Moharram-ul-Haram – Why We Shouldn’t We Celebrate It

The month of Moharram is referred to as Muharram-ul-Haram. It is the first month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a time of reflection and mourning. Moharram-ul-Haram, one of the four sacred months in Islam, is Moharram, along with Rajab, Dhu al-Qi’dah, and Dhu al-Hijjah, which are called Moharram. It is significant for Muslims because it marks the day of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. This event occurred in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD and is remembered as one of the most tragic events in Islamic history.

During Moharram, Muslims observe mourning by abstaining from festive activities, wearing black clothing, and holding public processions to commemorate the sacrifice of Imam Hussain and his companions. In some countries, this period is marked by communal gatherings and recitation of religious poetry, highlighting the themes of justice, sacrifice, and resistance against oppression.

Muharram history

On the tenth day of Moharram, Ashura occurs, which closely connects to Moharram ul Haram’s history. This event commemorates the martyrdom of Hazrat imam Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, who was killed in the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE. A defining moment in Shia Islam history was Husayn’s death in this battle, which took place in what is now Iraq.

The death of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his family by the Umayyad army is seen as a symbol of the struggle for justice and righteousness against oppression. This event significantly impacted Islamic history and is still mourned by Shia Muslims worldwide. Ashura commemorates his martyrdom and has become a day of mourning and remembrance for the Islamic community. Many Muslims mark this day by fasting, prayer, and other forms of memory. Some also hold mourning ceremonies, processions, and gatherings during the first ten days of Moharram. This time is specifically considered “Moharram ul Haram” to emphasize its sacredness and importance.

what happened in Muharram-ul-Haram محرم?

The most significant event associated with the month of Moharram is the Battle of Karbala, which took place on the tenth day of the month, known as Ashura. The Battle of Karbala was fought in 680 CE between the forces of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid I and Hazrat imam Hussain ibn Ali’s followers, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.

Husayn and his followers, mostly from the Prophet’s family and companions, refused to pledge allegiance to Yazid, who they considered a tyrant. They instead decided to leave Medina and travel to Kufa, in what is now Iraq, to gather support for their cause. Yazid’s army intercepted Husayn’s group and engaged them in a battle at Karbala.

Despite being outnumbered and outmatched, Husayn and his followers fought bravely but were ultimately defeated. Killed Husayn and most of his male followers in the battle and plundered their camp. Husayn’s family and supporters were taken as prisoners. This event was considered a major blow to early Islamic history and community. The death of Husayn is considered one of the defining moments in the history of the Islamic community, particularly for the Shia Muslims, as Husayn is considered a prominent leader of the Shias.


The day of Ashura commemorates his martyrdom and has become a day of mourning and remembrance for Shia Muslims worldwide. Some also hold mourning ceremonies, processions, and gatherings during the first ten days of Moharram-ul-haram to remember Karbala’s martyrs and pay respect to Imam Hussain.

Why is muharram celebrated?

Moharram-ul-haram is considered an important and sacred month in the Islamic calendar. The main event associated with Moharram is the Battle of Karbala, which took place on the tenth day of the month, known as Ashura. For Shia Muslims, this event is considered one of the most significant moments in the history of Shia Islam, and it holds great significance. Shia Muslims commemorate and remember the martyrdom of Hazrat imam Hussain ibn Ali on this day. The event is seen as a symbol of the struggle for justice and righteousness.

The mourning and remembrance activities during the month of Moharram, especially on the day of Ashura, are to pay tribute to Husayn and his companions and remember the sacrifices they made for their beliefs. The Shia Muslims place great importance on this month because it reminds them of their history and keeps the spirit of Ahl al-Bayt alive in their hearts.

Muharram Sunni

The month of Moharram is a time of reflection and repentance. The day of Ashura is also observed as a fast day, although not as an official part of the five pillars of Islam. Sunnis often observe Ashura as a day of fasting, reciting the Quran, giving in charity, and performing good deeds to seek forgiveness and blessings from Allah. Shia Muslims often consider Hussain ibn Ali and the companions who were martyred alongside him, as well as his son Ahmadi-bin- Hussain, to be members of the prophet’s family.

Both Sunni and Shia Muslims consider Moharram sacred, but how it is observed varies between the sects. Sunnis observe it as a time of reflection and repentance, while Shias observe it as a time of mourning and commemorating the tragic events of the 10th Moharram.

who celebrate muharram, shia or sunni?

The major event associated with Moharram for both sects is the Battle of Karbala, which took place on the tenth day of the month, known as Ashura, regardless of how it is celebrated or the month’s significance. There is a particular significance in Karbala and the martyrdom of Hazrat imam Hussain ibn Ali to Shia Muslims. It is an important part of their religious tradition to mourn and commemorate these events. Moharram is a month of mourning, commemorating the tragedy of Karbala and the sacrifices made by Husayn ibn Ali and his companions.

While the events of Karbala are also significant to Sunni Muslims, they are not to the same extent as they are for Shia Muslims. As well as fasting and commemorating Ashura, they believe forgiveness, blessings, and good deeds are more important than mourning. Despite both sects observing Moharram, the celebration and significance of the month may differ between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

why don’t sunnis mourn in Muharram-ul-Haram محرم?

Different Sunni groups have other practices about mourning the Prophet’s family. Some believe that all companions of the Prophet and all Muslims who died in the way of Allah should be honored and respected. In contrast, others believe that mourning is unnecessary and that expressing excessive grief goes against Islamic principles of hope, patience, and gratitude to Allah.

Sunnis also do not believe in mourning for the dead as a routine practice as it is seen as an innovation in the religion.To seek forgiveness and blessings from Allah, they focus on acts of worship, such as fasting, giving in charity, and doing good deeds, rather than mourning. As a result, Sunni Muslims commemorate Karbala spiritually and less emotionally, unlike Shia Muslims.

What does Quran say about Muharram-ul-Haram محرم?

  • The Quran [2:185] says: “Ramadan is the month in which the was revealed Quran, a guidance for the people. So whoever sights [the new moon of] Ramadan, let him fast it. And whoever is ill or on a journey, then an equal number of other days can fast. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship during Ramadan and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you. Maybe you will be grateful.”
  • The Quran [2:197] says: “Complete the Hajj or ‘umrah in the service of Allah. But if you are prevented, then offer what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And do not shave your head until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter. And whoever among you is ill or has an ailment of the head must pay a ransom of fasting or charity or sacrifice. And when you are secure, whoever performs ‘umrah [during the Hajj months] followed by Hajj [offers] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals.”
  • Those who cannot find [or afford such an animal] must fast for three days during Hajj and for seven days after they return home. The whole ten days of fasting. The fast is for those whose families are not near al-Masjid al-Haram. As a form of worship and devotion observed during any month, such as Moharram, fasting is a virtue highlighted by this verse.
  • The Quran [2:183] says: “O you who have believed, it has been decreed upon you to fast as it has been decreed upon those before you.

Observing fasts in any month of the year is considered a form of worship and devotion, including Moharram. It increases one’s Taqwa (God-consciousness) and righteousness. The Quran and Hadiths are the primary sources of Islamic teachings, and fasting in Moharram is derived from the general virtue of fasting mentioned in the Quran and the Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).


Importance of 10th Muharram in Islam

On the tenth day of Moharram-ul-haram, known as Ashura, both Shia and Sunni Muslims celebrate the significant difference between the two sects. The Battle of Karbala and the martyrdom of Hazrat imam Hussain ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, hold special significance as defining moments in their religious history. They see Husayn’s death as a symbol of the struggle for justice and righteousness against oppression and his sacrifice as a reminder of the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs.

It is significant because of its association with the story of Prophet Moses (Musa) and the Israelites freed from Egypt on the tenth day of Moharram. The fast of Ashura is considered a sunnah (Prophetic Tradition). It is highly encouraged by some scholars, who believe it is a day of fasting, repentance, and asking for forgiveness from Allah. Many also consider this day an opportunity to do good deeds, ask forgiveness, and start a new year with a pure mind.

Difference between Shias and Sunnis?

There is a significant difference between the Shias and Sunnis regarding their belief that the Muslim community should take the lead after Prophet Muhammad’s death. According to Shias, leadership should have been passed on to Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, and to his descendants, known as Imams. On the other hand, Sunnis believe that the Muslim community should have elected its leaders, and the first four caliphs were the rightful leaders.

The Prophet’s companions and family members also have significant differences. Both sects regard the companions of the Prophet as substantial figures. Still, Shias place a high value on the Prophet’s family, mainly the descendants of Ali, known as Imams, who they see as the rightful leaders of the community and embodiments of moral and spiritual guidance. In contrast, Sunnis hold different beliefs than the Imams.

Although both sects adhere to the Five Pillars of Islam regarding religious practices, there are differences in how these practices are carried out. Sunni Muslims do not have a specific day for congregational prayers on Friday, while Shias do. There is no mourning practice among Sunnis for the Prophet’s family, but there is one among Shias.

what is forbidden in muharram?

According to Islamic teachings, Moharram is a month in which certain activities are forbidden. It includes activities such as weddings and other merrymaking events, cutting or trimming hair or fingernails, listening to loud music or singing in public, and gambling. The activities are considered disrespectful towards the martyrs who sacrificed their lives during the Battle of Karbala and, as a result, should remain prohibited during this solemn time.

What not to do during Muharram?

During Moharram Muslims are discouraged from engaging in activities that could be considered disrespectful, such as arguing, fighting, consuming alcohol, and playing loud music. Additionally, wearing excessive jewellery or any decorative clothing is inappropriate. Finally, it’s important to note that Muslims should use this time to grieve and show respect for those who lost their lives during the battle of Karbala by abstaining from certain relaxing activities.

Is it correct to say Happy Muharram?

The first reason why “Happy Muharram” is inappropriate is that Moharram isn’t a celebration but a time of reflection. As a second reason, the term “happy” reinforces the idea that the holiday should be celebrated with joy, which misunderstands its solemn nature. It is usually considered more appropriate to use greetings such as Salam Ma’al Hijrah or Blessings of Muharam instead.

What to say on Muharram-ul-Haram محرم?

On the day of Moharram, Shia Muslims commonly recite special supplications, known as “Nawha” and “Latmiyya,” that express grief and sorrow about the Battle of Karbala and the martyrdom of Hazrat imam Hussain ibn e Ali RA and his companions. The supplications are generally recited in congregations and mourning gatherings, together with specific rituals, such as self-flagellation and chest-beating, which are practices performed by some Shia Muslims.

On Ashura, specific phrases are commonly recited, including:

  • “Ya Husayn” (Oh Husayn!)
  • “Labbaik Ya Husayn” (I am at your service, Oh Husayn!)
  • “Karbala ki haqiqat mein shamil hon” (I want to be a part of the reality of Karbala)
  • “Husayn tera laillaha illallah” (Oh Husayn, your God is the only God)

While Sunni Muslims do not express their grief and sorrow as Shia Muslims do, they also commemorate and remember the day of Ashura in other ways. Sunni Muslims typically fast on this day, recite Quran and perform good deeds, such as charity and supplications, to get forgiveness and blessings from Allah. Some common phrases they recite include:

  • “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great)
  • “Subhan Allah” (Glory be to God)
  • “La ilaha illa Allah” (There is no god but Allah)

Recitations can be different among different communities and regions, and it’s always best to follow your area’s local traditions and customs.

How to wish Muharram in Arabic?

One way to wish someone a happy Moharram is ” عيد مبارك في شهر الحجة,” which transliterates to “Eid Mubarak fi syahril hujjah,” which means I want to give you a blessed Eid in the month of Muharram.”
Moharram is a month of mourning for Shia Muslims and a month of reflection for Sunni Muslims rather than a celebration. Rather than wishing “Happy Muharam,” expressing condolences or praying for forgiveness, spiritual growth, and blessings is more appropriate.

If you would like to express condolences, you could say:
” حزن الله عليك في شهر الحجة ” which transliterates to “Hzan Allah Alik fi syahril hujjah,” means “May Allah’s sorrow be upon you in the month of Moharram.”

You can make a wish for forgiveness and blessings by saying:
” يا رب تغفر لنا وترحمنا في شهر الحجة ” which transliterates to “Ya rabbi their Lana wa tarhamna fi syahril hujjah,” which means “Oh Lord, forgive us and have mercy.

72 martyrs of Karbala Names with Date

In 680 AD, Husayn ibn Ali’s companions were killed at the Battle of Karbala alongside him as the 72 Martyrs of Karbala. The actual number of martyrs varies from account to account. 72 is the most frequently mentioned number. Here is a list of some of his most famous companions who died at Karbala:

Husayn ibn Ali – the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the group leader.
Abbas ibn Ali – Husayn’s half-brother and standard-bearer.
Ali Akbar ibn Husayn – Husayn’s son.
Aun ibn Abdullah – Husayn’s son.
Qasim ibn Hasan – Husayn’s son.
Abdullah ibn Hasan – Husayn’s son.
Abdullah ibn Aun – Husayn’s son.
Umar ibn Sa’ad – Husayn’s uncle.
Zuhayr ibn Qayn – Husayn’s cousin.
Habib ibn Mazahir – Husayn’s cousin.
Hurr ibn Yazid Riyahi – one of Umar ibn Sa’ad’s army commanders.
Shimr ibn Dhi’l-Jawshan – one of Umar ibn Sa’ad’s army commanders.
Sa’d ibn Abdullah Asadi – one of Umar ibn Sa’ad’s army commanders.

It is important to note that the list above is not exhaustive, as there were many more companions of Hussain ibn Ali who died at Karbala, but not all of their names have been recorded. The battle of Karbala lasted for several days, ending on Ashura, the 10th of Moharram. Therefore, it is necessary to record each individual’s exact date of martyrdom.

Virtue of Fasting in Muharram-ul-Haram محرم

  • Expiation of sins:A hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) states, “Fasting the day of Ashura expiates the sins of the previous year.” Fasting on the 10th Moharram is believed to be a means of expiating the past year’s sins.
  • Rewards from Allah:Allah also considers fasting on Ashura highly rewarding. Some hadiths claim that fasting on Ashura is equivalent to fasting for a whole year.
  • Commemorating the sacrifice of Hussain ibn Ali and his companions: Ashura marks the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala, where Husayn and his companions were martyred, fasting on Ashura, commemorating their sacrifice.
  • Closeness to God:Fasting is believed to increase one’s spiritual connection with God and is an act of worship and devotion.
  • Increasing Taqwa:Fasting is considered one of the ways to improve one’s Taqwa as it helps control one’s desire and develop the self-discipline to enhance one’s God-consciousness or piety.

Fasting in Muharram hadith

Several Hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) mention the virtues of fasting on the 9th and 10th of Muharam, known as Ashura. Fasting during Muharam is highly recommended in Islam. Here are a few examples of Hadiths related to fasting.

  • According to Abdullah ibn Abbas, one of Prophet Muhammad’s close companions, the best kind of fasting after Ramadan is fasting in Muharam. The most rewarding prayer is the night prayer.
  • Prophet Muhammad said fasting on Ashura, the 10th day of Muharam, could erase the previous year’s sins, according to a hadith narrated by Anas ibn Malik.
  • A hadith (narrated by Abu Huraira) states that fasting on Ashura, observed during the Islamic month of Muharam, is viewed as atonement for sins committed the previous year.

Fasting in Muharram-ul-Haram محرم

While some consider fasting on the 9th and 10th of Muharram as Sunnah (way of the Prophet) rather than an obligation, others believe fasting throughout the entire month is highly encouraged and respected. There are variations in different Islamic traditions and communities regarding fasting in Muharam-ul-Haram. Ultimately, it is up to individual Muslim’s interpretation and adherence to their religious practices.

Fasting Ashura benefits

  • This ancient religious practice is believed to expiate sins, allowing people the opportunity to purify themselves and repent for any wrongdoings committed in the past.
  • Fasting on Ashura is beneficial since it results in a reward from Allah. It is believed that this fasting will result in mercy from God and even lead to divine forgiveness.
  • Ashura fasting is believed to be spiritually beneficial since it purifies the soul and brings one closer to Allah.
  • An important day in Islam is Ashura, commemorating the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Husayn ibn Ali. In addition to following in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad and his family and remembering their devotion to Allah through their sacrifices, fasting on this day has many other benefits.
  • In addition to allowing Muslims to express a sense of unity with their Muslim brothers and sisters worldwide, it reminds us that no matter where we come from, we can still participate in an important tradition.
  • Fasting has many physical benefits, including weight loss, regulating blood pressure, and preventing various illnesses. Fasting also has spiritual gifts, such as purifying and strengthening one’s faith.

Significance of Ashura fasting during Muharram-ul-Haram:

Muslims celebrate the New Year known as Al Hijri or Arabic New Year, which marks the beginning of Prophet Mohammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina. On the day of Ashura, celebrated on the tenth day of Muharam-ul-Haram, Shiites commemorate the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein Ibn Ali, in Karbala. To honor the memory of their leader, Shia Muslims engage in public mourning by fasting and participating in processions. This public expression of sorrow and remembrance is considered a religious duty called “Sunnah,” as Prophet Muhammad practiced it.

What happened on 3rd Muharram-ul-Haram محرم?

On 3rd Muharam-ul-Haram محرم in the year 61 AH (680 AD), Hazrat Hussain ibn Ali was surrounded by Umar ibn Sa’ad’s army, the Governor of Kufa. The army was pressuring him to accept the legitimacy of Yazid’s Caliphate and his demands. On the 3rd of Muharam-al-Haram محرم, there are records to indicate that Hussain ibn Ali engaged in a dialogue with Umar ibn Sa’ad’s messenger in an attempt to reach a peaceful resolution.

However, this did not result in a successful outcome. What happened on 3rd Muharram-ul-Haram محرم? On the 3rd of Muharram in 1356 (AH), the Battle of Khajwah occurred. This battle was part of the Timurid Empire led by Timur, who went on to defeat the forces of the Muzaffarid dynasty.

Muharram greetings

Muslims wish to extend well-wishes during Moharram by saying “Salam Alaikum,” which means peace to be upon you. Although this phrase is not exclusive to Moharam, it can be used throughout the year. Those celebrating Muharam could also wish others a “Happy Ashura” or safe travels on any day of the religious Muharram procession.


Muharram-ul-Haram is an important Islamic holiday commemorating the death of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein. Muslims celebrate the day by abstaining from all physical activity and fasting from dawn to dusk. The purpose of Muharram is to remember and mourn the loss of Imam Hussain, as well as to renew pledges of allegiance to Prophet Muhammad.


Q 1 Can we fast only one day of Ashura?

Is it permissible to fast only one day of Ashura? Yes, it is acceptable to fast only on the 10th day (Ashura Day) of Muharram. While fasting on the 9th and 10th days is recommended following the Sunnah of the Prophet for extra virtue and blessings, it is acceptable to choose to fast only one day.

Q 2 Why shia don’t fast on Ashura?

Shia Muslims observe a day of fasting on the 10th day of Muharram, known as Ashura. However, specific Shia communities do not have this tradition of fasting and instead focus on mourning Imam Hussein’s martyrdom that occurred on this day. Even among sects that observe a fast, each may have different practices to commemorate the occasion.

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