Muharram 2021: The month is of particular importance to Shia Muslims (File)
Muharram -- also known as Muharram-ul-Haram -- considered the second holiest month after Ramzan, is the first month of the Islamic Year or the Hijri calendar. Prophet Mohammad, God's messenger, who Muslims believe was the last prophet sent to mankind, has referred to the month of Muharram ‘the Sacred Month of Allah' and hence a highly blessed one. The new Muslim lunar calendar begins with the sighting of the moon and it has 12 months. However, the number of days is either 354 or 355, 11 days less than those in the Gregorian calendar. The Hijri calendar concludes with the month if Dhul al-Hijjah .
The Islamic year is expected to begin on August 10. Again, since it depends on the sighting of the moon, authorities in several West Asian countries will announce the beginning of the new year. It's going to be called Hijri 1443 AH -- Anno Hegirae in Latin or the year of the Hijra -- which means it has been 1,443 years since Prophet Mohammad was forced to migrate from Mecca to Medina.
In 622 AD, the Islamic new year or the Hijri calendar started when Prophet Mohammad and his companions were forced to leave Mecca and migrate to Medina. Before he was forced out, Prophet Mohammad and his companions were also prevented from spreading the message of Islam in Mecca and faced persecution. It's been 1,443 years since that event. He returned to the city following the conquest of Mecca in 629 AD.
The month of mourning and prayers
Even though many countries declare a public holiday to mark the beginning of the Islamic calendar, no celebrations are held anywhere. The biggest misconception about the month of Muharram is that many believe it to be a month of celebration when it's exactly the opposite. The month is of particular importance to the Shia Muslims, a sect of Islam other than Sunnis.
Imam Hussain, the son of Hazrat Ali and the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, was martyred in the Battle of Karbala on the 10th day of Muharram in 680 AD. The day is known as Ashura , and Shia Muslims mourn Imam Hussain's martyrdom for the first 10 days of the holy month.