Muharram 2020: Date, Importance and History of the Islamic New Year

Muharram is considered to be the first month in the Islamic Calendar. It also marks the migration of Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina.

The Islamic New Year, also known as Al Hijri is celebrated on the first day of Muharram as it was in this holy month that Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina. Muharram 2020 will fall on 21st August this year. The Islamic calendar has 354 days divided into 12 months of which Muharram is the first month. It is followed by Safar, Rabi-al-Thani, Jumada al-Awwal, Jumada ath-Thaniyah, Rajab, Shaban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Zu al-Qadah, and Zu al-Hijjah.

Muharram 2020 Date

According to the moon sighting for Muharram 2020, Al Hijri 1442 will fall on August 21 in India, marking the first day of the Holy Month. The word Muharram means ‘not permitted’ or ‘forbidden’ hence, Muslims are prohibited from participating in activities like warfare and instead use it for praying and reflecting their deeds. The 10th day of the month, known as Ashura, is mourned by Shia Muslims in the remembrance of the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussain Ibn Ali.

Muharram significance

The word Muharram means ‘not permitted’ or ‘forbidden’. Muslims around the world are prohibited from participating in activities like warfare and instead spend their time in prayer and reflection.

Muslims around the world observe a fast on the 9th and 10th day, which is called ‘sunnah‘ as Prophet Muhammad kept a Roza on this day after Prophet Musa or Moses as per the Sunni tradition.

Shia Muslims refrain from attending or celebrating occasions and observe a fast on the 10th day, commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. To mark public mourning and in remembrance of the pain given to their great leader and his family, members of the Shia community dorns black clothes observes abstinence, fast, and take out processions on this day.

History of Muharram

On the 10th day of Muharram, some fourteen centuries ago, the Battle of Karbala took place between a small group of supporters and relatives of Hussain, and the army of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph.

Hussain and his supporters were captured and deprived of water and food for three successive days following which they killed him and his 6-year-old son while taking the women as captives. Muharram marks the merciless killing of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and his family in the Battle of Karbala. Although Imam Hussain was slain in the battle, his message of kindness, justice, and equality lives on among people who love him, and hence, that is his real victory.

What is Ashura

The 10th day of Muharram is marked as Ashura by Muslims around the world. Voluntary fasting is done commemorating the day Noah left the Ark and the day Allah saved the Children of Israel from Pharaoh.

Prophet Muhammad who marked his migration from Mexxa to Medina in 622 CE, learned about the Jews fasting on this day as a sign of gratitude. Since then, Prophet Muhammad also urged his followers to observe a two-day fast on the day of Ashura and the day prior.

For Shia Muslims, Ashura is a day of mourning the martyrdom of Hussain in 680 AD at Kabala in modern-day Iraq.

Meanwhile, Muslims mark the day with mourning rituals and plays re-enacting his death. Shia men and women on the other hand perform public rituals that include chest-beating, self-flagellation with chains, and forehead-cutting. Muharram is one of the most important months in the Islamic calendar and remains a period of great significance to the Muslims.

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