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Muharram ( Arabic محرم, DMG Muḥarram , Turkish Muharrem ; also Moharram and Maharram , Azerbaijani Məhərrəm ) is the first month of the Islamic calendar and one of the four holy months of the year in Islam and pre-Islamic Arabia , in which acts of war are prohibited. Since the Islamic calendar calculates according to lunar years and is shorter compared to the Gregorian calendar , the Islamic months move through the solar year over several decades .

The tenth day of Muharram is known as the day of Ashura . Sunnis celebrate this day on the occasion of various events, including the stranding of the Prophet Noah after the flood by fasting. Shiites mourn the tragedy of Husain ibn Ali and his family with various mourning events.

Events in the month of Muharram

Muharram and Ashura

Muharram mourning event in a Hussainia in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Muharram mourning event in a Hussainia in Dar es Salaam , Tanzania

Ashura refers to the tenth day of Muharram. Shiites and Alevis mourn in ten or twelve day mourning ceremonies because of the martyrdom of the grandson of the Islamic prophet Mohammad and third Imam of the Shiites Hussain ibn Ali together with his followers at the battle of Karbala . For them, Muharram is a month of mourning.

Shiites begin with the mourning on the first night of Muharram, continue it for the next ten nights up to the climax on the day of Ashura, the 10th of Muharram. The days from the 7th of Muharram up to and including the day of Ashura are the most important days because from then on Husain and his family and followers (including women, children and the elderly) were kept from the water of the river and Husain with his 72 followers and family members from of the army of Yazid I were killed in the battle of Karbala. The surviving members of Husain's family and his followers were captured and had to march through the desert to Damascus and imprisoned there.

Alevis mourn and fast for twelve days as a symbolic reference to the twelve imams who - according to both Shiite and Alevi views - were all murdered, except for the 12th Imam Mahdi . On the twelfth day, you break your fast by eating the dessert Aşure .

The Soviet struggle against the Muharram practices in Azerbaijan

In Azerbaijan , where Shiites also live, the Muharram mourning ceremonies were fought as a sign of backwardness during the early Soviet period. Immediately after the establishment of Soviet rule in 1920, the Azerbaijan Central Committee issued a number of directives to the district committees calling on them to take appropriate action against the "fanaticism" of the Ashura processions. Communist Party activists were commissioned in 1921 to conduct an anti-Muharram campaign at religious gatherings, which the press then reported. In 1922 the Central Committee decided to take even stricter measures against the Muharram celebrations and to ban the manufacture of products that were used for the performance of the Shiite self-flagellation rituals , as well as to ban all mourning processions in the main streets of Baku . The secretary of the Central Committee instructed the Cheka to take measures to prevent mass demonstrations at Ashura. Mullas who participated in the anti-Muharram campaign were rewarded with a new suit in 1923.

In 1925, the Council of People's Commissars issued the Decree “To the Muharram”, in which the citizens of the Azerbaijani SSR were strictly forbidden from carrying out processions or self-flagellation during the Muharram. The ban was justified with the need to keep the working class healthy and it was pointed out that these rituals had been imposed on the people by the landowners and the clergy for no reason. That the government's fight against the Muharram ceremonies was unsuccessful, however, can be seen from the fact that in 1927 the Azerbaijani Central Executive Committee again appealed to the workers to “unite all forces to tackle this phenomenon, which is a disgrace for a Soviet country is to be stamped out for good. ”In 1929 the Muharram decree was expanded to include an additional article which also banned mass religious celebrations in private houses.

Muharram in the Gregorian calendar

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and a month begins when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 10 to 11 days shorter than the solar year, Muharram wanders through the solar years. The expected start and end dates for Muharram are as follows (based on the Umm al-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia :)

Muharram dates between 2015 and 2020
Islamic calendar First day (AD) Last day (AD)
1437 October 14, 2015 November 12, 2015
1438 0October 2nd, 2016 October 31, 2016
1439 September 21, 2017 20th October 2017
1440 September 12, 2018 0October 9, 2018
1441 August 31, 2019 29th September 2019
1442 20th August 2020 17th September 2020

Note: The table shows the calculated data. The actual start and end of the Muharram can differ by one to two days.


  • Babak Rahimi: Theater state and the formation of early modern public sphere in Iran: studies on Safavid Muharram rituals, 1590−1641 CE . Brill, Leiden 2012.
  • Altay Göyüşov, Əlçin Əsgərov: Islam and Islamic education in Soviet and independent Azerbaijan . In: Michael Kemper, Raoul Motika, Stefan Reichmuth (Eds.): Islamic Education in the Soviet Union and Its Successor States . Routledge, London 2010. pp. 168-222, here pp. 173-178.
  • Keith Hjortshoj: Shi'i identity and the significance of Muharram in Lucknow, India . In: Martin Kramer (ed.): Shi'ism, resistance and revolution . London 1987. pp. 289-309.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The others are Dhu al-Qi'dah, Dhu al-Hijjah and Rajab of the Islamic calendar
  2. An Overview of the Islamic Calendar . In: ThoughtCo . ( [accessed September 17, 2018]).
  3. Göyüşov / Əsgərov: Islam and Islamic education in Soviet and independent Azerbaijan . 2010, p. 168.
  4. Göyüşov / Əsgərov: Islam and Islamic education in Soviet and independent Azerbaijan . 2010, p. 174.
  5. a b Göyüşov / Əsgərov: Islam and Islamic education in Soviet and independent Azerbaijan . 2010, p. 173.
  6. Göyüşov / Əsgərov: Islam and Islamic education in Soviet and independent Azerbaijan . 2010, p. 177.
  7. Göyüşov / Əsgərov: Islam and Islamic education in Soviet and independent Azerbaijan . 2010, p. 178.
  8. ^ RH van Gent: The Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia. Retrieved September 17, 2018 .