What Is the Significance of the Month of Muharram and its 10th Day?

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, a month that holds great significance for many Muslims around the world, including Shias and Sunnis. Literally meaning “forbidden, banned or prohibited,” this month is one of the four sacred months in Islam during which warfare is strictly forbidden. But what is that thing that makes this month, particularly the 10th day of it (Ashura), so special for many Muslims and generally a significant number of people throughout the history?!


What Happened on the 10th of Muharram?


About fourteen hundred years ago, on the 10th of Muharram, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP), Imam Hussain ibn Ali (AS) together with his family members and close companions were ruthlessly slain on the plain of Karbala.
Yazid, the son of Muawiyah, was illegally appointed as the leader of the Muslim community by his father. After Muawiyah’s death, Yazid started to take allegiance from the most influential tribal leaders. He also called upon Imam Hussain (AS) to swear the oath of obedience to him and accept him as the rightful leader.


Imam Hussain (AS) refused to do so as Yazid lacked the minimum qualities required for an ordinary Muslim let alone a Muslim leader. Anyhow, Yazid ordered his governors to either take allegiance from Imam Hussain (AS) or make him surrender by any means, even at the cost of taking his life. Imam Hussain (AS), however, did not give away to their unjust request and unkind pressure. So finally he was martyred along with his sincere companions by Yazid’s forces and their wives and children were taken as captives.


Why Do Muslims Hold Ceremonies in the Month of Muharram? 


Since the 10th of Muharram of 61 A.H., millions of Muslims all over the world hold yearly mourning ceremonies throughout Muharram to commemorate the loss of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH & HP) grandson, Imam Hussain (AS). In their religious gatherings, each year, speeches are given about the life and merits of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions, the sufferings they went through and the sacrifices they made. People recall the incident of Karbala many times and try to keep the message and purpose of this greatest martyrdom in the history of humankind alive through their sorrow and tears. Not only that, but lots of people are also engaged in charitable activities like blood donation, giving food to their fellow brothers and sisters, and helping the ones in need to follow their Imam’s lead.


What Was the Reason behind Imam Hussain's (AS) Uprising?


You might wonder what the real cause of this incident was that still evoke great emotions in the hearts of Muslims and generally anyone who gets the opportunity to hear about it, despite the passage of centuries! The most important purpose for which Imam Hussain (AS) was martyred was his faith. He fought in an unjust battle to revive his grandfather’s religion, the invaluable merits, and values that had been violated and taken for granted all those years. He, along with his companions suffered great miseries and sacrificed all they had for the sake of the principles of Islam, which they believed to be a lot more precious than anything else even their own lives. They practically showed the humankind of all times that sacrifice and martyrdom are essential when the cause is just.


Now, throughout centuries, in the month of Muharram, Muslims turn over a new leaf in their lives by remembering Imam Hussain (AS) and the incident of Karbala. They answer Imam Hussain’s (AS) call for help by expressing their anger to Yazid and the likes. They follow their Imam’s footsteps in fighting the Yazid within themselves and generally resisting any violent oppression and injustice out there in the social and political levels.

As a result, Muslims fully comprehend the core message of Islam, which is the Quranic principle of Tawhid; that there is no one but Allah, and we all need to be committed to Him; that even ordinary Muslims deserve more than a figure like Yazid, and they should always remain defiant against him and any oppression or injustice. The month of Muharram is an opportunity for all of us to remind ourselves of the right belief and the true Islamic teachings that never harmonize with any kind of oppression.