Updated: Aug 17
Learning about the Muslim New Year and its benefit
Muharram - the first month of the Hijri calendar, marking the beginning of a new Islamic year. It is thus a highly blessed month, being one out of four sacred months.
Muharram literally means ‘forbidden’ - it is so sacred that few actions become prohibited during this month, as it would defy its purity.
Both the month of Muharram and Allah’s house (Al-Masjid Al-Haram) derive their names from the same Arabic root word - both are sacred spaces in which every deed, good or bad, weighs heavier on the scales.
"Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourself during them…” (Qur’an, 9:36)
Hence, Muharram is special simply because Allah has decreed it to be so. We are commanded to not ‘wrong ourselves’ during this blessed month which means we should strive to have pure intentions and righteous behaviour.
Historically, one of the practical significance of Muharram, along with Dhul-Qa’dah and Dhul-Hijjah being sacred months, was that pilgrims were allowed to perform Hajj safely without worrying about war or banditry. Fighting was prohibited during Dhul-Qa’dah, the time when they would be travelling to make the Hajj; Dhul-Hijjah, the time during Hajj was performed in Makkah and its surroundings; and Muharram; when they would be returning home from Hajj.
Benefits of Muharram
While we are always reminded of the virtues of Ramadan, we might tend to neglect the importance of the other sacred months. However these special months offer us a wealth of opportunities to gain the favour and mercy of Allah s.w.t. They have been especially chosen by Allah s.w.t. Himself as the best times to draw closer to him.
Here are a quick list of simple ways we can take advantage of the benefits of Muharram:
Give More Salam
This is the greeting of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and the people of Paradise. Such a simple act can reap countless blessings and forgiveness. It’s also one of the best ways to keep a good relationship with the people around you - whether your colleagues, your friends, or just people you see!
Smile - It’s Sunnah
Just a simple action, yet it will weigh heavy on the scales during Muharram
Give Regular Sadaqah
It’s the beginning of the new Islamic year - the best time to start making resolutions and establish good habits that you can continue for the rest of the year, insya-Allah. Why not start with the best intentions, to give sadaqah consistently this year! You can reap the rewards of all-year round.
During this sacred month, we should all strive to ask for forgiveness as often as possible.
Read More Quran
While this action is one that always gets put on these lists, it’s the perfect way to draw closer to Allah s.w.t. during this blessed month. As a start, you can aim to commit around 10 to 15 minutes per day to recite the Al-Quran - set yourself a time, and stay disciplined to it! Insya-Allah, you will be able to stick to this New Year’s habit.
While these actions and steps are not specific to Muharram only, they are highly recommended and it makes sense for us to increase them during this sacred month.