Allah Almighty has distributed the days and the months, the times and the places with great precision and with His ultimate wisdom. Nothing has been created without purpose or significance. Allah Almighty is not only the Creator of different things, but He is also the One Who chooses from among His creation whatever and whomsoever He wills. Allah Almighty not only chooses among His people but also chooses some places and some seasons over the rest. Below is a brief introduction and importance about the month of Allah, the Muharram.

Sanctity of the month of Muharram:

Allah Almighty says in the Glorious Qur’an:
“Surely the reckoning of months, in the sight of Allah, is twelve months, laid down in Allah’s decree on the day when He created the heavens and the earth; and out of these months four are sacred. That is the true ordainment. Do not, therefore, wrong yourselves, with respect to these months….” (Surah Al-Tawbah: 9/36)
This ayah indicates that Allah Almighty created twelve months out of which He made four months as sacred months. He chose four months to be revered and respected. According to ahadith, one of these four sacred months is the month of Allah; the month of Muharram.
Abu Bakarah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumadah and Sha’ban.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari, 2958)
The greatness and sanctity of the month of Muharram can thus be realized by the fact that it has been mentioned in the Qur’an and the ahadith as one of the four sacred months. More importantly, it has been called as the “month of Allah”, which adds even more to its greatness and specialty. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘The best of fasting after Ramadhan is fasting in Allah’s month al- Muharram.’” (Reported by Muslim, 1982).

Historical background of the day of ‘Ashura (the 10th of Muharram):

The month of Muharram, the Month of Allah and specifically the 10th of Muharram has great historical precedence. It has been reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw the Quraish of Makkah giving reverence to this day. Thus, this day was also known in the days of Jahiliyyah.
When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) migrated towards Madina, he saw the Jews celebrating this day, as it was reported in the hadith of Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: “The Jews used to take the day of ‘Ashura as a festival [according to a report narrated by Muslim: the day of ‘Ashura was venerated by the Jews, who took it as a festival. According to another report also narrated by Muslim: the people of Khaybar (the Jews) used to take it as a festival and their women would wear their jewellery and symbols on that day.] The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘So you (Muslims) should fast on that day.’” (Reported by al-Bukhari)

Fasting the day of ‘Ashura:

Fasting the day of ‘Ashura, that is the tenth of Muharram, has been recommended highly in the ahadith. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “For fasting the day of ‘Ashura, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Reported by Muslim, 1976).
It is also recommended to fast the ninth of Muharram alongwith the tenth, in order to oppose the practice of the Jews, as they celebrated only the tenth. Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: “When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted on ‘Ashura and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘If I live to see the next year, in sha Allah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed away before the next year came.”(Reported by Muslim, 1916).
The scholars thereby are of the view that it is recommended (Mustahabb) to fast the ninth along with the tenth of Muharram the month of Allah.

Some prevalent practices regarding the day of ‘Ashura:

There are two extreme groups with regard to the practices that they observe on the tenth of Muharram, the month of Allah. One group, the Shiites, take the tenth of Muharram as a day of lamenting and mourning, commemorating the martyrdom of Hussain Ibn Ali ( may Allah be pleased with him). They dedicate this day to narrating stories full of grief and do self-flagellations openly on streets. Another group takes this day as a day of celebration and festivity. They celebrate this day by cooking special dishes and wearing new dresses etc. However, the practices done by both these groups have no basis in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Muslim belief and practice should be limited to what the Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has taught, and not that which is not practiced by him. Thus, we are required to fast on the ninth and tenth of Muharram and not to do all these practices, which have no basis in the Shariah.
May Allah Almighty give us the ability to follow the Sunnah and to accumulate His blessings in His month the month of Allah, ameen!