During certain blessed moments and places, we are given a wealth of opportunities to seek the mercy, love and blessings of Allah. These moments, particularly the ‘sacred months’, have been specially selected by Allah as the best times to worship Him and attain His proximity.
From among these sacred months, we recently witnessed the month of Dhul Ḥijjah. We are yet again fortunate to witness another blessed month; a chance for us to begin the New Islamic Year with good deeds, righteous intentions and praiseworthy resolutions.
The Four Sacred Months
Regarding the sacred months, Allah said in the Noble Qur’ān: “Indeed, the [ordained] number of the months according to Allah is twelve [lunar] months, [as was decreed] in the [Preserved Heavenly] Book of Allah on the day He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred. That is the upright religion so do not wrong yourselves in them.” (9:36)
These four months are Dhul Qaʿdah, Dhul Ḥijjah, Muḥarram and Rajab.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The year is twelve months of which four are sacred: the three consecutive months of Dhul Qaʿdah, Dhul Ḥijjah, Muḥarram, and Rajab of Muḍar (named after the tribe of Muḍar as they used to respect this month) which occurs between Jumād (al-Ākhirah) and Shaʿbān.” (Bukhārī 4406, Muslim 1679)
The specific mention of these four months does not mean that other months are not sacred, because the month of Ramaḍān is unanimously the most sacred month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sacred months because even the Pagans of Makkah observed their sacredness, following in the footsteps of their forefather Ibrāhīm (ʿalayhis-salām). Despite their frequent tribal battles and regular wrangling, they deemed it unlawful to fight in these months. The sacredness of these four months was established right from the day Allah created the universe.
‘The most virtuous of the sacred months is the ‘Month of Allah’, Muḥarram.’ (Ḥasan al-Baṣrī)
The Magnitude of Actions during the Sacred Months
Ibn ʿAbbās (radiy Allāhū ʿanhumā) said, “The phrase ‘so do not wrong yourselves in them’ refers to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred – thus sins in these months are more serious, and good deeds bring a greater reward.”
In regards to the phrase “so do not wrong yourselves in them,” Qatādah said, “Wrongdoing during the sacred months is more serious and incurs a greater burden of sin than in other months. Wrongdoing is a serious matter in any circumstances, but Allah makes whatever He wills of His commands carry more weight.”
He further said, “Allah has selected the elite from His creation: from the angels He selected Messengers; from mankind He selected Messengers; from speech He selected dhikr (His remembrance); from the spaces on earth He selected the Masājid; from the months He selected Ramaḍān and the sacred months…So, venerate that which has been venerated by Allah, for the people of understanding and wisdom venerate that which Allah had venerated.” (Ibn Kathīr)
Start the Year on a Good Note
Whether it is the beginning and end of the day or the beginning and end of the year, these beginnings and ends constantly remind us of our own beginning and end. It gives us a chance to reflect and ponder on our inevitable death, make amends and firm resolutions.
Ibn Rajab said, “(Two of the) sacred months mark an end and the beginning of the Islamic Year: therefore, whoever fasts in Dhul Ḥijjah (excluding the prohibited days) and in Muḥarram has ended and started the year in worship. It is thus hoped that the entire year will be recorded as worship, as whoever starts any action with worship and ends it in worship, will be considered to have been in a state of worship between both of these times.”
Why is Muharram Special?
Along with being from among the sacred months, Muḥarram has other characteristics which are exclusive to it. They include:
1. The only month known as the ‘Month of Allah’
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ described Muḥarram as the “Month of Allah”. (Muslim 1163)
The virtue and honour of this month can be attested to by the fact that it is the only month attributed to the name of Allah, a virtue which is exclusive to it. Ibn Rajab said, “Such an attribution is only made by Allah to the elite of His creation, such as the attribution of the Prophets to Himself as His slaves, and the attribution of the House (Kaʿbah) and the Camel to Himself.”
2. The best month to fast after Ramaḍān
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The best fasting after Ramaḍān is the sacred month of Allah (Muḥarram).” (Muslim 1163)
Ibn Rajab said, “The above ḥadīth makes it clear that the most virtuous optional fasts after Ramaḍān are the fasts of Muḥarram. And given that Allah attributed fasting, amongst all acts of worship, to Himself [saying, “It is Mine, and I Myself will give reward for it.”] it was suitable that this month, which is also ascribed to Allah, be selected for this particular form of worship.
3. It contains within it the Day of ʿĀshūrā’
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Fasting the day of ʿĀshūrā’, I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” (Muslim 1162)
For the virtues of ʿĀshūrā’, click here.
‘Allah initiated the year with a sacred month (Muḥarram) and ended it with a sacred month (Dhul Ḥijjah). There is no month after the month of Ramaḍān greater to Allah than Muḥarram.’ (Ḥasan al-Baṣrī)
What to Do in Muharram
Below are a few things which you can do to make the most of this blessed month:
- Make duʿā’, especially while fasting. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “There are three prayers that are not rejected: the prayer of a father for his child, the prayer of the fasting person and the prayer of the traveller.” (Tirmidhī 1905) To learn how to make du‘ā’ along with the du‘ās from the Qur’ān and Sunnah, download our free publication ‘I Am Near’.
- Recite and reflect over the Qur’ān. Make realistic targets which best suit your commitments, but aim to recite the Qur’ān daily. This may be a full chapter or even a few pages. Along with recitation, take time out to reflect and ponder over the message of the Qur’ān.
- Do dhikr abundantly. Make an intention to learn the Sunnah adhkār, especially the morning and evening adhkār, the adhkār after ṣalāh and of sleeping and the adhkār for general actions. Download a free copy of ‘Daily Adhkār’.
- Give in charity. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Spend in charity and do not count it, lest Allah counts it against you. Do not hoard it, lest Allah withholds from you.” (Muslim 1029)
May Allah make this year our best year and the days of this year our best days; both individually and collectively as an Ummah. Āmīn.