Across the globe, muslims observe their New Year on the first day of Muharram (meaning prohibited or barred), the second holiest month after Ramadan (a period of fasting called Sawm). This day is also known as Al Hijri or the Islamic New Year. Muharram is one of the most sacred months of the Islamic calendar, which has about 354 days, unlike the Gregorian calendar that consists of 365 days. The day also marks the migration of Prophet Muhammed from Mecca to Medina. This year, Muhurram is observed on August 20th, 2020.
Significance of Muharram
Muharram is one of the most sacred months of the Islamic Lunar calendar. This is the month when Muslims are prohibited from taking part in warfare. It means ‘not permitted’ or ‘forbidden’ and is believed to be the month of remembrance. Diverse denominations of the Muslims observe this month differently. People recite verses from the Holy Quran and offer their prayers.
According to the Sunni tradition, Prophet Muhammed observed a fast on this day in Mecca. It is believed that Allah saved the people of Israel from Pharaoh and that Prophet Musa (Moses, according to Judaism) observed a fast on that day.
Some people keep a fast on Ashura, the tenth day of Muharram and they mourn the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammed.
Husayn ibn Ali was beheaded in the battle of Karbala (a place in modern-day Iraq). On this day, Shia Muslims mourn the loss of Imam Husayn and recall the agony that he went through. And by doing so, they teach their young ones about their great leader who was killed.
Public mournings take place and followers chant “Ya Hussain” or “Ya Ali” while others pay obeisance to the Imam by flogging themselves with sharp weapons. They shed blood as a mark of respect. This ritual is known as Tatbir or Qama Zani. Shias believe that taking part in such mourning rituals washes away sins. This practice is also known as matham in India.
The Islamic calendar has twelve months, and they are al-Muḥarram, Safar, Rabi’ al-Thani, Jumādā al-ʾAwwal, Jumādā ath-Thāniyah, Rajab, Shaʿbān, Ramadan, Shawwal, Zū al-Qaʿdah and Zū al-Ḥijjah.
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