Hijri New Year 1444 and the virtues of Muharram
As we welcome the new Hijri year 1444 AH, here's a look at the significance of the first month in the Islamic calendar - Muharram.
The first day of Muharram marks the Hijra, the Prophet's (SAW) journey from Makkah to Madinah in 622AD.
It's also one of four sacred months in the year mentioned in the Quran by Allah (SWT) - the others being Rajab, Dhul Qidah and Dhul Hijjah.
"The number of months with Allah has been twelve since the time he created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred. That is the right religion. So do not wrong yourselves during them." Surah At-Tawbah, verse 36.
Abu Bakr (RA) reported that the Prophet said: “The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul Qidah, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar.” (Bukhari, 2958)
The day of Ashura
The month also contains a special day where you get the reward of having an entire year's sins forgiven if you fast — the day of Ashura.
The word Ashura comes from the word Ashra, which in Arabic means ten. Ashura falls on the 10th day of Muharram.
When the Prophet migrated from Mecca to Medina, he found the Jewish people fasted to commemorate the day Musa (AS) and Bani Israel were saved from Firaoun and his army. Allah's Messenger said "we are closer to Musa" and encouraged Muslims to fast that day too.
As well as the day of Ashura, it's recommended to also fast either the day before or after Ashura.
The importance of fasting during Muharram
Abu Huraira reported: "The Messenger of Allah, said 'The best prayer after the prescribed prayers is a prayer offered in the middle of the night. The best fast after the month of Ramadan is fasting in the month of Allah, al-Muharram.'” (Sahih Muslim 1163)
In a recent episode of IslamiQA, Sheikh Saalim Al Ahzari said the Prophet fasted more during Muharram than any other month outside of Ramadan.
Sheikh Al Ahzari said we should increase our worship during the month, including more voluntary fasts.
"We want to get close to Allah SWT. And one of the main things we could try and do is fasting; whether it be Mondays and Thursdays, whether it be the three white days, or whether it be any extra days," he added.