Muharram – Merit, Meaning & History

Welcome to Darussalam’s Islamic Month series.

In this series, we will share the authentic information related to each of the 12 Islamic Months including its history, meaning, importance and recommended deeds. We will also try to clear the misconceptions related to many of these months in our society, in sha Allah.

This series is inspired and based on the Book:

Islamic Months and Details - Muharram




So the first month of Islamic Calendar is Muharram, it is one of the sacred months in Islamic Calendar (more on this later) and it also marks the beginning of the Islamic Lunar Calendar.

Below are the details related to the Month of Muharram:

Muharram – Name, Meaning & History

It is interesting to note that the name of this month was not Muharram from the beginning; rather it was called as “Safar-e-Awwal” in the pre-Islamic Arabia.

Muharram is the only month in lunar calendar whose name was changed due to the fact that many Arab tribes used to replace this sacred month from another and used to wage war and engage in similar activities in Muharram.

Related: Merits & History of Ashura – Darussalam

Therefore, its name was changed to stress the fact that all of these unnoble, barbaric activities are completely forbidden in this month.

Muharram literally means ‘forbidden’ in Arabic.

It is also considered to be the first month of Islamic Calendar because the first moon sighted after the Prophet’s migration to Medina was of Muharram.

Merits of Muharram

The first among the many merits of Muharram is that it is one of the four sacred months in Islam and thus good deeds in this month are rewarded more than the good deeds in other months, except with the Mercy of Allah S.W.T.

Allah says in the Quran regarding the Sacred Months:

“Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them.” (At-Taubah 9:36)

Further, the names of these sacred months are identified in the following Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

The Prophet said. “(The division of time has turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in succession Dhul-Qa’ da, Dhul-Hijja and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumadi-ath-Thaniyah and Shaban.” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 004, Book 054, Hadith Number 419)

From the above-mentioned verse of the Quran, we learn that there are 4 sacred months in the calendar instead of 8 sacred months as maintained by some clans in pre-Islamic times.

Sacred Months in Islam - Darussalam

Further, we also learned the special command of Allah (S.W.T) that:

‘Do not wrong yourselves during them’

This means that although sins, injustices and other acts of disobedience are forbidden at all times, we should be particularly careful and conscious about these in the sacred months so that we can train ourselves to be careful in the remaining months of the year.

The 2nd Merit of Muharram is that it is called the ‘Month of Allah’ in the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):

Allah’s Messenger (S) said: “The most virtuous fasting after the month of Ramadan is that of Allah’s month of Al-Muharram. And the most virtuous Salat after the obligatory is the night prayer.” – Riyad us Saliheen

Consider how huge the merits and standing of this month is when the Prophet called it the Month of Allah.!

Fasting in Muharram - Mertis of Muharaam Darussalam

Therefore, we should strive to do our best in this month and gain as much reward as we can from the Mercy of Allah (S.W.T).

The 3rd among the many merits of Muharram is that it marks the start of the Islamic Calendar, the first month of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) in Madina.

Related: Mourning in Muharram 

Recommended Actions in Muharram

Although the reward of any good action is multiplied manifolds in the sacred months, it is particularly recommended by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself to fast in the Month of Muharram.

“The most virtuous fasting after the month of Ramadan is Allah’s month Al-Muharram.” (Muslim 1163).

Therefore, one should observe as many Fasts in this month as one can observe with sincerity of intention to gain tremendous rewards from Allah’s mercy, in sha Allah.

Even in the month of Muharram, there are two days particularly recommended for fasting. The 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th of Muharram.

“Fasting the Day of Ashura, I ask Allah that it may expiate for (the sins of) the year that comes before it.” (Muslim 1162).

The Prophet also commanded the Muslims to oppose the Jewish celebration of Ashura and follow the fast on Ashura with another fast either before it or after it.

Fasting on Ashura - Darussalam

In the light of the above discussion, we can conclude that the particularly recommended act of worship in this sacred month is Fasting.

One can also do charity, social service, offer optional prayers, and ask Dua from Allah S.W.T to shower in the blessings and mercy of his Lord.

Misconceptions about Muharram

Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness and knowledge, there are many misconceptions prevalent in our society related to Muharram and the observance of Ashura.

We shall try to clear up these misconceptions below:

1. Reason for ‘Hurmat’:

Many people think that the reason why Muharram is one of the four sacred months and is placed so high in the eyes of Allah S.W.T is the martyrdom of the grandson of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) on 10th of Muharram.

But the fact is that Muharram was considered sacred even in the times of Jahiliyyah and the Prophet (PBUH) confirmed and increased its worth.

Also, the Prophet observed fast and taught his companions about the merit of this month in his life while the martyrdom of Hazrat Hussain (R.A) occurred after the death of the Prophet (PBUH).

Therefore, the only reason this month is considered sacred and worthy is the mention of Allah (S.W.T) about this month as being sacred.

2. Baseless History:

Another form of misconception about Muharram is that there are many historical events which occurred in this month such as:

  • Birthday of Ibrahim A.S
  • Acceptance of Repentance of Hazrat Adam A.S
  • Creation of Adam A.S
  • Judgment Day being Established in this Month
  • Etc

All of the above and similar attributions to the month of Muharram are completely baseless and find no grounds in the authentic collection of Hadith and the verses of the Quran.

The only thing that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) narrated was the emancipation of the nation of Musa A.S from the tyrant rule of Pharaoh.


So this concludes the first article of Islamic Month series. Let us now recap the points which we have discussed below:

  1. Muharram is among the four sacred months mentioned by Allah.
  2. It is also known as “Month of Allah” according to a Hadith
  3. Recommended act of worship in Muharram is to Fast; particularly the two fasts of Ashura.
  4. Allah blessed Musa A.S and his nation the emancipation from Pharaoh in this Month.
  5. The sacredness of Muharram is due to its mention as being sacred in Quran instead of the Martyrdom of Hazrat Hussain R.A

We have only touched few points related to the Month of Muharram, if you want to truly learn all about the month of Muharram then we recommend you to read the book “Masla Rouyiat e Hilal aur 12 Islami Mahinay” on which this series is based.

Islamic Months and Details - Muharram