What is Muharram?
The literal meaning of Muharram is 'unlawful', 'prohibited', 'illicit', 'illegal' or 'forbidden'. It is the first month in the Islamic calendar and is a very important month to both the Sunni and Shia Muslims. Sunni Muslims observe the deliverance of Moses and his people from the oppression of the Pharaoh while Shia Muslims observe the martyrdom of Imam Hussain in the Battle of Karbala. Both these incidents took place on the 10th day of the month or Ashura. Muharram is also the name given to the mourning period that Shia Muslims observe to commemorate the death of Imam Hussain and his son in the Battle of Karbala. The mourning period stretches from the first day of the month until the tenth day. Needless to stay, the mourning period is named after the month it is commemorated in.
3 Things to Know about This Event
Muharram is the 2nd most holy month for the Muslims after Ramadan as it is the month where the two most important events of Islamic history occurred. First is the deliverance of Moses and his people by Allah from the oppression of the Pharaoh and the second is the martyrdom of Imam Hussain Ibn Ali and his son in the Battle of Karbala. The former is predominantly followed by Sunni Muslims while the latter is commemorated exclusively by the Shia Muslims. Shias mourn the death of their beloved Hussain by prayer and abstaining from any enjoyable activity. The mourning period starts on the first day of the month and ends on the 10th day or the day Hussain was martyred. This 10 day mourning period is named “Muharram”.
Muharram- The Second Most Auspicious Month After Ramzan
The holiest month for the Muslims is Ramadan which commemorates the first revelation of Prophet Muhammad. The second most holy month is Muharram or the first month in the Islamic calendar, due to the occurrence of two important events in this month - the deliverance of Moses and the second, the death of Imam Hussain Ibn Ali. Both incidents are important turning points in Islamic history and are looked upon with reverence by Muslims across the globe.
It is a Time of Mourning
Imam Hussain Ibn Ali, one of the grandsons of Prophet Muhammad, stood against the Ummayid Caliph Yazid’s oppressive regime. Hussain was a beloved of the people and Yazid realized that having Hussain on his side would help him gain popularity with the people. But Hussain refused to support the tyrant Yazid even though it meant certain death and giving up on a life of luxury. He asserted that he would never support evil in his lifetime. While Hussain was travelling to Kufah, his caravan was intercepted in Karbala by Yazid’s forces. Hussain was defeated and beheaded and his family and companions humiliated. This martyrdom of Hussain for the principles of good serves as an inspiration and the death of such a great human being is mourned by the Shias on Muharram. He is considered the “Prince of Martyrs” and a political and spiritual saviour by the Shias and is an important person in the consciousness of the sect.
The Mourning Period is for the First 10 Days of the Month
The mourning of Muharram starts on the first day of the month and ends of the 10th day or Ashura, the day Hussain fell in the Battle of Karbala. The general mourning ritual involves prayer and abstinence from enjoyable activities. Believers gather in large numbers and lament Hussain’s death. An extreme manifestation of this lamentation can be seen in self-flagellation by some believers. Shia Muslims believe that mourning in Muharram will help them achieve salvation on Judgement Day.
10 Items You Can Gift Muslims on Muharram
Muharram might be a time of mourning but there is a brighter side to it. It commemorates a time when good won over evil. The day Imam Hussain Ibn Ali refused to support a tyrant, good won a resounding victory. Technically, he might have been defeated but spiritually he won a victory that is remembered even today. His sacrifice is an inspiration to many to stay on the path of righteousness no matter the difficulties. Besides, Sunni Muslims celebrate Ashura as the Almighty delivered them from oppression that day. Thus, overall it is a happy occasion where you can exchange gifts. There are two cardinal rules to follow when buying a gift for someone, be it any occasion, and an extra cardinal rule gets attached to them when buying a gift for a religious occasion. The first is that the item you are buying must be of use to the person you are gifting it to, the second is that the gift must have an intimate meaning and not be just a physical object. The third rule comes when you are buying religious gifts, which is to make sure that the item you are buying does not trespass religious laws. But you need not worry. Just follow this BP Guide to choose the best item to gift Muslims on Muharram.
In modern popular culture, the T-shirt is more than just a clothing item. It is a canvas on which people broadcast their beliefs and ideals. This white coloured t-shirt with Assalamulaikum written in black on it is the perfect item to gift your Muslim friend. The writing is the Islamic greeting. Thus, when your friend wears this T-shirt, he is not only broadcasting his belief but also exchanging pleasantries.
The t-shirt is made with soft fabric and a tagless label ensures comfort. White colour fabric with black print is just one combination; there are many more combinations to suit your taste. It costs just Rs.599 and is thus a great gift at a budget, available at islamicshop.in. Gifting this to your Muslim friend will make him realize that you respect his beliefs and put a lot of thought behind the gift.
This is a traditional red mixed with white Arab style scarf that is iconic to the faith. This versatile scarf can be worn in all seasons and around the shoulder or waist depending on the preference of the wearer. The scarf is made of cotton and the design is updated to match modern trends. The Keffiyeh or the traditional scarf is a potent symbol of the Islamic faith and Muslim men wear it with a lot of pride. This scarf as a gift will be perfect for your Muslim friend in Muharram. This cotton scarf also doesn’t cost much, just Rs.160, on islamicshop.in, but in terms of meaning, it is a priceless gift.
Attar is a traditional fragrance that is put on the body, clothing or handkerchief. Attar, unlike deodorants, does not use alcohol and thus, is perfect as a gift meant for a Muslim, as alcohol is prohibited in Islam. This White Oudh Attar roll-on comes in 8 ml packs and costs Rs.200 on islamicshop.in.
This premium attar has Arabic tones with faint hints of French perfume. Arabia and France are traditional giants in perfume making and you get to have both of them in this concoction. So there is no need for emphasizing how appropriate this item is as a gift. It gives off a rejuvenating oriental fragrance that is loved by all and is long-lasting. It is also safe to use on the skin as it does not cause allergies or rashes.
Assorted Dry Fruits
Dry fruits are more than just a healthy snack for the Muslims. It is what they eat while breaking fast during Ramadan or other festivals. This assorted dry fruit pack has a variety of dry fruits namely badam, pista, jardalu, kismis and kaju. The product is of high quality and costs Rs 299 for 200gms, on dryfruitmart.in.
This will be a good gift for your Muslim friends as to them, it has an extended use. Notwithstanding, the variety of nuts make it a great and healthy snack to munch on at any time of the day.
There is a book for every occasion and that is one of the reasons that it is an ideal gift. Books are a respectable commodity in our world and when you gift a book, you are giving the recipient knowledge and encouraging him/her to be learned.
Since Muharram is the time to commemorate the righteous Imam Hussain Ibn Ali, there is probably no better gift than the book, “From Medina to Karbala in the words of Imam Al Husayn”. Written by Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq Najmi and translated by Dr. Muhammad Reza Fakhr Rohani, the book accounts the oral and written discourses of the blessed Imam, right from his first conversation to his last words on the day of Ashura. No other gift could be more relevant than this on Muharram as it tells of thoughts, ideas and agendas of Hussain in his own words. It would help to understand Muharram from a more educated perspective, a situation your Muslim friend will cherish. The paperback version of this novel cost Rs.1,773 and is available on Amazon.
Painting is aesthetic wall décor. It gives any surface character and depth. So why not gift your friend a print of a famous painting like 'Morning Prayers' from tallengestore.com? It was originally painted by Otto Pilny when he was the court painter of the vice-king of Egypt. The painting shows 4 men offering their morning prayers in the desert. It gives off a sense of tranquillity and portrays one of the important segments of the faith. An extra-large canvas print of this masterpiece would cost you Rs.2,644.
What you are bound to find in a Muslim household is a copy of their Holy Book Quran. It is the book where Muslims derive their daily guidance on how to best uphold their faith. Thus it is kept with special reverence. You can gift your Muslim friend a pair of Quran covers that can be used to keep the Holy Book wrapped safely when not being used. This pair of bags are 100% handmade and has double stitching to ensure durability and has a shiny finish to give a glowing and beautiful look. A pair of these covers cost Rs.199 and comes in 3 sizes: small, medium and large, and is available on islamicshop.in.
Scale Model of the Kaabaa
The Kaaba is a cuboid-shaped building that is situated in the holiest mosque of Islam, the Al-Masjid Al-Haram. It is the most sacred site of the religion. No matter wherever he/she is in the world, a Muslim has to face the Kaaba while praying. This scale model of a Kaaba, many would agree, is the best gift for a Muslim. It represents the holiest site of their religion and can be kept as a showpiece on side tables or other furniture or the dashboard of a car. This model is made of acrylic and fine craftsmanship. It has the dimension of 12cm and costs Rs.1,450. It is available for purchase on Amazon.
This handcrafted wooden keychain speaks of class and style. This fancy accessory has the Kaaba engraved on it, and so, it is a good gift to present to your Muslim friends on Muharram. It has a high-quality design and costs Rs.499 on Flipkart. One of the purposes of giving gifts is to make sure that the recipient understands that you are always there for the person. A keychain is the best gift in this effect as it can be carried anywhere and you will be fondly thought of wherever your friend carries it.
A leather journal is a very thoughtful and sophisticated gift. A journal can be used for a variety of purposes, from jotting down the grocery list to penning down random ideas and thoughts for a book or to write detailed accounts of your musings about everything in your life. If your Muslim friend is a writer or an artist by any chance, then go for this gift eyes closed to give him on Muharram.
The leather cover of this journal has the engraving of the world map and has a two-fold design. It contains 80 pages of high quality white handmade paper. The antique style snap button on the cover is for closure. The journal is of A5 paper size and costs Rs.2,300 on theblackcanvas.in.
Muharram with Friends
Muharram is a time of mourning and reflection. It is a day on which people of the Muslim faith abstain from any kind of illegal or immoral activities. So observe this day with your friends the way they feel comfortable. It goes a long way when you respect each other's faith and observe such occasions together.