Commandment regarding marriage in Muharram al-Haram
In the Islamic calendar, the first month, Muharram al-Haram, holds a special distinction among the twelve months. There is a blessed hadith in Sahih Bukhari where Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) delivered a lengthy and invaluable sermon during his farewell pilgrimage. It included: “(Currently) Time has come back to its original form which it had when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth; the year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred. Three of them are in sequence: Dhul-Qa’da, Dhul-Hijja and Muharram, and (the fourth being) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumada and Sha’ban.” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith No: 4294) Various sayings of the Prophet suggest that deeds performed in this blessed month yield higher rewards compared to other months. This is why he advised fasting in this month, stating: “The best fasting after the month of Ramadan is that of Muharram.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No: 1163) Scholars assert that not only fasting but every good deed in this month has amplified merit compared to other months. Marriage is also a significant deed among them. There’s a common misconception in society that one should not marry in Muharram. However, Islamic laws and commandments directly refute this.
The act of marriage, irrespective of the month, is permissible by its nature. And for a permissible act to become impermissible, there needs to be a clear prohibition. There’s no such prohibition regarding marriage in this month, or any other, neither in the Quran and Hadith, nor by consensus or analogy. Thus, marriage remains permissible. In fact, it could be said that there’s at least a silent consensus among jurists that marriage is permissible in Muharram (or any other month). This is because not a single individual, from the Prophet, the Companions, the subsequent generations, or the earlier or later scholars, ever declared marriage in this month as impermissible. If someone does prohibit it, it would be without basis and not deemed credible.
What’s the rationale behind prohibiting marriage in this month? Logically, it could be due to considering the month inauspicious or associating it with sorrow (based on which mourning is deemed obligatory and marriage is considered impermissible during mourning periods). Each of these two notions is discussed below.
Is the month of Muharram considered inauspicious?
Any person with even a basic understanding of the Shariah cannot believe in the inauspicious nature of this month. Because, from much before the era of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), this month has been renowned and recognized for its honor and prestige. So much so that from the beginning of time, every significant event is believed to have occurred in this month. In fact, according to traditions, even the monumental event of the Day of Judgment will take place in this month. Given all these factors, it’s not possible to deem this month as inauspicious. Therefore, on this basis, it’s not even rationally correct to prohibit marriages in this month.
Is the month of Muharram a month of sorrow?
Those who prohibit marriage in this month often do so on the basis that it’s a month of grief and mourning. Why? This is because the grandson of the Prophet, Hazrat Hussain (رضي الله عنه), along with his family members both young and old, were mercilessly martyred in this month. It’s considered important to express solidarity and grief, and avoid celebratory events during this period. However, to interpret this as a religious directive indicates a lack of understanding. This is because ‘martyrdom’ isn’t a sorrowful event; it’s a blessing. The real question is: what guidance do we get about this from Shariah? Prophet Muhammad’s teachings (ﷺ) suggest that attaining martyrdom is a profound blessing. Hazrat Umar Farooq (رضي الله عنه) constantly prayed for martyrdom, as evidenced in Sahih Bukhari.
Hazrat Khalid bin Walid (رضي الله عنه), who was titled ‘The Sword of Allah’ by the Prophet, spent his entire life longing for martyrdom. However, he was not granted this wish, and when his time came, he cried profusely, lamenting that he was dying a death akin to a camel’s, as mentioned in Al-Bidayah wa’l-Nihayah.
Martyrdom is such a great blessing that even Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) wished for it for himself and encouraged his followers, as narrated by Hazrat Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) in which the Prophet said, “I wish to fight in the way of Allah, then be martyred, (then be brought back to life) and then fight and be martyred again, and this cycle to repeat.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith Number: 4967).
The point being made here is that martyrdom is a gift so coveted that people intensely desired it. It’s not something to mourn. If we truly understand this concept, then consider: is there any month or day in the entire year when a companion of the Prophet wasn’t martyred? Historical records show that almost every day marks the martyrdom of some companion. For instance, in the month of Safar, in 3 AH, 8 companions were martyred at the location of Raji’; in Safar 40 AH, several were martyred in the event of Bi’r Ma’una, and in Safar 52 AH, Hazrat Imran bin Husain (رضي الله عنه) passed away.
Rabi’ al-Awwal: In the 18th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Ma’adh bin Jabal, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. In the 20th year of Hijrah, the passing of Umm al-Mu’mineen, Hazrat Zainab bint Jahsh, (رضي الله عنها), occurred. Rabi’ al-Thani: In the 21st year of Hijrah, for the battle against the Iranian disbelievers in the region of Nahawand, an army of forty thousand Muslims was dispatched under the leadership of Hazrat Umar, (رضي الله عنه), to face a huge Iranian force, resulting in the martyrdom of nearly three thousand Muslims and the descent of approximately one hundred thousand disbelievers into Hellfire. The Muslims achieved victory.
Rabi’ al-Thani: In the 2nd year of Hijrah, the passing of the renowned companion of the Prophet, Hazrat Abu Darda, (رضي الله عنه), took place. Rabi’ al-Thani: In the 50th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Ka’ab bin Malik, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. Jumada al-Awwal: In the 8th year of Hijrah, the martyrdom of Hazrat Sarqa bin Amr, (رضي الله عنه), took place. In the same year, during this month, the martyrdom of Hazrat Ubada bin Qais, may (رضي الله عنه), also occurred. Jumada al-Awwal: In the 8th year of Hijrah, the Battle of Mauta took place, during which several prominent companions of the Prophet, (رضي الله عنهم), were martyred. Jumada al-Akhirah: In the 4th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Abu Salma Abdullah bin Abd al-Asad, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. Jumada al-Akhirah: In the 13th year of Hijrah, the passing of the companion of the Prophet, Hazrat Abu Qabsha, (رضي الله عنه), took place. Jumada al-Akhirah: In the 21st year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Khalid bin Walid, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. Jumada al-Akhirah: In the 50th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Samurah, (رضي الله عنه), occurred.
Rajab al-Murajjab: In the 15th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Sa’d bin Abi Waqqas, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. Rajab al-Murajjab: In the 20th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Usaid bin Hudair, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. Rajab al-Murajjab: In the 45th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Zaid bin Thabit, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. Shaban: In the 9th year of Hijrah, the passing of the daughter of the Prophet, Hazrat Umm Kulthum, (رضي الله عنها), occurred. Shaban: In the 50th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Mugheerah bin Shu’bah, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. Shaban: In the 93rd year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Anas, (رضي الله عنه), occurred.
Ramadan: In the 10th year of Prophethood, the passing of Hazrat Khadijah, (رضي الله عنها), occurred. In Ramadan of the 2nd year of Hijrah, the passing of the daughter of the Prophet, Hazrat Ruqayyah, (رضي الله عنها), occurred. In Ramadan, the same year, the passing of the daughter of the Prophet, Hazrat Fatimah, (رضي الله عنها), occurred. In Ramadan of the 32nd year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Abbas, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. Shawwal: In the 3rd year of Hijrah, the martyrdom of Hazrat Hamza, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. Shawwal: In the 38th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Suhaib al-Rumi, (رضي الله عنه), occurred.
Dhu al-Qi’dah: In the 62nd year of Hijrah, the passing of the renowned Tabi’i, Hazrat Musleh al-Makhlad, (رحمة الله عليه), occurred. Dhu al-Qi’dah: In the 106th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Salim bin Abdullah bin Umar bin Khattab, occurred. Dhu al-Hijjah: In the 5th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Sa’d bin Mu’adh, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. Dhu al-Hijjah: In the 1st year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Umm Roman, (رضي الله عنها), occurred. Dhu al-Hijjah: In the 12th year of Hijrah, the passing of Hazrat Abu al-As, (رضي الله عنه), occurred. It is appropriate for us to express grief and sorrow on each of these days. And while joy and happiness are to be avoided, it is evident that no one can truly accept this. Furthermore, have we ever seen that during the blessed life of our Prophet (ﷺ), even many great and beloved personalities of the Prophet ﷺ were also martyred. But did our beloved Prophet (ﷺ) observe these days as memorials? No, not at all. So are we more grieved than our Prophet ﷺ himself? For God’s sake, let us evaluate our actions and make a sincere effort to avoid these misguided customs.
The Islamic ruling regarding mourning is as follows
According to Islamic teachings, the permission to mourn is limited to only a few specific situations, and that too primarily for women rather than men:
- A woman who has been divorced may mourn during her waiting period (iddah).
- A woman whose husband has passed away may mourn during her waiting period (iddah).
- For the death of a close relative, women may mourn for only three days.
Apart from these specific cases, it is not permissible for a woman to mourn at any other time. Mourning in this context means refraining from adorning oneself, avoiding beautification, and not engaging in any form of adornment. For instance, speaking cheerfully, wearing kohl (eyeliner), applying henna, or wearing colorful clothing are not allowed.
Furthermore, adopting any specific appearance for mourning, such as wearing black clothes or loudly expressing grief, is also not permissible. Moreover, men are not allowed to mourn in any situation. So, when mourning is not allowed, what does it really mean for the entire nation to practically immerse itself in grief and mourning in the name of mourning and lamentation during the month of Muharram?
The injunction against marrying during the sacred month of Muharram is according to the details mentioned earlier. Engaging in mourning during this blessed month is entirely against the principles of the religion and is an exaggeration. It is obligatory to refrain from it. Therefore, if mourning is not permissible, then there cannot be any valid reason for avoiding marriages in this month from a religious standpoint.
It is even more astonishing that according to a reliable narration, the marriage of Hazrat Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet, to Hazrat Ali took place during this same blessed month, although other opinions also exist.
We beseech Allah, the Lord of Majesty, to grant us the ability to abstain from all forms of reprehensible acts and to keep us steadfast on the straight path, avoiding excesses and deviations. Amen.