Muharram is considered a month of mourning for 200 million Shia Muslims worldwide.
Every year, Shia gather to grieve and honour the sacrifice of the Prophet Mohammed’s (saw) grandson, Hussain (a.s.), and to remember the events of Karbala. They commemorate his martyrdom and the deaths of his companions, who gave their lives in Karbala in order to preserve the teachings of Islam.
These are both questions we’re going to answer in this blog: when is Muharram in 2022 and what is the story of Muharram?
When is Muharram in 2022?
The New Islamic Year 1444 Hijri will begin in Muharram 2022.
The Gregorian date of 1st Muharram 2022 is likely to be Saturday, July 30th, or Sunday, July 31st, 2022, depending on your location and sighting of the Muharram 1444 Moon.
What is The Story of Muharrum?
The story of Karbala goes back over a thousand years ago. It took place in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar at Karbala, in modern-day Iraq. The battle was fought between the army of the second Umayyad Caliph named Yazid, and a much smaller army led by Imam Hussain (a.s.) with around 100 of his companions with some narrations listing as little as 72 companions.
Just over 50 years after Muhammad’s death, the Muslim rulership was descending into corruption. This deeply upset Imam Hussain (a.s.), because his priority as the spokesperson of his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (saw), was to maintain and preserve Islam while also guiding fellow Muslims.
There was increased discontent among the Muslims against rulership due to their harshness and corruption. Imam Hussain (a.s.) on the other hand, was deeply respected and admired by the Muslims. Not only because he was the prophet’s grandson, but also because he was a moral and upright individual.
Yazid realised this and realised that if he could persuade Hussain to support him, the masses would follow suit. Hussain had a decision to make. To support oppression or to resist and risk being executed for his decision. The prophet’s grandson could not spend his life as a supporter of corruption, and his option was clear. Imam Hussain (a.s.) declined. “I merely want to propagate good principles and avoid evil,” he remarked.
Imam Hussain (a.s.) decided he was going to stand up to the tyrannical tyranny. He knew his life would be put in danger since he refused to support Yazid and that Yazid would not allow anybody to challenge him. Especially since he had a habit of executing those who did.
Wary of this, Hussain chose to leave his homeland of Medina and travel to Mecca with his family. Hussain hoped that Yazid would honour Mecca, Islam’s capital city and home to the Ka’ba, and not follow Hussain (a.s.) and his family.
Imam Hussain was forced to leave Mecca and sought out to Kufa, a city in Iraq from which he had received letters from the people there, inviting him to come and give allegiance to him. Yazid anticipated this and feared a revolution. He dispatched a massive army to prevent Hussain (a.s.) from reaching Kufa and compel him to retreat to the desert village of Karbala.
When the army of Yazid arrived at Karbala, Hussain (a.s.) and his companions were encircled by up to 30,000 soldiers. Hussain (a.s.) refused to give up despite being vastly outnumbered and having little access to water.
The camp was made up of Imam Hussain (a.s.), his family, friends, and companions, all of whom stood steadfast behind him. They all chose to sooner die for the cause of Islam than succumb to Yazid’s appalling tyranny and un-Islamic practices.
Seeing Imam Hussain (a.s.) oppose him, the caliphate presented Hussain with the last option. Either to support his government or face death. Hussain realized he would be assassinated in a couple of days after hearing Yazid’s final ultimatum.
Hussain (a.s.) collected his friends and informed them that they could flee. He said that Yazid intended to murder him, not them. He implored his supporters to rescue themselves from bloodshed and murder. Regardless, Hussain’s troops remained faithful to him and devoted to their values.
Yazid ordered his men to execute Hussain (a.s.) and his comrades. During the battle on the day of Ashura, the tenth day of battle, Hussain (a.s.) and most of his relatives and companions were slaughtered, while his surviving family members were taken captive.
His sister, Zainab, was one of the captives and assumed leadership and delivered an inspirational speech in Yazid’s palace, denouncing his acts and leadership style. Zainab was among the first to be moved by Hussain’s stance and ideals. Despite the misogyny prevalent in the period, she refused to remain silent and held the leadership accountable for their role in society’s moral deterioration.
Hussain’s example showed that one individual could stand up against oppression and truth, even at the cost of their own life. Imam Hussain (a.s.) and his companions, even though their seeming defeat, gained the hearts of billions of people over the last 1400 years and preserved Islam from corruption and immorality.
Millions of Shia now pay honour to Hussain for his position and mourn his death, just as those who lived in the 7th century were inspired by Hussain’s stand.
Till today, millions from all over the world come to pay their respects at Hussain’s grave at Karbala and annually mourn him during the month of Muharrum. They remember his sacrifice and honour his legacy.
Help Quench The Thirst of Those In Need
At The Zahra Trust, this Muharrum, we are aiming to provide the gift of water. With Ya Abbas Water Fund, we encourage people to remember the plight of Imam Hussain (as) and his family as well as to consider that 1 in 10 people around the world today do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. We are working tirelessly to offer sustainable water solutions for the people in Yemen and Pakistan.
Right now, there is a worldwide water crisis. 785 million people worldwide do not have access to basic drinking water services, and 2 billion people worldwide consume faeces-contaminated water.
This Muharrum you can honor the legacy of Imam Hussain (a.s.) by helping us provide clean water to those who need it most. Your donations can help these countries overcome the water crisis and create real change on the ground.