Muharram is celebrated as the advent of the Islamic New Year by participating Muslims around the globe. It is regarded as a pious and important festival by the community. It is one of the four sacred months of the year for Muslims.
According to traditional customs, Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar and considered to be highly religious, only coming next to Ramadan . Muharram, in itself, means "forbidden" and since it is considered to be holy, many Muslims use it as a period of prayer and reflection. It is a norm for people in the community to fast during the holy Muharram period.
Muharram also marks the anniversary of the battle of Karbala, where the Islamic prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussain Ibn Ali was killed. They remember the massacre on the 10th day, Ashura, with some choosing to fast.
The Islamic New Year will be celebrated by the Muslim community on September 10, 2019, which falls on Tuesday. It will also mark the first day in the year 1440 according to the Hijri or Islamic calendar.
This day is widely honoured by Shia Muslims across the world. It was also during this time that Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina, which is known as Hijrah, and so Muharram marks this important event as well.
As celebrating Muslims devour the festival with utmost joy and mark it with high levels of devotion, here are some interesting facts to know about the festival.
1. According to Prophet Muhhamad fasting on the day of Ashura will kill away all the sins of the previous year. And so, many Muslim followers choose to fast on the ninth and tenth days of this month.
2. Shia Muslim sects often practice chest-beating, which is referred to as Latyma and some also self-flagellate and cut their foreheads. Sunni Muslims consider Ashura as a day of respect for the Prophet Moses but do not take part in the ritual.
3. During this solemn time of Muharram, observing Muslims refrain from taking part in joyous events.
4. It is customary to read Ziarat Ashura - the book containing salutations to the martyrs of Karbala, on the Day of Ashura
5. Muslims celebrate the new year by visiting the mosque, praying to Allah for well-being and by spending time with their family and near and dear ones on the holiday. People also like to cook something sweet like sweet rice and share with their family and circle of friends to eat when breaking their fast.