Muharram is the one of the most important festival of Muslim community. It marks the first month of the Islamic calendar. First day of Muharram is celebrated as Islamic New Year which is considered as a very holy celebration. Although Muharram marks the start of a new year but the tenth day of Muharram is also known for mourning where the Shia Muslim community commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the son of Hazrat Ali and grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
However, the Islamic calendar is lunar calendar therefore, it 11-12 days shorter than the solar calendar, or the Gregorian one, which is referred to in the most western countries.
Muharram in India – Date, History, Importance & Celebration
Digging into the history of Muharram, around fourteen centuries ago, on the Day of Ashura, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussain and his little son, were killed by a cruel ruler in the Battle of Karbala. The real victory of Imam Hussain in this battle was that people remember and follow him for his kindness, justice and equality.
Muharram date 2019: September 10
Muharram date 2020: August 29
Muharram date 2021: August 19
The actual story behind the mourning of Muharram is very tragic. It is believed that on the tenth day of Muharram, also known as Ashura, in the 61st year of the Islamic calendar, the fierce Battle of Karbala took place. It was fought between a group of supporters and relatives of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussain, and military of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph. In the name of supporters, Imam Hussain just had his friends and family, including women and children. On the other hand, military of Yazid I comprised of heavily-armed enemy army of thousands. They arrested Hussain and his group and deprived them of food and water in desert heat for three successive days. The cruel soldiers brutally killed Hussain and his 6-year-old child and took women with them as captivates. It is therefore a very tragic story and Muslims honour the sacrifice of the innocent lives by mourning in the month of Muharram.
Hence, the month of Muharram is considered to be very holy for the Muslim community. Shia Mulims mourn the death of Hussain and his family and friends in this day of sorrow. They respect and honour the sacrifice and refrain themselves from all joyous events.
On the other hand, the other set of Muslims i.e. the Sunni Muslims believe thaton the tenth day of Muharram the religious leader Moses led Israel through the Red Sea and got victory over Egyptian Pharaoh and his army of war chariots. As they say, number of mouths equals to the number of theories, hence there is one more theory or belief that God created Adam and Eve on the tenth day of this holy month.
Both Shia and Sunni Muslims observe Muharram but not in the same manner. Shia Muslims mourn this day by wearing black clothes attending special meetings at mosques and refrain themselves from listening of their favourite music. They walk barefoot on streets chanting and whipping their chests until it starts bleeding to remember the sacrifice of Imam Hussain. On the contrary, Sunnis observe this day by fasting from the first to the tenth or eleventh day of the mourn, and the ones who fast are believed to be rewarded by Allah.