Here’s the Full Story of Muharram
Muḥarram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the four sacred months of the year during which warfare is forbidden. It is considered to be the second holiest month, after Ramaḍān. Since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, Muharram moves from year to year when compared with the Gregorian calendar and it is in fact 10-12 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar.On the first day of Muharram, Islamic New Year is celebrated, which is considered to be a holy celebration. The sighting of the new moon indicates the start of the Islamic New Year. The story behind the mourning of Muharram is a very tragic tale. On the 10th day of Muharram, also called Ashura, in the 61st year of the Islamic calendar, the fierce Battle of Karbala took place. The battle was fought between a small group of supporters and relatives of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussain, and a much larger military of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph.
Imam Hussain’s humble army comprised of only his friends and family, including women and young children. But they were surrounded by a heavily-armed enemy army of thousands. They captured Hussain and his group and deprived them of water and starved them of food in the desert heat for three successive days. Then the cruel soldiers brutally killed Hussain and his 6-year-old son and took the women away with them as captives. Muslims honor the sacrifice of the innocent lives by observing a mourning period in the month of Muharram. Shia Muslims mourn the death of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī and his family, honoring the martyrs by prayer and abstinence from joyous events. Shia Muslims do not fast on the 10th of Muharram, but some will not eat or drink untilafternoon to show their sympathy with Husayn. In addition there is an important ziyarat book, the Ziyarat Ashura about Husayn ibn Ali. In the Shia sect, it is popular to read this ziyarat on this date. The mourning period starts on the first day and is done for 10 days, muslims wear black clothes and fast during this time and the fast is broken on the 10th day, which is also called Day of Ashura. Some people pay respect to Imam Hussein by beating themselves with chains in public, cutting themselves with knives and sharp objects and holding mournful public processions.
This is done to express their grief for the death of their leader Hussain, who is also considered to be the representative of Allah. Ashura also marks the day that Moses and the Israelites were saved from Pharaoh by God creating a path in the Sea.