As Muslims, Muharram is the 1st Month of our Islamic calendar and so yes it marks the beginning of our New Year. But as Muslims, we do not follow in the footsteps of the Kuffar (unbelievers) by welcoming the Islamic New Year like they would.
Where in the authentic texts of Hadith or in the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi wa Salam) did we see that the Prophet (Salalahu Alaihi wa Salam) and his Companions (Alaihimu Salam) congratulated one another on the advent of a New Year? Congratulating one another on the advent of an Islamic New Year is an innovation that has seeped into modern Muslim culture by way of imitation of the traditions of the non-believers due to ignorance.
It is true that the advent of Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year. However, for us Muslims, our focus should be on the tenth of month known as the day of Ashura. This year 2018, the tenth of Muharram will fall on September 20th. This 10th of Muharram is the day that Musa (Alaihi Salam) and the Children of Israel were saved from Pharaoh.
When Prophet Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi wa Salam) came to Medina, he found the Jews fasting on this day, out of respect for Prophet Musa (Alaihi Salam). Prophet Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi wa Salam) explained that we Muslims are closer to Musa (Alaihi Salam) so he told the people to fast. He (Salalahu Alaihi wa Salam) mentioned that fasting on Ashura is expiation for the sins of a whole year.
He (Salalahu Alaihi wa Salam) also mentioned that if he lived till the next year, he would fast both the 9th and 10th of Muhararam. So ours should be to copy the ways of our Prophet. It is wrong to celebrate anything in Muharram as the Prophet (Salalahu Alaihi wa Salam) did not feast in Muharram. Our feasts are only two; during Eid-ul-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan and Eid ul-Adha that begins on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah.
What the Prophet (Salalahu Alaihi wa Salam) did in Muharram was to fast not to feast. It is also important to state that Ashura is not a dark cloud hanging over the heads of Muslims requiring the slashing of the body with whips as done in some Middle Eastern cultures. That in itself is an innovation and most not be done.
Equally, it is wrong to set the day aside as a time to meet and great people. In some African cultures, Ashura is a day that men and women shake hands all in the name of celebrating the Muslim New year. This is an abomination! A Muslim man should not shake the hands of any women he is not married to or those who he is not closely related to. Why do some people think that the law prohibiting the shaking of hands between men and women is abrogated on this day?
Fasting on Ashura
It is recommended to fast on the 9th and 10th of Muharram; if you cannot, then fast on the 10th and 11th of Muharram.
Wednesday 19th September, 2018 will be 9th and Thursday September 20th will be the 10th of Muharram 1440.
The Messenger of Allah was asked about observing As-Saum (the fast) on the tenth day of Muharram, and he replied, “It is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year.”
[Muslim] “If I live till the next (year), I would definitely observe fast on the 9th.”
He (Salalahu Alaihi wa Salam) also said:
“The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah, Muharram. (Muslim)”
Let us follow the guidance of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi wa Salam) so we may prosper.
Written by: Mamudou Jallow