Q&A: Tenth of Muharram



Many people attribute the significance of the tenth of Muharram to the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (R.A.). Hence people mourn his death on this day. Is this correct?


The month of Muharram is a very significant month indeed. There are several Ahadith that explain the virtues of this month. It is reported in a Hadith of Sahih Muslim that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The bests of fasts besides the month of Ramadhaan is the fasting of Allah’s month of Muharram and the best of salaahs besides the fardh (obligatory salaah) is the tahajjud salaah (performed after midnight) (Sahih Muslim Vol. 1 pg. 368).



In another Hadith Ibn Abbaas (R.A.) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “He who fasts on the day of Arafaat, his fast will be a compensation for the sins of two years and the one that keeps a fast in the month of Muharram will receive the reward of thirty fasts for each fast (in the sacred month) (At Targheeb Wat Tarheeb Vol.2 pg.114).

From the entire month, the tenth of Muharram has extra significance. It is reported in Sahih Muslim that fasting on the tenth of Muharram (known as the day of Aashoora) is a compensation for all the (minor) sins of the past year (Muslim Vol.1 pg.368).

These virtues were explained by Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). The significance of the tenth of Muharram was known and observed from the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Thus to attribute the significance of the day of Aashoora to the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (R.A.) is baseless since his martyrdom only occurred more than fifty years after the demise of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).



The martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (R.A.) was indeed a most tragic and heart rendering incident. Every Muslim’s heart pains when hearing of this incident. However, the pages of Islamic history are filled with the blood of martyrs. Sayyidina Umar (R.A.) was martyred on the first of Muharram. Sayyidina Uthmaan (R.A.) and Sayyidina Ali (R.A.) were also martyrs. Hazrath Hamza (R.A.) was given the title of Sayyidush Shuhadaa (leader of the martyrs) by Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) himself. At Uhad seventy Sahaaba (R.A.) were martyred. Likewise numerous other Sahaaba (R.A.) and great servants of Islam gave their lives for the sake of Islam. If we begin to mourn the martyrdom of these illustrious people, which day will not be a day of mourning? Indeed, we must regularly read and speak about the selfless sacrifice of these gallant soldiers of Islam and imbibe the same spirit of sacrifice in our lives.



Mourning the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (R.A.) is only the custom of the Shia. Among the Shia also this custom only commenced in the year 946 (History of Sacrens, pg.303 London 1951). Even the immediate descendants of Sayyidina Husain (R.A.), and their progeny for many centuries thereafter, never mourned his martyrdom every Muharram.

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