Muḥarram (Arabic: ٱلْمُحَرَّم) is the first month of the Islamic calendar, and one of the four sacred months of the year when warfare is banned. The tenth of Muharram is known as Ashura, an important day of commemoration in Islam. For Sunni Muslims, the day marks the parting of the Red Sea by Moses and the salvation of the Israelites, celebrated through supererogatory fasting and other acceptable expressions of joy. By contrast, Ashura is a day of mourning for Shia Muslims, who annually commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the third Shia imam. Husayn was killed, alongside most of his relatives and his small retinue, in the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE against the army of the Umayyad caliph Yazid ibn Mu'awiya (r. 680–683). The Shia rituals span the first ten days of Muharram, culminating on Ashura with mourning processions in Shia cities. Also in Muharram, the Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem was initially set as the direction of prayer for early Muslims.

Muharram
Ashura procession in Iran, 2016
Native nameٱلْمُحَرَّم (Arabic)
CalendarIslamic calendar
Month number1
Number of days29–30 (depends on actual observation of the moon's crescent)
Significant daysAshura

Origins edit

Muharram (lit.'sacred') is the first month of the Islamic calendar, with (at most) thirty days. Warfare in Muharram is forbidden and it has been so since before the advent of Islam.[1] The word Muharram is short for "Muharram Safar" (lit.'sacred Safar'), which distinguishes in the ancient Arab calendar between Safar I, which was sacred, and Safar II, which was not. Over time, however, the adjective Muharram itself became the name of the first month of the year.[1]

Ashura edit

Tenth of Muharram is known as Ashura, an important day of commemoration in Islam. For Sunni Muslims, Ashura marks the parting of the Red Sea by Moses and the salvation of the Israelites.[2][3] Also on this day, Noah disembarked from the Ark,[3] God forgave Adam, and Joseph was released from prison, among various auspicious events on Ashura in Sunni tradition.[4] Ashura is celebrated in Sunni Islam through supererogatory fasting, and also other pious acts and acceptable expressions of joy.[4][4] In some Sunni communities, the annual Ashura festivities include carnivals, bonfires, and special dishes,[5][6] even though some Sunni scholars have criticized such practices.[4][7]

By contrast, for Shia Muslims, Ashura is a day of mourning as they commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the third Shia imam.[8][9] Husayn refused on moral grounds to pledge his allegiance to the Umayyad caliph Yazid ibn Mu'awiya (r. 680–683) and was subsequently killed, alongside most of his male relatives and his small retinue, by the Umayyad army in the Battle of Karbala on Ashura 61 AH (680 CE).[10][11] Among the Shia minority, mourning for Husayn is viewed as an act of protest against oppression, and as such a struggle for God (jihad).[12][13] Mourners also hope to secure the intercession of Husayn in the afterlife.[14][15] Ashura is observed annually through mourning gatherings, processions, and dramatic reenactments.[16][17]

 
Muharram mourning gathering in Tanzania
 
Muharram mourning procession in Iran

Timing edit

 
Conversion of Hijri years 1343 to 1500 to the Gregorian calendar, with first days of al-Muharram (brown), Ramadan (grey) and Shawwal (black) bolded, and Eid al-Adha dotted – in the SVG file, hover over a spot to show its dates and a line to show the month

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the lunar year (of twelve lunar months) is eleven or twelve days shorter than the solar year,[18] (which gives a mean synodic month as 29.53059 days or 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes and 3 seconds)"}} Muharram days are different in consecutive solar years.[19] The estimated start and end dates for Muharram are as follows, based on the Umm al-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia.[citation needed]

Muharram dates between 2021 and 2025
Islamic calendar First day (CE) Last day (CE)
1443 09 August 2021 07 September 2021
1444 30 July 2022 27 August 2022
1445 19 July 2023 16 August 2023
1446 07 July 2024 04 August 2024
1447 026 June 2025 025 July 2025

Battle of Karbala edit

  • 2 Muharram: Arrival of Husayn ibn Ali in Karbala, Iraq, in 680. On their way to the nearby Kufa, Husayn and his small caravan were intercepted by the Umayyad army and eventually forced to camp in the desert lands of Karbala, away from water and fortifications.[10]
  • 7 Muharram: The Umayyad army cut off Husayn's access to the drinking water of the nearby Euphrates river.[20] Under the siege, Husayn's camp suffered from thirst and hunger in the coming days.[21][22][23]
  • 9 Muharram (Tasu'a): Negotiations between Husayn and the Umayyads failed on this day in 680. The Umayyad commander Umar ibn Sa'd (d. 686) was set to attack after the afternoon prayer on Tasu'a but was persuaded to delay the confrontation until the following day.[24][10] Husayn and his men spent the night in prayer.[25][26]
  • 10 Muharram (Ashura): The Battle of Karbala was fought on this day in 680. Husayn and most of his male relatives and his small retinue were slaughtered by the Umayyad army by the end of the day. After the battle, the women and children in Husayn's camp were taken prisoner and marched to the Umayyad capital Damascus in Syria.[27]

Other Islamic events edit

See also edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ a b c d Plessner (2012).
  2. ^ Newman.
  3. ^ a b Katz (2007), p. 149.
  4. ^ a b c d Reid (2011).
  5. ^ Wensinck & Marçais (2012).
  6. ^ Katz (2007), p. 113.
  7. ^ Katz (2007), pp. 115–116.
  8. ^ Aghaie (2013).
  9. ^ Beverley (2011), p. 48.
  10. ^ a b c Madelung (2004).
  11. ^ Momen (1985), pp. 28–31.
  12. ^ Ayoub (1978), pp. 142–143.
  13. ^ Nakash (1993), p. 165.
  14. ^ Blank (2001), p. 84.
  15. ^ Munson (1988), p. 24.
  16. ^ Calmard (1987).
  17. ^ Calmard (2004).
  18. ^ Seidelmann (1992), p. 577: "For convenience, it is common to speak of a lunar year of twelve synodic months, or 354.36707 days.
  19. ^ Gent (n.d.).
  20. ^ Qutbuddin (2019), p. 106.
  21. ^ Veccia Vaglieri (2012).
  22. ^ Pinault (2000), p. 71.
  23. ^ Hamdar (2009), pp. 85–86.
  24. ^ Bahramian & Bulookbashi (2015).
  25. ^ Munson (1988), pp. 23.
  26. ^ Sindawi (2002), p. 91.
  27. ^ Momen (1985), pp. 30–31.
  28. ^ Osman (2014), p. 133.
  29. ^ Momen (1985), p. 240.
  30. ^ Radwan (2020).
  31. ^ BBC (2019).
  32. ^ Nizami (1955), p. 1.
  33. ^ Riaz (2013).
  34. ^ Islam (2016).
  35. ^ Bakhsh (2008).
  36. ^ Wensinck & Jomier (2012).

References edit

  • Aghaie, K.S. (2013). "'Āshūrā' (Shī'ism)". In Fleet, K.; Krämer, G.; Matringe, D.; Nawas, J.; Stewart, D.J. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam (Third ed.). doi:10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_23855. ISBN 9789004252684.
  • Ayoub, M.M. (1978). Redemptive Suffering in Islam: A Study of the Devotional Aspects of Ashura in Twelver Shi'ism. De Gruyter. ISBN 9789027979438.

External links edit