Importance of Muharram


 بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Salāmun ʿalaykum, may Allah bless you, your families, and all the communities around the world.

Tonight is the first night of Muḥarram. Over the next blogs, we will inshāʾAllāh remember the events that occurred in Karbala and the great sacrifice and lessons that Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) taught us.

The events that happened in Karbala on the day of ʿĀshūrāʾ only took a few hours. They happened in a desert more than 1,300 years ago! Yet, it is an event that more and more people come to learn about every year, and with each year, people gather in Islamic centers and schools around the world to remember, learn about, and cry for Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa).

On his journey, Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) only had a small group of about 72 close friends, but he had a large goal. He was working for Allah (swt). Many events that happen in history are forgotten. What Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) did in Karbala was for Allah (swt), so He gave it the miracle of remaining unforgotten. As He tells us in the Qurʾān:

Whatever you have will end, but what Allah has is lasting. And We will surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do. Noble Qurʾān 16:96

Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) was filled with the love and obedience of Allah (swt), so his actions and the message of Karbala were connected with Allah (swt) and will remain forever.

Soon after the event of ʿĀshūrāʾ, the land of Karbala became a land for ziyārah (visiting) and people from around the world save their money to visit. Many of them go through difficulties just to be able to visit this holy place where Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) is buried. They go there to pray, mourn, and remember the lessons of Karbala.

So, do we only remember the event of Karbala because it is a sad event that happened? Of course not! We remember Karbala because Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) did something incredible for Allah (swt), to save Islam, so that you and I can know what true Islam is. We need to understand this true Islam and act upon it ourselves, and we need the help of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and the Ahl al-Bayt (ʿa) to guide us to be the best we can.

We also learn from Karbala that our intentions and actions should be based on what Allah (swt) wants from us and will make Him happy. This is the key to our success in this world and in the next world.

Now, let’s learn more about how blessed we are to come to the majlis of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and to listen to these speeches. Learning and reminding ourselves of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) will give us the opportunity to recharge our spiritual batteries and get closer to Allah (swt), inshāʾAllāh!

It has been said that if the Imāms (ʿa) were to describe the special status of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa), they would have said something like the following: “All of the Imāms (ʿa) are boats of rescue, but the boat of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) has two special characteristics. One, it is the biggest and most wide, and secondly, it is the fastest.”

If any of the other Imams (ʿa) were living during the time of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa), they would have done the same thing that Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) did. Yet, because this sacrifice of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) was so important and it saved Islam at that time, it should be remembered. The Imāms have shown us the importance of the events of Karbala in different ways.

Today, we are going to speak specifically about important things we should understand about Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and how blessed we are to have this opportunity to participate in these Muḥarram majālis. There are four different topics we should understand when it comes to Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and Muḥarram.

Going for ziyārah of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa)

If we study the ḥadīth of our Imāms (ʿa) regarding going to Karbala, it’s amazing how much importance it has been given for visiting Imām Ḥusayn's (ʿa) shrine. So many blessings have been promised for going for ziyārah of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa)! We can divide these blessings into three parts:

  1. The spiritual effects of ziyārah
  2. The worldly effects
  3. The treasures and effects we will be given in the next world

First of all, before we begin discussing any of these blessings, we should understand that we can do ziyārah of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) physically by going to Karbala or from afar; for example, we can simply stand, face the direction of Karbala, and remember Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa). We can also place our hand on our hearts and then send our sincere salām to Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa). This is also a type of ziyārah. The most important thing when we admire someone and love someone to the point where we would love to visit them, is to follow in their footsteps — to become like them and make choices that they would be happy with.

Imām ar-Riḍā (ʿa) has told us, “Whoever visits Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa), while knowing and understanding the position and greatness of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa), will receive the spiritual status of being near the throne of Allah (swt) and have the pleasure of being able to spiritually communicate with Allah (swt).”

Wow, that is a great honor! Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) has said, “Four thousand angels will come and welcome the visitor to Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa). Then, as the visitor leaves, they will come and say goodbye to him. If the visitor of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) ever gets sick later in his or her life, the angels will come and visit them. Then when the visitor dies, the angel will be there when they are being put in the grave, asking Allah to forgive this person.”

Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) has also that, “Sayyidah Fāṭimah az-Zahrāʾ (ʿa) will come herself to the grave of someone who has visited Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and ask for his or her forgiveness.”

How beautiful are all these spiritual blessings that we can get from ziyārah of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa)! Subḥānallāh!

Then, we have the worldly blessings! There are so many ḥadīth from our Imāms (ʿa) that say, “Allah will answer the wishes and prayers of whoever visits Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa).” Of course, He will answer those prayers that are good and good for us.

Finally, what about the blessings in the next world? Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) has said, “When all of the people will gather on the Day of Judgment, waiting to enter Jannah, and waiting to see what will happen, those who have visited Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) will enter Heaven 40 years before everyone else!” Wow, 40 whole years!

So, this is a visit that is very special. We are not talking about someone who just goes and says, “Salāmun ʿalaykum, O Imām” and then leaves. No, that’s not it. This is someone who visits and tries to make their life a life that would make Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and Allah (swt) happy.

Attending majālis of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa)

We should understand how blessed we are to be able to attend these majālis, where we are able to remember and mourn for Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa). Imām ar-Riḍā (ʿa) has said, “O people, if you want to cry for anything, then cry for what happened to Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa). And when you cry for him, your tears will wipe away even your greatest sins. They will help protect you from performing sins.”

These kinds of ḥadīth show us that it is very important for us to get together and remember Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa), learn from him, and cry for him. This remembrance is like a strength and power that is building and growing inside of us. It’s a feeling that, inshāʾAllāh, will help us grow closer to Allah (swt). This way, it can help us make better choices in the future that will make Allah (swt) happy with us. We are very blessed to be in these majālis. Recite a beautiful ṣalawāt for this great blessing!

Respecting those who recite about the events of Karbala

It is very important for us to give special respect to those who speak about the events of Karbala, including the people who come and recite poetry, nohas, and latmiyya. We know that our Imāms (ʿa) would highly respect the poets who would recite poetry for Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa). One day, a poet read a poem about ʿĀshūrāʾ and Karbala in front of Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa). When the poet was done, the Imām (ʿa) raised his hands in duʿāʾ and said, “O Allah, forgive this man’s sins, and forgive even those that he will commit in the future, and what he has done in the past.” Then, he said, “O Kumayt (Kumayt was the poet’s name), I swear by Allah that when you were reciting this poem, the angels were here, and they were crying with me and the other people that were here.”
There was another poet named Diabil. He read a poem to Imām ar-Riḍā (ʿa) about Karbala, and the Imām (ʿa) cried so much that he gave Diabil a special shirt and said, “Diabil, I offer my ṣalāh and special prayers in this shirt; I have even performed my Ṣalāt ul-Layl in this shirt. So, please keep this shirt, and inshāʾAllāh it will give you blessings.”

The special clay (or dust) from the grave of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa)

The last blessing that we should know about is the special clay of the grave of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa). In the masājid, Islamic centers, or even in your homes, you will see that many of the turbah or mohr we do sajdah on during ṣalāh are made out of the clay of Karbala. It is very important that we respect all turbahs, especially those that are from Karbala.

Imām aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) has told us that, “Whoever does sajdah on the turbah that is made from the clay of the grave of Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa), Allah (swt) will give them great blessings and even take away some of the barriers between them and Allah (swt).” Therefore, doing sajdah to Allah (swt) by placing our forehead on the turbah has great blessings for us.

Even before ʿĀshūrāʾ took place, Imām ʿAlī (ʿa) was passing by Karbala on his travels. He stopped, picked up some of the sand, smelled it, and said, “O the sand of Karbala, you are so lucky, you have a blessing that Allah (swt) has placed on you. From here, people will come and they will become better people and reach Allah (swt).” So even the earth from Karbala is special!

We are here today remembering Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa). Imagine how blessed we are, and imagine how many blessings we are getting by this action! In the Qurʾān, Allah (swt) says:

And whoever honors the symbols of Allah — indeed, it is from the piety of hearts. Noble Qurʾān 22:32

Remember, all of our actions are setting the stage. We have to do our part — we have to change, we have to learn about Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) and the events of Karbala, and we have to make good choices so that Imām Ḥusayn (ʿa) can help us become closer to Allah (swt), inshāʾAllāh.

Authored under the guidance of Moulana Nabi R. Mir (Abidi)


Download the related Muḥarram Project Booklet with lessons and crafts 

View the Kisa Kids Crafts for this lesson (on Kisa Kids YouTube Channel)