وَالأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ فَلاَ تَظْلِمُواْ فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ﴾

“Verily the numbers of the months with Allah are twelve months in the Book of Allah from the Day He created the heavens and the earth. Four among them are sacred. This is the upright religion, therefore do not act unjustly towards yourselves in them.”

Imam at-Tabari said in his tafseer that the Book referred to in the above verse is the Guarded Tablet (lawh mahfudh) in which is written everything that will be from the decree of Allah. He also said:

“These months are twelve in which four of them are sacred. In the times of jaahiliyya the people would exalt these months and hold them sacred and forbade fighting and killing during them; even to the point where if a man encountered a man during these four months who had killed his father he would not take revenge for it. These months are Rajab, and the three consecutive months: Dhu’l-Qi`ida, Dhu’l-Hijja and Muharram.”

It has been related on the authority of Sadaqa ibn Yasar, on Ibn Umar who said: Once the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace gave a khutba during the Farewell Pilgrimage at Mina during the middle of the day of sacrifice and said:

((يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ، إِنَّ الزَّمَانَ قَدْ إِسْتَدَارُ كَهَيْئَتِهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ اللهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ، وَإِنَّ عَدَّةَ الشُّهُوْرِ عِنْدَ اللهِ اِثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا، مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حَرَمٌ، أَوَّلُهُنَّ رَجَبٌ مُضِرٌ بَيْنَ جُمَادَيْ وَشَعْبَانِ وَذُوْ الْقَعِدَةِ وَذُوْ الْحِجَّةِ وَالْمُحَرَّمُ))

“O mankind verily time has revolved in its fashion from the time that Allah created the heavens and the earth. And the numbers of the months with Allah are twelve months. From them four are sacred. The first of them is Rajab which is placed between Jamadi and Sha`baan. The rest are Dhu’l-Qi`ida, Dhu’l-Hijja and Muharram.”

Imam at-Tabari said that the meaning of Allah ta`ala’s words:

“therefore do not act unjustly towards yourselves in them”; that the Muslim should not disobey Allah ta`ala during these months, nor should he make permissible in them what Allah ta`ala has forbidden. For, if you do, you will have earned for your souls what you would have not earned before from the anger and wrath of Allah ta`ala.”

He has said in another place: “Allah ta`ala has made the sins committed during this month more severe and has made righteous deeds during this time with greater rewards.”

Abu Ja`far said: “The foremost meaning in that is do not be unjust during the sacred months against your own souls by making permissible what Allah ta`ala has made forbidden. For verily Allah exalts these months and exalts the things which are sacred during them.”

Imam at-Tabari said: “Perhaps someone could conclude that the affair as it is described in the above verse is that it is permissible therefore to be unjust towards one’s own soul in other than the sacred months. However it is not like that. Rather being unjust towards our own souls is forbidden at all times and moments. However Allah ta`ala exalted the sanctity of these months and honored them above the rest of the months of the year. Therefore sins committed during these times have been singled out with more severity just as He has singled these months out with nobility.”

It has been related by Abu Khaytama in his Tarikh on the authority of Ibn Sireen that a man from among the Muslims who came from the lands of Yemen once said to Umar ibn l-Khattab:

“I observed that in Yemen there is a thing they call histiography (taarikh) where they write down the year and the month for recording.” Then Umar said:

إِنَّ هَذَا لَحَسَنٌ فَأَرْخُواْ
“Verily this is a good practice, therefore record our histiography.”

When Umar al-Faruuq ibn al-Khattab had gathered the Companions together in order to decide from what point in time shall the Islamic histiography begins, he took council with all of them. Some of the people said: “Lets begin from the birth date of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.”

Other people said: “Lets begin when he was first dispatched as a prophet.”

Yet others said: “Lets began from the time he fled making hijra from Mecca.”

While yet another speaker said: “Lets begin with his demise from the time he died.”

One of the notable Companions decided: “Lets begin from the time he fled making the hijra from Mecca. However by which manner will we initiate the beginning of the year?”

Some said: “Let’s begin with the month of Rajab because the people during the time of jaahiliyya used to exalt that month.”

Others said: “Let’s begin the year with the month of Ramadan.”

Others said: “Let’s begin it with Dhu’l-Hijja.”

Others said: “It should be the month that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace left Mecca.”

Others said: “It should be the month of that he arrived in Medina.”

Uthman Dhu’n-Nuurayn ibn `Afan said:

أَرْخُواْ مِنَ الْمُحَرَّمِ أَوَّلِ السِّنَّةِ وَهُوَ شَهْرٌ حَرَامٌ
“Determine our histiography and time from the month of Muharram, which should be considered the first of the year and it is one of the sacred months.”

Thus the month of Muharram is the first if the months in enumerating the calendar. It is the time when the people began to depart from the pilgrimage, thus it became the first calendar month of the year. This decision occurred in the year seventeen hijria in the month of Rabi` al-Awwal.”

The sacred month of Muharram is the first of the year and the leader of the months of the year. The Muslim individual and the jama`at should give it is rights by increasing in extra acts of worship and avoiding things that are reprehensible and bad habits.

It has been related on the authority of  ad-Daylami in his Musnad’l-Firdaus on the authority of Ali ibn Abi Talib that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace once said:

((سَيِّدُ النَّاسِ آدَمُ، وَسَيِّدُ الْعَرَبِ مُحَمَّدٌ، وَسيِّدُ الرُّوْمِ صُهَيْبٌ، وَسَيِّدُ الْفَرْسِ سَلْمَانُ، وَسَيِّدُ الْحَبَشَةِ بِلَالٌ، وَسَيِّدُ الْجِبَالِ طُوْرِ سِيْنَاءِ وَسَيِّدُ الشَّجَرِ السِّدْرُ، وَسَيِّدُ الْأَشْهَرِ الْمُحَرَّمُ، وَسَيِّدُ الْأَيَّامِ الْجُمْعَةُ، وَسَيِّدُ الْكَلَامِ الْقُرْآنُ، وَسَيِّدُ الْقُرْآنِ الْبَقَرَةُ، وَسَيِّدُ الْبَقَرَةِ آيَّةُ الْكُرْسِيِّ، أَمَّا إِنَّ فِيْهَا خَمْسُ كَلِمَاتٍ فِي كُلِّ كَلِمَةٍ خَمْسُوْنَ بَرَكَةٌ)).

“The master of the mankind is Adam; the master of the Arabs is Muhammad; the master of the Romans is Suhayb; the master of the Persian is Salma; the master of the Abyssinians is Bilal; the master of the mountains is Mount Sinai; the master of the trees is lote tree; the master of the months is al-Muharram; the master of the days in Jumu`a; the master of speech is the Qur’an; the master of the Qur’an is al-Baqara; the master of al-Baqara is Ayat al-Kursi; in which are five words each which contain fifty Divine blessings (barakats).”

It has been narrated by Ibn an-Najaar on the authority of Ahbaan, the son of the sister of Abu Dharr who said: I once asked Abu Dharr: ‘Which liberating of a slave is purest? Which night is the most superior? Which month is the most superior?’ He said: ‘I asked the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace the same question you asked me and I will inform you with what he informed me He said:

((أَزْكَى الرِّقَابِ أَعْلَاهَا ثَمَنًا، وَأَفْضَلُ اللَّيْلِ جَوْفُ اللَّيْلِ، وَأَفْضَلُ الشُّهُوْرِ الْمُحَرَّمُ))

“The purest liberating of a slave is the one most costly. The most superior night is the middle of the night. The most superior of the months is al-Muharram.”

Among the notable acts to perform during the sacred month of Muharram is fasting. It has been narrated by the author of the al-Firdaus on the authority of Ibn Abass, may Allah be pleased with both of them, that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said:

((مَن صَامَ أَخِرَ يَوْمٍ مِن ذِي الْحِجَّةِ وَأَوَّلَ يَوْمٍ مِن الْمُحَرَّمِ فَقَدْ خَتَمَ السِّنَّةَ الْمَاضِيَةَ بِصَوْمٍ وَفَتَحَ السِّنَّةَ الْمُقَبِلَةَ بِصَوْمٍ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لَهُ كَفَارَةً خَمْسِينَ سِنَّةً))

“Whoever fast during the last day of Dhu’l-Hijjah and the first day of al-Muharram has sealed the outgoing year with fasting and opened the coming year with fasting. Allah will make for him atonement for fifty years.”

It has been related by ad-Darimi, at-Tirmidhi, Abdallah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Ya`ala and al-Bayhaqi on the authority Ali ibn Abi Talib who said: ‘A man once asked the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, while I was sitting with him: ‘O Messenger of Allah, which month do you command me to fast other than the month of Ramadan? And He said:

((إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَائِمًا بَعْدَ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانٍ فَصُمْ الْمُحَرَّمَ، فَإِنَّهُ شَهْرُ اللهِ وَفِيْهِ يَوْمُ تَابَ اللهُ فِيْهِ عَلَى قَوْمٍ وَيَتُوبُ فِيْهِ عَلَى آخِرِيْنَ))

“If you should fast after the month of Ramadan, then fast during the month of al-Muharram. For it is the month of Allah, in which Allah relents and accepts the repentance of people and in which others repent to Him.”

This prophetic tradition and those like them were related before the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace instituted the merits and fasting of the months of Rajab and Sha`baan.

It was related by at-Tabarani on the authority of Ibn Abass who said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said:

((مَنْ صَامَ يَوْمًا مِنَ الْمُحَرَّمِ فَلَهُ بِكُلِّ يَوْمٍ ثَلَاثُوْنَ حَسَنَةٌ))

“Whoever fast days from al-Muharram will have thirty good deeds recorded for each day he fasts”
It has been related by Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said:

((أَفْضَلُ الصَّلَاةِ بَعْدَ الصَّلَاةِ الْمَكْتُوْبَةِ الصَّلَاةُ فِي جَوْفِ اللَّيْلِ، وَأَفْضَلُ الصِّيَامِ بَعْدَ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانٍ صِيَّامُ شَهْرِ اللهِ الْمُحَرَّمِ))

“The best prayer after the prescribed prayers is the prayer done in the middle of the night. The best fasting after the month of Ramadhan is the fasting done in the sacred month of Muharram.”

It has been related by at-Tirmidhi on the authority of Ali ibn Abi Talib who said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said:

((إِنْ كُنْتُ صَائِمًا بَعْدَ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانٍ فَصُمْ الْمُحَرَّمِ فَإِنَّهُ شَهْرُ اللهِ تَعَالَى فِيْهِ يَوْمٌ تَابَ فِيْهِ عَلَى قَوْمٍ وَيَتُوْبُ فِيْهِ عَلَى آخِرِيْنَ))

“If you are to fast after the month of Ramadhan, then fast during the month of al-Muharram, for it is the month of Allah ta`ala, in which He relents and accepts the repentance of some people and in which others repent to Him.”

It has been related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and an-Nisaai’ on the authority of Hafsa who said:

“The Messenger of Allah used to fast on the 9th of Dhu’l-Hijja, the day of `Ashura, three days from each month, the first Monday of every month, and the Monday and Thursday of the last week of every month.”

For the sincere spiritual disciple (mureed saadiq) and the one actually traveling the spiritual path (saalik ‘s-suluuk), there is no act through which they can swiftly reach their spiritual Goal, than in adhering to the superogatory prayers, fasting, supplication, and meritorious deeds of the Messenger of Allah, and his early community (salaf) performed during the sacred month of al-Muharram.

Safeguarding the rites of the sacred month of al-Muharram is also among the meritorious deeds of the awliyya in which they gather spiritual good (jalaba ‘l-khayraat), gain spiritual openings (hasala ‘l-futuuhaat) and experience spiritual overflowing (yadhuuq ‘l-fayyidaat) of the Self Manifestation (tijaali) of the Divine Acts, Names and Attributes of Allah (af`aal wa asmaa’i wa sifaat).

It is a time in which `aarifuun (knowers of Allah) realize complete spiritual obliteration (al-mahqi), annihilation (al-fana’) and cutting off (al-inqittaa`) with the Self Manifestation of the Divine Essence.

When they experience spiritual obliteration (al-mahqi), then this is the source of Real Establishment (`ayn ithbaat haqeeqi). When they experience spiritual annihilation (al-fanaa’), then this is the source of Eternal Continuity (`ayn baqa’ daymuumi). When they experience spiritual cutting off (al-inqittaa`), then this is the source of Sacred Arrival (`ayn ittissaal qudsiyyi).

We ask Allah ta`ala to make us among these elevated few or make us their servants, retainers and SAMURAI in the Path to HIM.

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