History of Muharram

The Islamic calendar is basically lunar and is 12 days shorter than the normal solar calendar. The name of its first month is Muharram. Muharram is an Arabic word generated from the word , Hurmat (حرمت) which means sacred. It is one of the four most sacred months of the Islamic calendar.

The Origin of the Islamic Calendar:

The Islamic calendar started from the migration of the Prophet Mohammed  from Makkah (city of Hejaz and the capital of Makkah Province in Saudi Arabia) to Madinah (city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia) with his companions. However, it was originated by the Muslim Caliph Umer Bin Khitaab . The Caliph used to write letters to the Governor of Yemen Abu Musa Ashari, but the letters didn’t bear any date, so he asked Umer to solve this issue. It was almost the end of Zil Hajjah, the month when the Muslims perform Hajj at the Holy Kaaba  (pilgrimage), so the Caliph decided that the Islamic calendar should begin at the site of the first moon. As the Muslims were returning from Pilgrimage, the next Islamic month, or the first Islamic month was named Muharram. The Islamic calendar or the Hijrah calendar began in 639 AD.

Sacredness of Muharram

According to the Muslims, the history of Muharram symbolizes the ways Islam spread rapidly throughout the world and it is represented as the foundation of the Muslim Ummah. Its history reminds us about the people of the nation of Prophet Ibrahim. Deen e Ibrahim (Prophet Ibrahim’s religion) was the pillar on which Islam stands today. The people used to fast in the month of Muharram. The history of Muharram also relates to the fast of the Jews which were made obligatory on them by the Prophet Moses. These fasts were as a symbol of thanksgiving to God by Prophet Moses when he safely crossed the Red sea with the Bani Israel and the army of Pharoah drowned.

According to Muslims, the three sacred months, namely Zil Qaddah, Zil Hajjah and Muharram are made sacred by God because:

  • Zil Qaddah is the month when the Muslims prepare for their Hajj at the Holy Kaaba (Pilgrimage).
  • Zil Hajjah is when the Muslims perform their Hajj, and
  • Muharram is when the Muslims return from their Hajj at the Holy Kaaba (pilgrimage).

In these  three months, battles and sinful activities are strictly prohibited in Islam. If we turn the pages of the Muslim history, we will come to know that the people at the time of Prophet Mohammed used to pause their business activities and prepare themselves for ultimate prayer, the Hajj (pilgrimage).


The 10th Muharram (Ashura):

10th Muharram has its own history, not only in Islam but in other religions too. Jews and Christians also believe that the Prophets were blessed in this month by victories, gifts and forgiveness. The creation of this entire universe, the Heaven and the hell took place on this day. According to Muslims, Muharram is a great reminder of the sacrifices of Ahl e Bait (the family and relatives of the Prophet Mohammed). They gave up their lives just for the love of God, sake of Islam and to protect the next generations of the Muslims from sinful activities. Hussain Ibn e Ali (son of Prophet’s daughter) was martyred on the 10th of Muharram at Karbala (Iraq) by Yazeed (Caliph of that time).

Unlike the first 4 Muslims Caliphs, Yazeed was a man who was in love with the possessions of this world. He was not pious and Hussain (R.A) wanted to save the next generations of the Muslim world from the sinful activities led by Yazeed. When Hussain approached him and warned him to control his sinful activities and to pardon from God, he refused and as a result the battle of Karbala took place. The family of the Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H) was not allowed to drink water from the lake of Karbala. Their kids were killed by arrows and swords. The battle remained from the 1st to the 10th Muharram.


Muharram is a month of blessings and a gift from God. We should try to keep away from the false traditions elaborated by people trying to show themselves as Muslims. Islam is the religion of peace and brotherhood, and Muharram symbolizes