Muharram is the first month of the Islamic year and was marked as being one of the four “sacred” months. The word Muharram مُحَرَّم comes from the Arabic root letters حَرُمَ which translates to “to be forbidden” or “to be prohibited”. Hence, it is to be understood that these months have been ordained by Allah SWT as being the months whereupon fighting and the like was prohibited.
“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” [Qur’an 9:36]
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
“The division of time has turned to its original form which was current the day Allah created the heavens and earth. The year consists of twelve months of which four are sacred: three consecutive months, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab of Mudar which comes between Jumada and Sha’baan.” – Hadith mentioned in al-Bukhaari (3167) and Muslim (1679) as narrated from Abu Bakrah (may Allah be pleased with him)
The focus of any Islamic celebration revolves around praising Allah SWT; the oneness/touheed and mercy of the Almighty SWT .
Say (O Muhammad ﷺ): “Verily, my Salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)” [Qur’an 6:162].
Hence, Islam is unique in that we do not follow the practices of others nor do we celebrate the birth or death of a person or dates of worldly events. It is for this reason that the 1st of Muharram is not celebrated – moreover, it was not a day celebrated by Muhammad ﷺ nor an order from Allah SWT to do so. In fact, the month of Muharram is not for festivities but rather a month where the Rasul ﷺ recommended fasting; specifically the day of Ashura (10th Muharram) for the sake of Allah. It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
“The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1163).
The Prophet ﷺ said: “For fasting the day of ‘Ashura’, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Reported by Muslim, 1976)
In another narration reported in both Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), it is recorded that, “When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) reached Medina, he found the Jews fasting the Day of ‘Ashura, so he asked them,
‘What is this day you are fasting?’ They said, ‘This is a tremendous day. Allah saved Musa and his people on this day and drowned Pharaoh and his people. Musa fasted it out of thanks, so we fast it too.’ The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, ‘And we are more deserving of Musa than you are.’ So he fasted this day, and ordered that it be fasted.” [Bukhari (2004) and Muslim (1130)
And it is reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him), from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet ﷺ said,
“Fast the Day of ‘Ashura and be different from the Jews by fasting a day before it or a day after it.” [Ahmad]